On the fly: ‘Czeching’ things out
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – Fly fishing is one of those rare sports where you never truly learn everything that there is to know on the subject. Every day that I’m on the water is a new learning experience for me.
The Rocky Mountain regional fishing tournament for Fly Fishing Team USA is being hosted this May in Basalt. This European-style fly fishing competition relies on anglers to fish without traditional strike indicators and affixed weights, instead relying on the angler’s ability to feel or visually see the fish take a fly. This form of fly fishing has come to be known as Czech nymphing. While other variations of the Czech rig have been popularized, (Spanish, Polish and French nymphing disciplines) the overall method remains the same.
This past week, I spent some time fishing and learning with competitive fly anglers from the Roaring Fork Valley. Brandon Soucie, Gifford Maytham and Josh Lively have all competed in several tournaments and have several wins between them to their credit. I met up with this cast of characters around noon to go fish on the Roaring Fork and the Crystal rivers with the intent of learning more about Czech nymphing.
Under the guidance of Brandon, our day starts off with him telling me that specialized fly rods should be used for Czech nymphing – specifically fast-action (stiff) rods in the 10-foot foot or longer category that have a soft tip, in line weights of a No. 3 or No. 4. As we approach the river, he explains his leader and fly setup. As traditional strike indicators are not allowed in a competitive format, the angler often uses a bright, highly visible section of leader material tied onto the butt of their leader to aid in detecting strikes. The leaders themselves are often longer too (11 to 18 feet). The overall combined lengths of the long rod and the long leader allow anglers to simply flick weighted flies upstream of the target area and then guide their flies along the bottom under slight tension. Typically, a heavily weighted fly is anchored to the end of the main line with a lighter fly swinging freely about 2 feet above the anchor fly.
I found Czech nymphing to be quite easy as it relies on the angler’s intuition and ability to adapt the rig to various types of water. The next time you head out to the river, I encourage you to try a new technique, branch out and become a more well-rounded fly angler. Knowledge is power.