There is one nymph fishing technique that is highly effective but little used outside Europe. This technique has become known as Czech nymphing. Using this technique has placed Czech and Polish anglers right up amongst the top performers in World Fly Fishing Championships.
So, what is the basis of its success?
First, the angler fishes very close to lies and fish, with probably only about one to two metres of fly line out of the tip. The leader will be loaded with two or three nymphs, heavily weighted, and this means heavy.
The heaviest fly is generally in the middle of the team of flies. The flies are vividly coloured, wild in fact, plenty of orange and pink. This does not mean that imitative flies are not used, they are, but mixing it up can produce enhanced results.
The size of the flies were pretty large, overall, and do not seem to put the fish off. Because no weight other than the flies are used, the flies must be heavy to get the flies down to the bottom where the fish are typically eating nymphs. The larger flies tend to add more weight.
Leaders are typically made of straight tippet material. Fluorocarbon line is generally employed because it tends to sink faster. The leader is generally around 3 metres, or the length of the typical rod. This leader needs to be strong enough to account for the fact that a fish is hooked and played very close to the angler.
The flies are positioned 20 inches apart, with the heaviest fly typically in the middle position. The flies are tied on using droppers off the main line. These are usually accomplished by joining two sections of material with a double surgeon’s or blood knot and leaving a tag hanging off. The most exact fly imitation is usually on the point (bottom) of the team of two or three.
The cast is nothing more than a lob of the weighted flies upstream. Don’t try ‘flicking’ a short cast, your ears will not be happy. I find the best method of ‘casting’ is (if right-handed) to face downstream, and with the line tight and the rod-tip right at water level, do a ‘back-cast’, that turns into a forward cast as you swing your body to face upstream.
Two things to watch out for:
The line must be tight and your rod tip on the water surface.
As for all casting, start slow and finish fast.
Make sure there is not a fish on before you start the cast – its happened to me!
Once the flies are lobbed out and upstream follow the flies with the rod tip. Lift the rod tip as the flies drift towards you to pick up slack line off the water, and as the flies drift downstream lower the rod tip for a drag free drift. At the end of the drift allow the flies to lift up to the surface. The angler actually leads the team of flies through likely looking holding water.
The technique can be valuable if you want to avoid crowdsUse an indicator if you must, but it must be small. But, typically, this technique allows the angler to actually feel the take. This is what makes it so effective and why the Czechs are seemingly such great nymph fishermen. An angler also spends more time actually fishing, since his flies stay in the water longer. This for me is a key factor – the longer a fly is in likely water the greater your chances of hooking fish.
There is a downside to fishing this technique. First, you will lose a lot of flies, so be prepared to either tie a lot yourself, or buy them at your favourite store. Second, you will be tying lots of knots as you change flies and adjust your leader material.
As for flies, there are a couple of things to consider. Generally flies used are slim in profile, have no hackles and no legs. Because you are fishing so close and on such a short line the flies must sink like a rock. The middle fly as mentioned is usually the most heavily weighted, and often the most ‘colourful’, and may act as an attractant. A gold bead anything could be used on the point fly or a small Glo-Bug, very small. (Glo-Bugs (roe imitations) that are too big take far too long to sink). The fly at the top, again, could be a gold bead anything. Another tack is to use bead flies above and below the heavy fly. Bead flies sink fast.
This technique is best used in fast, turbulent water. As will be realised this method requires that you are close to the fish and you need the roily water to help disguise your presence.
I can think of innumerable stretches of water I used to walk past to get to the ‘good’ pools, especially on the Rivers of the central North Island, NZ, and the rivers of the West Coast (South Island, NZ), where I now get fish.
The technique can be valuable if you want to avoid crowds. There you wade happily pulling in fish while ‘experts’ wander past you making snide remarks to each other about the ‘duffer’ who can’t cast, fishing in the wrong area – experts? Yeah Right!
This technique is not particularly new, it has been used in Poland and Czechoslovakia for may years. In the US the Charles Brooks book ‘Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout’ describes a very similar method, and his book was written in 1976. The US “High-Sticking” technique is not a million miles away either.
Whatever you call it, in the right water it really does work.
For further info see the links below, and a Google search for “Czech nymphing” will reveal many more sites.
“Czech Nymphing – Straight From The Source”, is a great article in Global Fly Fisher by a top exponent of the art, and a Czech. The detailed article covers some history of the fishing technique, clear instructions on the fishing technique, tackle requirements and set-up, flies and how to tie them.
While Czech nymphing does have some similarities with a USA created technique, often described as ‘Hi-Sticking’, there are distinct differences that make a distinct difference in hook-ups.
There is a link to an obviously new website Czech Nymph which sells Czech nymphing products – but before you give it a miss, it does have some good information and clear photos of flies, special hooks, etc.
A Primer on Czech Nymphing from Fish and Fly
Czech Nymphing from Sexy Loops