Flat Water Nymphing

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The past few years, Louis and I have grown very fond of one specific pool tucked up in mountains of the southern appalachia.

We visit it regularly because of the bounties of trout that it sustains and nurtures year round. We nicknamed it the “lazy boy pool”, because it constantly has food entering the pool and its slow moving water and deep water cover requires little energy for fish to feed round the clock. It’s loved by lazy trout and they in turn grow big and fat. Despite the large numbers of trout the pool holds, angler won’t find it to be a cake walk for catching them. To have success in this pool you have to bring your A-game. The fish have grown wise to fly anglers and the glass calm and crystal clear water adds further to the overall challenge. Trout here, get to examine your flies for long periods and they regularly dish out more refusals than eats. It’s had Louis and I pulling our hair out on multiple occasions. If we need our ego’s checked, this is the perfect place for us to do that. It never fails to reminds us we are far from having it all figured out. The slightest mistake by an angler will send wakes across the water alerting all the trout in the pool, and when that happens, the fish get lock jaw.

When you’re lucky you can get the fish to rise to dries at lazy boy pool, but it’s always hit or miss unless a hatch is in progress. The most success we’ve had fishing it has come from drifting nymphs subsurface. It’s not your average-Joe nymphing water though. It requires a niche nymphing techinque that I like to call “flat water nymphing”. Because the water moves so slow through the pool, bites can be very subtle and extremely hard to detect. Often the only signal of a bite, is your strike indicator pausing for a split second or two. Rarely do you have an aggressive take that sends your strike indicator plunging under the surface. It’s always a gamble setting the hook. You’re forced to set the hook on possible strikes if you want to hook a trout, but if do so and it’s not a take, you risk spooking the fish in the pool.

If you ever find yourself on a pool that fits the description of lazy boy pool, make sure you do the following to help you find success. First, go with a dry dropper rig or a small strike indicator that won’t make noise when presenting your fly. Second, use a long section of thin tippet on your leader to help your flies sink without the aid of split-shot (they can be loud hitting the water). Third, don’t be in a hurry. Drift your flies all the way through the entire length of the pool, before quietly stripping in and picking up your line for a follow up cast. Four, try twitching your rod tip every once in a while to impart action on your nymphs. In slow water, sometimes this will get trout to move longer distances to come examine your fly and it will also often create a reaction strike. Five, it’s often more productive to sight fish to a single fish with your leader rather than casting to the top of the pool and drifting your flies through the school of trout. Six, be prepared to make a few drifts and then sit patiently for a few minutes before recasting. This will keep you from getting all the trout worked up and getting spooked.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Flat Water Nymphing

  1. This situation makes for tough fishing indeed. It’s not just your flies and presentation you have to worry about, but your body movements as well and that’s tough. Touching on the “subtle takes” subject…. like you said it’s rare that your indicator fly/thingamabobber will “dunk” with a take in this type of water. I pay special attention to 2 different things to indicate a light take…. 1) a pause in my drift, or 2) if my indicator fly bobs, bounces, or spins. Since the current is so slow, it’s not too hard to detect

  2. I have one of these that I’ll be visiting as soon as I get back to WNY, thanks for the tips! They’ll certainly be put to use!

  3. Great advice Kent. Thank you. We have a lot of this sort of water, and I think your remarks are as pertinent this side of the world as they are for North America.

  4. I fish this type of water with a single nymph euro rig. Instead of keeping the sighter above the surface, I let it lay flat as if I were fishing a dry fly. I slowly bring in the line to keep tension and then look for the sighter line to go taught or dip a bit.

    I definitely agree with tip 4: giving action to nymphs is a great way to fish them. Many natural nymphs are swimmers so giving a bit of twitch/action to your nymph fly can be a great way to induce a take.

  5. Those pools on the Little River in the GSMNP looks so tempting, but I usually walk right past them. I’ll give them a try next time.

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