September 14, 2016

How To Tie & Fish A Double Rig For Speckled Trout

A double rig (aka tandem rig or shad rig) is a great tool for inshore anglers. Here's how to tie it, when to fish it and more tips to catch specks, reds and flounder with it.


Fishing A Double Rig For Speckled Trout

A double rig – also referred to as a "shad rig" or "tandem rig" through this guide – is an excellent tool for inshore anglers, and one you should have ready to tie!

In this guide you'll learn:

Note: The list above is a menu you can use to jump to your favorite part.

shad rig speckled trout

What is a Double Rig?

A double rig consists of two jigheads tied together on both ends of a leader line, with a figure eight knot in the middle to secure your main line, with one "pigtail" longer than the other so they don't tangle so easily.

shad rig diagram

What Makes Tandem Rigs Unique?

This rig is special because you can catch two speckled trout in one cast.

The application of the tandem rig is a testament to the world-renowned fisheries we have here in Louisiana.

Catching two trout at once is an excellent indicator of a strong bite!

Benefits of the Double Rig

If you're not interested in tying on a double rig then you really should consider doing so. These reasons ought to get you excited:

Tandem Rigs Put More Bait in the Water

A shad rig literally puts twice as much bait in the water, which trout see and get worked into a frenzy.

Even if you can’t initiate a feeding frenzy with this rig, it will certainly help boat more specks when the trout are slamming live shrimp.

You can use live shrimp to get the trout going and once the bite gains momentum, you can really slam ’em by switching to the Double Rig.

Improved Casting Distance With Extra Weight From Shad Rig

The Double Rig works great as its added weight will help you cast farther.

This is great because it is imperative you cover more water to find biting speckled trout.

Think about it:

If you can cast 10 yards farther with a double rig and make 200 casts a day, then you are covering an additional 2,000 yards of water.

If you could pick up 2,000 yards of water and pour it into a giant bucket, how many trout do you think would be inside that bucket?

Color Experimentation

Experimenting with color is an added benefit of the tandem rig. 

two specks caught on double rig

You can use two colors, one light (usually chartreuse) and the other dark (usually purple) to see which one specks are partial to. 

Once you zero in on their preference, you can begin catching more by changing the non-catching jighead to that color.

Parts Needed To Make Double Rigs For Speckled Trout

I'm sure that, by now, you get the point I'm trying to make: Double Rigs are pretty awesome!

So let's move on to what you need to tie one and then how to tie it.

Complete List

  • 36" 20lb monofilament leader
  • two 1/4oz jigheads
  • favorite 3" soft plastic
tandem rig tackle list

Use whatever line strength works best for your scenario. Jighead weight will be determined by water movement, but 1/4 oz is a standard weight to use. Choose two different colors, one dark and one light for color experimentation.

How To Tie A Double Rig

Now that you have the required tackle, you are ready to tie your first double rig (aka tandem rig).

In order to do this you will need to know how to tie a Figure Eight Knot and an Improved Clinch Knot.

So you know, the Palomar Knot is a good alternative if you're more comfortable tying that instead.

Step 1

Create a bight in the leader line (a bight is basically a bend) and use it to tie a knot called a Figure Eight On A Bight.

figure eight on a bight for shad rig

This knot is where you will ultimately tie your main line, but be sure that one length of the leader line is longer than the other or the jigheads may tangle.

tandem rig figure eight knot

Step 2

Tie your jigheads onto each end of the leader line. I use an Improved Clinch Knot for this.

how to tie a tandem rig

Step 3

Tie your casting line onto the loop of the Figure Eight Knot and put on your soft plastic lures.

I prefer to start off with two different colors, usually one dark and one light, until I discover which one the fish like the most.

For this picture I am using Matrix Shad in Ultraviolet and Avocado.

light and dark colors on double rig

Step 4

You're done! All you need to do now is tie it to your spinning rod or store it away in a ziploc bag for future use.

Now you have to go fishing and try it out but, before you do, I recommend you fish it in the way described below (you may want to bookmark this guide so you can refer to it later).

Recommended Rod, Reel & Fishing Line

Double rigs are best thrown on spinning tackle, due to their size and bulk. 

Sure, you can use a casting rod, but you're better off using a single jig in that case.

While I do have a guide for picking the best rod (and recommend you know by heart the information detailed there), I will like to keep this simple and recommend the following:

  • 7ft medium power, moderate fast or fast action spinning rod
  • 2500-3500 sized spinning reel
  • 20-30lb braided fishing line

If you are looking for an exact make and model, then I can recommend these to you:

Note: The above list links to Amazon, where you can check for availability and pricing. These are indeed affiliate links, for which I receive a small commission to help operate this site.

Otherwise, that exact setup can be found a few times over in my boat, because that's what I fish with.

Best Time & Place To Fish A Shad Rig For Speckled Trout

Look, you can fish a double rig anywhere you like (for the most part).

However, it is best utilized when the fishing action is really, really hot.

Like boiling hot.

Jumping Shrimp

A good example would be fishing under diving birds, when speckled trout are schooling in large numbers.

Rafting Mullet

Experience has shown me that smaller "finger mullet" reside within schools of larger mullet that are normally "too big" for school trout to comfortably eat.

Casting across and retrieving through rafts of mullet with a double rig is a great way to catch speckled trout, especially during the summer.

My crew won the 2011 Wounded War Heroes Fishing Rodeo by doing this.

Open Water

After that, as mentioned earlier, a tandem rig serves well as a search bait, for the reasons mentioned earlier: it casts better and helps you cover more water.

Fishing wide stretches of water are good for this, and the pic below is a good example.

fishing breton island with shad rig for speckled trout

Breton Island 2011. Wading around with a Double Rig was my favorite way to catch speckled trout. Today I wear more clothes and stay in the boat. :)

How To Fish The Double Rig For Speckled Trout

For the most part, the double rig (or shad rig, tandem rig, whatever you like to call it) is what we hardcore artificial-only guys refer to as an "idiot bait".

That means there's no special technique to using it, you simply cast and retrieve it. 

A lot.

Not too fast, not too slow, just a steady retrieve.

But there is one detail that most inshore anglers overlook when fishing a tandem rig...

The Trick To Catching Two Specks At The Same Time On Tandem Rigs

When you hook a speckled trout, let him “sit” in the spot. Don’t start reeling in right away!

Keep him and the double rig in the “strike zone”, where you were initially bit.

In no time at all, a second trout should be hitching a ride on the other hook, and you'll know for sure when you feel the line become noticeably heavier. :)

Odd Sized Jigheads

If you want to use a jighead heavier than the other, then you are better off tying it to the longest pigtail of the double rig, because it will ride lower in the water during the retrieve.

Store For Later Use

You're wasting precious time on water if you're tying your double rigs during your fishing trip.

To avoid this, consider making them ahead of time and bagging them in ziploc bags.

Some double rigs I still have 8 years after I made them, like in this pic below.

bagged up shad rigs

The Best Way To Secure A Double Rig

Sometimes anglers secure a double rig to the rod by only one hook, leaving the other one loose.

It's not long before the loose jighead is flapping about, tangling and scratching your boat's coating.

how to secure a tandem rig

The best way to secure a double rig is by running one jighead around the neck of the spinning reel, then towards the other jighead to secure them together, like what you see in the picture below.

Secure Double Rig 2

This way you can easily retrieve your rod equipped with the Double Rig when specks start biting hot and heavy!

How to Secure a Double Rig

See How I Fish A Shad Rig

Sometimes I get on a really good bite, and end up whaling on the specks with a double rig, like in this video:

This fishing trip in the Biloxi Marsh is a great example and, if you begin watching at the 0:42 mark you'll hear me say, "That double rig is coming out. I'm not even gonna play!"

What you see above is a catch compilation from a "fishing trip review" during a falling tide in the fall.

I record fishing trips to show anglers how I locate and catch fish. Yup, I share exactly where I fish!

Learn more about fishing trip reviews here.

Final Notes

The Double Rig is a great tool for catching speckled trout, and one you should keep handy in your tacklebox.

However, it's not the only one.

I can share many more with you and – in order to do that – we'd have to stay in touch.

That's why I am inviting you to join my newsletter to receive more fishing tips that will help you enjoy epic fishing trips. :)

Thanks for reading and - if you have any questions – please ask below.

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a veteran of the Iraq War and former fishing guide. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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  • Devin, I have found that double rigs have a tendency to tangle over the years. I still make a double rig but on a single leader – I do use fluorocarbon 20 # with the figure 8 knot up top. Then I tie ( Palomar knot) a drop shot hook mid way ( no weight) and a 1/4 to 3/8 jig head on the bottom ( app 4 foot of total leader length) . Haven’t had a tangle problem with corks. I also think that once I am in a double hook up that I am pulling both fish in a straighter line to the reel. They are not fighting one another, by reducing their leverage point on the hook set. No real statistics, just a gut feeling

  • just bought an 8 foot raft and outfitted with all I should need (45 lb. thrust trolling motor) and all necessary equipment. anxious to step up my game and start fishing the Galveston bays. Your instructions on how to rig and etc. I found extremely helpful. Like the way it was presented. Thanks podna!

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