Rod & Reel - Indicator Nymphing Tips

Some handy tips on how to set the indicator, and various methods of setting up the nymph patterns.




Rod & Reel - Indicator Nymphing Tips - Freshwater



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Indicator Nymphing Tips
(Follow Up)

Yes, the winter fishery has now kicked in and the fish have started to move from the lakes in to the rivers! Our last article was focused on looking at Indicator Nymphing in the winter, and how we set our rigs up relative to the conditions we are going to fish. This follow up article is focused on actually fishing this technique and some tips and tricks which may help in your success rate this winter.



Firstly, which part of the river should I be fishing? The easiest way to address this is to ‘think like a fish’. In winter we regularly have larger water flows, more current and there can often be silt or ‘colour’ in the water. The main focus of the fish is to head upstream to their spawning grounds, in ultimately, the easiest way possible. So we need to think about the path of least resistance – what would I do if I was a fish? This means, where will the fish travel upstream, whilst trying to use the least amount of effort. Places that create slower currents, out of the fast water – such as current seams, bottom drop-off’s, rocks, etc are all areas that the trout will move in to and hold up to recover and rest, following their movement upriver. By targeting these areas, you will find your success rate should go up. Also, when the river is flooding and ‘coloured’ up the fish will often move to the shallower edges, or small side streams that are coming in. They do this as they don’t like the silt as it essentially hard to breathe in. By moving in to shallower, and ultimately slower water, the silt drops out of this allowing them to breathe easier. It just so happens that this water is also easier to rest in from the larger flows of the main current. So try targeting the edges and some of the smaller side streams when the river is flooding, you might surprise yourself at what you hook in to!



Try targeting different water. Invariably as indicator nymph fisherman we generally target the heads and middle sections of pools / runs, but neglect the tails sections. This can often be because we aren’t prepared to change up our leader length (shorten it), our fly weight, or are unsure just where to target in these areas. All of those fish that are moving up-river have to come up through those fast rapid sections, and what is the first thing they then want to do when they get through them . . . rest! This is also quite often the area that you find the brown trout holding, as the current is slower and they can then expend less energy. By being able to shorten your leaders and focusing on the ‘pockets’ of water – in behind and in front of boulders, in the depressions in the bottom, etc, you may just find that you open up a whole new fishery you hadn’t ever really targeted.



How do I make sure I’m getting the correct drift? Ultimately your drift will be dependent on where you initially put your flies, where your indicator sits and the current / depth of the water. Yes, there are quite a few variables, but by doing certain things you can make sure you are covering them. Firstly you need to get your flies where you want them. This all comes down to your casting – whether it be standard overhead or roll casting, practice and being patient are the keys. If you are finding you aren’t getting the distance you want, or your flies are dropping around your head, then invariably you are ‘trying to hard’. We often try harder, and put more effort in to the cast. Where this actually often means we are not letting the line roll out properly and are bringing the rod forward too early. Often we find the more you ‘try’ the worse it gets! Slow down! By slowing everything down, you will let your rod load as it should and also let your line roll out properly. Invariably by just slowing down, we can make a big difference to our casting. Yes, there are also lots of other factors in casting, but slowing down is one tip that can often make a BIG difference.



Where is your indicator? I ask this, because this is also where your flies are as they drift. No matter how far across you get your flies, they will always ultimately end up under your indicator, over the space of your drift. This is especially so once they have reached the bottom. If you are landing your flies where you want them but your indicator is 2m closer to you, this will be where your flies end up. So aim to always get your indicator in to the position where you want your flies to drift, whether it be on your initial cast, or as a follow up roll cast / mend, once they have landed in the water. Watch your indicator closely. Often we are waiting for that ultimate take, where the indicator dives under and shoots off! But how many times have the fish taken your flies and spat them out without you even knowing it? Fish are extremely effective at sucking something in and spitting it out in less than seconds and this is transferred as a short pause or slight bobble in your indicator. Be prepared to strike this, especially if it looks even slightly out of the ordinary.



Shorten up your line on the water. We know that contact is key in any fishing, so the more line we have out the harder it is to keep in touch with our flies. How often have you cast upstream and watched your indicator come back down past you, whilst your flyline sits on the water right in front of you? One trick we use to get more contact with the flies, is to lift the line off the water (and even the indicator sometimes) as it drifts back towards you. By lifting your rod high out in front, taking as much line off the water, thus taking slack out of the line, you will have much better contact with your flies and ultimately you will register more takes and catch more fish! This will also keep your drift more natural, as there will be less line drag on your flies.



Make sure you are getting your flies down to where the fish are. Too often we aren’t actually getting down to where the trout are holding, or your flies are only getting in to the strike zone in the last part of your drift. When fishing indicators, you usually know your flies have reached the bottom as your indicator will slow, or start ‘ticking’ along as it drifts. If this is not happening for a large part of your drift, it can quite often be due to not having enough weight to get down. In this case you are better to initially go too heavy, in which case you may start getting ‘hung up’ on the bottom. If this happens, it is then easy to change to slightly lighter nymphs and you know you are getting down. To start light, you may spend quite a bit of time assuming you are down, but actually your flies are drifting over the top of the fish. Once again, in winter, if you flies aren’t on the bottom, you won’t be catching!




Handy Tip:

If the fish are spooky and the river is low, try down sizing your indicator to have less of a presence on the water.







Rod and Reel Feature Fly Line




What flyline are you fishing? We regularly use lines with large head sections, designed to cast our flies large distances. Obviously we need this (especially on river like the Tongariro), but these lines also have very thin running lines to allow these distances to occur. What is wrong with this? Nothing, if you are not needing to mend your line at distance. But if you are, it can be a real nightmare trying to get this thin line to mend upstream, as there is very little ‘belly’ or weight to it. If you are finding that this is a frustration you are having, maybe think about using lines with a larger ‘belly’ or middle section to them, such as the Rio Steelhead/Salmon line. These lines cast very well, but are then also designed so that they have a larger running line, which is much easier to mend due to having more bulk/weight to it.




Handy Tip:

Making up pre-tied lengths of leader before hitting the river can be an excellent way to cut down on rigging time. Make up leader lengths in different weights and lengths to cover a wide variety of situations.





Rod and Reel Knot To Know


Three Turn Surgeons Knot


Start by cutting your length of leader (I use 8ft of leader) and cut your dropper to suit (I usually use around 30cm, will become roughly 25cm once knot is finished)
(Ive used 100lb yellow braid as it shows up on photos)


Take your leader and your dropper in between your left thumb and forefinger. 


Create a half hitch in both the leader and dropper rig and pinch between your left thumb and forefinger.


Feed the lengths of leader and dropper material through your half hitch, (make sure you keep your wraps even). Loop the leader through three times.


Your wraps should end up looking like this. Tight together, uniform and even.


Take the tag ends and pull up your knot, nice and evenly. If it is not pulling up evenly, pull on individual tag ends to make sure your knot pulls up evenly and your loops stay in the order you wrapped them through the half hitch in. (Make sure you wet up your knot with saliva before pulling tight)


The knot should pull up tight and uniform.


Trim off your tag end. Make sure you fish your nymphs from the bottom of your three turn surgeon knot, if you fish the top tag end of your knot it may hinge on the knot, creating a weak point and snap.


Hopefully it looks a little something like this.


If pre making rigs before you hit the river, the Smith Creek Rig Keeper is awesome for storing your rigs and can clip straight on to your gear.








Handy Tip:
Try swinging your flies through the end of your drift and "hanging" them at the longest point, this can be very effective and often pick you up so rogue fish.




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