by Fly Fisherman

The nymph’s life, up to the time he feels the urge to get out in the open air, is spcnt under rocks, covered with silt or in a case constructed of gravel, sand or sticks. When this latter type nymph, the caddis or sedge, has the desire to move he drags his house around with him. As he grows in size he builds an addition to this case house. In the instance of the ephemoptera or the commonly called Mayfly nymph, he likes mud and spends his time covered up with the stuff. As he grows older he is found, too, sometimes under rocks and stones on the stream bed. The real rock and stone inhabitant gets his name, the Stonefly, from his inclination, at this stage of his life, to keep himself protected and out of sight of his chief enemy, the fish, by living under stones.

Just preceding the Mayfly nymph’s emergence into a dun, on the water’s surface, he is a pretty active creature. (See Fig. 43.) A fast mover in the water, he makes a number of trips from the stream bed to the surface. It looks like he cannot make up his mind. The latest theory on the cause for this behavior is that his respiratory system is undergoing a fast change and until this alteration has been completed he has to impatiently exercise his swimming muscles and keep moving.

During this interval when he’s in midwater darting around the trout have a banquet. We can place this activity in its later stages by observing swirls and bulges in the water made by fish feeding on this nymph. The earlier stages take place much closer to the stream bed. This period is the big dinner time for our trout. Activity continues, but somewhat abated, into the mid waters, then to the upper strata where we can visualize the action. Sometimes we see parts of the tail of a trout breaking the surface intermittently. They seem to be trying to stand on their head but they actually are nosing around on the stream bottom moving stones about to expose the nymphs. We call this action “Tailing.” I’ve watched trout do this, then slip back in the current and wait for the nymphs to be washed down to them.

An English fisherman and writer, G.E.M. Skues, may have been the originator (some writers credit him with it) of nymph fishing as we know it, but at least he popularized and promoted it a long time ago. It was his conviction that true nymph fishing was the topmost rung of sporting fishing, supplemented by dry fly fishing as the secondary method. It was his claim, and most experts concur, that nymph fishing as it should be done required much more skill and much more stream and trout knowledge than any other order of trout fishing.

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