Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nymph Fishing the Fast Water

It isn't nearly as fun as fishing a dry fly to a sighted fish, but nymph fishing can be a necessity. In periods of high water flow we need to get down deep and get down quickly if we want fish to see our offerings. Let's take a look at two nymph fishing strategies. One of them is the common strike indicator method and the other is a European import called "Czech Nymphing".

The first setup is one that most fly fishers have encountered before. For this rig I suggest attaching a 7.5' to 9' leader tapered to 4x. (In times of slower clearer stream conditions I would use a 5x leader.) Tie on 20" of 4x tippet at the end of the leader. Attach your first fly to the end of the tippet. Attach a second piece of tippet (4 or 5x) to the bend of the first fly using an improved clinch knot. About 15" is perfect. Attach your second fly.

Once your flies are tied on it is time to add some weight and your indicator. Place your weight about 12-15" above your first fly. Do not put your weight more than 15" above your first nymph. The closer your weight is to your fly the deeper it will get.

There are several options for weights. The most common weight used is split shot. For faster water conditions a size BB shot or two should do the job. An alternative is lead or tungsten putty. I have used tungsten putty reliably for years. I find it easier to adjust the amount of weight needed. One problem is that putty tends to shift during fishing. To counter this, tie in 2-10" pieces of tippet instead of the first 20" piece. Place your putty on the knot 10" above your first fly. Having the putty on the knot reduces its tendency to shift during fishing.

To finish up, place your strike indicator 8-15" down from the end of your flyline. Indicator placement can be adjusted for fishing varying depths of water. The standard formula is to put your indicator 2 times the depth of the water above your first fly. If the water is 3' deep place your indicator 6'above your first nymph. In faster moving water I leave the indicator high on my setup to allow the flies to sink more readily.

There are countless types of indicators. For fast water nymphing a large extremely buoyant indicator is a necessity. For the Black Hills a 3/4" thingamabobber is a good bet. If a thingamabobber isn't for you, choose an indicator you like and stick with it. In fast water conditions avoid stick-on foam indicators.

Take a look at this crude diagram to clear up any failings of my text.

I have run out of time for now, but check back and I will tackle the Czech Nymph rig. Following that will be a post on fast water nymph fishing strategies.


tbiesiot said...

Can you fish an indicator with the Czech nymphing rig? Also, is there a time and place where one method works better than the other?


Hans Stephenson said...

You don't need an indicator in czech nymphing. It is a tight line nymphing technique. With tight line nymphing you can see your fly line move or feel the take. I will discuss this in depth in the next post.

tyler said...

Split shot is a favorite of mine as well, it's so versatile and can easily be added or removed if conditions change.