Nymphs & Fly Fishing Nymphing Effectively

So you’ve got your flies ready. What are the best ways to attach them for successful fly fishing?

In this post I’m going to focus on stillwater flyfishing because here is where the most variation can be achieved for different days, different waters and different weather conditions (eg windy days).

Nymphs on days with little or no wind:

Nymphing for rainbow troutIn this situation it is probably best to fish without any strike indicator unless your eyesight is not as good as it used to be … watch for the slightest movement in the line tip. If you need to use an indicator the best choice is to attach a dry fly to the leader at a position allowing the nymph to sink to the desired depth. To estimate the length of leader to fish a nymph at a chosen depth multiply the depth by 1.5.

Use between 1 and 3 nymphs (depending upon rules of the water being fished) … the heaviest nymph should be on the point with lighter flies being tied at interval between the point and dry fly indicator.

Nymphs on Windy Days:

Flashback NymphOn these days especially if a cross wind is blowing it will need a weighted fly to get down to any reasonable fishing depth. Most modern flies are weighted using brass or glass beads tied into the fly or by threading a bead onto the leader so that it slides down to the point fly.

You may well need a strike indicator in these conditions and there are numerous types available … the best is a large dry fly such as a hopper with a foam body. The point is the dry fly indicator must float well.

There are a few ways to attach these flies to the leader:

1. The New Zealand method: Use a clinch knot to attach a section of leader to the topmost fly then tie the next fly onto the curved bend of the hook using a length of suitable leader. Repeat this until you tie on the point fly. Using this method the flies fish in tandem and perhaps there is a slight loss in hooking power.

2. The next method is similar to the above except instead of using the bend of the hook to attach the leader section tie the leader into the eye of the corresponding fly.

3. The use of droppers … advantage is taken here of joining 2 lengths of leader together. I use a water knot for this purpose and have never experienced problems. Many sources suggest the use of a double blood knot. Once the 2 lengths of leader have been attached leave a length of about 6 inches protruding from the knot. Let this be of the stronger of the two leader breaking strains used in tying the knot. Attach the fly such that the dropper is about 4 inches long. Longer than this will tend to produce tangles. Repeat the process for each dropper fly.

Fishing flies just below the surface

Modern materials make it easy to fish both sinking flies and surface film flies (e.g. buzzers and emergers) and dry fly combinations. The challenge is to be able to suspend the dropper flies just below the surface or in the case of a dry fly on the surface without the heavier point fly submerging the lighter flies on the droppers. The malleable strike indicator materials are perfect for this … just roll small sections between the finger and thumb and attach at points on the leader (e.g. on both sides of the buzzer in the surface film). Not only does this material act an excellent suspension agent but it doubles as a bit indicator. Before the advent of floating putty grease was used to achieve the same end (Arthur Cove used this method in conjunction with buzzers and soft hackled flies with great success on English reservoirs in the 1970’s). The trouble with grease of course is that when you want to sink the leader it becomes very difficult. Expect some quite savage and sudden takes when fishing with emergers…