Sight fishing with a nymph, is to me, one of the most, if not the most beautiful fishing style. At least it’s the technique which boosts our adrenaline level at its peak.
What a thrill to see turn a big trout of several kilograms on your small nymph…
But to get to this point, several codes have to be cracked !
It’s cracking those codes, that I will try to describe in this article.
1. Spotting the fish
One can consider sight fishing with a nymph like hunting . The first problem to solve is to locate the fish… without it locating you. This seems logic and simple, but it isn’t always as easy on the bank.
Lots of conditions can make this task difficult : climatic conditions, water color, and not at least the mimesis of our aquatic friends.
One thing that may seem awkward when you’re looking for fish : forget the water surface and everything on it, you want to concentrate only for the bottom ! It sounds sillier than it really is, and isn’t easy at all.
When looking for fish, you definitely want to hide you from the sight of them, and look for every cover the bank can offer, to avoid that the fish see us first. Once again, you’ll have to pay attention for several details : your shadow should never be reflected on the water surface, exploit the vegetation to hide and to not be seen
The ideal conditions are when you can hide yourself in the plants on the river bank, being in the shadow whilst the river has the sun on it. This is the most easy way to spot fish, while being well covered.
2. Choosing the nymph
Once you’ve located the fish, and being into the best possible position, you’ll have to present your nymph to the fish.
Let’s take a closer look to the nymph ! I don’t think the type of nymph is the most important key. I believe it’s the weight of it. It’s the weight which will be determine how and where you’ll present it to the fish.
You’ll want your nymph to sink in the most natural way you can, so fish as light as possible !
More than the model of the nymph, it’s the weight which will be most important !
3. The cast
Once you’ve chosen your nymph, you’ll have to cast it to your oponent . Multiple cases may occur.
If the fish is near to your bank, and you’re able to approach it, a small bowtie cast will be perfect ! The nymph has to fall in the feeding line of the fish, just far enough that the impact of it will not scare the fish.
If your fish is situated a little further away, a bowtie cast will loose it’s effectiveness.
You’ll have to cast your nymph, in a dry fly fishing style above the fish.
But the way you’ll land your fly on the water will differ from the classic dry fly style. You’ll want to give a short forward stroke with your wrist at the end of your cast. Instead of getting a stretched leader on the surface, your tippet will collapse a little, which will enable your fly to brake the surface tension easier.
The drift, another important point : it will have a major impact on what happens next !
The drift should be as natural as possible, and it should not be influenced by your tippet, which you’ll want to be as long as you can handle.
The tippet size is in relation with your nymph. If you connect a size 22 nymph to a 16/100 mm tippet, it will not swim naturally… with all chances of refusal !
When the fish doesn’t react after several good drifts, try to animate your nymph very lightly on your next cast, it often triggers a fish to take it !
Your animation must be subtle, and should represent a rising nymph prior to hatching.
A careful approach, bowtie cast, good drift … fish on !
4. The strike
Last step before you’ve fooled the fish : the strike !
Not the easiest step !
When do you have to strike ? Which fisherman has never asked himself this question ? Not one !
The strike must follow as soon as the fish ate your nymph. But how to see it ?
Generally, the fish make a small stop the moment it grabs it’s prey, but it isn’t always easy to notice.
It happens that you see the white flash when it opens it’s mouth, but mostly, at distance you’re unable to see this.
It’s the fish’s behaviour which will induce a strike, that’s why once the nymph is cast out, you’ll want to forget it.
If it’s possible, you’ll try to cast the nymph a little to the side of the fish, and when it moves to the side to grab your nymph, you’ll know when it did. But in most cases, it will be a little movement of its’ head that will give you the telltale sign to strike.
Sometimes it’s possible to strike by instinct … which is magical !