I remember the Bohemian Forest, known in Czech as Šumava, from a holiday with my parents. I was 6 and it was the summer of 69, the time of the cold war and the area was off limits due to the iron fence between the east and the west. Now the Czech Republic is part of the European union and one can cross the border without being stopped even. So you can understand that it felt amazing driving this road to Susice.
Susice is a cozy little town by the Otava. The river is one of the main recreational fishing rivers of the country and supposedly the birthplace of a fishing technique known as Czech Nymphing. This technique has it’s roots in fly fishing competition and it’s many rules. However, the majority of fish in rivers either feed on aquatic insect larvae & fresh water shrimp (gammarus) rather close to the bottom, or hunt at the surface for emergers, duns and spent insects. Czech Nymphing is one of the techniques focussed on catching fish feeding close to the bottom.
The fly called “Czech Nymph” is a direct answer to the, now outdated rule, against bead head nymphs. The Czech competition fishermen “stole” the idea from the Polish team. The hook is weighted with lead wire which applied to the hook before dubbing, copper wire, ribbing and a strip of latex. This latex was originally from protective gloves. The story Jan told me is that the wife of one of the fishermen was a hairdresser. She used vinyl gloves when dying the hair of her customers. The gloves where dyed in the process as well. The knowledge that vinyl (a thinner and stronger material than latex) could be dyed was akin further and turned into a industrialised product. You can now buy a myriad of different colours.
I’ll not go into the pointless discussion whether Czech Nymphing is fly fishing or not. What I learned is in any case that it is fishing which requires quite some skill. Maybe casting a long line isn’t one of these skills, but you have to be a very good fisherman to master this form of catching fish. I am lucky that master Czech Flyfisher Jan Siman took me under his wing the last days and showed me around his area - the Sumava mountains in the southern part of the Czech Republic. He runs a specialised fly fishing shop and guiding service from his base in Susice. On his website you can find more information about the flies, the method and all the knots you need to know. http://shop.siman.cz/index.html?pod=/articles.htm