Viking Lars | Saturday, 13 May 2023
When it comes to fishing for trout and grayling in rivers and streams, match-the-hatch-dry-fly-fishing is challenging and interesting. Sometimes it’s difficult to ascertain what the fish are feeding on and often it requires some knowledge of entomology and the insect fauna on particular river. But it’s an old saying that grayling and trout find 89% (or more) of their food below the surface, where they are rarely seen. Which is why skills in nymph fishing are good to have. Wet fly fishing too, for that matter, but this FP is about nymph fishing.
There are so many ways of fishing a nymph. Some are close to each other as far as technique goes, some might look easy, but aren’t. Some use specialty flies, some use specialty lines and rods, some use indicators and some are more or less up stream, drag free dry fly fishing, only with a sunken imitation. The latter I think are the most interesting and challenging to fish. Frank Sawyer-style in short. Spotting fish when conditions are right for it or covering lies and being able to spot the sometimes very subtle takes, sometimes inducing a take and most of the time, fishing flies that are somewhat close to the naturals. This is probably the hardest to master as well.
Fishing for other species, nymph fishing also presents an opportunity to be different from the rest. Being different and being able to radically change methods and tactics is important, I think. This is often not a matter of fishing imitations, rather employing some to the fishing methods used in nymphing, presenting some that might remotely represent a natural.
Sometimes around the year 2000 a friend of mine returned from the Kola Peninsula with two flies that had been exceptionally succesfull in the very low water conditions he arrived at. The guide supplied him with a handful of heavy stone fly imitations and showed how to fish them up stream and across, sometimes lifting them to induce a take. He was very surprised to learn that it actually worked very well. Even though it’s common knowledge that salmon don’t feed in the rivers. A way of getting them to take by revoking their feeding behaviour from before they left the river? Or simply triggering a take by doing something they’ve rarely seen? I don’t know. It’s also common knowledge that dry fly fishing for salmon also can be very effective and who knows, maybe it’s just because they’re curious. They have no other way to examine an object than by taking in to their mouths.
It’s a long and winding road to say that I have plans to try this on the Danish salmon rivers, Norwegian too, in case I can get away later in the season. The danish salmon rivers are quite heavily fished and the fish see A LOT of flies (and hard lures) swing past them, fished deep, down and across. There are a couple of rivers I know quite well and I’ve tied a handful of weighted “Pat’s Rubber Legs”, “Bitch Creek Stonefly”, “Girdle Bugs” - well, not all three patterns, because they’re very similar. A weighted nymph with six rubber legs, two tails and two antennae. Not the it’s relevant to imitate big stone fly nymphs, but the flies are tied with chenille bodies and in two different weights. They’ll get down!
I’ll spend some times trying it. The rivers are fairly slow, but deep, so it definitely won’t be easy and surely not the most effective method. But it’ll be fun and I love trying something new.
If you want to try it, just remember to observe local rules. Some rivers don’t allow moving up stream along the river, some do, some allow fishing upstream, but not moving down stream, on some upstream fishing and movement is banned entirely, so just read the rules. I also deliberately keep the flies simple and fast to tie, because losing some (maybe even a lot) in unavoidable. And a “Pat’s Rubber Legs” takes about five minutes to tie.
Come low water, higher water temperatures and difficult conditions, which also tends to keep most other fishers off the water, I’ll be rigging the six weight with a floating line and heavy, large nymphs.
Have a great weekend!
PS: Ahrex Hooks, with whom I am affiliated, has released a salmon specific nymph hook, called HR 416. A perfect hook for this style of flies and fishing.