Over the past two weeks we have covered different styles of nymphing, first we discussed the Right Angle or Level Lining, while last week we went over the Drop Shot setup. Today we are going to review some of the benefits that come with nymph fishing without an indicator. This is one of my favorite ways to fish as I believe you become more in touch with the river and it also makes you rely more on seeing the fish.
First off, there is nothing wrong with using an indicator. Some situations, like long drifts on a big river, I’d argue an indicator will make you more productive. With that being said, I bet there are times when people use an indicator when they don’t actually need to. You want to be comfortable nymphing without an indicator and you will quickly discover there are circumstances where you will catch more fish taking off the bobber.
If you want to learn to nymph without an indicator, the best situation to start is when you are fishing with a short line. This means no long casts and you are high sticking a short drift. You want to start casting just upstream from the likely holding water, then use the rod tip to follow your flies while keeping the fly line off the water. You can control the depth that your flies sink by the amount of slack you allow with the rod tip. Lowering the rod tip introduces slack and allows the flies to sink more. When learning to do this, I find it easiest if you have on heavy flies that will sink quickly. That way you stay in contact with your flies throughout the drift and can feel the fish eat. Even if you don’t feel anything but see your line stop or move funny in the water, you want to set. Set on absolutely everything with this style of contact nymphing for the rest results.
It is also beneficial to nymph without an indicator if you can see the fish before you cast. I am convinced that pressured fish can become indicator shy. Fish also can hear the splash of an indicator if it lands on the water too hard. In this situation you are relying more on the movement of the fish to indicate a strike, you rarely will feel anything. If you see a fish move to the side as your flies drift by or see a white flash as the fish opens its mouth, give it a set. In my opinion this is one of the most rewarding ways to fish.
Like we said, there is nothing wrong with fishing an indicator. Just do not become reliant on only your indicator to detect strikes. Often times a fish will eat and spit out your flies without the indicator ever moving. Challenge yourself to occasionally take off your indicator and see if your hook ups increase. My general rule of thumb is situations where I can get close to the fish, where I could feel the strike or see the eat, I am taking the indicator off. Bad lighting or long casts and drifts, I am putting the indicator back on. Remember, when fishing without the indicator set on everything! It may be something you see, something you feel, or something just seems fishy, give it a set!
More Nymphing Tips:
Jere Crosby says
What are your thoughts on Joe Brooks’ observation that nymph flies that he’s observed underwater rotate, and spin underwater very unnaturally.
My thoughts are that my mettle, and tungsten bead headed nymphs do not do that, and especially my jig hooks with a tungsten bead head ride hook point up. Whatcha think?
bruce harten says
Ive watched em rising to hatch…depending on current ” roil ” …som spin some are level…and when they surface remember they are pulling wings n legs from exo skeliton