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David Lord

Boston, MA


May 22, 2020

Advanced Nymphing Tips and Tricks

Advanced Nymphing Tips and Tricks

Advanced Nymphing Tips and Tricks

Once you learn the basic nymphing techniques and have assembled a collection of flies to test out on the water, you will very quickly start to realize how much practice and patience come into play with this pursuit. Fly fishing, in general, takes plenty of practice to get the hang of, but it is well worth it. Once you start to get the hang of the basics, there are even more small tricks and techniques that can very quickly take you to an entirely new level! Here are a few of our more advanced tricks and tips, for anglers who have mastered the basics.

Don’t Be Afraid of Using Smaller Nymph Patterns

Fish are not known having a correlation between the size of their mouths with the size of their prey, so many anglers will pay little attention to their lure size as long as it is not ridiculously too big or too small. Even for fly fishermen, many will pay close attention to the size of their flies when using dry flies, but then when it comes to nymph fishing, they will regularly grab the largest one they have. A simple trick when the fish are being challenging and picky eaters is to downsize your nymphs. Once you start opting for a size 16 or 18 instead of a 10 or 12, you will start to see even more success.


This might seem a little counterintuitive since it would make sense that a larger nymph would attract more attention and seem like a better meal for a trout. But when you think about a trout’s natural bait, smaller nymphs are a lot more common than large ones. As a result, they are much more in the habit of trying for smaller nymphs. They also do not like to expend unnecessary energy, so smaller prey that gets too close is much more likely to attract a bite.

Trout, like many species of fish, will also be much more selective when feeding if there is an abundance of food. Once they have a full stomach, they do not need to eat as much and will often be much more sluggish. While you often see this phenomenon while using dry flies, it sometimes goes unnoticed when using nymphs because it occurs under the water. Make sure your nymph selection includes plenty of patterns in sizes 16 and smaller, and don’t forget to regularly use them!


Don’t Get Stuck On One Spot

This is one of the biggest reasons that novice nymph fishermen are unsuccessful. How do you know if you have this problem? Have you ever caught yourself nymph fishing the same spot for twenty to thirty minutes without getting a strike and not moving? It is hard to give up on a spot that looks excellent, and maybe you have even caught fish there before. But one of the secrets of the most successful nymph fishermen is the ability to know when to call it quits and move on to the next spot.

Because you can’t see your nymph or the fish, you have to carefully fish a piece of water the best you can and then move onto the next piece. Whether that is simply a few feet upstream or lengthening your cast to fish a different section of the water, changing the area you target is key. While there is no set limit for how long is too long, it is time to move on once you feel you have adequately fished an area. Always be on the lookout for the next good-looking fishing spot to cover with your nymphs, and constantly be moving.


Use as Little Line as Possible

One of the biggest hurdles of nymph fishing is being able to detect a strike and then setting the hook before the fish gets away. No matter what tactic or technique you are using to get your nymph in front of a fish, this will always be one of the most important parts of the process of catching fish. To achieve success, shorten the amount of line you have on the water, and you will be much more effective at detecting strikes and getting more hookups.

If you are using a strike indicator, it is obviously much easier to detect any strikes. Even when using a strike indicator, it is much easier to not only see the indicator but know if a fish is moving it when it is closer to you without any slack line out. When you are not using an indicator, you are relying on feeling a strike, so it is even more important to have as little line out as possible.


After you see or feel a strike, a shorter line will also help you hook up and reel in fish. Every inch of additional line you have out is just more potential lag time between seeing or feeling a strike and being able to set the hook before the fish spits it out. Trout can spit out a fly extremely fast, and even the best anglers will miss plenty of fish. When you are nymph fishing, you have to try to tip the odds in your favor, and fishing a shorter line is one of the best ways to do it.


Even the best nymph fishermen miss and lose fish, and they are constantly learning and trying to improve their skills. Nymph fishing is a pursuit that never ends, and one that you can continually try to improve your skills on. After mastering all of the basic techniques, you can then start to learn and implement some subtle but important tricks into your fishing in order to help bring you even more success. So grab your gear, hit your favorite fishing hole, and put these more advanced tricks and tips into practice!