The Ramblings of a Fly Fisherman

The Nymphing Rig

It just occurred to me that I have mentioned “nymphing” twice on this blog and really haven’t taken the time to explain what that is for those out there that may not know. Nymphing is a style of fly fishing where you are attempting to mimic subsurface insects rather than flying ones. It is a great alternative when fishing on colder days or periods where there appears to be little to no surface feeding activity. It involves a few extra items that need to be attached to the line and a different casting technique.

First, there is the “strike indicator”. Most of us that fished in other ways before adopting fly fishing will want to call this device a “bobber”, but in the world of fly fishing, it’s a strike indicator. For fun, refer to this little guy as a bobber in one of your more snotty fly shops and watch the other anglers frown at you….

Second, you will want to weight the line with a sinker. The primary difference between fly sinkers and standard fishing sinkers is that fly sinkers can be purchased very small and they often lack the little wings that allow you to remove it easily from the line. This is important because winged sinkers will typically foul up on structures where the round ones will not. The size of the sinker will be determined by the flow rate of the stream.

Third, you will need some flies. I like using a larger beaded fly like a San Juan Worm in front while attaching a smaller midge or emerger in the back approximately 12 to 14 inches apart and on lighter tippet. This configuration has a similar effect as a dry-dropper in that the first fly acts as an attractor while the second fly is what the trout will likely hit on. In general, flies for this type of rig will all be subsurface and will need to mimic those creatures that you are likely to find hidden under rocks or tangled in weeds. Try looking around when you first arrive to find a good match.

Casting style. This is the most important point here. NO FALSE CASTS! False casting will do nothing but improve your knot untying skills. Unless you intend to stand in the middle of the river tangled in a web of hooks, line and bobbers, I mean strike indicators, I recommend roll casting downstream. This cast will straighten out the line for you, allow you to let out a little more line if needed, and set you up for the forward snap. After the line is behind you, get the line moving forward with a wide, overhead motion just enough to get the strike indicator off the surface of the water. Once that happens “snap” the rod in the direction that you wish to send your rig. This process usually does a good job of placing your flies where you want them while avoiding the tangles associated with the setup. Beginners should aim at a 45 degree angle toward the opposite bank as this will be easier to control at first.

The Take....  You will not see the fly taken in most cases while fishing like this.  The key is to watch the strike indicator.  If you see it slow to a stop or follow a path contrary to the flow of the stream, you likely have a fish on.  Unlike dry fly fishing, trout will typically "slurp" up these flies rather than aggressively strike.

The Typical Nymphing Rig
Angry face


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