Can we truly drift nymphs without any influence over them? No. And while I agree that too much contact or too much influence over the nymph can look unnatural, I disagree that being out of contact is the best approach . . .
The George Harvey Dry Fly leader is a slackline leader built for dead drifting. With intentional casting, with the right stroke, the Harvey lands with slack in all the right places, with curves and swirls through the entire leader and not just in the tippet section. The Harvey is a masterful tool built for the art of presenting a dry fly on a dead drift. But success begins by understanding how the Harvey is different, and why it works.
The Troutbitten Summer Sale ’23 is here, with all leaders, hats and stickers back in the Troutbitten Shop. With this round, I have a few special items to offer, from the Troutbitten and New Trail Brewing company collaboration. There’s a Fish Hard / Drink Beer hat, sticker and t-shirt. The Troutbitten Shop is fully stocked. Hats, leaders, stickers, shirts, hoodies and more are ready to go.
A dead drift is the most common goal for a nymph, but there are three distinct ways to achieve it: bottom bouncing, strike zone rides and tracking the flies.
Each of these tactics simulates something that a trout sees every day. And each can fairly be described as a dead drift. But often, just one of these presentations is the most agreeable approach to the trout. All of them can look like a natural dead drift . . .
Some anglers seem resigned to the notion that more flies, split shot or drop shot inevitably bring more tangles. But multiple nymphs on one rig won’t tangle if the cast is right and the rigging is solid.
There are three questions that lead you to solving all your nymphing problems. If you’re struggling, if you’re wondering if the empty net is your fault, ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly.
Is everything in one seam? Do I have to be this far away? Is my fly deep enough for long enough?
Assuming that a dead drift is the goal for your nymph, answering these three questions leads you to correcting your own mistakes . . .
If there’s one thing in nymph fishing that gets far too much credit, it’s the induced take, in all forms. From Frank Sawyer’s slight movement up and out of a pure dead drift, to the Leisenring lift, nymphing anglers everywhere are enamored with ways to twitch, jig, swing and lift the nymph.
An excellent dead drift is your baseline presentation. The induced take is a variation. And do not forget that a good induced take begins with a great dead drift. That is what is so often missed . . .
How many times have I assumed that no trout would eat, when all I needed was a different target? How many trout did I pass earlier this morning because I was complacent about my drifts? “Good enough” was my mindset. “Close enough” were my terms, but the trout were on a different page . . .
Slipping contact is the intermixing of influence and autonomy. Take the fly somewhere — help it glide along. Then surrender it to the current, and let the river make the decisions. Slip in and out, and find the balance between influence and independence to the fly . . .