In the fall and winter, it’s fairly common to catch double digit numbers of trout in a day, many of which are the brawniest yo’ll catch all year. On a river outing this winter, I landed several trout in rapid succession. One of those was a hard fighting 23 incher which was immediately eclipsed by a 25 incher only a couple casts later (above). All these fish were taken nymphing.
The biggest key in indicator nymphing is getting your fly near bottom. In order to get your fly near bottom, you need to get the indicator upstream of the fly. As a stream’s fastest water is at the surface and its slowest water is near bottom, the indicator will travel faster than the fly. If the indicator starts upstream of the fly it’ll eventually catch up. At that point, the fly will achieve its greatest possible depth.
I prefer to nymph my way upstream. This limits the chances of spooking your quarry as you’re in the fish’s blind spot. My favorite cast for nymphing is the tuck cast. In my version, I overpower the cast while aiming a little higher than normal. Additionally, as soon as I snap my wrist on the forward stroke I simultaneously raise the rod and release a few feet of slack line from my line hand. Raising the tip causes the fly to tuck downward while the release of slack line allows the indicator to drift upstream before falling to the water’s surface. The result: the indicator lands upstream of the fly and the fly plummets.
Two Part Drift
As the indicator drifts downstream, it’ll eventually pass the fly and begin pulling the fly toward the surface. To extend your drift, aggressively mend your line when the indicator is near you. Don’t worry about a drag free drift here. You actually want to noticeably lift the indicator upstream of the fly. After the mend, you can feed out line for a second part to the drift. This lets you fish more water and it readies you for your next cast without needing to false cast to extend your line. By also fishing the water below you, your fly will be fishing for a greater portion of your fishing day.
The Coast’s Greatest Nymph
In salmon country, the table is set for some extreme egg feasting every fall. Although eggs are clearly not nymphs, the fishing method is identical and the availability of eggs is as prevalent as any hatch going–trout absolutely gorge themselves for months. Sea run cutthroat will arrive early from the ocean and drop weight for weeks while they wait for the annual pig out. Resident browns and rainbows will also slender out after a summer of slim pickin’s. However, it only takes a few weeks for them to go from slender to distended. Learn to nymph an egg well and you’ll be able to feel the weight of plenty of those distended bellied trout very soon.
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