In 2015, my friend Stan, who had previously translated my book on the Czech nymph into French, published another interesting book on nymphing (La peche en nymphe moderne avec les mouches de céramique), Because it reveals some French secrets in it, I allowed myself to publish the translation some parts for other friends of nymphing. However, it should be borne in mind that in the five years since the publication of this book, some things may have changed a bit. K.K.
by Stanislas Freyheit
Advantages of sight nymphing
The main strong point of sight fishing compare to the other methods that are considered as “blind” fishing, is that you can pick up the biggest fish among all the individuals you see in the river!
Let’s sum up the advantages of the three other nymphing methods that we explored before :
- Czech nymphing is adapted to agitated waters
- Klink and dink allows you to double your chances to catch fish
- French nymphing allow you to fish rippled waters with discretion
The only advantage of sight fishing is to allow you to hunt for the trophy fish. This is generally the kind of fishing that the best fly fishermen practice exclusively in France, looking for record trouts and graylings.
But the true advantage of sight nymphing is to get the best sensations of fly fishing, and to see all the actions live: biting, striking and fighting.
Spots for sight nymphing
Basically, the best spots for sight fishing are the spots where you can see the fish feeding. These spots are not mandatory flat surfaces. In some places in the world, the water is so clear, that you can see the fish in any part of the river, even in rippled waters.
My best memory for sight fishing was Montenegro. The colors of the river in this country are just stunning. I also had amazing times in Mongolia, sight fishing for Lenok trout and taimen. Iceland was the best place I fished to hook big trouts on sight fishing. France is of course an excellent place for sight fishing, but the fish here are more than educated, and we often have to walk on four legs, or to fish with extra thin tips to seduce French fish. It’s difficult for beginners to know how to choose between Czech, French and Klink and dink nymphing when they see a classic streams. But if you manage to see the fish on the water, do not hesitate, go for sight fishing !
Flies used for sight nymphing
You can guess that nymphs used for Czech nymphing should be more or less realistic, because you will present them to fish in crystal clear water... Sight fishing is mainly practiced with light nymphs, easy to cast. You will notice by yourself that it’s hard to whip with nymphs that are heavier than 0.3 g. That’s why the L ceramic flies that you will find at nymphevolution.com are designed to be point nymphs for Czech nymphing.
Also I don’t advice you to whip for nymphs heavier than 0.3, because if they hit your rod, you can break you rod !
Tackle for sight nymphing
Sight nymphing is maybe the only chance in your life to hook a trophy fish, so you better have to be sure of your tackle...
Like I told you in the article about the tackle for trout and grayling nymphing, the best rod to practice sight nymphing is a 10” rod. Certain people will advise you to use a 9” rod, but I think that a 10” rod is perfect to juggle between bow casts and distance casts. Maybe you have never fished using the bow cast, but if you get discreet enough to look for trouts on the close riverbed, you will be surprised on the number of fish cruising along you bank side.
Unlike classic methods, where it’s really rare to hook trophy fish, if you are sight nymphing for record fish, you better have to be equipped with a strong reel. Well, let’s say it’s not about strength of the reel, but it’s about sensibility of the brake. When you fish with really thin nylons, big trouts can rush violently, you need a really sensible brake to not break your line.
You can practice sight fishing without polarized sunglasses, but you will see ten times more fish wearing good polarized sunglasses! But what are good polarized sunglasses? Like I am not a pro in optic science, and I wanted to find the best polarized sunglasses, I went to my optician, and asked him the characteristics of good polarizing sunglasses.
No parasite rays
First information he told me was about the parasite rays. All the light that you will see must pass through the polarized glass. It’s simple, but 99% of the fishermen are fishing with sunglasses that aren’t equipped with and “around the eye cache”.
The radical way to remove those parasite rays coming from the side and behind you is to wear the famous “glacier sunglasses” hiding from parasite rays. The second main mistake found on 90% of the polarized sunglasses is that the shape of the glass is rounded. This is really bad for the quality of the vision, because it increases again the parasite rays. In other words, it’s better to have flat glasses, you will have less parasites rays in your vision.
Again, my optician told me interesting facts about which color of glass to choose. It’s really simple : you have to adapt the color of your glasses to the luminosity of the day. The solution is to have two pair of sunglasses, one for sunny days, and one for dark days
How can I learn to see more fish on the water?
Again, it’s the same old logic here. You can have the best polarized sunglasses in the world, if you have no experience in detecting the fish in the river you’ll see nothing. I am amazed when I fish with French champions, because when I see one fish, they see two fish. So I asked them what their method was to see so much fish in the water.
The main secret that they revealed me is that you always have to scan the water from up to downstream, because if you go on the wrong side of the stream, you will add parasites moves in your vision. But it’s like every aspect in fly fishing, you need to practice, and make your own experience.
Definition of klink and dink nymphing
Klink and dink nymphing is a mix between dry fly fishing and nymph fishing. It’s simply fishing with a dry fly as an indicator, to which we add one or two nymphs. Your dry fly is then both a lure and an indicator. The first time you fish with this method, you will be really surprised on how the fish can rise on such an indicator! Like French nymphing, klink and dink nymphing is a nymphing method where your indicator (a dry fly in this case) is lying on the surface. So you don’t need to keep a constant tension on the line like if you were Czech nymphing.
Difficulties in klink and dink nymphing
Like I told you on the previous article about the nymphs used for klink and dink, the mains difficulty in klink and dink fishing is to find the good weight of nymphs. But there are one or two other details that I have to tell you, because I really want you to catch more fish on the klink and dink. It looks silly to tell you that, but when fishing on klink and dink, you must take care to always let your dry fly out of the water when your are not in a fishing action, if your fly spend 2 minutes under the water when fighting a fish, then it won’t be floating anymore. When I am fighting a fish on the klink and dink, I always make sure that the dry fly is out of the water when I am fighting the fish, to not soak my fly with water. Also, I advise you to grease the entire tip located above the dry fly, and then when you snatch your fly at the end of the drift, you don’t drag the fly underwater. All these small actions look useless when written on a book, but believe me that it’s a sum of details that will lead you to evolve in nymphing.
Advantages of klink and dink nymphing
The main strong point of klink and dink fishing is that you double your chances to catch a fish. Fishing with an indicator fly is also an exciting fishing method, because you never know when the fish will rise on your indicator!
It’s also a less exhausting method than Czech nymph, because you will be fishing this method like dry fly. Czech nymphing can be really exhausting after several hours fishing, because you will have your arm stretched out, always controlling the tension in the line. But you can also practice klink and dink nearly under your rod, with your tippet lifted above the water, nearly like Czech nymphing. Klink and dink also allow you to fish with heavier nymphs than French nymphing, because your indicator dry fly can handle nymphs up to 0.3 g nymphs.
Spots for klink and dink nymphing
Let’s sum up which spots are suitable for the four nymphs method I’m presenting you on this blog for you to understand the different choices to make: Czech nymphing is designed for really rough surface, where any small indicator would be drowned. You can practice sight nymphing on the spot where the water is crystal clear, and where you can see the fish eating. French nymphing is designed to fish discreetly the flat surfaces, or the surface slightly rippled, where you can distinct your indicator line greased on the surface. Klink and dink fishing is a method that can fish in many configurations of streams, because the indicator dry fly can handle violent swirls. One fact is sure: when water surface is too flat, forget about fishing the klink and dink, because your indicator dry fly will look like a scarecrow to the fish. In other words, klink and dink fishing can be fished in all the streams where your indicator fly won’t be drowned by the swirls of the stream. But the best spot remains the streams presenting small waves on the surface. Those spots are perfect to practice klink and dink because those small waves will produce a natural animation of the nymph below, and fish are really attracted by this kind of realistic animation.
Flies used for klink and dink nymphing
It’s always the same old story: once you’re understood that ceramic flies nymphs are taking fish everywhere in the world on French nymphing and klink and dink nymphing, you just have to make the good choice about the weight of the nymphs It’s the same reflection for klink and dink fishing : if you have the ceramic flies collection, you just need to adapt the number of flies their weight, and their colors.
I often like to fish with one klink and two nymphs on large rivers. This is a deadly method, because you triple your chances to take a fish! But be careful with this method, you can tangle your line really quickly!
One tippet for 4 nymphing methods
On the second part of the book, I presented you the four nymphing methods. The way to success in nymphing is to know how to juggle between these four methods, to constantly adapt your technique ( and then your leader ) to the spot you fish. Some anglers love to spend a lot of time and scientific calculations on leader formulas. I hate that. To be honest with you, in winter, I train myself at home to do knots. Then I can totally enjoy fishing when I’m on the water.
The concept I will propose you here is simple : on your total fishing leader, you will always keep a part that will never move, no matter where you are on earth, fishing for trout and grayling. This part, we will call it the primary tippet and you will realize a micro loop on the 0.17mm end of this primary tippet. From this micro loop, you will be able to adapt any kind of tippet to juggle easily between the four main nymphing methods.
Let’s take a concrete example on the Moselle river where we can foind spots that offer possibilities to practice the 4 nymphing methods.
I begin fishing on this flat, and graylings are rising. I tied a secondary tip and a tip to my micro loop to fish on the dry fly.
Finally, I was really lucky, because among the graylings that were rising, I had a nice trout.
Next spot. This wavy and mid-slow streams looks like a perfect klink and dink spot. No problem. Let’s cut the pre-tippet on the micro loop, and build a klink and dink leader. Klink and dink don’t require precise casts like dry fly, so I straight attach my 0.14 mm tip to the micro loop. I will have 4 graylings on the nymph on this stream, and one trout on the klink.
Water is crystal clear on this part of the Moselle, and I can spot a trout feeding on the bottom 10 meters away from me. No stress. Let’s cut this klink and dink line, and switch to sight nymphing. Sight nymphing requires very precise casts, so I have to build my leader with a secondary, and a tertiary tippet. I know it’s a lot of knot work, but no pain no-gain, so don’t forget to train yourself tying knots at home in the winter time.
This trout fell on the famous S1 nymph. No more fish on the spot. I can hear rough waters rumbling upstream, it looks like it will be Czech nymphing time. This spot is perfect for Czech nymphing , because the streams is regular and agitated. I ad an brin to my rod to transform it in a11” rod, and tie a Czech nymphing leader. It’s a same old story. I have to cut the previous tip tied to the micro loop, and tie a new leader. I take my Czech nymphing indicator support (available at ceramicflies.com) and tie the 5 meters bicolor line to the micro loop. A nice S11 nymph on the point, and a S12 on the dropper, I am ready to “surge” this stream. What a day! 4 big graylings, and – bonus – a big barbell on the point nymph.
I have been wading a lot in this stream, there’s no more fish to catch. Let’s move on to the next spot. This is the perfect archetype of what I call “fake smooths”. The surface is not enough agitated to fish for klink and dink (an indicator dry fly would be too big here), and too agitated for sight nymphing. Moreover, this kind of smooth stream requires discretion, and distance approach. All the parameters are here for a good French nymphing session.
Again and again, same old story, I have to change my tip. I put back my 5 m Czech nylon indicator on its support and switch it with the French 40 cm nylon indicator. I make sure that the whole tippet is well greased, and attach an M19 ceramic fly. I carefull cast on a long distance to not frighten the fish. My indicator is well greased, and I can clearly detect bites. I get four more graylings from this stream.
You understood it all: don’t be lazy! The river aspect is constantly, you have to adapt constantly to the changing aspect of the river to be successful on nymphing.
I know, it’s not easy when you begin to determine the method choice according to the spot, but many reflex will come with experience like:
Ok I need distance from the fish and discretion, let’s go for French nymphing”
This streams is really boiling, no indicator will be needed.
First steps on klink and dink nymphing
Many anglers asked me “Stan, I am catching fish on the dry, but I want to start nymphing, and I don’t know how to do”. I think the best way to start nymphing is to keep your dry fly on the line, but to turn it as a double jeopardy weapon: both a lure and an indicator. This is the best way to start because you will quickly understand that if your indicator dry fly is dragging, you won’t take fish. If you start with Czech nymphing or French nymphing, the drift is harder to handle, and you may not feel that your drift is bad. Klink and dink nymphing gives you trust on the fact that fish are feeding a lot on the bottom. Moreover, when klink and dink nymphing, you can try to tie different nymphs weights under the klink, and you will soon understand that heavy nymphs can not be whipped, and that they are designed for “under the rod” – as known as Czech nymphing. Starting on klink and dink nymphing will also allow you to understand how to choose the good nymph weight: if your klink is sink after few seconds, your nymph is too heavy if you have no bites, maybe your nymph is too light.
The main problem when starting klink nymphing is that your cast is different from a classic dry fly cast, because you have the additional weight of the nymph on your line. Believe me, you will get tangled! Sorry to be – again – really honest, but it’s always a lot of work to catch fish regularly. Beginner’s tangles are the price to pay to understand that you must decompose your cast, and make sure that you manage the weight of your nymph when whipping.
Evolution towards the other nymphing methods
Soon, you will be a boss on the klink and dink nymphing: you will tie your knot very quickly, and constantly switch between S and M ceramic flies according to the spot parameters like depth, stream speed or fish specie. You will perform long casts, and long drifts that will allow you to catch more fish. You won’t be lazy anymore about greasing your leader regularly, because you know that it offers you perfect drifts. You will approach small trout creeks on four knees, and take 50% of your fish on the dry and 50% of your fish on the nymph.
Then you will think: dry fly is amazing, but nymph fishing is mesmerizing, and you ‘ll want to explore other nymphing methods. You will then have strong basis about the knowledge of the ceramic flies weight (and all other flies) and the quality of your drift to start French nymphing and Czech nymphing. You will soon understand that klink and dink nymphing and French nymphing are the same method, but French nymphing brings more discretion, because your indicator is just made out a 0.17mm biciolor nylon (available at ceramiflies.com ). It will be a bit harder for you to master Czech nymphing, because it is strange to not cast flies like you use to do since years. But you will be so happy to explore rough streams that you never fished before that you will really think that the Czech guy who invented this method really was a genius. Time passing by, you will understand that you master more and more different nymphing methods, and that the fly fishing puzzle is getting clearer and clearer for you when you customize your method to the spot: a bit of klink and dink on this wavy stream, a discreet approach on this ripple on French nymphing, and a good dose of Czech nymphing on this rough stream.
Cherry on the cake: you had an amazing time on the dry when the hatch started. But there’s one method that you haven’t tried. You often see fish feeding when you fish clear waters, and you would like to try to catch them on sight nymphing. Then you realize that all that you learn on indicator nymphing method must be learn again: there’s no klink, no bicolor line, and no knock on the rod to help you on sight nymphing. At this point you must realize that sight nymphing is the most amazing nymphing method, because you must be perfect on all the aspects you have learn on the others methods. Perfect approach, perfect drift, perfect nymph weight choice, and of course, perfect fish in front of you. Sight nymphing is extreme fly fishing: it can bring you the best sensation you ever had when you land the fish of your dream, but it can also stab you in the back with deception when you stalked a fish for hours and you frighten it just with a clumsy move.
To close this chapter about how to start nymphing, I just have one advise to give you if you want to evolve on nymphing: be self critical, change, and try, until your satisfied
You will find tons of gear available on internet. Through the years, I have been testing many different gear, from nylon to wading shoes. I think that long catalogs are useless, so I prefer to share with you here the best gear I have found according to my needs.
I’m not a pro on the dry fly, given that I spend my time nymphing. So I am not a good caster. My only interest in a rod is that it must be light, and modular. In 2015, all the classic fly rods are really light. But back to the modular rods available on the market, I only found them in HENDS and HANAK. The rod from HENDS disappointed me on a fundamental point: the first ring was far too far from the reel, and made me lose a lot of sensitivity as a nymph over the wire. So I fell back on the HANAK Alpen Nymph Rod, whose modularity is exemplary, especially from 10 to 11 ‘‘. I fell in love with the Hanak Alpen modular rod. Honestly, this rod is a bit soft and heavy, but is offers the best modular system I never seen. I can whip on dry fly and klink and dink on a 9” rod, then switch to a 10”” rod by adding a bring, and finally enjoy long drifts on a long 11” rod on big rivers. Moreover, the Hanak customer service was really efficient, and send me back very quickly the tip I broke last year.
There is a small detail I really love on this rod: there is a small place for your thumb on the handle. This is really pleasant, you can really hold the rod like a computer mouse, and perform precise drifts.
I have been fishing with this rod in 5 different countries, from big rainbows in U.S. A to massive arctic charrs in Sweden, and big brownies in Iceland, and this Hanak Alpen rod really done the job.
The reels I use are often spending time in the water, because I am often taking fish pictures on the bank, and I have no place to put the rod when doing so. I had two solutions : buy a water prof reel or buy several plastic cheap reels that I can often change. I took the second solution, because I fish most of the time for classic trout and grayling ( 0,5 to 1 kg ) and I don’t need a high quality ( which means expensive) brake. Also, I don’t need large arbor reels, because like I told you, when I am not fishing, I keep my leaders extended in my house, to be sure that it will be perfectly straight for the next fishing session;
Fishing vest ( chest pack )
I started fly fishing like everyone: I need a vest with the biggest number of pockets. Ten years after, I am looking for the one that have the least pockets. After a few years, I understood that I just need two or three main nymphs pattern, tied in 3 different size and weight. I started taking more and more fish not because I had the good flies patterns, but because I was choosing customized technique according to each new spot. Flies take a lot of space in your fishing vest. Technique choice just take a lot of space in your brain. That’s why I switched to ultra compact chest packs. Moreover, the more pocket you have in your vest, the more useless stuff you will bring on the water. I walk a lot when I am on the river, so I love to feel really light. On all the chest packs I tried, I really loved the Fish pond products for their comfort and solidity ( San Juan ), and also the Simms products.
After ten years of intense fly fishing, I must have bought 20 pairs of waders. OK, I am not really careful when I wade on the river. I also have been doing treks in Sweden and Lapland in swam asp with waders. A few years ago, I found the solution. The French store Decathlon is selling his waders with a two year guarantee. Now, I buy all my waders at Decathlon, and when the first hole appears, I come back for guarantee.
Always remember that actual technologies would be able to design unbreakable waders in Kevlar, this kind of wader would be very expensive, but it would last for years. But waders remains a consumption item to feed the market….
To me, it’s all about marketing. Like I told you on the sight nymphing part, if you want good polarizing glasses, you have to go to an optician. Many sports require polarizing glasses, and opticians can provide you really good polarizing sunglasses.
This is the hot topic…. Well, to tell you the truth, I am really disappointed that in 2015, the best fishing line resistance in the world is just 1.4 kg for 0.10 mm diameter. We are walking on the moon, and the nylon industry is still – to me – very retarded in the performance. In the last 10 years, there was nearly no evolution on the nylon performance. If you want to be sure of what you buy, then buy; a Palmer. Honestly, I can tell you that the Frog hair is the best nylon I fished with, but it’s far to expensive for me. You have to keep in mind that many parameters are playing a role on the strength of your line, and especially the knots. I took me years to perform perfects knots. When I say perfect, I mean that there is no part of the line close from the knot that is corked. Always dampen a knot before pulling on it. I lost too many big fish to learn this fundamental principle.
Apart from the extra expensive frog hair, there are – among the interested fishing line industry – some nylons that do the job. You can buy Maruto, Milo Krepton, Sensas Palmer if you want a good price / quality ratio. On all lines over 0.16 mm ( that I often use a pre-tippet ) I buy the cheapest nylon as possible, because this resistance is so big that I don’t need quality, because my tips are usually between 0.10 and 0.14 mm.
I don’t know coarse fishing champions, but I think that we have to ask them for the best nylon quality.
About the bicolor indicator line on my website, I would say that I bring a lot of importance to his quality. I tried a lot of bicolor line, and only found this one really visible. Hanak usually make very good products, but I’be been disappointed by their bicolor line. A good bicolor nylon is mass tainted with deep flashy colors.
How to keep your nylon in your fishing vest? I tried many nylon distributor, even the super C and F, but finally, I went back to 4 small bobbins in the pocket of my chest pack : 0.10, 0.12 , 0.14 and 0.16 mm.
If I mix all diameters , I consume around 1 kilometer of nylon per year. I know, it’s frightening, but like I told you, adapting your technique and leader to the spot is the only way to catch more fish.
Since years, among fly fishermen on France, there’s a trend of the biggest net challenge. The bigger net you have on your back, the bigger fish you will take… Pure logic! I try to avoid this silly trend, because like I told you, most of the time, the fish I catch are net ween 0.5 and 1 kg, and a medium size net is suitable for this kind of fish.
I keep most of my gear in my car ( except for my reel that I always keep in a room with the leader in tension, you know that and you will do the same ), so my net must not reek fish. Fortunately, fishing for salmonids like trouts and graylings does not bring repulsive smells like coarse fishing. ( I have bad memories of rotten bream mucus smell in my car when I was coarse fishing ). That’s why I advise you to buy synthetic nets. If your net is synthetic, then you will eject all the water in seconds.
To close this topic about the fly fisherman gear, I will tell you again to make your own experience, and to avoid all the marketing tricks.