Long Line Nymphing   Upstream 

For those anglers out there who want to progress onwards in the art of fly fishing. This is the method for you. It’s probably the most widely used method in the world that I have seen and can be the most productive on a given day. This method isn’t new it has just been versatile it can be used on any type of water fast or slow and under most weather conditions are it clear or overcast. It can be used on extremely shallow water down to 2inches and to the depth of 5 feet or so. This art form stands out from the rest and the method is very similar to that of Dry fly fishing. The only difference is that the fly is now under the surface and the angler must solely rely on his ability to read a river and to respond lighting fast to a take. Some anglers I have met along the river have classed this method as worm fishing but all that’s wrong here is that they are not educated to the multitude of methods, and endless techniques that can be performed in this beautiful art form called fly fishing!. This technique employs the use of mostly beaded head nymphs. Tungsten beads not gold Beads because tungsten is much denser in weight and thus much more weight can be applied to the body without the nymph looking too bulky. But the angler can use UN weighted or UN beaded nymphs too. It really depends on what favors the condition. I have widely used this method across the world and more times than not I had slightly more success with the tungsten bead heads rather than the UN beaded. So my first choice would be tungsten bead nymph.

The Chosen nymphs
Back to the famous question, what fly and where? I have myself tried to simplified this range of nymphs and found, from trial and error, two basic patterns which make up the bulk of my fly box. There are of course the Pheasant tail and the hairs ear nymphs. These are well recognized patterns across the globe and their effectiveness lies not only in there simplicity but the material which they are tied from. If you look very closely at the fibres of a pheasant tail you will see just how much life it offers under water and the same applies for the hair ear. Secondly just take a look at the color of these materials Pheasant and hairs ear. They are in there natural state going to be tan ,light brown ,and maybe dark brown just like the real insects that you would find under stones in most rivers and I bet you will not find any red arses or florescent yellow bugs either ! Sure you won’t. These are undisputedly the best patterns I have ever found. My brother Thomas, who is deeply involved in entomology, also has clarified from his own studies that these patterns will represent most of the invertebrates’ which are relevant to us anglers in Ireland .Some anglers might find this to be a powerful statement with so many other flies out there but I’m just trying to simplify the range in an anglers fly box. Going forward from this you can say these are the bugs to use. The only changes I would make to the fly would be its size and weight. When do I know when to change anglers ask. Simple when you have a heavy run you will find better results when using a large heavy nymph rather than light as it will sink faster and travel slower giving a trout ample time to take it. If you were to use a light nymph they would simply not sink fast enough and be taken away too fast from the trout. Remember trout are fast but there not that fast and especially if there is nothing hatching when you are fishing nymphs. If there is a hatch present they will certainly be active darting left and right for food items but when not they feeding food will have to be in close proximity to them in order for them to show any interest in it. So it’s important to get the nymphs that you fish to the right dept and fast. But when the water level drops off later in the summer you will then again change the size and weight to much smaller and lighter.

First of all the water that you show be looking for should have one of these actions present be it  fast ,bubbly, full of riffles big stones, Weirs, or even gullies .Trout love to congregate in these areas as they the prime feeding lies in the river and usually have big trout in them. You will find this type of water in almost all rivers in Ireland you just have to look. It doesn’t have to be very deep either you can catch trout in only a few inches of water in the head of any run or in near the bank. A lot of anglers that I seen fishing have usually waded through this water first to get to the deep section. It goes like the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side”. The angler on the other bank is always reaching for the opposite bank. Why? The best of fishing can be had with this method right under your own bank wither it be shallow or deep. What actually happens is that you scatter trout from the shallows into the deep sections and alert the rest of the shoal. With this method you will be fishing mostly upstream so enter the run well down stream where it starts to slow down. My approach first of all would be to observe the run and all its characteristics i.e. where do you the trout would lie. Is there a section I can enter where I won’t upset the entire run? These few moments spend looking at the water will certainly help in understanding how to read a river. Following on from this enter the water well down stream of the run so you don’t upset the shallow water. I usually try and enter just where the water would be just a little over waist high if possible. Next Cast up stream into the fast water; don’t be afraid of the small splashes that the nymphs make as it will make no difference. The area where the nymphs are begin fished should be so turbulent and noisy that the trout would not be aware even if you through a stone at them! Trout in fast water feel that they are safe and you can utilize this to your advantage to get very close to make a cast over them. Just believe they are there and you will get takes. Confidence plays a huge part in catching trout as I always say. When the line hits the water keep in contact with the line by drawing up the slack without pulling and disrupting the natural drift of the nymphs. If the nymphs are pulled faster than the current they will simply put off trout in taking them .This is the part that has to be mastered. Keeping the nymphs drifting naturally whiles still keeping a tight line is the key. Strikes are generally fast upstream jerks or sudden stops but sometime it just starts to slow down. Any of these indications require a quick and responsive strike, always strike downstream with the flow of water. This will set a better hook hold.  Make sure you always strike even if you think it’s only the bottom or a stick you will be surprised a lot of the time. You can have endless sport during the day with this method when nothing is happening on the surface.

The tackle 
As I mentioned above it’s very similar to that of dry fly fishing.  It is best practiced with a 9ft6” – 10ft fast action 4-5# fly rod. This rod has to have a fast action because when a trout takes the nymph down in few feet of water all takes must be met with a sharp responsive strike that will set the hook. A soft /through action rod would just simply buckle and not set the hook properly thus giving a trout a chance to escape. Through action rods are really only for dry fly fishing because of the use of very fine tippets. A weight forward 5 weight line will tackle most waters and conditions and it will also easily handle the weight of a 3mm bead.  But if you were to go down in the size and weight of nymphs you should really use a 4 weight it will then offer more sensitivity when detecting takes form trout. The 4# weight forward would also be a good choice if the water was very thin.

The leader make up is as follows
From the end of the fly line using a needle knot attach a 3ft length of (amnesia Clear) of around 20 lb tests. Next attach a 6” length of (amnesia Red) again 20lb test. This will be the indicator. This 3ft 6” section that’s attached to the fly line never has to leave it. Why so heavy? Simple you need weight to turn over these nymphs and the 20lb (amnesia) will also help the transfer of energy from line to leader when casting. This leader will be a permanent fixture. From this now I can start my leader. I tend to use fluorocarbon for my leader as it has very little stretch.  Next attach 4ft of 5lb fluorocarbon to the first dropper and then another 1.5 ft to the point nymph. Dropper length should be a least 5-6inches they need to swing and move in the water to work also by leaving the droppers long they drift much more naturally in the water.  Always place the heaviest nymph on the point and the lighter nymph on the dropper. This will assure that the leader will be straight when drifting and you will have a tight cast so takes will quickly and easily be seen. This leader will suit fast runs of about 1.5-2ft of water under dull conditions. If the condition were much brighter I would lengthen the cast from 4ft right up to 6ft to the first dropper but the length between the dropper and point nymph never changes! Remember this. You really want to confine all the weight to the one area of the cast so they will sink faster and start fishing faster. If your nymphs are not on or near the bottom you are simply wasting quality fishing time.
I also devised a table to help you decide what size and weight of bead to use when tying up a bead head nymph? Well now it’s easy. Just follow this table it will also show you the line weight to match the nymphs that you fish.

Hook size 18                 Bead Size 1.0mm                       3-4# Wf floater
Hook size 16                 Bead Size 2.0mm                       4# Wf Floater
Hook size 14                 Bead Size 2.5mm                       4-5# Wf Floater
Hook size 12                 Bead Size 2.8mm/3.00mm       5# Wf Floater
Hook size 10                 Bead Size 3.3mm/3.5mm          5-6 Wf floater.

Michael Drinan