10 Pointers for Early Season Nymphing

Paul Prentiss

Streams swollen with runoff with temperatures in the 40's can produce some very nice trout.

1. I like to fish with two or three flies with the point fly large (size12 to 8) and heavily weighted - I want it right on the bottom. Depending on the stream I'll generally start with a flashy version of a stonefly pattern or large attractor - perhaps a Copper John with rubber legs. Most of the time, I'll use a floating line. Towards the end of the 2004 season I received a new nymphing line from RIO Products which I really like. It's got a long back taper and body for easy roll casting and mending. The head design greatly enhances casting weighted nymphs, indicators and big air-resistant flies. It's got an 8-inch fluorescent orange tip with a loop. It's absolutely the best line I've every used for nymphing and I strongly recommend it.

2. I always carry several sinking leaders which I'll use in place of a sink-tip. When I need a sinking line I'll take an extra spool loaded with a versi-tip that uses various sinking heads. When you need to get right on the bottom further out you simply can't beat a sinking head and a short leader.

3. The second nymph is tied in a couple of feet above the point fly with a blood knot or loop connection. This fly is always smaller and not weighted. If I use a third fly, it's tied to the bend of the hook on the weighted fly. I try not to use split shot but conditions will dictate.

4. Indicators are a personal choice - I'm not real big on them. This is due in part to the tendency to focus entirely on the indicator expecting it to signal every take.

5. I'll fish my nymphs upstream at a 45-degree angle. I minimize the amount of slack by retrieving line and moving the rod tip up as the fly approaches and dropping the tip as the fly swings past. More often than not, I'll slightly lead the nymphs bouncing along the bottom by positioning the rod and line just ahead of the drift. All during the process it is imperative to keep a tight line.

6. I start my drifts close-in and step them out in front of me. If I'm fishing blind (can't see the fish) I don't spend much time re-working the same water.

7. I buy 7 1/2-foot 4X leaders and add material to both ends. On the butt section I use 12 to 20 inches of 25# test Sunset Amnesia and on the terminal end a couple more feet of 4X or 5X. Ultimately the leader is between 10 and 12-feet.

8. My favorite rod for nymph fishing on large water is a 9-foot 6-wt Winston Boron IIx. I'll drop back to a 4-weight on smaller streams.

9. I've got mixed feeling about using fluorocarbon. On one hand it's abrasion resistant, sinks, and is invisible to the fish. On the other it doesn't deteriorate over time meaning that when you lose or discard fluorocarbon it stays in the environment forever….think about that! I do use it on heavily fished water but I'm very careful with it.

10. If you do use yarn indicators stay away from the bright fluorescent colors - they'll spook fish in on streams where there is a lot of pressure.