Be a Successful Newbie: 5 "Secrets" to Fly Fishing With Nymphs

Alyssa Murray

If you haven't tried fly fishing with tied nymphs, it's time to give it a spin. You only need a rod, reel, some line and a few nymphs and you're good to go. Of course, you'll need waders or a boat to access the more remote fly fishing waters, but you don't need to invest in a lot of high-dollar fishing gear to try nymph-lure fishing.

If you're bashful or you want a beginner lesson or two, you can take private lessons one-on-one with a fishing coach who will help you get proficient without a crowd watching.

If you prefer to teach yourself, here are five tips to bear in mind for a more productive experience:

1. Choose the Right Line

Gone are the days of high-maintenance silk fly fishing line. Today there are Teflon-coated and clear glass lines from which to choose. As a beginner, you want a heavier line that can take a bit of abuse while you're practicing.

For beginners who are fly fishing with nymphs at shorter distances, a double taper line is a good choice. It's reversible so you get double duty out of the line while you're learning, and it's less likely to snap when you're pulling in fighting fish.

2. Weight Is Your Friend

In many fly fishing situations, you'll want a little heft to your leader. You want your nymph to dangle and pop a bit, not surf or speed-swim.

If your nymphs are on the lighter side, add some weight. But don't add one honking split-shot to cover it all. Use micro-shot up and down the leader to even out the weight distribution and make your line less likely to snag.

3. Don't Be Afraid of Indicators

If you fish for bottom-feeders or trout, you may be reluctant to use any sort of indicator as if there were a law against it. Some anglers are purists who believe true fly fishing doesn't require anything more than hours of experience and a "feeling" for the hits.

But indicators can be very helpful when beginning nymph fishing. You don't want to use highly visible neon weights or foam, but you can tie a dry adult fly of your nymph's species as a very simple and unobtrusive indicator. You might even get a hit on the dry fly as a bonus. Other simple indicators are colored tippets and contrasting leader line.

4. Fish Pocket Waters

The best reasons to wade into a stream or river are the pockets of water that form between large boulders. While the surface waters may seem busy, the water at the foot of boulders is slowed by stones, wood, and other masses in the stream bed or riverbed.

Trout, bass, and other fish love to relax in these little quiet pockets where they also snag the passing nymphs and other treats in the adjacent moving waters. These lower areas in between large rocks are great spots for beginners to catch a lot of fish if they're patient, and many experienced anglers often pass these pockets by without exploring the possibilities.

5. Set Your Hook Often

As you're learning to recognize a hit on a nymph, set the hook more often than not. Don't be afraid to overset the hook, even if nothing comes of it at first.

If you have to recast often, it's just more practice. Over time, some of those hook sets will be true, and you will learn those subtle cues that your bait has been sampled.

Fly fishing with nymphs is a challenge to all who attempt it, but the activity adds another level of skill and adventure to make the sport of angling even more satisfying. If you'd like a little more instruction as you learn, consider a guided fishing trip with an experienced guide, such as those at Rip Lips Fishing.