Nymph Fishing on the Goulburn
As the season draws to
a close and the river level drops due to declining demands
for irrigation, nymph patterns come into their own.
The lower river levels and reduced water velocity enable
anglers to easily access large areas of the river that
are inaccessible during the summer months. Areas of
mixed weed and gravel bottom in water from knee to waist
deep are ideally suited to prospecting with a nymph.
At this time of year the
terrestrials are but a memory and the remaining hatches
are thin and sporadic. Sure there are some notable exceptions,
and if you have the good fortune to be on the water
when one of these occur switch to a dry fly and make
hay whilst the duns drift.
But exceptions aside, surface activity at this time
of year can be a bit hit and miss. The trout are still
feeding of course, feeding on what makes up something
like 80% of there diet, sub-aquatic invertebrates. Most
of the time trout are feeding on bugs in the water rather
than on bugs on the water so effectively fishing a nymph
can make the difference between a pleasant day on the
river with some casting practice, and a pleasant day
on the river with a couple of fish caught and released.
The nymph is a very versatile
pattern and on any given day I'd use any, or all, of
the methods outline below depending on the sort of water
I'm fishing. Of course if I happen across some rising
fish I'll switch over to the dry quicker than you can
say "influence of photoperiod on invertebrate drift
densities", but I'm still more a pragmatist than
purist. Like most I've constructed my own arbitrary,
unreasonable and totally subjective conceptions of what
constitutes "flyfishing", whilst trying to
remain tolerant and open to the perspectives of others.
I do draw the line at "glow-bugs" and any
"nymph" referred to as a "bomb"
that would in fact be more effectively and comfortably
fished with threadline gear. These I hold to be satanic
devices of pure malevolent evil and those who use them
are surely going straight to hell. Yeah that's right,
that place where massive trout rise to duns all day
long just scant metres beyond casting range. I've experienced
that often enough to not want to take any risks with
eternity thank you very much.
Bit of a misnomer really
as it's only the nymph that's passive as the technique
requires a fair bit of concentration from the angler.
At its simplest a nymph is cast upstream and allowed
to drift back with the current and the angler retrieves
the slack line whilst watching the leader for any indication
of a "take". It's a very effective method
on gently gliding water or over short distances but
it requires confidence, total focus, good eyesight and
reflexes, which is why I usually use of an indicator
fly. Yeah okay there's that whole Zen and the art of
nymph fishing thing, but really I'd rather keep my flyfishing
unsullied by the proverbs of Lao Tsu, in fact I'd kind
of like to stay well clear of the entire morass of eastern
philosophy altogether. Using an indicator makes it easier
to fish rougher water and make longer casts whilst still
being able to see what's going on. It also means you
can sidestep all that "one hand clapping"
and "where is the Buddha" stuff. Cast upstream
and watch the indicator fly like a hawk as you retrieve
the slack line to stay in contact with the nymph that
drifts back somewhere beneath. Staying in contact with
the fly and developing a reflex "lift" the
instant that indicator does "anything" suspicious
are the keys to success.
This technique requires
the angler to cast the fly upstream and retrieve it
a bit faster than the current. Now that's a lot easier
said than done in fast moving water but the extra bit
of movement imparted to the fly can be very effective.
It's particularly useful for searching out likely looking
pockets of water or structures likely to hold fish by
angling a cast up and across the current and twitching
the fly back past that "if I were a fish I'd live
there" kind of spot. You can also fish two nymphs
this way, generally a larger or heavier point fly with
a smaller nymph on the dropper. This is especially useful
when fishing faster or deeper water where you need the
fly to get down in the water column a bit before it
gets into "the zone". When tying on the tippet
leave a long enough tag on the heavier end (one nearest
the flyline) to allow you to tie the smaller nymph but
don't get carried away as two flies will always tangle
better than one. It should be noted that there are those
who claim that the two nymph rig is a satanic device
wrought of malevolent evil and that all that use it
will surely go straight to hell. Bloody hide bound stick
in the mud traditionalists, what would they know?
Across and down.
Now in terms of traditional
this is where it all got started when some radical freethinking
eccentric stumbled upon the notion that fish might like
to eat feathers. He or she was in all probability stoned,
crucified or burnt at the stake to expiate their passage
straight to hell for producing such satanic devices.
No doubt there are many friends and partners of obsessive
fly flickers who fervently wish that action had been
taken sooner to silence this deranged radical freethinker,
if only to save them from hearing about the intricacies
of tying and fishing the myopic flannel dun yet again.
Okay enough drivel back to the nymphs. Make a cast across
the current and stay in contact with the fly as it drifts
down. As it angles downstream the nymph will start to
lift due to the drag on the line, this movement toward
the surface perhaps mimics the naturals swim up to hatch
as the fish often hit the fly on this upward swing.
If this doesn't occur use a short twitching retrieve,
move down a couple of steps and repeat the process.
Pay particular attention to current seams and areas
where shallow stretches of gravel drop off into deeper
water. Of course for those brave or foolhardy enough
to mess with eternal damnation a two nymph combination
is very effective especially in faster broken water.
At a later date I'll include
a piece on the tying and fishing of the myopic flannel
dun. I just need to have a quite word with my lawyer
on some of the finer details of that restraining order.
~Mick Mc Brien