"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains." - Henry David Thoreau
I think I mentioned in one of my other posts that there are two kinds of religion when it comes to fly fisherman, the dry fly fisherman and the nymph fisherman. And in the post I pretty much claimed myself as a dry fly fisherman. I am not sure why I do not enjoy fishing more with nymphs. I think maybe it is because I can't see what is going on very well, because all of the action happens underwater. I think for me half the fun is watching the fish eat the dry fly off the surface or watch him follow it and his instinct take over and decide there is something not quite right and decide not to eat. That to me is the essence of fly fishing.
Now saying all of that, I know that isn't even a reasonable way to think, because a huge percent of a trout’s diet comes from nymphs and sub-surface food sources. So in other words, if you want to catch fish you have to learn to nymph fish, if even just a little bit. And saying all of that, I know how to nymph fish and am kinda good at it, meaning that I can usually tell the difference between a fish strike and a rock, but I am certainly not an expert or even close to it. I just don’t enjoy it very much, which is why I don’t fish that way very often.
Last night I was supposed to meet a co-worker up the Pan for an evening of fishing. He never showed, but I fished. I resolved to myself yesterday while I was on my way up to my spot on the Pan that I was going to nymph all evening no matter what. I was going to fish a double rig and I was going to catch a fish. So to my non-fly-fishing below is photo of what that rig looks like. At the top of the rig you have your indicator (which is essentially a bobber, but in fly-fishing it is called a strike indicator or just an indicator) then down a ways depending on how deep you want to fish is the first fly, this one is usually a bigger fly than the second fly. There are a lot of combinations and thoughts behind these rigs. In fact there are hundreds of books written about nymphing and rigging. It is a science all in itself.
I got all rigged up with a size 16 pheasant tail and a size 18 black zebra midge. I don’t use split shot for weight. Every fly fisherman in the world just moaned and called me an idiot. And I am OK with that. The theory there is the split shot gets the fly down to the fish, I get it believe me but I prefer to use bead-head flies for weight, I feel the rig drifts more naturally. But that is me. Anyway, 5 casts in I saw that indicator pause and dart sideways just enough I knew I had a good strike, I lifted up my rod and sure enough felt the weight on the end of the line. Fish on. A few seconds later I had a very nice brown in the net. He took the zebra midge. I was as proud as new father looking at his baby for the first time as I set that fish back in the river. As I continued to fish I changed the second fly a few times as things weren't happening looking for that perfect combination. I went from that zebra midge to an RS-2, then a Juju baetis, a prince nymph and then finally a fly that I tied. Which is pictured below. It is tied on a size 16 scud hook using a glass bead, red ultra-wire and some peacock ice dubbing. Pretty basic fly as far as tying goes but it is cool looking if nothing else.
I was moving up and down my favorite run on the Pan which includes Melissa’s Run and The Rock. I got to one of favorite runs that has not yet been named. I had a great drift going in a perfect seam and sure enough I saw a nice flash of a fish body and then my indicator went down. I got a good hook set and started the fight. Another brown in the net a minute later, this was a nicer one, about 18” long and fairly fat, best part? He took the fly that I tied. After I let him go I was once again beaming with pride, as a fly-fisherman there is no better feeling in the world as catching a fish on a fly that you tied yourself.
After a quick check of my rig and adjusting the depth of the indicator I was back in. A few casts later another fish, and once again on my fly. Another brown in the net, another nice fish. I removed the fly and placed him back into the cool waters of the Pan and decided to call it a night and head for home. I was very happy with the three nice fish I caught. I was able to catch fish the way I set out to catch them and that was very satisfying for me. I proved to myself a couple things, first nymphing works. (Which I already knew, but just choose to not believe it.) and two, and most importantly I do have the patience for it and it is kind of exciting.
While I prefer dry fly fishing more I understand that nymphing is the arguably the “easiest” way to catch a trout since most of their meals come from below the surface, last night I had an absolute blast fishing. I need to get it into mode of more nymphing, because it works and it is pretty fun.