Setting up your own French Nymphing leader doesn’t have to be a complicated business. Just as in baking a cake, a few simple ingredients when combined create a delectable, tasty treat. Though these fishing tips won’t be making a cake any time soon, they will help any fly angler wanting to give French Nymphing tactics a serious try. This illustration represents the basic lengths and line poundage to make your fly fishing tackle more efficient when casting, and more manageable when fishing your flies along the bottom. Listed below are a few fly fishing knots that I prefer when I tie this setup.
Loop to loop connection
For those who are not familiar with these knots, I will be breaking them down individually in the next few articles. So hold on and digest this diagram first and get your fingers nimble by practicing the knots you do know.
click on image for larger view
What to do with this diagram? Start gathering your materials, and check back with us at www.jwflyfishing.com where I will show you how to incorporate these leader segments together to create an indispensable piece of fly fishing gear! Hope to see you on the water soon!
What about you? Ever think you might like to try French or European Nymphing fly fishing techniques on your home waters someday? What do you think brought so many other fishermen to decide to do this? Some reasons for going that route are extensive and variable. But a couple of driving factors are they have seen or heard that it’s effective and excels at catching plenty of trout. Many people contemplate it, but quickly get discouraged and do not actually even get started. Others don’t take the time to learn enough of what is involved to even know how to get started.
Have you considered it? Do you still have questions about whether to test French and European Nymphing fly fishing techniques on your home waters or not? To help you put things in focus, think about these three points in favor:
First, Casting and Control. These fly fishing techniques allow you to effectively cast and fish a team of flies much farther from you and fish them with far more control than more traditional nymphing methods. In traditional nymphing methods the casting is more of an upstream lob or roll cast with heavy weighted flies likely causing a sore arm at the end of the day. Not with the Euro methods, they cast more like a dry fly. Executing a cast consists of picking your team of nymphs off the water and false casting them back parallel with the river avoiding snags and overhanging limbs such a you would with a dry fly, then catapulting them forward and away from you to the target. Once the cast is made, immediately the slack is picked up off the water with a few short hand retrievals and the rod is lifted and tilted downstream exposing the coiled or straight sighter (a.k.a indicator) from the water in a manner that leads the flies through a stretch of water, yet allows them to drift slowly along the bottom. This is where the good stuff happens! When the flies have drifted to you, start your false cast and slingshot them forward again into place to repeat the process. With very little time spent casting and false casting you can really cover some ground with French and European Nymphing techniques.
JW's Own French Nymphing Indicator
Second, Indicators and Depth Change. These methods replace the cumbersome bobber style indicator with a much lighter “Coiled” or “Straight” sighter or indicator made of Hi-Vis monofilament (making it stick out like a sore thumb) incorporated with loop to loop knots into the leader. This allows for great visibility, quick setup and tear down, and a very accurate indicator that flat out doesn’t miss much that goes on underneath the water, working like a spring it opens and closes detecting the slightest changes on bottom by quivering open and shut. When a fish hits… the indicator is straightened completely in an abrupt manner! Lots of versatility is gained here without having to physically adjust and manipulate football or other style indicators on your leader. Nothing stinks more than changing your whole rig around to fish different depths of water, up down with the indicator, adding more weight, “oops, I just cast my indicator off my line!!” Ouch, we have all been there! European styles of nymphing stand out in this department, wasting very little time and allowing the angler to fish varying depths of water more effectively by simply lowering the indicator closer or actually in the water. I will admit, as with all fishing methods, these techniques will not always be the answer. Dry flies certainly have their place in any fly angler’s arsenal. However, fishing moving water and current seams is where these tactics will truly shine. They will allow any fly angler to quickly and efficiently try a vast range of flies with the time he would normally spend rigging and adjusting with other nymphing methods.
Third, The weight is incorporated in the flies, so no more fumbling around putting and removing splitshot and moving it up and down the leader to get a good presentation of the fishing flies.. This means that The fly angler does all the weighting of the flies at home, in the fly tying vise by incorporating a bead or tungsten bead at the head of the fly or for lighter or dropper flies by making 8 to 10 wraps of lead or lead substitute wire around the shank of the hook or even both the bead and the lead substitute wire(which I prefer) before you finish the fly. This eliminates a great deal of fidgeting with weights on the stream, making fly changes quicker and less cumbersome. Then by choosing the appropriately weighted flies you adjust the weight of your rig fine tuning the way it drifts along the bottom of the stream until it bumps along and doesn’t hang up. With a little experience this becomes second nature just by looking at the flow of the river.
Here are some good solid reasons on the plus side. And now I hope you will agree that they make the case of at least considering further experimentation with French or European nymphing techniques on your home waters. All right, I am well aware there may be some sceptics who frame the old ”It’s just another fishing fad.” or, ”It’s just what’s hot on the market right now”. Good points, and most certainly valid to some degree with all the new rods and gear out there aimed at this niche. However I have experienced first hand that it can certainly be economical, and exciting, while surprising results can be achieved with very little cost and effort. With a little bit of patience, practice, and a few basic knots under your belt such as an overhand loop, bloodknot, and clinch knot, it is certainly possible to start catching fish with these leaner, stealthier, and certainly more interactive styles of nymphing on your very first outing. The best way to incorporate these techniques is to bring two rods, one set up to fish Dry Flies and when the bugs are not hatching or the fish aren’t biting pull out the Nymphing rod and sharpen your skills with these techniques, you may be pleasantly surprised as well as rewarded.
Perhaps now you will consider the benefits to you, and learn how to effectively incorporate French or European nymphing techniques where you live! Stay tuned for the segment on leader construction, to get all you converts started!!
Any questions or comments please direct them to my inbox firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the About/Comments page.
Would you like to you catch more fish during the Hendrickson hatch this spring? There are quite a few ways to approach it, here are some good tactics to try. Some are easy and fast, while others require patience, and some exploration with new techniques, you choose which ones to employ.
Before you, quite a few people have made up their minds to be more successful at catching fish on the Farmington during these early season hatches, when the fish can sometimes just not seem to respond to anything. Through the successes and failures of those who went before you, there are many lessons that must be learned. To make it less difficult for you to succeed, here are a few of the better tactics. The tactics with notably long lists of successful users before.
5 tactics quite likely to assist you in catching more trout during the Hendrickson and other early mayfly hatches this Spring.
1. Fish with nymphs during the first week of the insects hatching. Choosing a nymph in the proper size and color is key. Turn a few rocks and look for some of the naturals before you choose the fly you will be fishing with. For best results you will need to change to some sort of a nymphing setup, there are quite a few out there I prefer my coiled sighters and a host of Euro methods including French/Spanish Nymphing. The other alternative that I like to use especially when its windy is Czech Nymphing with a football indicator or something similar.
Hendrickson Parachute Dun
2. While fishing dry flies visit the river when the hatch is strongest from mid morning to afternoon. This gives the water a chance to warm and make insects more active( important with the extreme fluctuations in Springtime weather conditions) This will also put you on the river during the most concentrated part of the hatch, when the majority of the nymphs will be emerging and drifting over the trout.
3. If you are going to fish dry flies, ever so slightly Twitch or Tickle your flies to make them come to life and act a bit more like a crippled mayfly struggling to get free from the surface. This is an almost certain winner. It can cause viscious strike from trout merely striking out in predatory instinct.
4. Try some Parachute patterns. These patterns work nice for a few reasons, the first being that they sit low in the water revealing a realistic impression of the natural insect on the water. The Parachute post sits high off the water improving your visual link with the fly, while creating a wing much like that of the natural. The hackle being wound around the bottom of the parachute post touches the water in the same manner that the legs of the real insect do.
Males have larger round tomato colored eys, females are larger with paler colors on their body.
5. Inspect any naturals you can get you hands on closely. Whether your turning rocks over looking for the nymphs or snatching Hendricksons out of the air this is important in helping you greatly improve your insect identification skills as well as showing you key triggers on the mayflies that you can incorporate into your own patterns.
There aren’t any guarantees, needless to say. However, in most cases, should you follow the tactics above and execute them well, your likelihood of achieving your objective, to really hook a few more trout this spring will surely be considerably better than they might have been otherwise. Hope to see you out there soon!
Uncover tips on how to make you a better flyfisherman
The summer doldrums have officially set in and the numbers of fisherman have dwindled; leaving the banks littered with fewer fisherman and plenty of exposed boulders and log jams. The fish are weary and easily spooked as the low water levels and higher water temperatures force trout to be less active in the heat of the day. We’ve all been there and few have mastered the art of long leader, small diameter tippet, dry fly fishing. Hooking these educated fish in low water can try the patience of even the most experienced of fly fishermen. For the last month I have been trying some alternative summer tactics. Though the tackle may be a great deal heavier and somewhat unconventional the results have been undeniable.
Twilight and nightime hours when the water is at its coolest temperatures of the day and many natural predators have gone to roost provides predatory fish with the perfect set of circumstances to take advantage of large food items ie, mice, frogs, or injured baitfish that are finding their way onto the river at night. Larger fish actually seek these things out; cruising shallow tail outs, pocket water and even riffles with water barely covering their back.
With these thoughts in mind I was off, on a mission. I started experimenting with a few old bass patterns mixed with some newer, quicker, and easier tying materials. Like a true mad scientist I twisted and turned, cut and glued until Whalaaaaa! I called upon a few of my choice specimens to accompany me on my midnight spooks.
Warning! If all the teenage horror movies that you watched as a teenager didn’t provoke absolute fear of the darkness and what’s in it, fishing in complete darkness just may. How about a few bats zinging dangerously close to your head or a beaver/muskrat/racoon approaching you in darkness and erupting a few feet away when startled by you! Wow, I hate that. Explosive strikes from trout at a close proximity can be teeth chattering. These circumstances are just unsuitable, and undesirable to most; however once tamed the anxiety transforms to the quiet focus of your primal senses. The fear of not being able to see slowly diminishes and once relaxed you are amazed at how much you can actually see! The unknown becomes know and those fishermen who master this beast can be in for some exhilarating and rewarding experiences involving trout of monstrous proportions.
The easiest way to tame the beast, so to speak, is to just call a fishing buddy or two and have them join in on the fun. Teaming up is definitely the most productive and safest way to enjoy this method of fishing. Two or more fishermen can cover water swiftly and provide comfort, sanity and safety to your expedition.
Many other precautions should be taken as well. The first and most vital piece of equipment would be a couple of good, reliable lights. I say couple because if one fails you may be left trudging around in complete darkness. Nothing would be more horrifying than trying to hike back to your vehicle through briars, and dense underbrush with a flyrod in your hand. On the other hand breaking a fly off early on in your trip without any light to re tie could bring an early end to your evening. Carrying two good reliable lights with batteries that you maintain regularly is a must.
Scouting is another indispensable tool. If deep cuts and drop offs exist you want to know ahead of time. Big rocks and other tangles such as logs, brush and other debris make scouting the area you want to fish absolutely necessary.
Carrying a cell phone on these trips or any trips for that matter is a must for me (makes my spouse happy too). Being able to dial 911 in case of an emergency can obviously save your life, The built in GPS tracking signal can aide local law enforcement in the event that you somehow become lost or injured. When it comes to safety don’t take any chances, cover all angles, and always double check!
Put a variety of patterns in your box that both sink and float which will provide lots of options on the water. Good floating patterns should include cork poppers to mimic frogs and wounded baitfish. Mice are a must on the list of most effective; floating flies as well. These floating patterns should be tied with durable materials, large trout have no remorse and will quickly eradicate inferior patterns. Even the sturdiest of patterns will require maintenance. Like a patchwork quilt many of my patterns left tailless from ferocious strikes have new tails scabbed to the hook shank. Though most materials are hardly a match for the large knifelike teeth of predatory trout, the destruction can be kept to a minimum by reinforcing your patterns with some good heavy thread and strong cement. For sinking flies you will want go to large streamers that replicate the baitfish that are present in the water you fish. The term baitfish is used loosely here as many of these large night feeding fish are certainly cannibalistic making all smaller fish suitable prey.
Terminal gear for this kind of fishing is greatly changed to facilitate the casting of these rather big flies. With this in mind 5-7 weight rods are ideal and will greatly aid in casting. A good stout 6-7 ft leader is also in order. I like to use a butt section of 50lb test to help me turn these monster flies over on the water. I taper this butt section down using 30lb and then 20lb mono to facilitate the 1x tippet. This may sound brash I know, but believe me the fish are preoccupied with what’s on the end of your leader and don’t seem to mind or care about your leader at all. I find heavier leaders necessary to minimize break offs and allow the angler to quickly subdue large fish. Minimizing stress and exhaustion levels the fish endure before release is crucial when low water and higher water temperatures already have trout stressed. For best results rotate your locations to ensure your on fresh fish and not one’s you’ve spooked or put down.
Nightime flyfishing can be a rewarding experience if the approach is thoughtful and organized. It would be irresponsible for me to suggest this method without outlining safety concerns, proper gear and talking about the health and welfare of the fish caught in the light of the moon. Thanks for appearances by my friends Brian, Mike and Steve I would have been very limited in water without them. Good luck and tight lines to all!
I started fishing with a Spanish/French nymphing setup a month ago to increase productivity of my idle time while I was waiting for hatches of insects. It has done just that and in a major way. French/Spanish nymphing allows the nymph fisherman to fish further away from himself with more precise casting than the traditional Czech nymphing method of rolling or lobbing your flies upstream of you and letting them drift downstream. The strike indicator or float is replaced with a 18” piece of coiled monofilament. The coils in the mono make it look like a spring which is exactly what it is and how it’ll be utilized. When you add weight to the spring it opens up and when your take weight away it closes. This means that while my flies are sinking to the bottom my spring is still closed, once the slack has fallen from the leader the weight pulls on the spring making it open up again. You can tell where the bottom of the stream is by watching and taking slack out of the coiled “Sighter”. You can do this simply by adjusting your rod tip up or down. The trick is to find the bottom and just keep the sighter slightly opening and closing almost in a rhythm which ensures your flies are on the bottom, magic things will happen there. Say you need to fish a little deeper, no more adjusting a strike indicator; just lower your rod tip mid-drift and your back in the strike zone. This method definitely shines when fishing swift pocket water as well as medium velocity transitions into tailouts. French/Spanish nymphing offers a much quicker solution to the problem of weighting your line. Here the problem is addressed simply by just weighting the flies themselves.
In a normal Czech nymphing scenario you must add and take away shot or some kind of weighted putty making your flies heavy enough to swiftly reach the bottom. Anyone used to fishing this knows the scenario; too much weight and too much slack in the leader is a dead ringer for a bottom snag each time. The flies can be weighted nicely with a beadhead, some lead wire or a combination of both for super heavy flies that will get down fast and give you more time in the strike zone. No more fumbling around with a tin of shot or blowing into your hands on a cold wintry day trying to make your sink putty more pliable. Hey don’t throw out your putty yet! I have found if you get in a jam and your team of flies is not sinking fast enough for the water conditions, a couple pieces of the putty rolled on your leader ahead of the flies and you’re right back on the bottom. Precise casting of this rigging is far superior, even when I have added weight via putty. This rig still cast much better than the classic Czech Nymphing. The slinky effect of the coiled sighter catapults your flies forward in a more precise manner opposed to simply hurling your flies in front of you (which I still love to do and find to be most effective in shallow water situations).
If the mind boggling strike detection and ease of casting (which equates to greater control and precise drifts) aren’t enough to convince the wary, then the added ability to fish much heavier tippets and still catch fish should set you over the top! The use of 5x tippet gives you the ability to confidently land trophies from the uncharted depths in no time at all! All you ambitious fishermen out there should give this one a try. I can’t forget to thank Aaron Jasper for shining a light on this technique, and providing some of his wisdom on this subject, which I have found to be quite helpful and effective. I hope this has been helpful and to all those interested in giving his a shot I have a video on how to make the leaders in the making. JW