The secret to nymphing is putting in the work.
There is no secret sauce to nymphing. There is no magical formula you’re going to follow that will produce guaranteed results on any given day.
The truth is that trout eat most of their food subsurface. The harder truth is that if you want to catch those trout, you better be willing put a bug in front of them that they’ll accept, and that often means getting down below the surface.
I’ve found that being successful with subsurface bugs is really just a hit-or-miss scenario of being in the right place at the right time, and being at the right depth at the right time. That’s it– the only magical secret I’ve learned about nymphing.
Nymphing doesn’t have to be complicated
Many in the fly fishing world want to make the art of nymphing far too technical–I guess because it makes for interesting conversation around the fly tying table. My experiences with nymphing just aren’t that verbose. In fact, I’d say it’s been quite the opposite.
You can spend your time reading books and figuring out that 4 fly clusterfuck of a rig set up if you want to, or you can go out there and simply put flies in front of fish and enjoy your day on the water.
I apply the same rules to nymphing that I do to dry fly fishing. Present it right, make it look tasty and keep it as simple as possible. Anything above and beyond that is just friction that you don’t need in your life.
Nymphing takes work
Drifting a dry fly is one thing, but nymphing adds entirely new complexities to the equation. If you want to be a good nymph angler, you gotta put in the work to become one. Most of that comes in the form of being able to properly present the bug, and being able to know when to set the hook.
I haven’t quite learned either yet, but I’m putting in the work to learn it, and it’s getting much better.
Honestly, I was afraid of nymph fishing for a long time. Dries and hoppers became my go-to because it worked, and it was much easier. But as those areas progressed, I knew that fishing nymphs was the next step I needed to take in order to truly be more well-rounded.
As I’ve spent more time nymph fishing, my overall fly fishing experience has been much better. It’s also greatly expanded my knowledge and interesting in tying flies.
Now it’s just putting in the work to understand it better, get better at it and get better at adjusting to the conditions. There is no secret sauce for that.