A Nymph System That Works

Fly Fishing Western Wyoming fly fishing guide outfitter instruction

A Nymph System That Works

• From 1” to 7’ deep, and highly adjustable.
• From Spring Creeks to freestone river ri!es
• From size 26 down to size 2 flies
• It will float 3 BB split shots and 2 tungsten bead nymphs
• It is by far the most sensitive nymph indicator
• It is relatively easy to cast

What you need:
• Macramé cord ( white is most natural, but sometimes yellow, black, red, green or orange are good.)
• Orthodontic rubber bands (3/16” medium work best)
• Scissors
• Fly Floatant
• Fine comb or sti” brush
• Needle-nose forceps
• Proper leader

Ideal Leader:
• Butt (for 4 – 7 weight lines) 1 foot 40 lb. Mono BLOODKNOT
• 7 ½ foot tapered 2X Mono Leader
• 8” 3X Fluorocarbon
• 8” 4X Fluorocarbon – 1st fly
• 8” 5X or 6X Fluorocarbon – 2nd fly

[Fluorocarbon sinks much faster than mono and has no stretch, both very important to successful nymph fishing.]

Directions for applying indicator:
1. Cut 1” to 2” piece of braided macramé cord. Length and amount of material can be easily adjusted for various conditions.
2. Separate all cords.
3. Brush or comb all cords so that they make up totally separate single strands of polypropylene.
4. Set aside cord.
5. Take 1 small 3/16” rubber band and place it over your needle-nose forceps.

  • Grab the rubber band and wrap it around the tip of your needle nose forceps 3 or 4 times.

6. Put a loop in your 4’ section of 20lb. leader material.
7. Open your forceps enough so that your loop can be inserted between the gap and through the center of the rubber band.
8. Pull the loop through so that 2” of the loop is sticking out of the center of the rubber band.

  • Pull the rubber band o” the end of your pliers so you have the loop in your 20# leader created and protected by your rubber band.

10.Grease the center of your indicator material. Really rub it in!
11. Put the indicator material through the loop and pull it tight.
12. Trim your indicator to the desired size. (Usually 1” in height.)
13. Grease the indicator very thoroughly.

Note: You may not need 2 split shot to sink leader and flies. Size of shot can be adjusted. Place the bigger split farther up the leader – away from the flies. This will help you turn over the leader more easily.

1. You may want to use a different size tippet for your flies. I use 2X for big size 4 stones and San Juan Worms when fishing the South Fork. Those big Rainbows head out to the mid-current and 3X just isn’t enough sometimes. The second fly can be anywhere from 3X to 6X depending on conditions. General rule: Always use the biggest tippet and fly you can get away with.
2. You may want to go with only one fly.
3. For consistently shallow water, you can reduce the length of your leader and indicator section.
4. For spring creeks and small flies and spooky fish, you may need to use only a small amount of material.

1. Remember the very best nymph system will have your flies directly below your indicator!! This will signal a strike no matter where your nymph is in relation to the fish and no matter what the fish does during or after the strike.
2. The more belly or slack areas you have in your system the longer the fish must hold the fly and the further it must move to make your indicator move.
3. When the fish are not very active they will only move a few inches to take a fly which means that they only move a few inches back to their lie. Even 6” of belly or slack will cause you to miss the take.

The best way to avoid this is to:

  • Have lots of weight on your leader which creates a very straight line and virtually no belly or slack spots. (Or use the slack leader presentation mentioned later in the article.)
  • Put your flies close to the lead and close to each other. Putting the first fly 18” under your lead and the second fly 18” below the first fly, you will miss lots of fish. Three feet of un-weighted leader floating around in the current will guarantee lots of missed strikes. I sometimes put my first fly 8” below my last split shot and my second fly only 8” below the first. If you use bead-head nymphs you can extend this as the bead will straighten the leader more. The problem with bead heads is that they don’t move as well with the current as do un-weighted flies.

Summary: When your flies go through the target water they should be directly below the indicator. If you set the cast up correctly and mend correctly (next section) you can do this with a minimum of weight. Sometimes you simply need a lot of weight.

1. To cast 2 flies, 2 pieces of split shot, and an indicator in a 10 ft. leader, you need to make good casts. If you don’t let your leader straighten out completely on both your front and back casts, you will get a “bird’s nest”.
2. Open your loop and slow down your casting motions!
3. Use a roll cast or continuous tension cast as often as possible. This prevents excessive false casting. The fewer casts you make, the less chance of a mess up!
4. If you want your flies to straighten out, You can pull your rod hand back as your leader straightens out on the forward cast.

Casting properly, this 9’ – 10’ leader and nymph system should be able to be performed with a 5 weight rod, even in breezy conditions. I often use a 4- weight and sometimes a 3-weight.

Assuming the casting, set-up, and fly selection are properly mastered the where and how of the cast will be the determining factor in how many fish are caught. The following factors are critical in determining where to cast and how, or even if, there should be a mend.

  • Direction and speed of the current.
  • Depth of water
  • Location of fisherperson
  • Location of holding water
  • The number of cross-currents between rod tip and indicator
  • Direction and velocity of wind.
  • Size of indicator and amount of lead
  • How long the fly travels through “the zone”.
  • What will be fished next and what has been fished previously.

5. Less weight can be used if you can mend or cast the indicator upstream of the flies and weight. When this happens the weight sinks very rapidly. This is especially useful when fishing in significant depth. Even in a fairly fast current 2 split shots with a fluorocarbon leader can get to 6’ deep in less than 10 feet of horizontal stream. If the indicator is downstream of the flies, it holds them up because the surface of the water is traveling so much faster than the split shot and flies which are sinking and dragging. This results in situation #2 (Okay) on page 6. This actually is a good thing if you want to drag your flies through shallow water before hitting deep water. You can use position #2 through the shallow water and then mend the indicator upstream as it reaches the deeper water. As soon as you mend upstream, the flies now sink very quickly because they are not being dragged by the indicator.

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