Fly Fishing Nymphs
If you are not fly fishing nymphs you could be missing some nice trout. Over two thirds of a trout’s diet is consumed below the surface.
The larval stages of aquatic insects make up most of their diet. These insects are taken near the bottom or as they are ascending toward the surface.
The most common insects found in streams are caddisflies, mayflies and stoneflies.
Dragonflies, damselflies and leeches join the caddisflies and mayflies in lakes. As you can see the nymph stages of these insects supply a large variety of possible dining options for the trout.
Most of these nymphs are available to the trout year round, while adult flies on the surface may only be around for a short period of time. Click here for a definition and examples of nymphs
Nymph Fly Fishing Tips
- You must maintain a drag-free
drift. Line control is important. Learn
how to mend your line to reduce drag. Think about this for a minute, would a
bug floating downstream really float faster or slower than the current?
Presentation is important. Some people claim that how the fly moves through the
water is more important than the look of the fly itself.
- Be observant! Spend time looking
at and under the rocks in the stream. They will give you a good idea which
color and size nymph to use.
- The size, color and shape of the
nymph need to be close to the natural. This only makes sense with the trout
being the expert in identifying its own food. A slightly larger pattern is
often effective because it gets their attention but don’t go more than a size
or two larger.
- Nymph colors that are good to
have in your fly box are light olive, medium olive, light tan and medium tan.
Slightly darker colors are also good but keep in mind that these colors will appear
darker when wet. These are good colors for both caddisflies and mayflies. Nymph sizes should be in the range of #12 to #20.
- Most of the time nymphs need to
be near the bottom as they drift by. Although I am not a big fan of split shot
they are sometimes needed to get the nymph near the bottom. Nymphs are also
fished as emergers.
- You need to keep in direct
contact with the fly. One way is to hold your rod high, keeping most of the line
off the water. This is known as “high sticking.” When fly fishing nymphs try to
stay no more than several rod lengths away from the fly.
- The other way of keeping contact
with the nymph is to use an indicator. This allows you to maintain visual
contact with what’s going on. The indicator can be a very small float, foam,
yarn or wool. Floatant can be added to the yarn and wool to increase their
- Cast upstream and at an angle.
Start close and work your way out into all possible holding water. This allows
you to work the stream thoroughly.
- When fly fishing nymphs in a lake
it is best to cast along the shore. If you have a boat move out and cast toward
shore. If using dragonfly and damselfly nymphs keep in mind that the naturals will be headed toward shore.
For additional reading I recommend Dynamic Nymphing by George Daniel.
It is well illustrated and full of color photographs.
Summary of Fly Fishing Nymphs
I know it is fun to watch a nice rainbow rise to your dry
fly, but you need to learn the fine art of fly fishing nymphs so your success
rate can improve. After all they do make up a major part of a trout’s diet and
they are in the water year round.
To learn more about fishing nymphs and the different setups
return to fly fishing tips.
Return to Fly Fishing
Tips from Fly Fishing Nymphs
Return to Fly Fishing Basics