The majority of a trout's diet is made up of sub-surface food, so if you're just fishing streamers and dries, you're likely missing out on what most of the fish are actually feeding on. Even during the heaviest hatches, you will land fat trout with stomachs full of nymphs.
If you haven't given tight-line or Euro-Nymphing a try, you should change that this Fall. Not only is the Fall a great season to land the biggest trout, but with the majority of us stuck on our home waters, it's a great time to try your hand at mastering a new fishing tactic. For this article, we're going to hone in on tight-line nymphing, a strategy that has been making waves in the fly fishing world the past few years. Utilizing long rods, long leaders and heavy nymphs, this exciting tactic opens up tons of new water, and will land you more fish than floating an indicator.
Below you will discover the tackle you need, nymphs to fish and our favorite tight-lining strategies!
Rigging for Tight Line Nymphing
First things first, you do not NEED a 10 ft 3 WT rod to give tight-lining a try, a long, sensitive fly rod is certainly advantageous, but any 9ft rod will do the job just fine. The next step is tying up your nymphing leader. Typically these are long 10-15 ft, but depending on local regulations, you may have to shorten it to fish legally. In the video above, nymphing legend, George Daniels, details how to set up your leader and get fishing.
One piece of rigging advice we have picked up is using tippet rings. These little metal rings are a lifesaver on the water, both for setting up multi-nymph rigs and saving you time and tippet material. We almost always put one at the end of our sighter (the bright colorful section of the leader), giving our rig an easy "break-off point" if and when we inevitably try to fight a fish that turns out to be a big rock.
Nymphing Fly Patterns
Nymphs come in all shapes and sizes, and selecting the right ones when your perusing shop bins can get overwhelming. Weighted, un-weighted, jigged, the choices are endless but each style has its application. The simplest way to figure out the bugs you need is to head to your local river and flip over rocks. Do your best to match those live bugs to the flies in your box. If you're looking for the easiest way to make sure you have the flies you need, our Euro-Nymph Kit is loaded to the gills with nymphs that we have landed trout on all over the World. Our nymphs are purpose built to sink fast while tight-lining or dry-dropping, so you can be sure your patterns are getting down to the big alpha trout hiding in the depths.
Where to Start Nymphing
Nymphs are found all throughout cold water creeks, but there are certain types of water where nymphs are deadly effective. When we approach a piece of water with our nymphing rod in hand we look for a few different things: fast cuts, pool heads and tail-outs, pocket water, and cut banks. The main water features you're looking for is water that is moving quick enough to keep your flies moving with the current and not getting hung up. Leave the slow, still frog water for your dry fly and streamer fishing.
Once you've identified the chunk of water you're focusing on, take a few minutes and watch the water. Try to make out trout flashing near the bottom as they feed, or identify pockets where trout may be holding just out of sight. Read the water and develop a quick, upstream fishing plan that will allow you to hit each pocket and run. Covering water is the name of the game while nymphing, give each pocket a half dozen casts and then change flies or move up if you get no thumps.
Tight-lining can be one of the most fun and active ways to target trout if you love putting in the miles and picking apart pocket water. Unless we see risers about, it's our usual strategy when approaching new trout waters, and we think it will become yours as well! If you have questions about nymphing or want a custom nymph box built, send us a message and we'll be more than happy to help get you out there!