Using Wet Flies & Nymphs – How To

Using Wet Flies & Nymphs – How To

that was cool
yeah baby woohoo hi and welcome to the artist guide to
fly-fishing I’m your host Tom Rosenbauer and in this episode we’re gonna explore
the world of subsurface fishing for trout now you know people say that trout
feed 90% of the time underwater and that may be true the problem is we don’t
usually know what they’re eating so there’s a lot of mystery involved a lot
of trial and error join us and we’ll show you some tips on subsurface fishing
for trout because this is the way you can this show has been brought to you by
Orvis rod and tackle ontario yours to discover Ontario’s al coma region where
Huron and superior meet 150 years ago trout fishing was done solely with what
today we would call traditional winged wet flies anglers fished as many as 10
of them on a single leader and even cast them over rising fish with success then
people began experimenting with floating flies a little over a hundred years ago
in this concentration on more exacting imitations of insects and crustaceans
gave rise to the nymph really just another kind of wet fly but usually
without wings today we fish wet flies and nymphs interchangeably but wet flies
are more often swung in the current than fish dead drift fishing a wet fly or nymph on the swing
in other words a cross and downstream on a tight line is both a return to a more
traditional way of fishing with a fly and a relaxing and elegant way to fish
one of the really pleasant things about about fishing a wet fly is that they
don’t have any air resistance at all and so they don’t have as much air resistant
as a dry and unlike most nymph fishing you don’t have an indicator weight on
the leader so the casting is just really easy and pleasant because trout often
take the fly in a tight line this drink is felt immediately and fish often hook
themselves it’s also a great way to cover a lot of water when you’re not
sure where the fish are this kind of fishing a sunken fly works best in
shallow water with a gentle riffle and it’s tougher with conflicting currents
and in very deep water wet fly fishing is also most productive when you see the
occasional rise I’m just letting that I don’t even
really have to make amend in this nice slow water I can just let that fly oh
there’s one oh we lost them don’t even need to mend this water is so nice and
gentle in uniform I can just let that fly swing across the current although
most of the time when you fish nibs you strive to eliminate drag on the fly when
swinging a wet fly the drag is subtle and controlled
some aquatic insects can swim a swung wet flight could imitate a tiny bait
fish or it might also imitate an aquatic insect rising to the surface to hatch we
don’t know exactly why fish take us one wet fly but that’s part of the fun and
the mystery of fishing this way frequent men’s keep the fly from swinging too
quickly because a tiny insect can’t swim that fast against the current so the
slower your fly swings the better keeping the rod tip relatively high also
helps to keep the flies swing more moderate one more scientific way of
fishing a wet fly on the swing is called the lies in ring lift or induced take
here you cast the fly slightly upstream and across make some mends follow the
line through its drift with the rod tip and when you think the fly is close to
where a fish should be stop moving the rod tip or lift it slightly the fly will
suddenly rise toward the surface and often it encourages savage strikes from
the trout before we move on to the more complicated issue of fishing nips
let’s visit Pete cutter for some helpful tips on casting with a strike indicator
and weight on your leader through all these presentations I’ve been talking
about staying in a straightest line possible we want to stay in that nice
tight straight path that’s gonna keep that loop nice and tight
when you’re dealing with heavy flies or wind resistant flies or great big
poppers or maybe you have an indicator rig with a lot of weight on that on the
end of that leader that’s what we might want to actually start to travel in a
little bit of an arch that’s gonna help open up those loops and prevent that
heavy fly or that big popper from colliding with the rod I have seen rods
break just by a piece of split shot coming forward so we want to open up
that loop by traveling a little bit of an arch that’s gonna help get that fly
still out to those fish but keep that fly well away from that rod and away
from that line another great way to cast nymphs and wet flies is called the water
load where you let the river be your back cast sometimes if you’ve got a lot
of wind if you’ve got a lot of brush you got two flies and an indicator and
waiting on your leader you don’t want to be casting all over the place you can do
what’s called a water load what you do very simple you wait until
the line drags behind you you pick up the rod tip and flick a cast forward so
you keep doing that as soon as the line drags behind you
especially with NIM fishing you don’t need to be that that’s super delicate
just pick it up and make a forward cast that way you don’t have to have your
line going back and forth in the air and your flies tangling and getting in trees
and things like that you know it’s not all about catching giant fish sometimes
just swinging a wet fly through a riffle and catching small trout is a lot of fun
doesn’t always have to be a monster as you can see even this little rainbows
bending that six weight rod nymph is one of the most effective ways to catch
trout day in and day out it works all day long whether trout are rising or not
and in all kinds of water feeding trout seldom pass up a well-presented nymph
and will accept these flies more readily than dries or streamers in most cases
artificial nymphs can imitate the larvae of mayflies caddisflies stone flies
midges and also freshwater crustaceans like
scuds crayfish and even aquatic worms but the method of presenting all these
imitations is the same what fly to you Italian
most people think that trout are not as selective when feeding under the surface
and you might want to pick an imp that’s popular in the area or one that a guide
told you about but in an unfamiliar stream with no other help we can get an
educated guess by looking at submerged rocks and along the edges of rivers so
one thing you can do when you’re new fishing the obvious thing is to turn
over some rocks and see what’s on the bottom here we’ve got these brackish
centrist I think anyways they’re caddisflies their case caddisflies think
they’re breaky centrist we don’t need to know the Latin name so you turn over a
rock and you try to see what’s in the river and then you try to match that
with the closest thing in your box all you know is what’s there in the
water it’s a clue and it’s a start but not knowing exactly what the fish are
taking you’re at a disadvantage and that’s why fishing with a wet fly or a
nymph is so exciting mysterious and interesting one of the biggest issues when fishing
and NIV is getting the flight deep enough
when trout are feeding close to the bottom at the same time letting the fly
dead drift without showing any pull from the line or leader current is always
faster near the surface than near the bottom so in line and leader land on the
water they immediately exert pull on the fly unless you Remy to the situation
with your presentation as a result even though we think we’re fishing a fly
close to the bottom with a dead drift it’s not often the case and most aquatic
insects and crustaceans when they drift don’t swim or are at best feeble
swimmers so trot off and shy away from a fly that’s dragging but it’s hard to see
drag when your fly is underwater you can often tell if a fish takes your
nib by watching the tip of your floating line or by watching your leader if it
hesitates or dips under suddenly you be there hung bottom or a fish has taken
your fly but strikes can be quite subtle and fish can take and reject or spit out
your fly very quickly and unless a fish takes your fly in fast water or very
aggressively many strikes go unnoticed just as with any other kind of nymph
fishing any time that floating line hesitates Wiggles twitches does anything
that looks weird it looks suspicious set the hook immediately with NIM fishing
those fish are gonna take that flight and spit it out really quickly and you
gotta set the hook quickly that doesn’t mean wrench it way over your head and
break the tippet but you got to be quick and just about this much just like
you’re gonna make another cast but do it quickly
so to help stack the odds in our favor we use strike indicators these are
little more than tiny bobbers in fact I once fished with a nymph a whole day on
the North Platte River in Wyoming with one of those big plastic bait bombers I
bought it in a gas station it was a little clunky but it worked
strike indicators turned NIMH fishing from something that was almost a black
art into one of the easiest ways to catch trout on a fly in fact nim fishing
with a strike indicator is a lot like fishing a worm with a bobber
and some of the deadliest NIV anglers are those who started out fishing worms
for trout it’s not that different except the fish spit out your offering faster
indicators come in all different colors and sizes and types and most people
carry a variety of them different colors show up better under different light
conditions so you should experiment also carry a range of sizes the indicator
should be big enough to hold your fly and weight off the bottom but not so big
that it spooks the fish most people these days use a big plastic or cork
strike indicator they’re really buoyant they float all day long but they do land
kind of hard and there’s some times when you want something more subtle that’s a
time when you want to use a yarn indicate
Yarn indicators on flat water like this are very subtle they don’t land with a
lot of commotion and you can really see the slightest twitch and a yarn
indicator so they’re one of the best things to use on flat water like this
indicators serve another very important purpose besides being strike indicators
their drift indicators you can’t tell if your fly is dragging underwater but you
can watch your indicator and if it begins to struggle against the current
you know the fly is dragging and that you need to mend line if you watch your
indicator and make sure that it’s traveling at the same speed as the
bubbles or debris in the current you can be pretty sure you’re getting a drag
free drift if it’s not drifting properly mend the line to adjust your drift or
use a reach cast the next time you present the fly exactly where to put
your indicator on the leader his part trial and error based on how often the
fly ticks bottom okay when you put an indicator on your leader general rule of
thumb is to have the indicator about one and a half times the water depth you
want that fly to be writing just above the bottom and the fly has never seldom
gonna hang directly below the indicator so you want to estimate the water depth
and then the water is pretty shallow here I think it’s about you know it’s
about this deep so I’m gonna go right about here with my indicator and I’m
just going to put the indicator on my leader here
this is the kind of foam kinds got rubber bands inside you just twist it a
few times and that holds it wherever you want it yet when you change water depths
when you go to another place you can slide that indicator and move it to
wherever you want this is only a general guideline though so play with the strike
indicators position until you either tick bottom once in a while or you catch
a fish despite our best efforts even with a
weighted fly and weight on the leader the fly may not get deep enough or may
not drift in a realistic manner so we have to combine some presentation
techniques and perhaps add more weight to the leader let’s discuss presentation
first one way is to cast straight upstream so that your fly and weight and
indicator are all in the same current lane but that’s a lot of work you have
to gather line quickly and your risk putting your fly line right on top of
the fish it’s best for short casts when fishing across the current you can also
mend line sometimes frequently throughout a drift but mending often
moves the fly too much and it’s better to get that upstream loop of line before
the fly hits the water with a reach cast keep trying different approaches until
you find something that works when you’re faced with a deeper run and
you’re fishing smaller flies like we are today you need some weight on your
leader nobody likes to put weight on the leader
it makes casting tougher and you get hung up more often but sometimes you got
to do it to get your fly down to the fish so what I’m gonna do now is put on
one shot you try to start with as little weight as possible and then you add you
had you add the lightest weight first and then you add weight to the leader
until you’re ticking bottom every half a dozen casters so you flies got to be
occasionally ticking bottom where you’re just not fishing deep enough the thing
you want to do you don’t want to try to put these on with your teeth because
they’re hard you need a pair of forceps and I’ve got a knot above my I’ve got a
knot above my first fly it’s about a foot above my first fly and I’m gonna
attach the shot right above that knot shot tends to slide on your leader so
you really want to put it above a knot rigging a nymph with weight is not an
exact science so experiment with various arrangements until you catch fish it’s
really satisfying when you figure it out now most people fish nymphs with
indicators it’s easier it’s better and conflicting currents and usually they
fish two flies under an indicator you wouldn’t think so but trout are just as
likely to take the upper fly with a piece of tippet sticking out of both
ends as they are the lower fly the section of tippet between the two flies
can be anywhere from 6 to 20 inches long but the longer that piece the more
cumbersome the whole arrangement gets and a typical separation between the two
flies is about 8 inches the tippet section between the two flies can be the
same size as the upper tippet or a smaller diameter especially if the lower
fly is a lot smaller than the upper floor now that you know about rigging nymphs
and some basic presentation it’s time to learn more about how to present them
fishing with an indicator is sometimes called longline nipping and it’s the
best way when you can’t get close to the fish but if you can it’s always better
to cast as close to the fish as you can without spooking them this is called
high sticking one way to fish nips is with what’s called short line nymphal
and it’s done very close to you it’s done almost under your rod tip you want
the fly line to stay out of the water if possible you use heavily weighted flies
and/or some weight on your leader you’ll lob them upstream and you just
follow the nymphs down through the current like this you can high stick nymph with or without
an indicator if you do with an indicator it’s sometimes easier especially when
you got wind blowing way like we do today it’s very difficult to see that
leader twitching because you got the wind blowing your leader downstream so
sometimes a strike indicator helps a lot and there you just keep the line above
your strike indicator and just follow the strike indicator down through the
curve strikes and high stick nipping are gonna be fairly subtle you’ll just see
that leader twitch upstream or tighten and it’s either bottom or a fish so the
minute you see that leader dart a little bit or move a little bit or do something
that looks wrong or doesn’t look like the other cast it’s at the hook quickly
there are times when you won’t be able to high stick nip high stick nipping is
really effective because you have that dead drift right in front of you it’s
really easy to follow the flies down through the current seem but when you
have to cast longer to get across a piece of water like this then you have
to cast your indicator up streaming across or across or a little bit
downstream but make a quick mend right after the indicator hits as your
indicator goes down through the current sometimes you’re gonna have to amend
once twice even three times try not to move the indicator when you men just
flip enough line to get that line upstream of the indicator toward the end
of your drift just before drag sets in you can also release some slack line to
make the indicator float even further downstream dead drift just have some
extra line in your hand some slack line and flip that slack line into the
current sometimes when you’re knitting just a little change in position will
really make the difference in whether you catch a fish or not you may want to
move upstream a few feet you may want to move out a little move downstream
sometimes even fishing that same pocket just a little bit of a change in
position might get your flies in there just right one of the most exciting things in NIMH
fishing is sight casting to a fish that’s feeding in shallow water with a
nymph a naked nymph which means no weight on the leader no indicator just a
tiny way to dim throw into a fish in shallow water you watch the fishes
reactions or you watch your leader to see the strike that was cool wow that’s
a big fish and I’m probably not gonna get him out of there
well maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe oh oh I got lucky on that one are you
ready Patrick nice thing about fishing without an indicator if you can reel the
fish right up close to your rod yeah baby bring them out in the Sun here get him
in the clear water burp them a little bit like they do the salmon they roll
and they they roll them on the belly and get all the air out of them there he goes
at the other end of the scale from sight fishing nips is fishing them from a
drift boat it’s one of the easiest ways to catch trout in fact some people think
it’s too easy with an experienced guide at the oars by casting about 45 degrees
in front of the boat you can get long drag free floats as the guide works to
keep the boat drifting at the same speed as the indicator but you still have to
do your part and mend the line periodically I joined experience guide Molly summon
akin Montana to learn more about proper positioning and drift of indicators when
nymphal from a boat when the person in the front and the bow cast downstream
and their float the boat catches up to the fly and the fly gets to the orc then
they pick up and recast downstream if you like to catch lots of fish in a day
there is probably nothing as productive as fishing nibs from a drift boat
because you can cover so much water and the trout are always eating below the
surface no matter what kind of water you like to fish from brawling rivers to
tiny mountain streams nymph fishing will often save the day and it’s really not
that hard fishing with a subsurface fly in moving
water has a lot of mystery to fishing you never really know what trout are
eating down there but striking to an unseen fish and suddenly feeling the
weight of a hefty trout is a thrill that never gets old to learn more about wet
flies and nipping go to the Orvis learning center at slash
learned for more information thanks for watching this show has been brought to
you by Orvis rod and tackle ontario yours to discover Ontario’s Algoma
region where huron and superior meet you

74 thoughts on “Using Wet Flies & Nymphs – How To”

  • Tom ~ very informative video, especially the wet fly portion. We do a lot of Nymph fishing in our area and are more often using jig flies as our bottom fly. About 60/70% less hang ups which makes for a more enjoyable day. John K🎣

  • Do you have videos for sale on this? I've seen many videos on fly fishing and this covered a lot of things that a beginner would need to know. Great Job on the information guys, subscribed!

  • I prefer not using the bobber. Let's call it what it is.

    Here's the thing: if it works for you, fine.

    But… if you are just avoiding learning how a strike is set, then I'd urge anyone watching this to forgo the bobber and pay closer attention to your line. I have an Orvis Powermatrix10 mid flex, and am fortunate enough to feel even the lightest "tasting". It feels like "chomp chomp" and then they spit it.
    When using my bamboo rod, I just watch the end of the fly line carefully. When it twitches, I attempt to set the hook. Sure, I miss some, but when I'm on, I'm on and the fish is THAT much more fun.

    All I'm saying is that even with a rod that doesn't transmit every little vibration, you can avoid using a bobber and not miss the extra credit lessons being offered that will enrich the whole experience for you.

    I've seen them being used, but never bothered with them. the old timers I learned from would never deign to fish the easy way, with a bobber, unless they positively needed to have some fish to eat, and in that case, they'd just drift a piece of worm.

    Ditch the "indicators".

  • I got my first fly rod today. So excited to catch some Idaho trout with it this weekend. I’ve caught plenty with bait and spinning gear but I’m ready to take on this new art form.

  • Wet loading… duhhh I am an idiot. Been fly fishing for 20 years and never once did I do this…I guess I mostly do non-moving water.. Still… Thanks Tom!

  • PLEASE…Practice catch and release. Ensure future generations will experience the love of fly fishing that we all know.
    You are all the guardians of your local rivers and streams that these Trout call home….If not you..Who??

  • Most informative tutorial I've watched in a long time, and im not even a fly fisherman. I do use flies with my spincaster, with one of those clunky plastic bobbers you described (or balsa wood) and i do catch fish that way. The fly fishermen sneer at me but oh well!
    I also love the respectful way you handle your catch. Leaving it in the water as much as possible, the rubber net, the gentle release. Real men don't knock the hell out of the fish they release.

  • Tom thanks for all the videos. Here in South Africa fly fishing isnt as big as in the States yet it is one of the most rewarding forms of fishing for me. Thanks for all the info.

  • About fly selection. I've caught more fish on zebra midges. But nothing else is biting than any other nymph. The other thing is the biggest joke I have period is if the fish looks at the fly funny set the hook

  • Great Video! I've been wanting to try this kind of fishing. Very easy to listen and watch.My question, might be kind of stupid, are you using a floating line or sinking line?

  • If your going to nymph fish get yourself a nice spinning outfit at Kmart. If your going to fly fish get some dry flies. Been doing this for over 50 years now and I know the difference.

  • Actually I like a LOT of things about this video. However, at around 20 mins, Tom "burps" a trout. Please do not do this. In fact, touch the fish as little as possible because doing so removes their protective slime and leaves them more susceptible to infections of various sorts. Using a rubber net is better than tailing a fish because tailing is touching them, while rubber nets won't remove slime or scales. I think the amazing Tom Rosenbauer would agree with this too, as we all continue to learn from the science being done at

  • I really want to go out fly fishing but the shallow water streams in Cali are far from where I live and it’s pretty rare for me to go fly fishing so I usually go fly fishing on a normal with spinning gear using a bobber.

  • My first fishing book was written by this guy. Tom Rosenbauer just clicked with familiarity in my head and it brings back some good memories of reading that book. (The book was called Casting Illusions)

  • Another thing about a yarn indicator is if you have trouble with it floating, put som dry fly floatant on it so it stays perfectly buoyant and is just as subtle as without

  • Very informative and well presented video. Will try these methods this autumn for grayling on the Welsh Dee. Also want to try north country spider patterns like partridge and orange, snipe and purple, waterhen bloa.

  • Tom is one of my favorite Ambassadors for our wonderful sport of fly fishing. He has been working for Orvis for many decades. Orvis Company is doing well today with some of the industries best fly fishing equipment.

  • I just can’t do a bobber. I have used them and caught fish but it just seems like you should just get a spinning rod and a worm. I have been hamming them swinging soft hackles and high sticking. To each her own. Love your vids ✌️🙋🏼‍♀️

  • I use a cube of cucumber instead of a strike indicator. Cukes float and kind of make the water taste good but the main thing is they float so I can see drift and strike.

  • Tom did a great job presenting nymphing in this video. I saw him doing a presentation in Denver, where he demystified fly selection. All common sense, plainly and simply delivered. My all time favorite fly fishing book is from him: Reading Trout Streams; An Orvis Guide [Tom Rosenbauer]. I can go to any unfamiliar river and read it using the information learned from that book.

  • If I didn't know better, I'd say they were fishing the Clarks Fork River in Montana just west of Missoula. Western Montana, anyway. OK in my defense, I wrote this before they said the guide is from Livingston, lol. I live about 50 miles south of there and that scenery was just too darn familiar, lol.

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