Thursday, February 9, 2012

When it comes to trout fishing...there's more than one way to drift a nymph

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The limestone streams of central Pennsylvania famously pour from the ground at precisely the cool temperatures favorable to trout. But on a chilly January mountain morning on Spring Creek, the brown trout waited for some warming sunlight to break through the clouds.

Daniel said he titled his book "Dynamic Nymphing" to drive home the idea that there's more than one way to drift a nymph.

"It's all about creating a whole tool set -- an arsenal of techniques," he said, "so an angler can walk up to any stream at any time on any part of the globe, find the technique that works best for the given conditions and be able to catch fish. The book is about applying the right technique to the right piece of water at the right time."

Illustrated with instructive photos and line drawings, the book is a hefty 240 pages covering nymphing lines and tackle, weight, tight-line drifting, suspension tactics, hot patterns, reading the water; fishing in high, low, muddy and small-stream conditions; and includes a dust jacket blurb by Daniel's mentor, Joe Humphreys.

With a little sun on the water, we tried again, relying on nymphing techniques championed in the book. "In the winter, I like moving into slower sections of water, places where I know the fish are going to hold," said Daniel. "Even on spring creeks like this where the temperature is regulated, the temperature will fluctuate a little. The trout's metabolism slows down in cold water and they don't want to work as hard to obtain energy. When I'm fishing in slow moving sections where there's very little current, I prefer to use indicators -- I call them suspension tools -- so I can hold the fly at a fixed point for a prolonged period of time to maintain control."

A strike indicator, like a flat-water bobber, can let an angler know when there's a hit, but its primary function is to position the fly at a fixed depth.

"When you need to hold the fly at a specific depth, suspension tools work great," he said. "When you don't need that, there are any number of things anglers can use for strike indication that don't impact the fly's depth. The tip of the fly line where it meets the leader can be an indicator. Sighters -- colored monofilament actually built into your leader -- can be the indicator. So can a dry fly rigged above the nymph."

A common nymphing mistake, on European and American waters, is failure to properly lead the drift. In order to get a natural drift, the angler advances the rod tip ahead of the nymph. In water with a changing flow rate or depth, the movement of the rod tip is altered.

"One of the things I like to do is make sure my sighter is angled, pointing upstream," he said, "That's telling me that my flies are upstream of the sighter, that there's tension. If I see my sighter begin to move downstream, that's telling me my flies are downstream of my sighter and there's slack in that system. What I'm looking for is the rod tip just ahead of the flies, a little bit of slack in my sighter [and] it's moving a little back and forth. That's telling me my flies are bouncing on the bottom naturally, I'm not dragging my flies, I'm leading them through the drift without creating any tension."

Learn more about George Daniel and "Dynamic Nymphing" at

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