What Nymph Fishing and Gourmet Cooking Have in Common

Since cooking is one of my other hobbies, I watch the food channel a lot.  One of my favorite shows is “Diners, Dives and Driveins”.  This is a great show about little hole in the wall restaurants around the country that serve outstanding food.  Many of these places have been owned by the same families for decades.

One thing I notice in common with all the places is the cooks have been practicing for years to achieve their current level of proficiency.


Now what does cooking have to do with nymph fishing?

  1. Preparation — Just as a Chef goes to school and then practicing cooking for years to become masters, you must be willing to spend a reasonable time to become a master nymph fisherman.Spend adequate time to gain the knowledge necessary to become a proficient nymph fisherman.  You can gain knowledge by taking a course from a local fly fishing school, read nymph fishing books, taking online nymph fishing courses, watch nymph fishing dvds, take a guided fishing trip to gain knowledge.  A guided trip is one of the fastest ways to become educated on stream entomology (stream bug life), casting, hooking and playing a fish.  But the single most important lesson you can learn from an experienced guide is “How to Locate Fish”.

    More than any other skill, knowing how to locate fish will keep you from wasting your time on casting practice instead of catching fish.

    Preparation also applies as you approach the stream.  Observe the stream side bushes, shake a few branches to see what kind of bugs fly off.  Catch a couple if you can to identify what has been hatching.  Reaching the stream, stand for several minutes observing the activity.  Are any hatches coming off, what do the insects look like, how do they fly and so on, what if any fish activity do you see.

    Take a moment to use your insect seine on the area above where you are going to fish.  Do this as quietly as possible and far enough away to avoid spooking any downstream fish.  When you have identified the prevalent nymphs, try and pick the closest pattern in your fly box.

  2. Practice — Just as the gourmet chefs or diner cooks practice making meals time after time to achieve perfection, you must keep at practicing your roll casts, overhand casts and stream tension casts until you can put your nymph rig exactly where  you want it.  Observe the drift patterns in the area where you are fishing until you can instinctively feel where the line and nymph rig is going to be at any point during the drift.Follow your strike indicator for the slightest weird movement and be prepared to set the hook.  Perform setting the hook to the downstream side until it is instinctual to do so.  Setting to the downstream side will help you hook more fish on barbless hooks.  Make it a point to mash down the barbs on your hooks or buy barbless hooks or flies on barbless hooks.  Practice proper Netting, Catch and Release techniques to keep our fisheries healthy for future enjoyment.
  3. Persistance — Staying with the program will turn you into a good nymph fisherman.  On stream you may need the persistance to make 20 casts just to get a perfect drift to the lunker holding behind the rock in a pool, Or you may need to make 50 casts to “Create a Hatch” and fool a lurking fish into striking.  This technique is tiring but I have used it to coax a fish out of hiding and strinking my nymphs. Persistance is spending enough time on stream to become skilled at nymph fishing.  When I started nymph fishing, I went three years and caught one trout a season on nymphs.  In the fourth year, a great nymph fisherman, Frank Aubin taught me to catch trout with a nymph.  Since then I have been nymphing almost exclusively.
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