16 September 2014 – Nymphing

It’s late in the season and the big summer hatches of Mayfly and Olives are over. Midges hatch in the evening and the occasional Crane Fly drops into the river but it’s time to put the dry flies away and return to the nymphs.

The Gold Ribbed Hares Ear (GRHE) nymph is my first choice for both river and lake nymphing. It’s not made from a Hares’ ear fur and it is not ribbed with gold wire !

I use the guard hair from a rabbit, mixed with a little of the fluffy blue under fur and lead wire. The scruffier the better.


This dressing is on a size 12 fairly thick wire hook. The weight of the hook and the lead wire quickly gets the fly to the correct depth. I usually squeeze the barb with artery forceps after tying the fly to my tippet.

If I can see a fish, I cast the fly a few yards upstream of the trout to give it time to get down before the current sweeps it past the fish. It takes about 5 seconds to sink to the bottom in 4 feet of water. In my experience a trout will come up for a nymph but will rarely drop down in the water column unless it is feeding on shrimps. I cut the length of the fluorocarbon tippet to the depth of the water, usually about 4-5 feet. I watch the knot joining the leader and tippet as the leader swings down and across. I lift the rod at the slightest movement, sometimes the takes are very gentle. A small blob of floating fluorescent putty on the knot helps keep the nymph at the right depth and shows the takes. Some purists say this is unsporting but my eyesight is not getting any better.

I caught this fighting fit brownie on a GRHE nymph at midday, it was cruising along the bottom in mid-stream.


The fish had marks on it’s flanks left by the Cormorants, two parallel cuts made by the sides of the bird’s beak. Fortunately this fish was too large and strong for the bird to keep hold of.

I returned this trout. I sometimes recognize the Cormorant markings on trout and I am fairly certain that I have caught a fish twice on the same day.

When I fish a nymph down and across, I always allow the line to sweep in close to the near bank. The bushes and streamer weed along the near bank hold just as many trout as the far bank. A quiet approach and methodical coverage of the entire pool eventually produces a take.