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 Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK

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Ray Lockyer
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Ray Lockyer

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PočaljiNaslov: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 13:29

Hi Everyone
I have been asked to provide a very basic introduction to wet fly and nymph fishing as practiced in the UK.

So here it is and I apologies to those of you who are knowledgeable in all or any one of the described fly fishing methods.

Note that I mainly fish with the dry fly and emerger patterns and make no claim to be an expert in the practice of each and every technique outlined but I have used most of them at one time or other.

The nymph is the juvenile stage in the life cycle of the Mayflies and Stoneflies spent entirely underwater. Many of these nymphs, as do the sedge pupa, swim to the surface when it is time for them to hatch into the adult insect and the imitation of this phase in the life cycle has been practiced by anglers for many centuries through the use of traditional wet fly and North of England spider patterns. Tackle selection for wet fly & nymph fishing will depend on the size of the river being fished - but rods will be rated for line weight of between #3 and #5 and have a maximum length of 3 metres; leaders will mostly be about the same length as the rod and will have the flies spaced at a minimum of 1 metre intervals. There are two basic wet fly techniques used:-

The first is where a team of up to three wet flies (mainly simple spider type patterns) are cast upstream or upstream and across to cover all likely holding places. Each cast is made with only a relatively short line and the sunken flies are controlled so they drift downstream for a short distance in as natural a way as possible - that is, without any drag and with the flies moving at the same speed as the current. The control of the flies is usually achieved by tracking their movement by moving the rod tip in the same direction and speed as the river current. If there is a section of slower or faster moving current between the angler and the flies, some additional form of line control may be necessary. If the section of current is faster then it will probably need a slack line cast or an upstream ‘mend’ on the line as soon as the flies have settled in the water. If the current between the angler and the flies is slower then it may be necessary to throw a downstream mend in the line. (I am not sure if this word mend will translate correctly and be understood – mend here means using the rod tip to throw a curve into the line that is floating on the water.) The upstream technique requires a high level concentration, along with frequent casting.

• The second method again uses a team of up to three wet flies and is the downstream method of wet fly fishing. The flies are generally cast downstream and across the current. Again good line control is needed for the technique to be successful and this may mean throwing a sequence of upstream line mends to slow the downstream movement of the flies as they swing across the current. In my opinion this downstream technique is not the best method for presenting your flies to imitate hatching insects because it is almost impossible to maintain a ‘dead’ drift at all times.

Many anglers critisise these traditional methods and especially the practice of fishing ‘down and across’. Yet both the up and downstream techniques call for much skill in the reading the location of the best fish holding places, reading the currents and the corresponding fly line control to ensure the artificial flies are presented at a speed that is in keeping with the movements expected from the natural hatching nymphs.

Since the turn of the twentieth century, there have been a number of milestones in UK nymph fishing as is practiced today; these milestones are the result of developments and the publications by a number of celebrated anglers; the first of these being G.E.M.Skues who set out to deceive fish that were seen to be feeding on hatching nymphs near the surface. His first book ‘Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream’ (1910) was something of a revolution to the upstream dry fly doctrine so much in vogue on the English chalk streams in those times. His imitations were based on close observance of nymphs as they were about to hatch and, like the north of England spider patterns, were designed to be cast upstream and fished ‘dead drift’ at the same speed as the current and just subsurface.

Following on from the Skues, came the significant work of Frank Sawyer, the details are contained in his book ‘Nymphs and the Trout’ (1958); Sawyer was river keeper to the Officers Club on the upper waters of the Hampshire Avon and he was another acute observer of the natural behaviour of nymphs, not just at the surface but also those swimming or drifting in deeper water. Based on his observations he designed imitations and developed a method of presenting these that has become known as the Netheravon style of nymph fishing. The Sawyer patterns were tied with fine copper wire; this addition of weight of the artificial making it perfect for a quick entry and the fishing subsurface on the relatively slow flowing chalk streams of southern England and the Sawyer’s Pheasant Tail nymph is probably now know to anglers in every country where there is suitable habitat for trout to swim. The next important publication that came along and one that has become central to modern nymph fishing practice is that of Oliver Kite, his classical work Nymph Fishing in Practice (1963) which classifies the Ephemerid nymphs according to their structure and the environment in which they live. The groupings he suggested are: agile darters, laboured swimmers, stone clingers, moss creepers, silt crawlers and bottom burrowers. For example, Kite classified the nymphs of the Large Dark Olive as agile darters or free swimming types and that is an apt description of their aquatic behaviour. The majority of duns hatch by swimming to the surface during the late morning, afternoon or evening and are greatly appreciated by the trout. This makes for the employment of the Netheravon style of nymph fishing, especially if the trout can be seen feeding. The technique requires a cast to be made upstream and the rod top to be steadily raised to give some movement to the artificial nymph and thereby lift it towards the surface as it drifts onto a feeding fish. This movement gives the artificial an extra kick of life that so perfectly replicates the behaviour of the natural and so often acts as the taking trigger. The method can be used even if the trout itself cannot be seen, as on many occasions a bulge on the surface will signal the position of fish feeding high in the water. Line control is the main issue when upstream nymph fishing if a ‘dead drift’ is to b achieved and, as with spider patterns, much line mending may be required on the faster flowing streams if un-natural drag is to be avoided.

The techniques used for imitation of nymphs has continued to evolve and in relatively recent times a number of nymph fishing developments have been brought to the attention of the fly fishing world; these have mainly arrived on the scene out of the interaction of anglers from across the world taking part on the competition circuit:

• New Zealand dropper style - presenting one or two nymphs ‘dead drift’ by suspending them on a leader attached at the hook bend of a floating fly (Also known as Klink & Dink, Duo or Trio – duo with one suspended nymph under a buoyant fly, trio with two). Having a fixed length of leader below the ‘float’ can cause some difficulty if water depth varies significantly; one way to overcome this is to tie the nymph to the end of the main leader and attach above it a short sliding dropper (using a 3 or 4 turn water knot) for the dry fly. Some anglers have dispensed with the use of a floating fly and now simply use foam or yarn as the float/indicator; seen by many as not being a very sporting tactic.

• Polish/Czech nymph fishing is a style (or is it styles?) that uses heavily weighted patterns and the difference between the techniques is, to me anyway, somewhat blurred. The technique has been fully described by Karel Krivanec in his book ‘Czech Nymph & Other Related Methods’. Basically, it is a short line technique developed by Polish anglers in the 1970’s and subsequently improved upon by the Czech’s. Very long rods can result in a heavy strain on the casting wrist and the typical set up will be the use of a rod of 2.7 metres or 3 metres in length rated for a weight line between #3 and #5, with a leader of approximately the same length as the rod and three nymphs/bugs spaced at 450 mm - 600 mm apart. Although leaders may be as short as 1.2 metres and as long as 3.5 metres. Depending on which expert you listen to, the heaviest nymph can be fished in the middle or point positions. With only a few feet of fly line outside the top ring the cast is more of an upstream flick that is finishing with the rod and casting arm extended and held at a low angle of some 300 to 450 above the horizontal; the flies are then lead downstream so that they fish down and pass to below you at the speed of the current until they are beginning to rise off the river bed. A lift as if striking into a fish, can be deadly at this full downstream extent. The original Polish style appears to be one of fishing the flies ‘dead drift’ at the same speed as the current whereas the highly developed Czech style appears to be one the where the flies are often lead downstream such that they swim at a speed slightly faster than that of the current. The nymphs used for this style should take into account the strength of current and be weighted to get them down so as to fish close to the river bed without fouling too often. A brightly coloured sight indicator of approximately 20 cm is used in the leader make-up; this is often just a section of yellow coloured Stren monofilament nylon

• European/French/Spanish nymph fishing is another short line technique ideally suited for streamy, boulder strewn stretches of rivers using weighted imitations and much the same tackle as deployed for Polish & Czech nymphing. The main difference is that French nymphing is solely an upstream presentation method and best practiced in shallow riffles or pocket water. During a heavy fly hatches it may also take fish from deeper sections of a stream. The other and key difference being in the extremely long and tapered leaders used with anything from 6 metres to 10 metres in length being the norm. Casting of the leader is achieved by an upstream flick with little or no fly line outside of the top ring; but in this method the flies are lead downstream whilst lifting the rod to minimise leader contact with the water and in such a way that the flies lift in the water and swim at a speed slightly faster than that of the current. The flies may only be in the water for 3 or 4 seconds and drift for 1 metre - 2 metres before they are lifted of with a flick. Once the cast is fished out another ‘pocket’ should be covered until all likely holding water has been fished through and then taking an upstream step then repeating the process. The effort in casting associated with this style of nymph fishing can be very hard work. A brightly coloured sight indicator of approximately 20 cm is again used in the leader make-up, frequently tied in at approximately 3 or 4 metres from the fly line, this is often just a section of yellow coloured Stren monofilament nylon; sometimes this mono is wound around something approximately the same diameter as a lead pencil and immersed in boiling water to introduce coils into it and the sight indicator produced is often heavily treated with a line floatant.

• American High Stick Nymph fishing is another short line technique but one where the rod is held high with as little line and leader in contact with the water surface as possible. The style is useful for fishing weighted nymphs, dead drift, through deep pocket water with a current flow that that can be described as ranging between moderate and fast speeds. Cast upstream and across the current at approximately 45 degrees, as soon as the flies are near the river bed raise your arm and rod tip as high as possible before following the flies through the drift; when the flies pass your position and start to lower the rod tip to minimise drag. Sight indicators are not normally used, takes being detected by maintaining direct contact with the flies.

• Japanese Tenkara fishing is now being used more and more by anglers across the world; in this style no reel or fly line is involved, only a leader attached to the tip of a very long telescopic rod and the sinking (or floating) flies are flicked upstream and lead back down without any of the leader laying on the surface of the water.

The law of tenkara states the longer your fly is in the water the more fish you'll catch; this is a good principle that applies to nearly all styles and types of fly fishing right across world.
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NikolaCG
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 13:50

Great post!

Japanese Tenkara fishing, is similiar style that older fishermans, from our country, used years ago..... and still last in some parts of ours society!
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Ray Lockyer
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Ray Lockyer

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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 13:56

NikolaCG
Thanks for the comment on the post.

I think most anglers will have used something similar to Tenkara at some time or other.

Ray
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Madjoni
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 13:59

Thanks mr.Ray for efort to type down this instructions and practice consider too Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK.

If I understand corectly it is normal to fish with three wet flies in your country?
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NikolaCG
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 14:02

I never did!

My way of Fly fishing is truly DRY FLY FISHING...but..... from next season, I want to try nimph fishing....so all texts like this, about nimph fishing, is very welcome!

Thanks...
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Ray Lockyer
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Ray Lockyer

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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 14:08

Hi Madjoni

I have fished with up to 4 flies when lake fishing from a boat.

Yes 3 flies would be usual when I am wet fly fishing on a river - on small rivers with a short rod it could be just 1 or 2 flies.

Dry fly fishing - 1 fly

New Zealand style (Klink & Dink) - 1 dry fly with 1 or 2 nymphs below.

French nymphing - 2 or 3 flies

Czech nymphing - 2 or 3 flies.

Ray
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Madjoni
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 14:23

Hi Ray
thanks again..we gona study study study a litle bit..
We have a lot of debates on this forum earlier about using more then one fly,we even get to the definition and origin of word sport scratch study
i supose this sound siily to You but here we have some fly fishermans who sad that usage more than one fly is poachery Shocked
I am not one of them Laughing
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NikolaCG
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 14:29

Kink & dink....sure a fanny name Laughing but....like it very much!

Ours fishermans, some of them, truly dont like fishing with more than one fly, and they do not consider fly fishing if some use 2 or 3 flies! Is this a case in your country?

Truly, I dissent with them!
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Madjoni
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 14:54

Ray Lockyer ::


I think most anglers will have used something similar to Tenkara at some time or other.

i started that way....this is "reincarnation" of flies i used as a boy cheers cheers

Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK Prve
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Ray Lockyer
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 18:12

Hi Madjoni & NikolaCG

Apart from on the Chalk Streams of Southern England, there is a long tradition of fishing with more than one fly in the UK. So most fly fishers would be classed as poachers in Montenegro Crying or Very sad

Yet nymph fishing in the style of Skues, Sawyer & Kite is done with a single fly - fished upstream - targeting single fish that can be see feeding on nymphs. Not much different to dry fly fishing apart from the nymph is fished below the surface.

Fishing of spider patterns upstream requires much skill and it is very unusual for more than one fish to be hooked when fishing with a team of 3 flies.

The 'Klink' is short for Klinkhamer - the fly most people use as the dry fly with the New Zealand style. Don't know where the 'Dink' comes from but it is the nymph.

Madjoni your flies are similar to spiders but with stiffer hackles.

Ray
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 19:53

Ray, thanks for sharing your nymphing knowledge with us.
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Ray Lockyer
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 21:31

Hi Mixmaster

It is a pleasure to be able to share what knowledge I have - but just remember that I'm not an expert with the nymph; I mainly fish dry fly on the rivers.

Ray
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Mr.Zacoola
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 23:36

Excellent post Ray! thanks you
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Mr.Zacoola
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyNed 10 Jan 2010, 23:37

Madjoni ::
Hi Ray
thanks again..we gona study study study a litle bit..
We have a lot of debates on this forum earlier about using more then one fly,we even get to the definition and origin of word sport scratch study
i supose this sound siily to You but here we have some fly fishermans who sad that usage more than one fly is poachery Shocked
I am not one of them Laughing

Me too! skocko
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Madjoni
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Madjoni

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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK   Wet Fly & Nymph Fishing in the UK EmptyPon 11 Jan 2010, 00:02

Ray Lockyer ::
Hi Madjoni & NikolaCG

Apart from on the Chalk Streams of Southern England, there is a long tradition of fishing with more than one fly in the UK. So most fly fishers would be classed as poachers in Montenegro Crying or Very sad
Hi Ray and dont wory about that....it is not forbiden here and we have real poachers...meen mo...er f..c...rs Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad

Ray Lockyer ::


Madjoni your flies are similar to spiders but with stiffer hackles.

Ray
Well,that is the oldest ones I can remember....we used that in sizes 10 and 12 ...and I forgot black ant,for sumer cheers
We would like to see some of your favorit flies and study
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