On the fly: Nymphing 101
November 16, 2011
BASALT – Our fall fishing season is in full swing. At no other time of year can such a multitude of fishing styles be effective on the water. Blue-wing olive mayflies are still hatching, providing thrilling dry-fly opportunities along with the year’s best streamer fishing. Day in and day out though, if you simply wish to pull on a bunch of fish, nymphing will provide you with the most success.
In everyday terms, nymphs are aquatic insects that are still in their underwater stage, not having reached their adult, or flying, stage of life yet. Well over 90 percent of a trout’s diet consists of nymphs, which are why these flies are so effective on a year-round basis. During fall, the primary nymph that we most often imitate is a blue-wing olive. Despite their small size, the fish focus on these insects because of their wide availability. The analogy I often use is that it’s much like us eating french fries instead of a steak – you eat lots of them, not just one.
A basic nymph setup consists of a 7-foot tapered leader to which we then add about 12 to 18 inches of tippet. At the end of that piece is where we tie on our first nymph. We then add another foot or two of tippet to the bend of the hook of the first fly. We can now tie on and attach our second nymph to the end of that piece of tippet. A split shot (weight) is then crimped onto the leader, above the leader-to-tippet connection, using that knot as a stopper to keep the split shot from sliding down. The last step in a basic nymph rig is to then affix a strike indicator (a fly angler’s version of a bobber) onto the leader.
The amount of weight used varies depending on the speed and depth of the water being fished. The key here is to use enough weight to have your flies bouncing along the bottom without hanging up. The placement of our strike indicator will also vary, but as a general rule of thumb, it should be placed at one to two times the depth of the water being fished. Once fishing, be sure to keep your setup moving with the speed of the water.
Give nymphing a try this fall and relish in your newfound success.