Modern day nymphing

(1) SET UP- You really need to find out what set up you are most comfortable with I started off with a hends camau French leader (9meter ). As I’ve progressed over the years I’ve found the right set up for me going forward. I simply attach backing to my reel spool then I use (uv clear blue stren) in 14lb braking strain. The good thing about this line its monofilament thats helps with avoiding it curling just simply pull to regain memory. Once I apply the uv clear blue stren I then use camau stealth smooth spider wire braid in 0.20 mm diameter. The reason I use the spider wire is when you are fishing small nymphs or a single nymph it makes it alot easier to turn over the bugs whilst casting. Apply around 3 ft of the spider wire. Once the spider wire is applied then you simply apply a strike indicator. My main line set up purely depends on the water and the time of year, during the summer months I tend to use a single nymph and again the length of your tippet length depends on the depth of water you are fishing. You must be prepared to keep changing your depths of your nymphs to be able to nymph effectively. If you are using a two nymph set up then I tend to go 18 inches apart from point fly to dropper but this can change with with conditions. For example if you are fishing coloured water don’t be afraid to change the length of the flies to suit the conditions.

(2) Distance and accuracy.

Distance and accuracy is a really important part of my fishing. I see alot of anglers nymphing away on the river and 90% of them are fishing under the rod tip and thats fine you will pick up fish but honestly learning how to cast at distance and getting that drift right is a true game changer. Why risk spooking a fish when you can cover a pool effectively at a distance. The further you are away from the fish the less chance you have of spooking them especially them big fish! Distance and accuracy is key to success. Accuracy is a huge part of nymphing especially when it comes to trout fishing. There’s no worse feeling than not being able to land your nymphs in that small pocket of water or under that tree because them big browns are often in tricky places so I’d highly recommend practising on small waters and the tricky spots where casting isn’t easy. It wil improve your catch rate for sure.


Probably the most important element in nymphing is the drift. You can honestly be the best caster in the world and if that drift isn’t right the fish will simply not take. Let’s not forget these fish are sitting in that water 24 hours a day everyday they know exactly what speed the water and nymphs are traveling at. One slight bit of drag and it could be the difference between catching and not catching, so try and master that drift one small tip is always keep your indicator out of the water. The difference in the diameter of your indicator to your tippet will surely affect your drift and create drag if the indicator is under water. Another very important thing that anglers sometimes forget especially when sight fishing is you must judge your distance of the cast to the depth of the fish. I see alot of anglers sight fishing and so many anglers cast just above the fish, the only thing your achieving is making the fish aware of your wear abouts. Make sure your casting a good 2 meters above your targeted fish that way your not spooking the fish and your giving your nymphs time to get to the depth of the fish .There are so many different techniques and ways to nymph but here are some tips that I think are the key to catching fish.

Reading the river is really important in nymphing. It changes with water levels and conditions and also different species tend to like different water .

Grayling do not like fast water very much they hold in walking paced water and in my experience the majority of grayling don’t like deep water, yes they sit deep in the water but I find most grayling like water no more than 4 – 5 ft deep. Whilst targeting grayling look for a nice gravel bed they love fine gravel! As I’ve mentioned grayling aren’t too keen on fast water but this does change with different some water conditions .
They drop back to the tails and push out to the banks into slack water so when fishing in high water always target these areas. (tails of pools and close to the banks in shallow water).
If your as keen as I am I’m often fishing coloured water. The only thing you can really do in these conditions is target shallow water. Shallow water helps with the visibility of your fly, if the fish can’t see your fly it simply cannot eat it. The other thing you can so is change to brighter fly patterns and do alot more (jigging) by jigging your nymphs it really draws attention to this fish in these conditions.
During the summer months the river levels drop and the temperature rises it certainly effects the feeding positions .
As the temp rises and the water levels drops it means the oxygen levels are decreased and then the fish are pushed up into the fast water simply for oxygen. Whilst fishing in low and humid conditions look for oxygenated water and also slack just off the fast water. The first thing I look for in these conditions is shade .

Trout are slightly different to grayling their alot more robust they will hold in slightly faster water, not to say they won’t sit in the slow walking pace water either but trout aren’t to fussy on picking there feeding stations. You wil find big numbers of trout in water only a foot deep in small oxygenated water you basically got a much bigger area of field to target.
Although its a simular concept regarding condition changes they also drop back on tails and to the banks during high water and on low water you will find them at the heads of pools for the oxygen .

When it comes to fly patterns I am a really basic type of guy, yes I do appreciate these beautiful colourful neat nymphs I think its really great but in reality are they needed? I personally don’t think so. Let’s be honest have you ever seen a pink flashy nymph in the river because I certainly haven’t. A simple pheasant tail or a hares ear will catch you just as many fish if not even more. Alot of the time when nymphing you are targeting faster water so the fish have just a split second to decide to eat or reject they sure don’t have enough time to examine how pretty your fly looks. The one thing I do suggest is tie some basic nymphs and add a orange or a bright colour around the neck of the fly this is just to be prepared to fish coloured water. Other than that a simple pheasant tail will catch you fish in any river In the world. If your starting nymphing keep it simple try not to over think the patterns, its more to do with getting a drag free drift and targeting the correct water rather than your patterns!