Nymphing 101

A large portion of a trout’s diet comes from sub-surface insects, like caddis larva, midges and other macroinvertebrates – that’s where nymphing comes in. To catch trout and other fish feeding below the water’s surface, grab some stoneflies and midges and have these 5 tips in your back pocket!

Keep a tight drift

Removing slack from the system will help your drift look as natural and drag free as possible. The more line on the water, the more drag you will get from the different currents. By keeping your line short and using your rod length to reach where the fish might be, you will be better positioned for a drag free drift. End result: you present more realistic looking bugs and fish are much more willing to eat them up!

Fish as deep as possible

Learn To Start Euro Nymphing Like A Pro

If you aren’t bumping the bottom you aren’t deep enough. You need to estimate the overall depth of the section you are fishing and set the indicator (it’s a bobber by another name). By setting your indicator to 1 to 1 1/2 of that depth you stand a good chance to get your fly to the bottom. But be careful not to set it so deep that there is too much line out in shallow water – resulting in too much drag and an unnatural drift. It’s a delicate balance that comes with practice.

Don’t be afraid of heavy flies or weight

Getting your fly to the depth that fish are feeding at is the name of the game. In most cases, this will require a weighted fly, split shot or a combination of the two. Experiment with different weights, combinations and flies to get you in the right zone. 

Treat every bump as a strike

As you drift your fly along the bottom, bumping rocks and vegetation is inevitable. The tough part is determining what bumps are strikes (fish on!) and what is the bottom (potential lost flies). If you get in the habit of treating all bumps as strikes, you will stand a better chance of setting the hook on a subtle take.

Give your fly some movement

Image from Missouri Department of Conservation.

As insects move through the water, they don’t always follow a straight line or trajectory. By adding some movement by way of small twitches or swinging your fly through the current, you stand a better shot at getting that fish to bite. 

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