Learning to Nymph

Learning to Nymph

Paul Arden | Monday, 15 June 2015

It's been almost 8 years since I first started appearing in this part of the world... Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia - and one of the first things I came to notice here about my own fishing, is that while I thought I knew how to nymph, fact was I didn't! Of course I've caught a hell of a lot of fish on nymphs in my life, 20 years of UK Stillwater fishing, 20 years of NZ backcountry angling, half a dozen summers in the US - if you've learned fly fishing you've learned nymphing... or so I thought...

And I have to say it's all making me a much better fisherman. Last week I grasped the jugular. It may take another ten or fifteen years to refine - flyfishing is like that! The turning point for me was a) having the perfect light conditions to watch the fly and b) having a fly that I could see in the water even a metre and a half deep. Once you've spent a day or two watching how different flies sink and working out how they get to the fish, then you've made a giant leap forward and every nymphing method becomes very much clearer.

In fact my advice to you, even if you're on an easier fishery than this bastard, is to spend a day just making different casts and watching the nymph and how it descends through different currents according to how much weight it has, the diameter of the leader, the slackness of the line and the angle the line was cast. When you are dealing with fast water you will very quickly learn that you need to totally collapse the cast; straight line casts, even directly upstream will never sink the fly to the bottom - how can they? Water flow varies throughout the column!

Make a totally collapsed cast where the fly lands one inch in front of the flyline end and you have 18ft of slack line, and the flyline will be considerably downstream of the fly by the time it hits the bottom.

From this little experiment you can see that perfectly collapsing your cast such that the flow naturally delivers your fly to the fish, becomes the most important skill - and you need to get really fucking good at that around here. It's not going to happen overnight either. Only once you've understood this can you work on inducing the take.

I know that I've made a big jump forward in the last week because I'm starting to experiment with colour. Anyone who tells you that colour isn't important simply hasn't learned it yet (Ronan said this, and he's right!). Colour, colour blends, and fluorescence all have a pronounced impact on your fly's effectiveness. Ultimately I have landed in a hell of a place for these experiments. The only downside is that it's predominantly a rainbow trout fishery, with vey few brown trout and no grayling. Still I can see a huge learning curve to be attained here, next summer, or whenever I devote a season or two here.

Soon, however, I'm going back to the Jungle. I'm a very, very long way off getting even on the map there. But this time, hopefully, I'll find the same difference that is to actually fish and not just trying to work through the basics. I'm planning 6 months on Temenggor, fishing every day, living on the boat, fish as my main diet, discovering Jungle Perch hides, Snakehead bays and Gourami zones. There is a feeling of being alive there that I'm currently missing and I feel it's where I'm supposed to be right now.

I can't begin to tell you how amazing this jungle life is... this is the year it will happen.

Cheers, Paul