The Adventures of Fletcher Quill

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Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 4 2017


No matter where you live or where you fly fish one never fail constant year after year is the humble but mighty nymph!

From the first time a native Indian tied a feather onto a bone hook and caught a wild salmon... It has been clear to all accomplished fly fishers the number one go to pattern is the humble nymph period!

Streamers of any kind, all dry flies and the common mouse effectively catch fish every day. But, those who have mastered how to effectively present deep diving nymph's will consistantly catch and release fish no question.

Learning the many presentation methods used to work nymphs is vital before
any success is possible...

While fly fishing on the American River in California early spring some years ago. No hatches of any kind, river was running very high and strong. I worked several surface patterns like Hoppers and sub surface streamers with no hits all morning.

It was way too early for any surface action. In desperation I tied a weighted fat nymph and began working obvious feeding lanes throwing far up stream and letting the rig dead drift at will.

On the third cast bam large wild Rainbow smacked the nymph and after few minutes a one pound Bow was gently released from the barbless deep diving nymph!

One late Fall in the early 1990s while working the upper section of the mighty Feather River a wonderful section full of Trout. The water was deep but running very slowly end of season style.

After casting many long lazy loops working Mosquitos which usually worked well, nothing nobody home or hungry! I stopped sat on the river edge and watched for twenty minutes and saw no insects of any kind...

I found section of slack deep water and began high stick deep nymph work. Letting my nymph drop streight down and then letting it drift easily. Slam nice Trout caught and released and then another. Best morning memory of the majestic Feather..

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In the late 1960s early 1970s spent time on Vermont and upper New York chalk creeks and streams... Most were very shallow clear and slow running.

Located on private property rarely fished with great numbers of wild trout! I recall trying to figure hatches and failing over and over. One day a land owner came along and taught me first lessons on the classic high stick technique.

We climbed onto an old dead log that crossed his creek. We could see many trout feeding on the rich bottom paying no attention to any surface activity. I watched the kind property owner rig his fly rod with five feet of invisable tippit below his leader.

He then held his fly rod straight up very high and let the rig slowly drop until we could see it almost hit the bottom of the clear creek. Then moving the line no more then a few feet in any direction suddenly resident trout found his tiny nymph and fish on.

Traditional long loops moving in almost no current would have failed. Throwing streamers of any size would have failed as well! I have used this high stick method many times in places like Hat Creek and Yosemite Park with much success.

If you're lucky to find shallow streams or creeks where you can see the bottom? Too much fun watching wild trout see then hit your nympth unforgetable!

One never forget aspect to all nymph work is exact matching to the native nymphs. Never very the size or color which usually is light brown or almost black depending where you live. Use the most invisable tippits you can find and learn quickly how many tiny split shot needed to get and keep your pattern near the bottom.

If you're hitting the bottom then knowing when a fish hits is impossible? My advise is practise in clear shallow water until you get the feel for working near as possble to the bottom.

I always turn over bunch of rocks and sift through creek mud to make sure my patterns are matching resident nymphs. Once you master these techniques your catch and release numbers will be greatly increased no question...

Last but not least: a few words on fast water nymphing...

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Rules for quick water nymphing are simple and easy to learn! Split shot the key, especially in fast water. Experiment with different distances from your tiny nymth.

Begin with maybe 10 inches as a good start. You want the pattern to appear authentic moving easily with the currents near the bottom. If your bumping the bottom then perhaps less split shot or learn to move the rod tip up and down until you feel it bumping.

Easy to make mistakes which is why practise and hopefully being able to actually see the bottom is so importaunt...

The most effective presentation is the totally natural dead drift in and around feeding lane currents or near rocks or dead tree material.

If you can find the deepest area in your creek or stream, you are in the main dining room and will catch and release many fine Trout!

I always go little larger in fast water as fish have less time to evaluate and make fast feeding decisions. Learn to make many sweeps of areas and currents that look productive.

Remember nymths are the number one food for all wild trout period!

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Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 4 2017
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