Interview of the well known french fly fisherman Nicolas Germain
By Romain on 15.10.2014 in Interviews
In our small flyfishing community, some fishermen stand out of the crowd. One of them is Nicolas Germain.
We spotted him some years ago visiting his blog, where you can find fishing stories as we like them, full of fish, passion, … and a flyshop with a selection of fine flies and leaders especially created for sightfishing with nymphs, a flyshop which rather aims for quality than quantity.
His fly selection has proven its incredible efficiency when you see photos with fish from around the globe, whether it’s fish from New Zealand or the most notorious rivers in France, the trout and grayling love Nicolas’ flies.
And to top this all, he has written a book in which he describes his fishing tales.
So, at Rodtrip we decided to give him a chance to be discovered, and to describe himself for those who didn’t know him.
Hi Nicolas, please describe yourself to our readers :
I’m NG, born in 1974, married and father of 3 kids. I was born in the Jura-region in Champagnole, a city renowned for its famous Devaux flies.
I work as a quality development technician in the plastic industry, and I’m also active as a freelance flytier; I’m particularly fond of the river Ain, fishing it for more than 30 years now.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you were once a competition flyfisher, why did you stop but more interestingly, what did you learn from it ?
I started with competition by frequenting André Terrier, my future flyfishing guru. As he was implicated in the FFPML organisation, it was evident that I stepped into it.
I’ve had some good results with one or two victories, but that was about it. I did spent several years in premier division nevertheless, on rivers only.
The real problem for me, was that the majority of the competitions were spent on fast flowing rivers where fishing the french leader was most succesful.
To be honest, I got bored to fish highsticking all the time. Hence, the only competition I’ve won, was on Goumois territory, where sightfishing nymphs ruled in the nineties. So to make a long story short, in the end I realised I didn’t enjoy it anymore.
But don’t take me wrong, I absolutely have no regrets at all that I’ve been there, done that. It enabled me to meet marvellous people, and some of them became close friends who I still get together with.
It also enabled me to fish the most magnificient spots France has to offer, which I normally would never had fished.
On the other hand , technically spoken, I was continually motivated to learn to improve myself, enabling me to meet the highest level possible. So in the end there’s nothing but good memories left.
You were lucky to meet one of France’s best flyfishermen ever, André Terrier, could you explain us who he was and what he meant to you ?
I’ve known Andre since my early youth, as he was an close friend of my father. André lived in the same village as I did. We had a connection almost immediately, so he took me under his wing as they say.
He enjoyed introducing me to other flyfishermen as being his disciple. He took me everywhere he went, which was mostly flyfishing of course.
If I should resume what Andre taught me over the years, it’s quiet simple : he himself concluded that he taught me everything he knew about flyfishing in just a few years time, while it had taken him 20 years to figure all of this out on his own.
Off course we’re talking technique here, but also -even more important- the cycles of insects and the approach of river fish.
So Andre as a mentor was one of the greatest gifts I got in my life, though it wasn’t only flyfishing what came up to our minds !
He taught me all about life, and I ended up considering him as a second father.
A while ago you created a webshop selling your flies and leaders.
Can you explain why you decided to offer only a limited amount of flies, and what makes your leaders different than any other?
I started my own flyshop in december 2011, while the actual idea came only 4 months before, after a sudden careerswitch of my wife. One big coincidence actually.
So my goal has never been to make a living out of it, but it sure helps as a little extra in the end of the month. My goal was obviously to produce and sell only products I use myself daily as a flyfisher.
After all, I wanted to keep the spirit of my blog alive, which is based on sharing detailed information about my favourite flies.
As for the shear number of them : just like any experienced nymph at sight fishermen I restricted myself to a very limited number of patterns, only using several weights and sizes of the same few types to cover all needs.
So why would I loose myself in offering heaps of different flies, only for the need of selling them ?
That would have been ridiculous. The one important thing about flyfishing on sight is the drift of our flies.
Use a scaled down amount of efficient flies, so you don’t get lost by the endless wondering why a trout or grayling refused this or that fly.
The ultimate reward is the constant positive feedback of my customers on the effectiveness of the flies I tie.
Seeing daily positive critics on the internet with anglers publishing photos of their catches on a JFD shrimp, is simply fantastic. And it keeps me motivated.
For the home made leaders, I’ve created a service which didn’t exist on the market, offering leaders ‘à la carte’. The leadermaterial I use, has a unique elasticity and loss of memory.
My formulas are based upon André Terrier’s leaders, I just adapted it to the specific needs for sight fishing with nymphs.
You mainly fish nymphs at sight, why is that ?
And could you share some of your secrets to succeed with this technique ?
Sightfishing nymphs is quite simple really, it’s like all other techniques : you need to spend time on the river, lots of time.
It’s too complicated to give an overall method, as the approach will vary upon the type of river and how easy the fish is spooked.
As far as I’m concerned, I keep in mind some basic rules which will help to reach a certain level of succes.
Keep in mind that the river is the habitat of the fish, in which an angler is an intruder, so wade only when strictly needed
Choose a range of gear that suits you, and don’t change constantly. It goes from the tippet, to the rod, and applies also for the fly line.
This technique requires great precision depending the level you wish to reach, so it’s important for me to know in detail how my gear works.
This also applies for the length of the leader which should be identical for a maximum control of your drifts and presentation, based upon your own experience through the years.
Have a selection of efficient nymphs in different sizes and weights, to be convinced when you get a refusal of f.e. a trout, you know it’s due to your drift and not the nymph.
This is crucial to progress and to avoid wondering about things which slow down your progress.
Profound understanding of the selected fish. This will come by observing their behaviour along the seasons, waterlevels, weather conditions, …for several years.
Most important is being patient. You’ll not become a succesfull nymph angler in six months…
The new generation of anglers often wants improve too fast, while it seems obvious to me that you progress step by step, to avoid frustration during the learning process.
We can see on your blog that you’ve introduced your son to flyfishing, which must be a great satisfaction and create a special band between you and him ?
I’d be a liar if I said that I didn’t dream to take him out fishing. I don’t push my son to go fishing with me of course, but I have to admit that I’ve helped to make him as passionate as I am.
Nowadays doesn’t happen often that I’m out there by myself, he joins me almost every trip.
Over the years, his level of skills grew sifnificantly, so there’s not only the good relation father/son we have, but it’s interesting because he’s becoming so good that the pupil is becoming the teacher.
I’m sure that in little time, he’ll be better than I am, but than again, that was meant to be.
The main goal is that he learns all I know, and combines it with what he’ll discover for himself. Of course, it would be wrong to say that it’s always the perfect day.
He’s the youngster he is, with a certain behaviour at that age, and yes it can be tough on daddy. But overall, it’s just fantastic to live such an experience, and to share so much with my son through our passion.
You’re very active in the protection of our rivers, can you tell us about the situation of the Franc-Comtoi riversystem, and what should be enhanced ?
It’s a matter that should be a main concern to all of us. It’s more important than fishing and the fish themselves. The water quality is simply vital for our future. I’ve done, in my eyes, the strictly minimum of what I could do.
It should be an obligation for every citizen, to be aware of the shear richness that water is.
In rivers of Franche-Comté, you have some in a bad condition and others are in a better condtion, but overall to me, they are all suffering.
There’s a lot to do better, from the individual impact of each of us daily, to the purifying installations trough to the agraric culture which must be changed in their functionnality.
It is very complex, as it is the result of decades of ignorance. Unfortunately, today we’re with our back against the wall, and time is running out.
If you were able to change one thing to the management of French rivers, what would it be and why ?
The most obvious thing would certainly be to professionalize the AAPMA and federations, by giving them more power in the main decisions.
As for myself ,being a volunteer, I’ve certainly made mistakes being too obsessed about my passion.
As you know a passionate of cooking will not necessarily make a good meal, but renowned star chefs will. It’s the same with fishing, there are people graduating in studies about the functioning of our water systems, and all what’s related to it.
It ‘s them who are the most competent people to take the right decisions.
We also have to convince the politicians of the impact of fishing, using market studies with the related economic revenues created by fishing tourism in some regions.
What about your best experience in your fishing career ?
I’ve got lots of them, and it’s really difficult to pick out only one… For sure, there’s the first big trout my son caught.
I’ve taken a number of big trout in my live, but the first of my kid, was such a fantastic moment that I can’t describe in words… It was completely different to all the joy I’ve had in the past.
He just lost a nice fish, and was almost in tears. I tried to sheer him up as best as I could, and next thing you know, he catches a beautifull 50+ on sightfishing a nymph in front of me..
He was only 11 or 12 years old, which was unbelievable. A real wild and beautiful fish…
And what do you hope for in the near future ?
My first wish for the future is that the rivers remain at least in their actual condition. I’ve been fishing for almost 30 years now, and I just saw a constant decline.
So, I reckon that if we’re able to keep them stabilized as they are now for the coming decades, I’ll be happy !
As for my fly shop, I’m happy as it is, I’m not a ambitious person. If I can keep selling flies and making my customers happy, that ‘s perfect for me. I don’t search for more.
We leave to you the last word …
I want to thank you for the opportunity to express my ideas on the several issues.
For me, I’m used to give interviews on my blog, but this is new, which is cool. I hope that we can all meet at a river !
And all the best for the development of sportfishing.