Just after TRM had some novices trying to master nymphing techniques we found the following:
(From Rod & Reel)
Indicator Nymphing is probably the most widely recognised form of fishing on our well known rivers down in the Taupo region. As we all know, it can certainly be a tricky technique to master. You are contending with things such as water flow, water depth, line drag, and ‘contact’, just to name a few areas. Typical nymphing rigs which are used on rivers such as the Tongariro, involve the use of very heavy ‘bomb’ style nymphs. Where very heavy tungsten beads are used (and may also include lead in the body as well) in conjunction with a lighter egg or natural style nymph. These ‘bombs’ are obviously required to get your flies down, in to the zone where the fish are holding. This is especially important in the winter months, when the spawning fish are moving up the rivers. Essentially, if you’re not on the bottom, you are wasting your time!
Yes, most of us have at some stage tried, or are fishing this technique, and for all of us it can bring varying degrees of success. This brief write-up is going to look at some pointers, in your set-up, that might help improve your success this winter, with this style of fishing;
1. Firstly, soak your indicators in products such as Liquid Mucilin or Loon Hydrostop.
These products dry out completely and do not add any weight or residue to your indicator, which can happen when using silicon based floatants. Silicon based floatants will make your indicators heavier. Which can then be harder to cast, especially seeing you already have a huge bomb zinging around your head! This may then mean that you can fish a smaller indicator in size, for the same floatability. Ultimately, if your indicator doesn’t float, or can’t hold up the weight of your nymphs, your level of success will be massively reduced.
2. Fish as short a leader as possible, relative to the depth of water you are fishing.
Too often we start with a 9-12ft leader and continue with this no matter what depth we are fishing. This is fine in 8-10ft of water, but not so good in 4 feet. Fishing a leader length up to, or just under 1.5 x the depth of the water you are fishing (as there is always some drag which must be allowed for) means that you will have much better ‘contact’ with your flies, and ultimately any takes. A leader set to the depth you are fishing will also mean you will have less ‘drag’ by your flies, therefore less hang up’s on the bottom, during your drift and better ‘contact’ when fish take your flies. So if you are fishing water that is 8ft deep, you would want to be running a leader that is up to 12ft long (you will also need to take in to account, the speed of the current, and weight / size of the flies you are fishing).
3. Do you need to fish a tapered leader in winter?
Not if you are fishing bomb style rigs. Tapered leaders are designed to help ‘turn over’ flies such as dryflies and smaller nymphs. Your heavily weighted flies will do that for themselves. The other reason for not needing a tapered leader is that due to the difference in diameter of the leader (thicker at the top and skinnier at the bottom) it will essentially create a bow in the line as it drifts, due to the increased water resistance on the leader from bottom upwards. A same length section of one weight of leader e.g. 8lb, will greatly reduce drag on your leader due to water resistance. With this you can add a lighter section of leader to the bottom if you want / need to. But ultimately the majority of your leader will be the same thickness throughout, so therefore water resistance will be equal throughout.
4. Fluorocarbon vs Monofilament.
This is always a hotly debated topic and here are a few points that you may not know;
i. Naturally sinks in water – so suited to Nymphing techniques (not dryfly techniques)
ii. Has higher abrasion resistance than monofilament. So when nymphs are bouncing around rocks, boulders and logs, this may improve the overall robustness of your line.
iii. Only really stretches when first loaded, then has minimal stretch from there onwards. Can be an advantage when fishing longer leaders as you have better ‘contact’ due to decreased stretch. Also means that there is less ‘shock absorbancy’ in your set up though, so may lead to more lost fish if you are going hard on them.
iv. Has a similar refractive index to water, so almost invisible to fish (important when the water is clear, or sun is on the water).
v. Quite stiff. Can be more difficult to tie knots and may not ‘present’ lighter flies quite as well as monofilament.
i. Naturally floats in water – suited to dryfly fishing. Ultimately has an element of buoyancy, so could affect sink rates of your flies.
ii. Has a lower abrasion resistance than fluorocarbon.
iii. Can stretch up to 20% of it’s length, repeatedly. This means that it can act as a very good ‘shock absorber’ in your set-up. It can also mean that the longer your leader, the more stretch there is when trying to set the hook.
iv. Has a higher refractive index than water. So is essentially more visible in water than fluorocarbon. Not really an issue early and late in the day or if there is colour in the water.
v. Quite soft. Easy to tie knots and ‘presents’ lighter flies very well. Allows them to move naturally.
Hopefully some of the info here has given a bit of food for thought and might even help in your success this winter. Keep an eye out for our follow up article which will be focusing more on ‘fishing’ this style and some tips and hints that can help your drift and ‘contact’ with your flies.
Egg patterns and Glo bugs will generally work better early morning and late evening, with smaller natural patterns (pheasant tails, hare and coppers etc) working better during the day.
And then there is ORVIS News:
Written by: Geoff Stevens, Teton Fishing Co. LLC
I recently had the honor of taking a fellow guide and his wife on a trip for large rainbows. He was a top-notch guide for trophy bass. Neither had fly fished before, and after a short lesson on entomology, presentation, and most importantly hook-setting, we hit the river to do some nymphing. We had a great day, with the wife catching just shy of 20 fish, the largest about five pounds.
Although her husband had nearly 100 takes, he didn’t land a fish all day. It didn’t matter how many times I showed him how to set the hook; his muscle memory prevailed and he’d set the hook straight up, and even after the first hook set would repeat it two or three times. . .largemouth style. I felt bad for him, but I suppose I wouldn’t do much better with a bait caster and a spinnerbait. At one point, I threatened I’d get a rope and tie his arm down.
Having guided for a long time, I’d argue that a poor hook set is the greatest reason for not catching fish among newbies and experienced clients alike. Veterans have the presentation down perfectly, can play a fish well, but miss many because of faulty hook set. And as in the case above, the wife usually out-catches them.
So how can you fix the problem?
1. Set On Everything—In relationships, men often struggle with commitment, and when it comes to setting the hook while nymphing, they often have same problem. For some reason, men are more willing to think the indicator’s movement was caused by a rock or the bottom, instead of believing it was a take. Psychologically, we’re embarrassed to commit, only to find out it was wishful thinking. Women don’t have this problem. I’d be willing to bet that the average male client has at least twice the number of takes as he realizes, if not more. Want to catch more? Set the hook more often. If in doubt, set the hook! In all my years of guiding, I never have had to tell a client to stop setting the hook too much. Funny. This is one of the reasons women usually out-catch men.
2. Set Downstream—Many veteran fly fishermen, who may claim to have been fishing for over 30 years, still set the hook by yanking the rod straight upward. In my experience, they lose about 50% of takes while nymphing. The miss rate goes up even more if the hook is smaller than a size 18. More times than not, the hook comes flying out the fish’s mouth and right up into the tree behind. Instead of missing so many fish and offering perfectly good flies to the tree gods, set the hook downstream: sweep your rod horizontally toward the bank behind you, keeping the rod parallel to the water’s surface. Setting the hook into the fish’s mouth and against the full weight of the fish will drastically increase your rate of catch. This way, you won’t need nearly as much force, and if the hook does happen to come out, you can continue your downstream drift.
Second, when you set straight upward, you are lifting your line off the water, which requires a whole lot more motion and energy than a quick little downstream set. (That’s why your flies are so high up in that tree.) The downstream set is much more efficient because the line remains in the same plane, and all the motion is in one dimension. With a tight line between you and the fly, setting the hook isn’t much more than a bit of a quick wrist action. Your hook set will be so much faster, too, not allowing the fish to spit out the fly.
Give these tips a try. Set more and set downstream. You’ll be amazed.
Geoff Stevens is the owner and head guide of Teton Fishing Co. LLC in Dubois, Wyoming. In addition to guiding, he also teaches clinics on European nymphing. He enjoys applying his physics degree to the world of fly fishing.