European Style Nymphing?
Or high-sticking, as it's always been called around here, has never been my preferred style of fly fishing. Most of us, given a choice, would prefer a nice warm day with good water levels, flies hatching, fishing rising, and flies in your box that the fish want to eat. After all, isn't that what we all hope for when we get the opportunity to fish.
Unfortunately, the days when we hit it perfectly are few and far between and maybe it wouldn't be such a “gift” if it happened more often.....or at least that's what they say. I'd like to test that theory. Early season here always means a little more water, cold water, and sporadic hatches. Once in awhile we might get a day like the one described above, but those days are more likely to happen in May and June, not April. So, this year I decided that I wanted to be come a better Euro nymph fishermen.
We've had a Sage ESN, 10' for a 3-weight in the rack for awhile waiting for one of us to be “moved” so out it came. Our guide, Tom Harris, set it up for me with a spool of 20 lb. amnesia and then 42” of 20 lb. chameleon to 42” of 12 lb. chameleon, followed with RIO's Two Tone Indicator Tippet to a barrel swivel and fluorocarbon from there to the flies.
A few years ago when we were in Slovenia we fished a similar style and I remember struggling to cast because it was all monofilament. I slowly got the drift and by the end of the week I had it worked out. My arm was killing me, but I was able to catch fish. However, I have to admit that our excellent guide, Tina Possnig, could see the fly and the fish and would would yell “strike” so I just waited to be told. I could see fish moving but could not tell which one had picked up the fly. She could.
Yesterday the water was a bit off-color, deeper, and faster than usual. There was no sight-fishing to be had so I had to rely on watching the two tone tippet. I had a #14 tungsten brass bead nymph as my point fly (bottom) and a lighter bead hare's ear in the top position. I again struggled with casting mono and decided that before I do this again I will have the RIO Technical Euro Nymph Shorty line because I think it will be easier to cast and therefore more accurate.
The hardest part for me was reading the drift and since the water was not clear, trying to determine if my depth was right. The two tone tippet is a life saver and I think the technique will come, but there is definitely a learning curve – but one that I like and am up for. I enjoy fishing two nymphs on a long leader with a strike indicator (up to a point), but this is more challenging and I like that. I can see where a tuck cast is a great cast to use, as Russ Miller describes in the RIO video along with other ESN tips. The fact that I can land a good fish in current on 5x fluorocarbon is a testament to the ESN's softer rod tip and I think the light tippet allows the flies to look more natural in the drift.
There is a lot to learn, but for me it's nice to do something besides watch an indicator. There's a lot more to think about and I'm pretty sure I'll be a better fisherman for it. I'll check back in in a week or two – unless the dry fly fishing takes off!
Stream Report – April 15, 2021
Early April fly fishing here on Fishing Creek has been very good with some really nice trout caught and a fair amount of action throughout the day. Each day we were seeing more and more insect activity including the early black stones, blue quills and Hendricksons. That was right up to last Sunday rain which brought the creek up and for the next few days a sinking tip line and Cathy’s super buggers brought several nice trout to the net.
Water levels are dropping quickly and the stream is looking good again. In fact I spent the day today on the water with two fishing buddies and nymph fishing was slow in the morning, but very productive in the afternoon.
Blue quills were hatching from around noon on but we saw very few rising fish. Around three o'clock we saw more Hendericksons and a lot more rising fish. I switched to my dry fly rod and caught several nice trout on a Henderickson dun tied with the new polyfluff wing material. It was the first time I fished a dry fly tied with polyfluff and it’s the best wing material I’ve ever used. Polyfluff is water proof, very easy to see, casts well and is easy to tie flies with. I caught my first trout of the year on a dry fly plus several more before the hatch slowed down.
And so it begins! It was the first day of a decent Henderickson hatch and it will only get better as the days goes by. The weekend shows great promise for good dry fly fishing and it will continue right on into summer.
I hope to see you this spring on Fishing Creek. Here are some photos from this past week.