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Ronan's report


Sunday 21st April, 2013

I'm covering for Akos today, I think he's on strike tomorrow, either that or Bernd. Anyway it's all good, because I have something to write about: The Jiggled Nymph!

Now to put a few things into perspective, I am certainly not an expert river angler - especially on Chalkstreams, but also Spate rivers, and indeed grayling remain almost a complete and total mystery to me! Of course I have vast experience on Stillwaters and also a fair amount of experience in New Zealand backcountry and lakes (about 17 seasons there, nothing like as much as my Stillwater background of course), and it's true that some of the things I've learned in these places adapt well to Chalkstreams - Streamers and Shipman-style flies for example.

I consider myself very lucky indeed that I regularly get to fish with anglers who most certainly are expert on these rivers, which only further goes to remind me that I have very much to learn. I used to figure that Stillwater flyfishing was the most technical of all (partly because the fish get lots of time to check out the flies, but also because stillwaters have more depth, but mainly I think because there are just so many methods that one has to master to be an expert). And while it's true that Stillwater fly fishing does require the broadest range of skills, I haven't been very successful when it comes to nymphing the hard fished rivers of Croatia and Bosnia.

Two exceptionally good anglers in this part of the world are Sasha and Jankovic. Both are experts in inducing the take. And I've learned a great deal from both - particularly Sasha. And the way they both have taught me, using their respective methods, is to dead drift the fly down on the drop having timed everything so that when the line tightens the fly curves up and away from the fish. This is the trigger to take the fly. And it's deadly. Problem for me is that it's also bloody hard to get right!

Others I've watched use the lift to induce the take, either from standing behind or else in front of the fish. Which is another thing that I'm not very good at! So these are the methods of inducing the take, all of which are essential if you're going to catch any number of fish in this region.

A couple of years ago I experimented with twitching the nymph, with some moderate success in Bosnia. (One problem incidentally, is that I can't fish these rivers anything like enough and maybe only around 30 days/year, often less).

Last week in Croatia, on the Canal, I was in a position to have direct control over the nymph a few times from a position where I could watch it pass a good number of fish. It was there that I got to study dead drifts not moving a single fish, compared to jiggled drifts moving every fish.

So I've been thinking about ways to make this happen, and tied some buoyant nymphs for experimenting behind shot on the Gacka where we fished Thursday and Friday. And the buoyant nymphs didn't work! The fish would follow but not take - probably because there was too much white on the fly (good for me to see, but not good for the fish to take).

However with sufficient shot and a small nymph I could jiggle the fly from a distance and the results were extremely interesting. Fish would climb, at times, through 3 or 4 feet of water to take a nymph that had "jiggled". The same fish would completely ignore a dead drifted fly, even at its depth - I had run dead drift through a shoal to begin with. Then by jiggling I landed 6 or 7 from a hole and missed a handful of others (when I couldn't see the fish, because the wind had sprung up ruffling the surface), including a cracking four pound brown.

Now I realise that this is very much in its infancy for me but I definitely have to explore this much more, because quite frankly it's a hell of a lot of fun! I think what I need is some white paint to paint the lead shot for visibility, a lighter class outfit, with a long leader, maybe a longer rod and possibly a coloured section in the leader for when its windy.

The Gacka is fishing well by the way. Peter, Sasha and I were the only three on the entire river, on either day. It's very high having burst its banks and we mostly fished Streamers. We all had 20-fish plus days, and I think Sasha may have had 40 on Thursday; he has an interesting flyline which we won't talk about but gave him a dramatic edge.

I had a quick look at the Drava at Latohegy today during a run; it's a bit coloured, very high, but fishable. Now I wonder if the jiggled nymph in the answer to Drava Barbel?

Cheers,
Paul


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