On the Fly column: Fall is a fine time to hone your nymphing skills | PostIndependent.com

On the Fly column: Fall is a fine time to hone your nymphing skills

A fly box fully stocked with nymphs.
Nate Taylor |

Our fall fishing season is in full swing. At no other time of year can such a multitude of fishing styles be effective on the water. Blue wing olive mayflies are still hatching, providing thrilling dry fly opportunities along with the year’s best streamer fishing. Day in and day out, though, if you simply wish to pull on a bunch of fish, nymph fishing will provide you with the most success.

In everyday terms, nymphs are aquatic insects that are still in their juvenile life stage, in which they spend 95 percent of their life cycle. This means the nymphs spend close to 360 days living in their subsurface world in close proximity to trout all day long, and almost the entire year except the last few days of their life. Throughout the year, well over 90 percent of a trout’s diet consists of nymphs, which is why these flies are so effective on a year-round basis. During fall, the primary nymph that we most often imitate is a blue wing olive. Despite their small size, the fish focus on these insects because of their sheer abundance. The analogy I often use is that for trout it’s like eating french fries or chips: You can’t simply eat one. Also we tend to gorge on a side of fries.

A basic nymph setup consists of a 7½-foot tapered leader, to which we then add about 18 inches of fluorocarbon tippet. At the end of that piece of tippet is where we tie on our first nymph. We then add another 18 inches of tippet off the bend of the hook of the first fly. We can now tie on and attach our second nymph to the end of that piece of tippet. A split shot (weight) is then crimped onto our leader above our leader-tippet connection using that knot as a stopper to keep our split shot from sliding down. The last step in a basic nymph rig is to then affix a strike indicator (a fly angler’s version of a bobber) onto your leader.

The amount of weight used varies depending on the speed and depth of the water being fished. The key here is to use enough weight to have your flies bouncing along the bottom without hanging up. Continue adding and subtracting weight in order to always bounce your nymphs along the streambed. Strike indicator placement will also vary but as a general rule of thumb should be placed 4-5 feet above your split shot. Another common equation is one and a half times the depth of the water you are fishing. Once fishing, be sure to keep your setup moving with the same speed as the water.

Fall is a splendorous time to refine and hone your nymph skills. The fish are concentrated in the deep runs and pools. Rivers are at lower optimal volumes to wade and refine your water-reading skills, and the solitude and scenery make for an exceptional experience on the water.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at (970) 927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.

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