Sunday Classic / Fish Floating Nymphs for Selective Trout

6 comments / Posted on / by

Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You’re kneeling at the edge of a slow glassy pool watching several big trout inspect what floats above them. You change flies, again, and make yet another perfect presentation, only to watch the fish move three feet out of the way as your fly passes by.

It’s a common scene on heavily pressured, catch-and-release trout streams. Big educated fish who have seen a lot of flies don’t come to hand easily. Kent and I were in exactly this scenario just the other day and were able to turn it around using a simple but often overlooked technique. A floating nymph.

Fish see dry flies in a very different way than we see them. Before the fish inspects your thread color or how many turns of hackle you’ve used it sees the impression of the fly on the water. These slight dimples in the surface film are incredibly powerful triggers for feeding fish. The curved surface of the water, which supports the fly, focuses the light creating a bright spot that get the fish’s attention like a flashing light. This is why fish commonly eat Thingamabobbers.

Fish who live under constant pressure from anglers become very savvy at reading these impressions on the surface film. They eat only those items that make subtle, life-like impressions. The kind of impressions made by emerging insects struggling in the film. Nothing I know of is a better imitation than a floating nymph.

Start with the right nymph. It must be unweighted. A nymph tied with lead or a bead will never float. It should also have the right kinds of materials. Bushy, natural materials like hare’s ear dubbing float well and a little hen hackle is a real plus. Apply a little bit of Gink to the nymph to keep it dry and it will float well. Present the fly just as you would any emerger.

I’ve seen this trick work time and again. I used it the other day on fish who had seen every dry in my box and were unimpressed. They fell all over themselves to eat it, literally charging eight feet to grab my fly. That’s a rewarding feeling. Next time you find yourself being scorned by selective trout, try a floating nymph. You’ll like the results.

Click here to see a video of Ronnie Hall tying his floating nymph pattern.


Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

6 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Fish Floating Nymphs for Selective Trout

  1. That is a fantastic photo. And a great article, this is one of my favorite techniques, and you guys hit it on the head.

    • Thanks! Try few people understand how difficult it is to get a shot like that. It took some time. Interesting that there was so much conversation about the tippet. Regular readers will know that I have written on several occasions about the benefit of fluorocarbon tippet which sinks.

  2. A floating fly on a glassy water surface with floating tippet attached to it is not natural. It turns fish off near every time. Degrease the tippet next to the fly so it sinks and doesn’t leave a pattern on the surface. Now the fly is more natural and will catch more fish.

  3. Pingback: Sunday Classic / Fish Floating Nymphs for Selective Trout | Fishing Window - Latest Fishing Blogs Posts

  4. I would ditch that floating mono too, look how easy it is to see the meniscus of the tippet on the surface… That’s why I use fluoro for everything!

  5. Whether that tippet is fluoro or mono it won’t sink in that smooth glassy water. The tippet has to be degreased with mud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...