View Full Version : Newbie Nymphing Question

08-10-2007, 08:41 PM
I'm pretty much a newbie to flyfishing, just moved to Knoxville about 6 months ago...been a West TN bass fisherman for all of my life...Have been able to go fly fishing several times in the last couple of months to the Smokies and the Hiwassee...Question: in regards to strike indicator with nymphing (green weenie, BH Pheasant or whatever) the depth of the water in the smokies varies per stream...As a rule of thumb, how far should the strike indicator be in say 12 inches of water?

Art Vandalay
08-11-2007, 09:29 AM
I know this is probably not the answer you are looking for, but I would forget a strike indicator alltogether. Since you are new to flyfishing, why not learn without an indicator since it's a bad habit you're gonna have to give up sooner or later.

Mr. Vandalay

08-11-2007, 10:00 AM

The rule of thumb that I usually hear is that the distance from the indicator to the fly should be 1-1/2 to 2 times the depth of the water. So for your 12" example that would be 18" - 24". I use a twist-on indicator so I can easily adjust the depth throughout the day.


08-11-2007, 01:45 PM
Thanks Art and Milton...I'll take all the advice I can handle...

08-11-2007, 10:14 PM
I agree with Milton, 1 1/2-2 times the depth of the water is fine. I'd like to add just a couple more things that I think might help most beginning nymph fishermen. Most beginning nymph fishermen don't cast the fly far enough upstream to allow it to sink to the fish's level by the time it reaches the area where the fish is holding. The faster the water, the longer it takes to sink. Most don't add enough weight to get the fly down so that it is hanging up every now and then, or at least ticking the bottom regularly. Follow the indicator with your rod tip, raising the rod as the indicator comes towards you, and lowering it as the indicator passes you will help you get a more natural drift of the fly. I even extend my arm at the end. When the line and indicator start to drag, wait just a second before picking up the line for the next cast. When the line and indicator start to drag it causes the fly to rise in the current, which mimics an insect rising towards the surface to hatch. Some times the strike can be very aggressive, so be ready

I think a new nymph fisherman will catch 3 or 4 times as many fish using an indicator. I'm not sure why you think it is a bad habit that you will need to break? I think they are hard to beat when you are dead drifting nymphs.

08-11-2007, 10:25 PM
I think no indicator or high sticking is the way to go in the park...it'll make you a better indicator fisherman imho...using an indicator there can give you false info with all the cross currents and often short drifts...but ocassionally in situations like gin skinny water call for indicators....and even then, use a dry fly for an indictor...
On a tailwater on the other hand, using an indicator is the way to go - simply to distance yourself from spooky fish...

08-11-2007, 10:47 PM
Hope I'm not hijacking the thread. When you guys use a dry fly as an indicator how do you attach the nymph?

I've been using dry flys as indicators this year and have been tying the nymph to the "curve" of the hook on the dry. I tie a clinch knot to attach the lineto the hook and another clinch knot on the nymph.

It seems like it works, but is there a better way.

I tried leaving the tag end long when I tie on the dry fly and then tying the nymph on the tag end. I always wonder though if I were to catch a large fish if the nymph tied onto the tag end would somehow weaken the knot's strength. The reason I ask is I hooked into a large brown this year (17-18") in a tailwater when I had the nymph tied onto the tag end of the line and he broke off. the line broke at the knot that attached the dry fly, thus losing both my nymph and my stimulator dry fly. I've wondered if the knot's strenght was compromised.

I'm very interested in the answers to this thread.


milligan trout degree
08-11-2007, 11:37 PM

I've been fishing the dry and nymph combo a lot with the dry attached to tippet and then another tippet tied with a clinch knot from the hook to a dropper nymph with another nymph. I'm really new to fly fishing so I'm not to most knowledgable with knots, but I've used an orvis knot on the dropper too, and they both seemed pretty well. I usually use the clinch knot b/c I find it easier to tie with the 6x tippet which reminds me of trying to tie spider web. I've used both knots a lot with blueguill on local lakes and haven't had any break off's with either not. I haven't tried leaving the tag end long though. That may put some extra stress on the not, but I'm not sure. An 18" brown in a strong fish too.


08-12-2007, 12:32 AM
I think for an experienced nymph fisherman highsticking pocket water with no indicator may very well be the way to go. I was speaking in general terms for a new fisherman with very little experience fishing nymphs.

I use a dry and dropper rig often. The only draw back when using a dry for your indicator as far as I am concerned is the inability to change the depth of the dropper easily.

Gerry Romer
08-12-2007, 05:56 PM
I've just finished watching (again, and for about the 6th or 7th time) Essential Skills with Oliver Edwards: Czech Nymphing and Upstream Nymphing and North Country Spiders. I cannot recommend this DVD highly enough!

Not only do you get two complete nymphing technique instructional videos on one DVD, you also get some phenomenal fly tying video. This guy ties one heckuva fly! AND, he shows you his streamside entomology techniques.

It's all very simple and direct in concept. First find, interpret and understand the water you want to fish. Next, find out what's living in that water that the fish are eating and tie something up that looks just like it. Then take your new flies out for a swim and imitate the natural in a many ways as you can.

Oliver's nymphing techniques are fairly spare and precise. On the one hand, he doesn't use a specific indicator. But on the other hand, he teaches you how to use your leader-to-line connector as an indicator. (Maddeningly, he constantly refers to this as his "mini-con".) He basically uses a red loop-to-loop connector and loads it with floatant while mashing a mud-pack into the leader to get the leader to sink. He fishes three different nymphing techniques in three different types of water and gives specific instruction on how to build your leader for each type of nymphing with specific lengths used and knots used per section.

While this is not exactly "Smoky Mountain" nymphing (or even high-sticking for that matter) it does give you the tools of understanding that will translate to any mountain stream or TVA tailwater.

One note of caution. Unless I'm mistaken, fishing regs in TN allow for only two nymphs per rig or one dry and one nymph per rig - with a minimum length of 18" per dropper rig. In two of the three Oliver Edwards videos, he uses a three-nymph rig - which would be illegal here. However, the rig makeup, nymph selection and casting/fishing techniques are applicable to just about any situation you might encounter.

Gerry Romer