Smith was still puzzled, and I suspected I was about to join him. He held up his rod, with the long Mono Rig leader, two nymphs and a sighter, and pointed to it. “But if strike detection is mostly visual, what part of this is feel?” Smith had asked a question that I’d never fully considered. Then I answered. “At the rod tip you can feel when you’re in contact with the flies . . .”
Articles in the Category Nymphing
Tight Line Nymphing — Strike Detection is Visual
Smith set up over my right shoulder and watched for a while, quietly examining my backhand drifts and spitting sunflower seed shells on the water. I landed two trout and missed another . . .
“Did you feel those strikes, or did you set the hook because the sighter twitched?” Smith asked . . .
“They rarely hit hard enough to feel it,” I told him. “And if you’re waiting for some some kind of tug or tap, you’re missing a lot of strikes.”
Nymphing: The Top Down Approach
The biggest misconception in nymphing is that our flies should bump along the bottom. Get it down where the trout are, they say. Bounce the nymph along the riverbed, because that’s the only way to catch trout. We’re told to feel the nymph tick, tick, tick across the rocks, and then set the hook when a trout eats. With apologies to all who have uttered these sentiments and given them useless ink, that is pure bullshit.
Here’s how and why to avoid the bottom, fish more effectively and catch more trout with a top down approach . . .
Stick the Landing While Tight Lining
. . . Think of it like this: Tight line anglers should stick the landing at the end of the cast. Only the line that must enter the water should go under, while everything else remains above the surface and in the air. The leader should be tight, from the water’s surface to the rod tip, in a leading angle almost immediately. Stick the landing! Learn what angle the sighter eventually takes through the drift, and that’s the angle you should start with . . .
Nymphing: A two diameter solution to a one diameter problem
The best nymphing leaders incorporate a key principle — limit the diameters of leader material under the surface. But sometimes, two is better than one.
Here’s how and why it’s done . . .
Seven Ways To Get Your Fly Deeper (with VIDEO)
In time, all things in a river sink to the bottom. How much time do you have? Getting our flies down is the ever-present objective. It’s what good fly anglers think about. But is it as simple as adding split shot or swapping out to a heavier tungsten beaded fly? No, it’s not.
There are seven ways to get the fly deeper. Understanding all of them, and seeing how each interacts with or affects the others, is a major key to gaining a complete picture of your underwater fishing system.
Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Secondary Nymphing Rig
Every winter our rivers go through changes, and the trout follow suit. Regardless of how much water flows between the banks, I encounter a predictable slowdown in trout response at some point. Call it a lack of trout enthusiasm. Or call it hunkering down and waiting for warmer water. However you look at it, the trout just don’t move as far to eat a fly.
For some, the solution is a streamer — to go bigger. Get the trout’s attention and add some motivation to peel itself from the river bed and move to a fly. It works — sometimes. (everything works sometimes.) But just as often you’re left with an empty net and more questions than answers. I do love fishing streamers in the winter though. I use it as a chance to build body heat, to warm up by walking and covering more water. But my standard approach is a highly targeted pair of nymphs, right in the trout’s window. Served up just right, you can almost force-feed a trout that didn’t even know he was hungry.
Quick Tips: See beyond the sighter
New to tight lining? Then staring at the bright piece of colored line is a good place to start. But as soon as you gain some skills for reading the angle and speed of the sighter, when you can quickly gauge contact with your nymphs by glancing at the sag of the sighter, then it’s time to look ahead. Get to the next level.
. . . We do everything possible to improve the visibility of the sighter section in our leaders. We leave tag ends, add backing barrels and use super-bright opaque colored material. Good anglers also learn to fish from the best angles for visibility — usually with the sun or brightest light at their backs. So it’s easy to be mesmerized by those colors. And I think most nymph fishers catch themselves staring at the sighter too often, missing all the other available signals.
. . . What are those signals? Most of them are beyond the sighter — past the last visible piece of yellow, red, orange, etc. and into the water . . .
Fly fishing the Mono Rig — Thicker leaders cast more like fly line
Thinner butt sections sag less. But the thinner they are, the more they lose that fly-line-style performance. And sometimes, that matters a great deal.
All of this is part of the the joy in being a fly fisher. There are hundreds of ways to make things work. And because every angler brings a unique set of goals and conditions, that’s why there are so many solutions . . .
Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig
I walked to the familiar counter and laid a small bag of orange material among the aged fly fishing stickers covering the coffee stained wooden slab. Seated on a stool, the shop manager looked up from his magazine and over to my bag of orange fluff. Then he slowly brought his gaze up to mine. We made eye contact and he grinned until we both slowly chuckled.
“It’s all you need out there right now,” he said . . .
Nymphing: How to read a fly fishing indicator — What you might be missing
I know, I know. You don’t like to fish with indicators, right? You think an indy removes the angler from contact with the nymphs. You believe a fly fishing indicator actually gets in the way of strike detection more than it helps the situation. Granted, there are big problems with the way most fly fishermen use indicators. And I know a lot of anglers who refuse to attach them to a leader.
But I also know many more good anglers who see the value of indicators, who reach for an indy (or a dry-dropper rig) when a tight line nymphing presentation fails, who recognize that an indicator is an amazing and useful tool that extends our effective nymphing range, balances out a drift and helps keep the flies in one current seam.
I think a lot of anglers miss the finer points of the indy game. Good indicator nymphing (or dry-dropper fishing) is not just a chuck it and chance it affair. Instead, careful attention to the indy itself, reading the water vs the position and behavior of the indicator, is a necessary skill if the tactic is to be productive.