Weighted Flies and the Nymph

by Fly Fisherman

Some fishermen frown on the use of weighted flies. In the case of the nymph, however, in order to reach the lower feeding strata of water, it is sometimes necessary. The added weight should ordinarily be built into the nymph when it was tied. A weight added to the leader will work but some difficulty is encountered in manipulation and in hooking your fish. Unlike the wet fly fished downstream where the leader only is weighted, the nymph, being fished generally upstream, would be hampered by a weight on the leader. G. E. M. Skues, who fought so energetically to have nymph fishing recognized as the acme of sport in fishing trout, when confronted with the “weighted nymph” question, argued successfully that weight added to a nymph fly, to assist in its effectiveness, was identical to adding oils or floatants to a dry fly so that it, too, would be at its best.

I have used nymphs both with weights added and unweighted also, as conditions demanded. I have also placed a couple “B” shot about eighteen inches above my nymph when I wanted the fly to go down after them. I cast upstream and slightly across, or if it was an undercut bank edge the nymph was dropped as closely as possible to the bank and allowed to sink to the bottom. I gathered in line as the slack was formed by the fly drifting in my direction. When it passed my position, in the stream or on the bank, I cast short loops, without disturbing the drift of the fly, to force some of the line I had retrieved back out the guides. When I judged that the cast had reached the control limit I permitted the line to tighten and the nymph arose toward the surface. Watch this point! That’s where the fish is most likely to take it and he usually hooks himself.

Before we go further in this subject permit me to advance a strategic suggestion that may appear to be superfluous but that has paid off when the excitement of the battle prevents your doing it. As you start to fish or work a pocket, observe
the shore and the water around you. Plan where you’ll stage the fight, if you hook one and then have anything to do with where it will be fought. Determine the spot where you’ll lead your fish for netting or beaching.

This little precaution seems unimportant but it could mean the difference, under certain conditions, between success and failure in each fishing adventure.
To acquire a comparable degree of skill, in taking trout, that one can grasp in the matter of a couple of days fishing the dry fly would demand, at least, a couple of seasons of fishing the nymph fly. Discouragement is the greatest bane to the angler first attempting the proper, and resultful, methods of using the nymph and it should not be so because there are thousands of accomplished fishermen working these nymph flies that are doing no better than first-timers—fishermen that are convinced they’re doing it the right way but with results proving otherwise.

To the best of my knowledge I would estimate that there are probably few nymph fly experts in the country. To be successful constantly, and it is very possible, requires a high measure of casting skill, a pretty thorough knowledge of trout ways, a fair comprehension of stream currents and flow and a familiarity of the aquatic creatures and of the simulated frauds being used at the end of our leaders.

As to the leaders to use in fishing nymphs, follow the same suggestions advanced for fishing the wet fly. Go to even finer tippets if you feel that you can successfully handle your fish.

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