Czech Nymphing

Obviously this method originated in the Czech Republic where it was used to great effect in the International Fly Fishing Championships. Since then it has been widely adopted and is not a standard part of any fly fisherman’s armoury.
In principle the method is not new – as it presents the right flies at the right depth in a natural manner in a way in which the takes can be easily spotted. – You will agree that this is fundamental to any fly fisherman. – However, the method took this a number of steps further by turbo-blasting the short-line methods that had been used previously.
In principle the method is simple, short-line deep-water nymphing that covers all of the water and uses the induced take mechanism.

Czech Nymph set up

The idea is to get the line and flies down to the fish at close range. If you can picture this you will be fishing with the rod at a 30 to 45 degree angle to the water and leading the flies down the swim, therefore the length of the leader will depend upon the depth of the swim and the length of the rod. – As a minimum the leader length should be the length of the rod plus 20% – when using a 9ft rod I usually use a 10-11 foot leader – but it depends upon the swim and therefore should be varied to suit what you are most comfortable with.

The typical set up for Czech Nymphing is to use a long rod rather than shorter – the ideal being up to 10 feet in length, (although a 9 or 9ft 6 will do the job) and I would recommend a medium tip action to set the hook. Rod weight should be around a 4 or 5 weight line. – In effect as this is short line fishing – and is quite intensive work – the physically lighter the rod the better. Rod
One thing is essential for Czech Nymphing – and that is to be able to discern the smallest tweak on the line – therefore it is recommended that you either have a very visible fly line tip – or as is my preference – to use a coloured indicator leader (for example see on the right) as this shows the slightest variation in movement as you fish the cast through Fluo Leader - Click Here for details

My preference for the leader is to use made-up fluorocarbon leaders (as this is nearly invisible in the water) and therefore aids presentation. Remember to step down the tippet strengths as you go from fly line to tippet end – but also remember that you will be varying the strength depending upon the conditions and size of fish. – It’s better to step up than to step down as there’s nothing worse than leaving fish with hooks and tippet in them. Also – as this method of fishing means that you will be fishing at or near bottom – be prepared for snagging.

The method is quite simple

Step …. Flick …. Fish;
Step …. Flick …. Fish;
Step …. Flick …. Fish;
Step …. Flick …. Fish;

Leader and Fly Set Up

You can fish up to 3 flies at once (you could fish more but that begins to become unmanageable), – obviously a point fly and 2 droppers. – The set up though is quite different from normal droppers. – Assuming that you have a 9ft leader, your typical set up would be :
Point Fly — 18-24” of leader — dropper 1 — 18-24” of leader — dropper 2
– with each dropper being 6-8 inches long.

Put the HEAVIEST fly in the MIDDLE – this takes all of the flies down to the required depth and ensures that the point fly trails through at the correct depth, obviously the top dropper will work the water slightly above the middle dropper.

Obviously the length of leader between droppers can be varied – but if this extends too much then your flies will not fish correctly. Using the example above you will have 5 feet of leader between your first dropper and the indicator leader. – Depending upon the depth of water and the speed of the current – this could be reduced even more.

This set up would make normal distance casting a peril of possible tangles (particularly with the heaviest fly being in the middle), – however when Czech Nymphing you don’t need to cast, – with about 4-6feet of fly line outside of the top ring (again more can be used) – the ‘cast’ is simply a flick upstream.

Fishing the Swim

Step …. Flick …. Fish;
This is really a simple method:

Step ….. Upstream (or out further into the swim if required)
Flick ….. The flies upstream
Fish …… The flies down until they are past you

Step ….. Upstream (or out further into the swim if required)
Flick ….. The flies upstream
Fish …… The flies down until they are past you

You should always make sure that your line and indicator are leading the flies, rather than the flies leading them – otherwise they will not fish correctly and you may not see the takes. – If you fish with the indicator leader in constant connection and with the leader and flies you will see every take!

As you move the rod down the swim from (assuming the river is running left to right) your left across and down, there is a point at the end of the run where you are unable to control the run down – at this point give the rod a gentle strike (it is surprising how many times this will result in a fish), lift the rod, take a step upstream and at the same time flick the flies up ready for the next run down.

In reality you do not need two hands as you fish using the rod hand only with no slack line. – On cold winter days the left hand can be kept nice and snug!

Using this method you can cover a lot of water. You are fishing at close range – and therefore you have to be extremely careful how you tread – light and gentle footsteps. It is surprising how many fish you can take within a yard or two of where you are stood.

Variations on fishing the swim

The basic method leads the flies down at the speed of the current – usually referred to as the dead-drift method. Of course there are a few variations that you can make on this approach;

Leading the flies

With this approach you ‘pull’ the flies down the swim slightly faster than the speed of the current – this can be deadly when the dead drift isn’t producing as it puts a bit more life into the flies as the fish (I presume) think that the grubs are swimming downstream. Again at the end of the cast make a lift as if striking into a fish.

Inducing the take

This is a combination of the above method and the traditional. Using this approach the flies are allowed to drift and then ‘speeded up’ slightly before allowing to flies to sink back to the dead drift. In effect this lifts the flies in the water and lets them fall back down – giving a really lifelike effect. This can often induce the take.

Variations of Fly Set Up

There are many variations on the fly set up that can be taken. Obviously changing the position of the heaviest fly means that you can fish the flies all at the same depth (if the heaviest is on the first dropper), or alternatively this can be used with a combination of using smaller lighter flies on dropper 2 and point to fish those slightly higher in the water. Also – by placing the heaviest fly on the point, dropper 1 and 2 can be fished higher in the water.

Another approach can be to not use droppers but to tie the grubs on via a length of leader to the hook bend of the previous fly – ‘ New Zealand style’. This however can become a pain if you wish to change a fly to put on a smaller, heavier, different colour etc.

A final approach as a variation on the Czech Nymph style is to use a floating fly as one of the team and fish the others as ‘traditional’ reservoir-style high-water nymphs, or to attach them to the dry fly New Zealand style. This can be deadly when the flsh are feeding in the upper third of the river, or when fishing shallow runs. This however is a rather diverse deviation on Czech Nymphing and is really a method in it’s own right.

Detecting the Take

Watch the sight indicator like a hawk – this is high concentration fishing. Lift (as a strike) if :

The line stops, delays, or just looks different. Obviously you will also detect a take as a slight (or savage pull). The golden rule is that if you even slightly think ‘fish’ or ‘that’s different’ lift as if expecting a fish – you will be surprised how many times there actually is one. This is close range, close-contact fishing. If any of you have ever coarse fished with a pole where you in complete contact with the line and have delicate accurate presentation – if the float wobbles, dips, lifts etc – you strike. This is the same approach.

If in doubt (even the slightest) lift into the fish!

If there’s no responding thumping of a fish – continue to fish the run through.

Czech Nymph Flies

ALWAYS use barbless hooks and flies – if you haven’t any then nip the barbs down with pliers. – I have never lost a fish because of using a barbless hook (as far as I can tell), but I have released a lot more fish safely and unharmed by using a barbless hook than by using a barbed. – Barbless are easier to un-snag, stay sharper for longer, cause less harm to the fish (and are easy to extract from a finger if you are that unfortunate). – All of the flies available on this site will be or are available using barbless hooks (see on the right) Flies on Barbless hooks - click here
– and if you tie your own – tie them on barbless hooks (again you can get quality Knapek hooks from this site (see on the right)
There really is no excuse – use barbless!
Knapek Barbless Hooks on this site

We are fishing predominantly for Grayling – but this method is also a killer for Trout – so don’ think that it’s a one-fish method. 90% of the food that fish feed upon are nymphs, and of those (in most rivers and streams) I would suggest that 60-80% of these nymphs are made up of the same or similar types – Shrimp, Stonefly and Caddis.

Shrimp - Gammarus Caddis - Hydropsyche StoneFly-Rhyaccolphyla.gif
Gammarus Rhyacophyla Hydropsyche

Of course there are variations to this depending upon the time of year, type of river bed etc. – But generically you only need to ever fish 4-6 basic patterns – the only variations being the colour, size and weight.

You can go overboard on the numbers of variations of types of flies used, but always remember – if the fly is a generic approximation of the food and it’s presented well – you WILL catch fish. Probably the most important aspect is size and colour.

I have Czech Nymphed with a leader containing GRHE Bead Heads, Small Olive Nymphs, Killer Bugs, Pheasant Tail Nymphs etc – as well as the Gammarus, Rhyaccolphyla and Hydropsyche patterns (although I will but the latter 2 on first as a good start – and simply mix the colours and sizes – if the fish are there then you WILL catch on these flies – it’s almost guaranteed).

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