Articles With the Tag . . . indicator nymphing

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Egg Tips

Smith and I found ourselves on another late December, post-Christmas fishing trip. But Smith was fishing and coming up empty, while I was catching trout . . .

. . . “Alright, Dom. What the hell are you doing?” he demanded boldly. Smith takes pride in finding his own path and solving his own puzzles. But like every good angler I know, he’s humble enough to ask the right questions at the right times . . .

The predictability of the winter egg bite can be excellent — if you’re nymphing skills are tuned up. It also takes some extra refinement . . .

. . . So here’s what I told Smith . . .

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 . . .

Nymphing: The Top Down Approach

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...

Stick the Landing While Tight Lining

Stick the Landing While Tight Lining

Good fishing happens by doing a bunch of the small things right. And improvement happens when you do more things right than you did last time. Our favorite wild trout teach us good fishing habits because they’re discriminating. They are rarely fooled by inferior...

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Secondary Nymphing Rig

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.

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Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig

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 . . .

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Nymphing: How to read a fly fishing indicator — What you might be missing

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.

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Nymphing: Tight Line vs Indicator

Nymphing: Tight Line vs Indicator

I’ve watched a lot of anglers fish nymphs. Most of them pick up at least a few trout, and some guys are like a vacuum cleaner. But I like to watch how differently everyone approaches the game. It’s curious to see so much variation, because essentially we’re all striving for the same thing — we want a drift that looks a lot like what the natural bugs are doing down there. (And yeah, usually that’s a dead drift.) But while the refinements and nuances between anglers are plenty, I think we can fairly group all approaches for dead drifting nymphs into two camps: tight line or indicator nymphing styles. The next question: Which one is better?

Of course, the merits of each method have been and will be argued for decades. But it really comes down to this: Which one puts more trout in the net?

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Three Parts of an Ideal Indicator Leader

Three Parts of an Ideal Indicator Leader

I’m not much of a gear guy. I demand a solid pair of waders, and I’m picky about boots, but I don’t obsess over rods and reels. I have what I need, I guess. I am a leader junkie, though, and I have been since the beginning. Early on, I understood how critical leader design is. For presenting the fly, specific material and taper matters a lot.

I’ve never liked trying to make one leader do everything, either. The inherent compromises in a do-it-all leader are too great — performance for each tactic suffers. And I know many anglers who agree; they carry both a long leader for tight line nymphing and a dry fly leader. After all, there’s a world of difference in the expectations for those two styles.

But here’s the thing: Indicators are often added to our leader as an afterthought — which leads to another compromise. We’re left with a tool that is not well suited for the job. It works, but it could be better.

So for many years I’ve carried a third leader dedicated to indicator nymphing. And built into the leader are three features which are specifically up to the task of floating nymphs under an indy . . .

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It’s a Suspender — Not Just an Indicator

It’s a Suspender — Not Just an Indicator

This August, 2016 Troutbitten article is retooled and revisited here. Bobber, cork, foam, yarn, dry fly. Those are my categories, but who cares? If you’ve been fly fishing and nymphing for a while, you’ve probably tried all of the above. You have your own categories...

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