Nymphing smymphing

Since this is really a kind of personal fishing diary I intend to ocasionally use it to voice any fishy thoughts I happen to be mulling over. That’s what this post is going to be like, so sorry if this is boring.

I had a really good chat with a pal of mine a few weeks ago. We talked nymphing. Of the dead drifted upstream shabang. Truth be told I quite often talk about this with the guy because he’s kind of a guru I reckon and I need to learn. I’ve been spending a bit of time this year practising this dark art and I feel I’ve just about done enough of it to have some ‘proper’ thoughts. This doesn’t mean I’m any good, actually it means I know I’m not. It’s just a case of trying to learn by listening closely to oneself’s own bullshit.

There are nymphs in there!

It’s a funny old business nymphing upstream you know. Unquestionably the most difficult of all river fly fishing skills, you basically just fish a dry fly with your eyes closed. Ok so that’s slightly exagerating the point, but not by much. What makes it truly testing and what is at the heart of the matter is that stuff also happens in 3D.

This guy is 3D, and he lives in 3D

Why is this important? Because to my mind almost everyone who fishes a nymph tries to find ways to avoid this fact, and to make life 2D. If you fish a great big indicator, it is a hell of a lot easier to start catching a few fish on the nymph. However, there is no way that you are becomming a really good nymph fisher this way. There’s essentially not much difference between this and fishing a dry: in fact that’s what it is, a way for dry fly people to fish a nymph without learn how to properly.

Look, no indicators!!

Does this matter? Not at all. Fish as one wills, the fish dinnae care. But to me, there just seems something a little cheap and half arsed about skipping out on properly learning this obviously fascinating branch of fly fishing. And by properly I mean to *know* the take without a globug on your leader. This is the great bit, the bit that makes me excited and mad in one go. Ollie Kite was aparently amazing at this, and reading his book has been really good fun and just a bit inspiring. How is it possible? Well another good place to start is here, followed by a good while on a river. Why am I obsessed by this stuff? I reckon it’s because to be good at this kind of fishing takes a serious pinch of zen. I’m not really there yet, but I’ve tasted the jam and it’s good. Rasberry…mmm.. There’s just something amazing about fishing up through a nice riffle and suddenly there’s a nice trout on your line and you don’t know quite how it got attactched. But you do really. You’ve reached the zen plain.


  1. unomepal’s avatar

    “That’s what this post is going to be like, so sorry if this is boring.”
    Don’t worry pal, no one is reading it anyway.

  2. Mik’s avatar

    oh well that’s just really nice isn’t it. I pour the heart out and you pour it down the drain. 😀

  3. Mik’s avatar

    Actually, how are you even up? Shouldn’t you be in bed pal?

  4. Ian  Scott’s avatar

    Well, I’m reading. Interesting post on nymphing. I’ve never used a strike indicator – maybe I’ve missed more fish because of that, not sure. Interesting though that most of the fish I’ve caught on a nymph are when stripping line. I think a lot depends on the water.

    Last night, at one point, I had success with a soft hackle nymph (no weight) when the trout were feeding just under the surface on something.

    Other times, it’s a beadhead drifted through a deep pool – when the current is strong – otherwise, it seems to me, it’s mostly on the retrieve when the fish hit.

    But then I need to learn more about nymphing myself. 🙂

  5. Mik’s avatar

    thanks for posting ian. glad to hear your thoughts and that I’m not the only one thinking about this stuff. i guess what I was trying to get at was that to be a good nymph fisher you’ve got to look beyond something floating on the surface.
    I tend to fish this style through the sides of riffles and usually spot takes on the leader, often under the water. one day I hope I’ll know a take by seeing the flash of a fish!

  6. Ian Scott’s avatar

    Come visit me and fish some of the water I fish, and I’ll guarantee you’ll at least know an attempt by a fish, by it’s flash, as a take to a soft hackled nymph, just under the surface!

    But those are not the only fishing situations – where conditions are that we can “see” the flash and the take.

    All depends on the water that is being fished.

  7. Mik’s avatar

    Aye Ian that would be great! Are you based in Canada then?
    Anyway I’ve added a link to your blog, thanks for stopping by.

  8. Ian Scott’s avatar

    Mik, thanks for the link! And aye, I live in Ontario, Canada – in a town called Orangeville. I’m approximately 40 minutes away from the Grand River, one of the rivers I fish.

    Originally born in Northern Ireland, however!

    I have a very good friend who hails from — ack! I forget the name of the place now – but in Scotland, who lives close by now, and he and I often talk about a trip to Scotland to fish some of the lochs that he used to fish. Apparently some of them are a good hike to get to, but the fishing is very good.

    I’ve never done much “loch style” or lake fly fishing myself so it will be interesting if we ever are able to do the trip.

    I’ll add a link to your site later this evening.



  9. Mik’s avatar

    there are some cracking lochs in Scotland. Further North the better in general. I’m heading up there myself at the end of August so stay tuned, there’ll be updates!

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