Last week found us at Belize River Lodge with amazing weather and perfect tides. We didn't put on a raincoat all week. You would think the fishing to be amazing – but truth be told, our group had a difficult week finding fish. The week got a little better toward the end, thank goodness. Thank you to an amazing group of anglers and the staff and guides at BRL who understand saltwater fly fishing and hung in there to make the best of it. We hope you enjoy the photos.
Tim Flagler and the Sulphur Perdigon
With sulphur season fast approaching here is an interesting Perdigon sulphur nymph to add to your box. We've had lots of water so far this season and this is a good pattern to get your fly down to where the fish are holding, and Tim always has tying tips to make the job easier. Thank you MidCurrent, Marshall Cutchin and Tim.
High Sticking Nymphs by Jim Kukorlo
The fly line is a necessary evil. We need a fly line to cast our flies but the fly line on the water creates drag. Not only the fly line but the leader too. To help eliminate drag get as much line and leader off the water as possible by getting as close as possible to the pool and lifting the fly rod up and extending your arm out over the water. Do same when fishing at a distance by reaching out and lifting the rod higher.
High Sticking is basically lifting your fly rod and extending your casting arm to lift your fly line off the water. Lifting the fly line off the water will help to eliminate drag and give you a better drag free presentation, allowing your flies to go deeper and be in better contact with your strike indicator. Did you catch the part about extending your casting arm? If you are using a 9ft fly rod by extending your arm out and up you now have a 11ft fly rod depending on the length of your arm. For sake of argument lets say you gain about 2ft. It's a lot easier to mend your fly line in the air then it is when the line is lying on the water.
The Drift – The object of a drag free drift is to keep the fly, leader, strike indicator, fly rod and your arm in a straight line as the fly drifts down stream. In order to achieve that you must mend your fly line and follow the line downstream with the tip of your fly rod.
The current is never the same all away across the stream. Learn to read the water and look for seams in the current and along the edge of a riffle. It's easier to control your drift in these seams with short casts and short drifts then it is making long cast and trying to mange more fly line on the water. Trout will feed on the edge of a fast running riff and in pools behind rocks.
The flow of the current also dictates how I present my cast. Nymph fishing 101 is a three quarter upstream cast – one mend and a perfect drift through the hole. With multi currents sometimes I prefer to cast across stream and drift the fly slightly downstream allowing the fly to drift into the trout keeping the fly line behind and out of sight of the trout. This is especially good to do on bright sunny days to keep your shadow and the shadow of the strike indicator from spooking the trout.
Leaders - For whatever reason I have never gotten into making my own leaders. It might be something I should look into. I use a 9ft. 4wt RIO monofilament leader and adding a 3ft section of fluorocarbon tippet. Tippet size is determined by the hook size of the fly that I'm using. Hook size 12 and larger I use 4x, hook size 14 and 16 usually 5x and size 18 and smaller 6x. Of course that can vary with the water flow and water color. I always use two nymphs by attaching a 18 to 24 inch section of fluorocarbon tippet material, which will lengthen my leader to around 14ft. Longer leaders create less drag by allowing me to keep more of the fly line off the water.
I don't use the loop to loop method to attach the leader to the fly line, it adds bulk and creates issues when landing fish and can damage the guides on the fly rod. Instead I simply attach the leader to the fly line with a clinch knot. It makes a slim profile and the leader will go through the guides without hanging up on the guides.
Flies – Along with using two flies I found that high sticking with an indicator can be a very effective way to dead drift a wooly bugger or a streamer through a deep pool or fast riffle.
Split Shots - Although I try to stay away from using split shot by using at least one fly with a tungsten bead but there are times I do have to add split shot. As the saying goes “You are one split shot away from catching fish.” Generally I add the split shot between the two flies. But that depends on what fly I'm using and where I want the bottom fly to be. For example a size 10 Ug Bug as the first fly and a size 18 Pheasant Tail as the bottom fly with no split shot between the two flies allowing the pheasant tail to float several inches off the stream bottom.
Strike Indicator – Years ago, long before the idea of using a strike indicator, I used to paint my nail knot with bright orange fingernail polish which would help me see the strike better by watching the end of my line. And it did work and it was a pretty cool idea that I learned from a friend of mine but strike indicators work much better. Keep in mind the strike indicator also suspends the fly in the water column which helps to keep from hanging up on the bottom of the stream and allows you to drift the fly at the depth you think the trout are.
By watching your indicator you can see the effect the current has on your drift and how your fly is being presented to the trout.
How far from the fly you put your indicator is a question I get a lot from fishermen. The rule of thumb I use is to put the indicator 1 to 2 ft higher then the depth of the water you are fishing. Most indicators will slide up and down your leader and are easy to adjust. Adjusting the indicator and being sure you have the right amount of weight are two very important factors in nymph fishing.
There are hundreds of strike indicators on the market and after years of trying different ones the Dorsey indicator is my favorite. (More about different kinds of indicators in a future article.)
Fly Rods – As a kid using sticks as swords the guy with the bigger stick usually wins. A longer fast action fly rod greatly helps in mending and managing the fly line. My go to fly rod for nymph fishing is a 9ft 5wt Sage X, and depending on the size of the stream I'm fishing, I also use a 9.5ft or a 10ft 4wt.
If you are new to nymph fishing or struggling with getting good drifts and having confidence in your nymph fishing. Just by learning to lift your fly rod up and out you will see immediate changes in your drift. Once you establish confidence you will start catching more fish and having fun.
We're busy working on our 2020 trips. Here is a look at what we have to look forward to:
January 11-21 Suinda & Pira, Argentina (golden dorado)
February 8-15 Laguna Verde, Argentina (rainbows)
February 16-20 Dorado Cruiser, Argentina (golden dorado)
March 13-20 Villa Maria, TDF, Argentina (trout)
March 21-28 Estancia Tecka, Argentina (trout)
Dates TBA San Huberto, Argentina (trout)
April 25-May 2 Turneffe Flats Lodge, Belize (bones, permit, tarpon, etc.)
June (TBA) Ireland/Scotland (trout/Atlantic salmon)
August 6-15 Reel Action Camp, Alaska (trout, char, pacific salmon)
August 22-29 Bighorn River, Montana (trout)
August 29-Sept.5 Bighorn River, Montana (trout)
October 4-11 E. Pyrenees, Spain (trout, barbel)
Nov/Dec Tres Valles, Argentina (trout)