Nymphing Tip: When in doubt – Set the hook

If you are like me, when I first started nymphing with indicators and shot, I would always be asking myself, “is that a hit or the bottom”? Unfortunately most of the time all I did was ask and not react.

Trout fishing legend, Jack Dennis, took an underwater camera into a local stream to discover what really happens when anglers made presentations to fish beneath the surface.

Among his more revealing discoveries: Anglers failed to detect 40 percent of the strikes they received using conventional nymphing techniques, particularly with indicators. That’s right 40 percent!

What was his conclusion? The problem was too much slack in the line. Dennis found that fish feeding actively on a vast array of insects floating past their noses seldom moved much; rather, they simply held their position and opened and closed their mouths. In such situations, anglers generally failed to realize when a trout had taken the artificial fly.

In feeding situations with fewer insects, when trout drifted up or darted sideways to take the artificial, the line often moved sufficiently for the angler to detect the strike.

His solution was:
(1) To get as close as possible to the fish, eliminating as much loose line as possible.
(2) To heighten your concentration, and set the hook at the slightest pause in the drift. Make the hook set quick and short, keeping the fly down in the target area if you don’t connect.

For more tips like this pick up The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing – a new collection of 250 nuggets of fly fishing wisdom from Kirk Deeter and the late, great Charlie Meyers.