Basic Guide to Nymphing when Fly Fishing

Large Brown Caught Nymphing

Nymphing, also known as fly fishing, has become a beloved technique among fishing enthusiasts. This method involves using artificial flies that mimic young aquatic insects, larvae, worms, and crustaceans that trout find irresistible. With nymphing, you can catch a large quantity of fish throughout the year, regardless of the water body.

Why Nymphing is the Most Effective Method of Fly Fishing

While dry flies often steal the spotlight, the truth is that trout spend the majority of their time feeding on nymphs underwater. Nymphs can be found in lakes and rivers at any time of the day, making them a reliable food source for trout. This is why nymph fishing is so effective. You don’t have to wait for the perfect hatch or time your approach – tie on a nymph fly that matches the real insects in the water, and you’re ready to start catching fish.

When and Where to Fish Nymphs?

The beauty of nymph fishing lies in its versatility. You can find nymphs in various water bodies, including freestone streams, spring creeks, and stillwater lakes or ponds. These areas are home to a plethora of aquatic insects, and nymphs are present whether there is a hatch or not.

To be successful, it’s important to understand the live nymphs that trout consume and match your artificial flies to them. Additionally, studying the water to determine the correct location and presentation will greatly increase your chances of enticing trout to bite.

What Equipment Do You Need?

Unlike other fishing techniques that often require specialized equipment, nymph fishing is relatively straightforward. A 9-foot 4, 5, or 6-weight rod with a medium-to-fast action is usually sufficient. Pair this with a standard single-action fly reel that matches the weight of the rod. A floating line with a weight-forward design and a 9-foot tapered nylon leader are also essential.

You’ll also need tippet spools in various sizes (3X, 4X, 5X, and 6X), along with a well-stocked nymph box. Other necessary nymphing gear includes split shot, strike indicators, nippers, and hemostats.

Techniques for Successful Nymphing

While dry flies and streamers have their place, nymphs offer unmatched flexibility and year-round effectiveness. Learning to adjust your nymphing rigs and techniques based on the conditions of the day will enable you to catch fish in any water body at any time of the year.

When nymphing on a new river, consider factors like depth control, drift control, and presentation. Trout prefer nymphs at the bottom of the stream, so getting your fly to sink to the desired depth is crucial. Drift control involves ensuring a natural presentation by removing any drag from your nymphs. Lastly, strike detection is key – using a highly visible and buoyant strike indicator will help you identify bites and minimize missed opportunities.


With the basic setup, techniques, and ideas covered, you are well on your way to mastering nymph fishing! Start with simplicity and fully immerse yourself in the nymphing experience. Remember, catching fish is meant to be a pleasure.

About the Author:

Matthew Bernhardt, a third-generation Coloradan, has been at the forefront of the state’s fly fishing revolution. With a passion for fly fishing and input from experienced anglers, Matthew developed the Drifthook Fly Fishing System. This system is designed to help every angler catch more trout. When he’s not spending time with his family, you can find Matthew out on the water catching monster trout and eagerly awaiting the day when his kids can join him.

Large Trout

Related Articles

Back to top button