Now for part two of a few noodles on nymph fishing. I spent some more time reading Ollie Kite’s book and reckon I’m closer to crystalizing my thoughts a bit. The last post on this basically consisted of reasons why indicator fishing is dodgy. There are some genuine reasons that are pointed out in that web article I linked to, chief of which is that you actually miss quite a lot of takes because you’re so focused on only one bit of the line. To be a good nymph fisher I reckon one of the most important things is to be able to look everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The sign of the take could be so many things it seems a shame to limit yourself to robotic oogling of a float.
So, what makes proper nymph fishing different, and how is it done really well?
The absolute key to this is what Ollie describes as “informed anticipation”. If you cannot see the fish you are fishing to, as is almost always the case where I fish in the riffles of spate rivers, you must do the next best thing and that is to imagine the fish. Again this may sound pretentious/stupid or whatever, but having done this a bit I can honestly say it is absolutely central to becoming good at this. He puts it much better than I could:
“Try to anticipate the movement for striking by picturing in your mind not only what is going on beneath the water, whether you can see it or not, but by what you intend to cause to happen beneath the water.”
A really simple way of putting this into practice is suggested in that article where the author describes how he teaches people nymphing:
‘When I’m teaching short-line nymphing, I often tell the students, “Find a reason to set the hook sometime during this drift.” This helps them to intensify their concentration and to expect a strike instead of being surprised by a strike.’
What I like so much about this way of fishing is that you are truly hunting the fish. Generally you don’t get away with the kind of lucky hookups that can come with swinging/winging wet flies, or even prospecting with dry flies. These are obviously great methods in their own right, but there’s just no way they require the same levels of skill and anticipation that come with good nymph fishing.
When you are really fishing a nymph properly I’ve never found anything else that so completely absorbs your concentration and tunes your senses. If you then actually catch a fish it’s a thrilling mix of “strewth I actually hooked one” and “how the hell did that happen” and “hmm I think I’m becomming a bit Buddhist”. A good couple of hours of fishing like this and I need a drink..!
I should point out that I realise it’s probably not kosher for a Buddhist to fish (afterlives etc etc), but hopefully it makes my point. Actually I bet a Tibetan monk could make a flipping brilliant nymph fisherman.
So what all of this is trying to say is that good nymphing comes from serious concentration, anticipation and quick reactions. Shedloads of practice helps as well.
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