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Fly Fishing Things

BASICS OF NYMPH FISHING FOR TROUT  Back to Categories

flyfishingthings.com/ Nymph fishingFly fishing with nymph imitations is an extremely effective way to catch trout.  Nymph fishing also give the fly-fisherman another way to fish for trout when dry fly fishing is not effective.

To nymph fish is to fish below the surface of the water where as dry fly fishing is to fish on the surface of the water.

To nymph fish;  is to "dead-drift" a fly imitation that resembles the insect in its aquatic form along the bottom of the stream before it emerges to hatch.

Nymph fishing also includes fishing wet flies. Nymph fishing with wet flies is a combination of both dead drifting and swimming the fly.

 
Generally, the word "nymph" is used to describe the under water stage of development of an adult flying insects such as: Mayflies, Stoneflies, Caddis flies, Midge flies, Damsel flies, Dragon flies and others. See the illustrations below.

To learn more, the book "Nymphs", authored by Ernest (Erny) Schwiebert, is one of the most exhaustive and informative volumes' ever written about aquatic insects.  In addition, "Dave Whitlock's Guide to Aquatic Trout Foods" and “Nymph Fishing For Larger Trout”  also authored by Dave Whitlock are two more excellent books on the behavior and life cycle of nymphs

Nymphs live and scurry about on, and under rocks until they’re ready to emerge as adults.  Go to any rifle, and turn over or pick up a rock (at least 4 or 5 inches in diameter and preferably flat)  and look on the bottom. There you will see nymphs. When they emerge (if in great numbers) it is called a “hatch”. Trust me when I say you’ll want to be fly fishing when a hatch occurs. 

To learn more about hatches, go to my page on "Hatches". Nymph fishing is not as much fun as dry fly fishing. However, if your goal is to catch lots of fish,  then nymph fishing is your ticket.  Most nymph fishing will be done in water a foot to four feet in depth.  Thirty inches deep is ideal.

Here are examples of real nymphs (top row). Imitations. (Bottom row)

flyfishingthings.com/mayfly nymph

flyfishingthings.com/stonefly nymph 

flyfishingthings.com/caddis larvae

flyfishingthings.com/caddis pupa

flyfishingthings.com/damsel nymph

flyfishingthings.com/dragonfly nymph

flyfishingthings.com/cranefly larvae

flyfishingthings.com/hares ear

flyfishingthings.com/yellowstone nymph

flyfishingthings.com/caddis larva imitation

flyfishingthings.com/caddis emerger imitation

flyfishingthings.com/damsel imitation

flyfishingthings.com/dragon imitation

flyfishingthings.com/crane fly larva best 

Mayfly nymph

Stonefly nymph

Caddis larvae

Caddis pupa

Damselfly nymph

Dragonfly nymph

Crane fly larvae

The real bug.

flyfishingthings.com/scud

flyfishingthings.com/midge larvae

flyfishingthings.com/chrinomid pupa

flyfishingthings.com/midge larva

flyfishingthings.com/aquatic worm

flyfishingthings.com/dark stonefly nymph

The fly imitation.

flyfishingthings.com/scud imitation 

flyfishingthings.com/olive midge imitation 

flyfishingthings.com/midge pupa

flyfishingthings.com/red midge

flyfishingthings.com/san juan worm

flyfishingthings.com/dark stone imitation

Name

Scud

Midge larva

Midge Pupa

Midge larva

Aquatic worm

Dark Stonefly nymph


 How to nymph fish with a fly rod.

To rig for nymph fishing the leader should be eight to nine feet long.  Apply a split shot or shape-a-weight to the leader a foot to eighteen inches above the fly.  Then attach a strike indicator about thirty inches above that.  Where you attach the strike indicator  is subjective.  The length of the strike indicator above the weight is approximate, and relative to the depth of the water being fished.  To explain:  the surface of the water moves faster than the water at the bottom of the stream.  The weight on the leader in the water  causes the line to drift even slower.  The result is that the nymph is moving in front of the the weight; thus an angle is formed from where the line enters the water down to the weight. The distance the strike indicator is placed above the weight takes into consideration the extra length of the angle. For example:  if the water your fishing is 30" deep and there is a 6" tilt (from the weight at the bottom up to where the line enters the water) to the line; then the strike indicator should be positioned 36" inches above the weight. However, having done this and you continue to catch the bottom with the nymph, then adjust accordingly  until you get a  drift without hanging up. I know this may seem a little confusing, but it's not
really.  You'll know what I mean the first time you try it. 

Review "Prime fishing spots" on the Stream fishing page to select a spot to start your fishing. 

In nymph fishing one does not
cast the fly but slings the fly. Position yourself (you may want to review the principals of positioning here) and pull out approximately two rods’ length of line.  To start, let the current take the line downstream until it becomes stretched out behind you.  Then make your “cast” by slinging the fly upstream dropping the fly in the water above your target. Lift your rod so as to remove any slack as the fly drifts back towards you.  All the while keeping your eye on the strike indicator. Keep the rod tip positioned directly  over the strike indicator as it drifts by.  If the strike indicator pauses or dips under the water you may have a take. Immediately lift your rod and hook the fish.  If not, allow the fly to drift past you until it reaches the end of its length.  When the line nears the end of it’s length the current will cause the fly to rise towards the surface. This action mimics the behavior of an emerging nymph, and many strikes occur at this point—be ready.  Keep the rod
vertical as much as possible as the fly drifts by you. The futher out (away) you fish from where you're standing the more tendency the fly will swim or drag.  This is not good unless that's your intent. Good nymph fishing technique mimics the nymph being pulled along by the current.   Repeat over and over until you catch all the fish in that spot. Then move to the next run, riffle or whatever and begin again.
That's all there is to it.  Nymph fishing is pretty simple and straight forward.

Good luck.