As I mentioned in my Article About Bugs post I will be going over how to fish each type of fly. I figured I will start with the hardest. While Nymphing may seem like it is the easiest because there is not as big of a need for presentation of the fly, it is the hardest because it can be nearly impossible to detect all strikes. As an example of this, go get a friend and have them stand on a bridge and spot fish. Then throw the Nymph normally. In most cases your buddy will see the fish take the nymph and spit it back out a couple of times before you even detect a strike. Just the thought of a fish on the end of the line and me not knowing makes me a little sick to my stomach. Another issue with fishing with Nymphs is that the fly will often bounce around on the bottom or even catch a stick or two and the angler thinks that these are strikes.
Yet most trout eat somewhere around 80% of their diet underwater so it is very important for a beginner to understand how to fish with Nymphs to be successful. Unlike dry fly fishing Nymphing requires the angler to think about depth as well. If the fish are eating off the bottom then when you make your cast you will need to give your nymph diving time so that it reaches the location where you think the fish are at the perfect position.
With all of those cautionary words odds are you catch more fish Nymphin than you do on dries. Plain and simple they eat more Nymphs than anything else, so here are some tools to help you be successful.
A strike indicator is generally some sort of giant yarn or bobble, or whatever tied up the fly line that floats on the water. This is what the angler watches when Nymphing. Overtime you will be able to detect strikes very efficiently with one of these devices. I say overtime because for a while you will be ripping your rig out of the water every time the indicator stops because it hits a rock. Do not beat yourself up about doing this, as a matter of fact I say set it every time it does something unnatural. I would rather rip it out of the water and recast than tell myself "it was a rock" and have it be that record brown trout.
Not only will they help you see the fish in the water which is always useful, but if you are using a very small strike indicator or a clear one you have to be able to see it for it to be effective. I highly recommend some good Costa Del Mar sunglasses. Any polarized sunglasses will do the trick but Costa Del mar has a lifetime warranty and if they break you can just send them back and they ship you a new pair. I have had this happen before and I had the new ones within a week. So they will always get my recommendation.
If you get strictly into Nymph fishing you can buy all sorts of other items to help you catch fish. There are sinking lines you can get. You can use split shot (please use the nontoxic kind, lead is poisonous to fish… and most everything else). For the most part however you can use the exact same setup you fish for dries.
With all of that being said my favorite setup is called a Hopper Dropper, or a dry dropper. This means you use a dry fly on top and you tie on a Nymph to the bend in the hook with some tippit. The dry fly or hopper becomes your strike indicator and you can catch fish on both hooks! I will go over some of these advanced rigs in the future.