Follow This 5 Point Checklist for Better Czech Nymphing
Photo by Jake Patton.
Imagine being out on the water consistently catching a ton of fish and having a blast doing it. That's the best way I can describe Czech nymphing, a close-range fly fishing technique with heavy nymphs and traditionally with no indicator.
It's not just an exciting way to fish – it's also extremely productive. Subaquatic bugs make up around 90% of the trout's diet. Most of those bugs are near or on the bottom, so that's where your flies need to be to catch fish.
Fishing this way will make you a much more confident and experienced angler! Here are the main things I keep in mind when Czech nymphing.
1. The rod.
Using an appropriate size rod is one of the most important things in Czech nymphing. I personally use a 10’ rod and fish smaller creeks. An 11’ or larger rod is also applicable in larger water situations.
Keep the tip of your rod over your line. This keeps the “tight line” aspect of your fishing in check, which gives you the ability to feel strikes instantaneously.
A huge key is leaning your rod in a forward position, almost as if you were going to drag your flies, but allowing your flies to drift naturally. So if you were looking at a clock if your flies were at 12:00, your rod tip should be at 2:30. Takes in this position are fast and obvious, and this position allows you to feel a hook-up much more effectively.
2. The line.
Don’t be scared to fish heavier line. I personally nymph with 4x or 5x, the reason being this is an aggressive way to fish. A lot of fisheries that hold wild fish will hold big fish.
Fish with fluorocarbon. Monofilament won't sink on its own, but fluorocarbon has a natural ability to sink. This is HUGE with nymphing, especially Czech/Euro style nymphing. When you're fishing fast, quick pockets, you need to get your flies to the bottom quickly so you don’t drift over fish.
I have a lot more confidence fighting fish with fluorocarbon due to its lack of stretch. I feel like I get more power from it.
3. The flies.
Nymph-Head Evolution tungsten beadheads get your fly to the bottom fast.
Tungsten! Fish it. It’s your friend.
Tungsten is super dense; way denser than brass or lead. Because it's so heavy for its size, this is a great way to eliminate split shot. When fishing with tungsten, vibration transfers right through your line and rod right into your finger tips.
Don’t be scared to fish multiple flies. You’re allowed to fish up to three flies. I personally fish two because I think it’s plenty effective and if you get stuck you won’t lose three flies at a time.
Make sure to fish a heavy enough anchor fly to ensure you're on the bottom. The biggest problem with other types of nymphing is the fishermen aren’t truly on or near the bottom consistently and simply fish over fish. With Czech nymphing, you know exactly where your bugs are at all times. My personal favorite anchor fly is a stonefly, mainly because they're a huge food source in Pennsylvania and the trout love them.
4. The water.
Lots of guys will deem certain water as too shallow or unfishable. Not with Czech nymphing! Fish it all. If it moves and can hold fish, they’re yours for the taking. We have countless fisheries where you’ll pick 20+ inch wild fish out of water that is less than a foot deep.
When you find a good run and start drifting it, don’t just drift 5 times and move on. Analyze the water. Look for micro currents and unique parts of the run, then fish it by making a series of drifts back and forth down the run starting closest to you, moving center and to the backside of the run and back.
5. The catch.
A huge mistake lots of anglers make when fighting fish is keeping their rod tip up high. When fighting fish keep your rod tip off to the side – I keep my rod tip parallel to the water as much as possible.
Along with keeping your rod off to the side during the fight, anticipate the fish's actions. When fighting larger fish, don't horse them; make sure to give them space and let them get tired before trying to land them. Use your rod angling to your advantage, you can rotate your wrist and turn your rod on angles to control the fish's head. If you can master this you can win the fight consistently.
Buy a reel with a good drag – you'll use it a lot – and get a net with a big hoop. Nets are a huge part of landing big fish. Lots of guys (including myself in the past) scramble around chasing a fish through the shallows – not the best plan of attack. There's no relief in fishing greater than staring at a slob brown laying in your net.
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About Tim Savarese:
Tim is the founder and operator of Stoned Bugs custom flies, and the winner of the Beyond the Round Bead 2015 Nymph-Head Evolution fly tying contest. He grew up fishing Pennsylvania tail waters and tributaries and got hooked on fly fishing at 17 after fishing a sulphur hatch. He's currently working on a fly fishing film project, "The Perfect Drift," with his friend Jake Patton.
Comments on this post (22)
please sign me up . thanks.
Can you describe your leader set-up options. I purchased a Euro Leader online and was surprised that the 9 ft leader had the visible strike indicator section at the bottom of the leader (farthest from the fly line). If I add 4-6’ of tippet material for 1-2 flies (or more?), it seems I’m just casting leader material…
A bit confused.
— David Lach
Look forward to receiving more.
Mike in Colorado
— Mike Hall
Good article; thanx !!
— jim nangle
Hey Tim I have been Czech Nymphing for years and really enjoy it. I like reading articles and can always learn something new. One observation for future articles it might be advisable to refer to your readers or subjects in your articles consistently as anglers instead of guys ( which you did a few times in your article) I did notice you did feature a female angler nymphing. Nice to see! Thanks for sharing.
I’m 71 and started euro/czech nymph fishing 2 months ago. My catch and hookup % has doubled. And I no longer use a BOBBER. You can call a BOBBER anything you want, indicater etc but it’s still something my 3 year old grandson can do!!! I Love Euro nymphing. DO IT rabid old fan.
— Kurt lehmann
want to know more about nymphing.
— Michael Pasley
Am I correct in thinking that when Czech nymphing with the an appropriate Czech nymph fly, the hook is directed upward to avoid bottom snagging?
— Fred Margolin
A trick I learned with colored line indicators is to leave the tags on a blood knot and use these as a strike indicator. A traditional bottom bounce rig using tag ends for unweighted flys with all the weight below the flys is deadly (and illegal in some states>)
— Harry Portland
Just starting to fish this way your article was very helpful to me. Thanks
I’ve been fishing this style for a few years and is always good to hear of others catching on more and more, and putting more fish in the net.
— Greg Bennett
— Jim Simpson
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So far I’ve had lots of luck nymphing with the smaller hooks and will also use the Czech Nymphs with 12 and 14 hooks as well. Don
— Don Parsons (fishinfool, actively retired)
Do you have a website address for Steve so I can purchase some of his custom flies?
Stephan, great question. Yes, in low water you will have to greatly downsize in order to keep things moving. I often am fishing size 16-18 flies in water conditions as you mentioned. Tiny beads or a little split shot with weightless flies. Just enough to keep the flies on the bottom and bouncing along.
— Tim Savarese
Great article! You mentioned fishing shallow water – a foot or less. How do you keep your tungsten flies from constantly snagging bottom? Or do you use lighter flies for shallow water?
— Stephan Jutz
When fishing mossy bottom river I use split shot 6 inches below lower fly.
— Wally Marsh
GREAT ARTICLE; I thoroughly enjoyed your article, well done and a good read. Thanks!!
— Ray Emerson
Czech nymphing is really jigging, yipes! a mortal sin to traditional fly fishers. Well, I’ve been fly-rod jigging for years with a BB split shot head on a #10 hook with fluffy white hen hackle fibers and fine silver mylar. Give credit for the concept to Dmitri (Mitya) Kotyik who called his tiny jig, “The Kat’s Meow” and described his experiences with it at length in The Second Fy-Tyer’s Almanac (Lippincott, 1978) which I edited with Dave Whitlock. When my dear friend Eric Leiser learned that Kotyik’s article was going to be a chapter in the book, he warned, “You guys are going to catch hell because it’snothig but a jig.” Well, warn no more. Kotyik’s Kat’s Meow - which far predates the heavier and ungainlier dumbell-head Claouser Minnow - is the most effective fish taker, fresh or salt, I have ever used. Cheers
— Robert H. Boyle
Always looking to learn. Your “tutorials” are good stuff! Thank You
— Tom Cole