Euro nymphing VS Indicator Nymphing

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By Devin Olsen

I grew up fishing many of the fabled tailwaters of the American West. Throughout high school and my early college years, I would travel around to find the biggest and pickiest small fly eaters I could find. Having immersed myself in this fishing environment and culture, I became a dyed-in-the-wool suspension/strike indicator nymph fisherman; with some indicatorless sight fishing thrown in for good measure. You couldn’t convince me there was a better way of catching numbers of fish on most trout rivers. The last few years have had a way of convincing me I was wrong.

In 2005 I started working with Fly Fishing Team USA members Lance Egan and Ryan Barnes in a fly shop. I was immediately intrigued by the competitions they were fishing in and the possibility that I could represent our country in international competitions. There was only one problem, the typical split shot and indicator game I was so accustomed to was not legal in FIPS Mouche governed competitions like the World Fly Fishing Championships. Suddenly I had to rethink and relearn my nymphing approach and find other alternate ways of being effective. Thankfully I learned a lot from Lance and Ryan; especially the long French leader style of European nymphing that Lance began to use after the 2007 World Fly Fishing Championships in Portugal. Now, after 11 years of competing with Fly Fishing Team USA, a lot of comparisons on the water, and two team and one individual World Fly Fishing Championship medals, I’m convinced that European style nymphing is more effective than strike indicator/suspension nymphing in most water types.

To illustrate the reasons why I believe European nymphing methods are often more effective, watch the embedded video clip, which is an excerpt from the film Modern Nymphing: European Inspired Tactics; which Lance Egan, Gilbert Rowley and I just released last month. For some more in-depth explanation, the list below explains what I view as the pros and cons of European vs. suspension/strike indicator style nymphing.

Pros of Euro nymphing:

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Sunday Classic / The Toughest Water in Wyoming

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Everyone rolled their eyes. This was exactly the response I expected. Working at a fly shop in Jackson hole, I imagine, you get to listen to more than a few boastful dumb asses. When I told them where I’d spent the day, they all laughed and agreed, I’d fished the toughest water in Wyoming. See if you can figure out what happened?

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Saturday Shoutout / The Feather King

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Ever wonder where those beautiful fly tying feathers come from?

This great video profile from The Great Big Story, follows Tom Whiting of Whiting Farms on his daily duties raising the birds which provide the worlds best tying feathers. If you are a tyer, or just an avid angler, you’ll love seeing this behind the scenes view of Whiting farms. It’s pretty fascinating.


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A More Effective Indicator Setup For Fast, Deep Water: Video

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Here are two techniques for more effective fly-fishing in deep, fast water.

Indicator fishing with nymphs can be a very effective way to target trout in deep water. Still, it can be a challenge to get your flies in front of the fish, when the water is really deep and the current is moving quickly. During the colder months getting those flies down in the fish’s face is critical.

When I’m faced with these conditions, I like to use a weighted 90 degree indicator setup. It’s a simple trick but the results will shock you. When combined with a big initial mend, which moves your indicator upstream, your flies will rocket to the bottom. This setup is also more sensitive than a standard indicator rig. It will put you on fish in the deepest runs.


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Improving Your Water Haul Cast

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By Justin Pickett

Fly-Fishing around tight canopy can prove challenging, and, here in the southeast, there is plenty of it.

Rhododendrons dominate the banks, along with wise, old Hemlocks, Oaks, pines, and many other bushes, shrubs, grass, and flowering flora. Because of this, I often do my best to take them out of the equation by changing my casting technique to best suit each situation.

One of the casts that I use most often, when tight banks and overhead canopy are staring me down, is the water haul cast. It’s the perfect cast for keeping you out of trouble for a few good reasons. For one, It takes the back cast completely out of the equation, eliminating the possibility of getting hung up in the trees and bushes that lurk behind you. As well as keeping your cast close to the water’s surface, which keeps you relatively safe from most overhanging obstacles. On the other hand, if not executed correctly, the water haul can prove frustrating and getcha worked up in a hot minute.

When it comes to mistakes made with the water haul, there are a handful of problems that I see consistently when I’m guiding clients.


During the passive phase of the water haul, you are allowing the flow of the water to straighten your fly line and leader, downstream from you, which pulls against your line, leader, and flies which transfers energy to the rod blank. This step loads the rod and gives you the stored energy needed to make the cast. What I see happen most often is that when the angler begins to make their cast, the rod loads up and then slingshots forward, but the flies only sling a few feet out of the water, or maybe not at all.

The first thing that often happens here is that during the time it takes to straighten your rig and load the rod, your flies fall to the bottom of the streambed, and if you’re fishing with an indicator or a dry fly, the hydraulic force of the water presses the indicator/dry fly into the water’s surface, if not below the surface. When this happens, the water flow is creating more resistance and energy than you have stored in your rod. The end result is often what I described above. The energy stored in the rod isn’t enough to overcome the forces of the water against your rig and your flies aren’t able to well…fly. The solution to this issue is simple, though. As you prepare to straighten your rig, move your rod tip a few more inches downstream and let it come tight. As you become ready to cast, raise your rod tip slightly and move your rod tip forward those few inches that you added on. This will bring your flies up in the water column, greatly reducing the water’s resistance against them. If you are fishing with a dry (especially larger flies) or an indicator (especially thingamabobbers), focus on trying to “skate” them across the water for a few inches before attempting your cast. This breaks much of the surface tension and allows for an easy, well executed cast.

The second reason that your flies will pile up while attempting a water haul is because

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4 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Chasing Musky on the Fly

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Today’s guest post was provided by Charlie Murphy, a long time honorary member of Gink & Gasoline and musky devotee. For those of you who don’t know Charlie, he’s as laid back as they come, he eats, sleeps and breaths fishing 365 days a year, and he’s always got your back when you need him. Another thing we love about Charlie is he’s constantly finding ways to add humor into every situation. All these qualities make Charlie a great travel and fishing partner and if you ever have the chance to fish with him, we highly recommend it. That’s enough introduction, read below Charlie’s humorous but true correlation between the old school movie The Karate Kid, the character Mr. Miyagi, and fly fishing for musky.

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Spey Casting: Straight Is Better Than Long

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When you’re swinging flies with two-hand rods, landing the cast straight is always better than making a long cast.

Look, I’m as guilty as any of us. We all want to launch the fly into orbit around the sun. It feels good, it looks good, and in our minds it makes us better anglers — but does it really? I’m prepared to make the argument that it doesn’t even make us better casters. My personal definition of a good cast is, a cast which catches a fish, and that’s not always the longest cast. Especially when you’re swinging flies.

It’s the swing that catches the fish, not the cast. Of course, you want to cover as much water as you can, but only if you are covering it effectively. If you make a long cast, but a poor swing, you may be putting your fly in front of fish that wouldn’t see a short cast, but you’re not offering them a presentation they will eat. What worse, you’re making a poor presentation to the fish you could have reached with a better cast.

Catching fish, especially steelhead, is all about a good swing.

You want the fly to swing at just the right angle and speed to trigger the eat. Too fast, too slow, or presenting the wrong profile to the fish, and your odds of a hookup drop dramatically. You’re looking for a nice buttery swing with just a gentle belly in the line. For a much more detailed explanation, click here.

To accomplish this, you need a cast that turns over nice and straight every time. Most anglers, even those brand new to spey casting, can do this with a short cast but start running into problems when they try to cast long. If you’re having this issue, there are two things you need to do. First, fish the cast you can make. If you can only cast forty feet and land the cast straight, then fish that forty foot cast. Second, get to work on the problem.

When your line doesn’t land straight, it’s because your casting stroke isn’t straight. One of the fundamental rules of fly casting with any rod is that the rod tip must travel in a straight line. In spey casting this is most often a result of “rounding the corner” of your sweep. It’s pretty common for anglers to do this as they try to cast farther.

In an effort to speed up the cast, many anglers will start the casting stroke too early, before the sweep is complete.

Rounding the corner creates

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Faces of Cuba

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By Dan Frasier

There is a specific vibration that runs up your line, through your rod, into your veins and directly to your core when a tarpon in preparing a leap. It’s not unlike the sensation I’d get when I worked for an electrician and would grab a live wire. It’s scary and a little confusing, and ultimately portends that your synapses are about to light up like the light show from a thunderhead; leaving you with a palpating heart and shortness of breath.

As I sat down; relinquishing the bow after riding the lightening an hour into our first day in Cuba, I had to physically concentrate on bringing myself back to earth. The ringing in my ears played out a steady chorus of, “Don’t ever forget one detail from this trip.” In the ensuing months I’ve had the opportunity to recount my trip to countless people. Anglers and non-anglers alike are infatuated with the mystery of Cuba. So I’ve had ample opportunity to reflect on the experience. As is true with all trips I embark on, what stands out are the faces. The people I meet and their stories become the landmarks defining my winding journey through the time spent in a new place. Their stories become threads braided nicely together with mine; building what eventually becomes the tale of my trip. Because it is those very faces that define my experience, I’d like to introduce you to people that constitute what Cuba was for me.

“I called because you’re one of the few people I know that can leave in a hurry.” Bob tells me. “I’ve had an emergency cancellation so there is a spot on my trip to Cuba open, but it’s for 10 days and leaves next week. Are you in?”

Ground-breaking angler, renowned painter and highly-regarded author, Bob is one of the coolest people I know. We’ve been friends for a few years now and have fished together a number of times. One thing I’ve learned is that you are far wiser to say “Yes” if Bob asks you to do something than “No.” So I bought tickets to Ft. Lauderdale, where we were to meet, and started packing.

I met Bob and a four others at their gate at FLL. We strolled to a special section of the airport and after fifty minutes on a twin engine Cessna, we were on the ground in Havana.

Elena was our tour guide for the day we spent exploring Havana. An extremely bright mother of two, Elena was charged with showing us the finer points of Cuban life. Careers in Cuba are not selected. They are assigned. At the end of High School, all the students are tested and ranked. The highest ranking student gets to pick from the list of needed majors for that year as defined by Castro and the boys. From there on, the student will study their selected major and then be assigned a career in that field. Every Cuban citizen is paid the same wage, about $10 US a month. However, people serving the tourist crowd will be able to receive tips. So Elena, whose father worked as a doctor for $10 a month for his entire life, did what all of the most promising minds in Cuba do. She chose a major of German because it set her up to work in tourism where she is now a guide. For about 6 hours Elena showed the group New and Central Havana. We saw museums dedicated to the revolution, toured the cigar factory, saw replicas of missiles from the crisis, the engine of the U2 spy plane that was shot down in Cuban waters and sites where practitioners of Santeria perform animal sacrifice. And then Elena put everyone but Bob and me in a cab and sent them to the hotel. She took us to see Old Havana and “how Cubans really live,” where we met others.

Old Havana is simple to describe. Imagine narrow streets of the most beautiful super-wealthy Spanish architecture mansions money could buy in the late 1800’s. Now house 13 families in each of those mansions, turn off the running water in 1967 and do no maintenance since 1959. There, easy. I didn’t get the good fortune to meet this woman, but her striking image peering out of the hole in a makeshift doorway shook me. This was originally the long

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Sunday Classic / It’s Ok to Ask for Help on the Water

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A lot of fly fisherman of both sexes get a little hesitant when it comes to holding hands or locking arms with people who aren’t kin. Don’t be Haphephobia when you’re wading in and around trout water that’s challenging to navigate, in remote areas off the beaten path or during cold weather. Making the mistake of trying to do everything on your own when you know darn well you need assistance can turn out to be a very dumb decision and put you in harms way.

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Saturday Shoutout / Mike’s Poke

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Watch the Video!

The Perry Poke is a super efficient spey cast, useful to any two-hand angler.

In this video skagit legend Mike McCune shows you how to make the Poke off your downstream shoulder. This is a great cast to have in your bag no matter what species you’re after. Here Mike is chasing trout with a switch rod and compact head, but the approach is the same with the long rod on a steelhead river.


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