Czech Nymphs

Article from the Norwegian fishing magazine "Alt om Fiske" no 1. 2004

See the information at the end of this article if you're really interested in learning how European Fishermen fish with these flies.

The Czech nymph technique had a breakthrough in 1986 when Svoboda won the World Championship using this method. The flies have contributed to developing grayling and trout fishing techniques in rapids. Since then this technique has been an important "weapon" used by competitive fly fishers in quite a number of fly-fishing championships.

The Czech method requires flies that will sink rapidly, such as heavy and slim Czech nymphs. These nymphs imitate caddis larvae or gammarus. In order for them to sink fast, some elements have been skipped that normally are part of the natural insect that it's supposed to imitate. But, that doesn't really matter. The fish won't have time to study the details in fast-running water! It's much more important that the flies have the right shape and that they sink rapidly down to where the fish are.

Czech nymphs have been subjected to great changes since the beginning of the 1980s. Many variants have been tested, and most of those who have tried the Czech method for some time have picked out their particular favorites. However, there is a steady flow of new materials on the market that enable creative fly tiers to develop new patterns that challenge the old established ones. In my opinion, this is what makes fly tying and fly fishing so exciting.

Nowadays you can find hundreds of Czech nymph patterns described in books and on the Internet. I think, though, that for the fish to take the nymphs it's more important that they are correctly weighted than having a perfect colors combination. Having said this, I'm not questioning the fact that some patterns do fish better than others. This is why I would like to present some of my favorites here, which may make it easier for rookie "Czechs" to master the technique.

Czech nymphs are tied to imitate caddis larvae and gammarus. This is why there are so many green, brown and grey variants. Today it is common to use dubbing with some sharper trigger colors in the middle of the fly.

But it could be worth your while to try to use bright colors all over the fly, such as the pink nymph that is described in the following. All the nymphs described here have fished well in Norway.

Generally speaking, three flies are used simultaneously when fishing with the Czech technique. The middle fly is the heaviest, and its main function is to pull the other two down. I weight the last fly more than the one closest to the fly line.

In the mid 80s, Czech flies were tied on straight, standard wet-fly hooks, but later hooks with curved shanks have become more and more common. Almost all manufacturers make suitable curved hooks, but not many make them in sizes 6 and 8, which are relatively common sizes for Czech nymphs.

I weight all my Czech Nymphs. Weighting must be adjusted to current and depth of water, which is why I tie my favorite patterns in three to four different weight categories. For this purpose you should get hold of lead wire in the dimensions: 0.2 - 0.4 - 0.8 and 1.0 mm. In order to show the weight of the nymph I use different colors of tying thread. The heaviest ones I tie with dark thread and for the lighter ones I use a light thread.

For the past few years it has become popular to use tungsten beads on Czech flies. In very fast running water this is almost a necessity in order to get the fly down to the fish fast enough. Personally, I use balls of 3 and 4 mm, and mostly in gold, nickel and copper. Many materials can be used for body dubbing: common is hare's ear, opossum, rabbit, squirrel, polar fox, muskrat, antron and SLF or mixtures of these. In my opinion the dubbing should consist of a mixture of soft and stiff fibres, but the stiff ones should not be too long. In case the dubbing material is too course, the fly will tend to be too bulky, and this will reduce the sinking speed. Ready-made dubbing brushes can also be used, which is definitely an alternative for everybody who has a hard time creating evenly built bodies.

Most Czech Nymphs are tied in two or three colours. Usually the back body is lighter than the thorax. Between these it's common to use two to three windings of dubbing in a bright colour - a hot spot - as a contrast to the back body and the thorax, e.g. yellow, orange, pink or red.

There are basically two types of ribbing used for Czech nymphs: body ribbing and back-shield ribbing. The back shield is almost always ribbed with monofilament, silver or gold wire. In addition, some nymphs are ribbed with variants of flat tinsel or Nymph-rib before the back shield is added.

Throughout the last twenty years, many different materials for making back shields have been tested out, among others catguts, eel skin and latex gloves. The material has to be elastic, transparent and durable. Looking at the materials on the market today, in my opinion, it's the Czech manufacturers Hends and Jan Siman who have the best selection. Both make back shields from vinyl in a variety of colors. I prefer Jan Siman's because they are stronger and appear to uphold a more even quality than Hends's. The material can be bought in pre-cut bands of fixed breadth and as small sheets for cutting your own back shields according to your own requirements. Different fly sizes require different sizes of back shields, which is why I prefer the sheets. The Czech materials are dim on one side and shiny on the other, and for my nymphs I always choose to use the dim side up. For the past few years, back shields in various flash materials have also proved to function well. The back shield should always be so wide that it covers the sides of the fly and prevents dubbing fibers to stick out on the sides. This is important for the sinking speed. With the exception of the flash.

On January 25 at 6:00 PM Front Range Anglers has made special arrangements for Jack Dennis and Jeff Currier (US Team Bronze Medal Winner in the World Fly Fishing Contest) to provide our customers with a presentation on European Nymphing techniques.


This clinic will address the many Euro nymphing techniques that have spawned from the World Fly fishing Championships known to most fly anglers as the popularly coined Czech nymphing, it is far more complex as several other nymphing methods has come to into existence such as Polish,Spanish,and Belgium nymphing. With video and actual live demos, Jack and Jeff will reveal the aspects of these non-indicator system that has been so successful in increasing strikes to hookups.

A special treat! A new short video with the inventor of the Polish method, the famous world fly fishing champion, Vadi, as he teaches the original Polish nymphing system. Jeff and Jack will show you samples of Vadi's woven nymphs, one of the keystones of the anchor nymph system of detection. Leader and fly rigging will be shown and explained along with the flies best suited for the techniques.

Better yet, learn about team USA and the World Fly fishing Championships with footage from the 2004 games in Slovakia, from American's only medal winner Jeff Currier.

Raffle prizes and good tales of fly fishing will highlight this special evening with two professional fly fishers who love to travel the earth in search of fly fishing challenges.