Question of the Week: September 15, 2020

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Question of the Week

Question:

If I choose to nymph fish a river which fly or flies (Nymphs) should I start with?

Answer:

If you ask this question to 20 fly anglers you are going to get 20 different answers and all the answers would be right. So I choose to take a different strategy than most but based on both my half century of experience and the science of fly fishing.  Science tells us that during the season 45 plus percent of a trout’s diet in an average western river are Caddis flies.  Science goes on to say the in addition to caddis flies, 45 plus percent of a trout’s diet during the same season are Mayflies. So science tells us that 90 plus percent of what a trout eats are Mayflies and Caddis Flies.  If you buy into this logic then putting on a Mayfly, Caddis fly or any combination of the two would be a good way to start.

Now there are basically two types of modern Nymphs; an imitative nymph that best represents what the real nymph looks like such as a nymphal emerger and an attractor nymph like famous Pheasant Tail nymph.  Each type are deadly and you can’t go wrong with either.  However most Caddis nymphs (Pupa’s) tend to be of the  imitative type rather than the attractor type.  My experience tells me to put one of each, Mayfly and Caddis fly.  At least I tend to start that way.  I will then change nymphs according to how my fishing transpires.

That’s my take on the question and how I’ve done all these years.  However I must say with all these new Euro style nymphing techniques there has been a flood of great flies hit the nymph market the past ten years.  There are “Jiggies” tied on a jig style hook, Czech style nymphs and a plethora of new nymphs that many anglers swear by.  So much so that I’ve now included them into to shop’s selection of nymphs and I’m now trying on the rivers myself.  I can tell you that the flies I start out with are usually not the flies I end up with after a day’s nymph fishing.

Mike Sandifer

Northwest School of Fly Fishing