|....................... ......Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park
Fishing Cold Water - Part Five
One good method of getting your fly down into deeper water or pockets where
trout may hold in slow moving areas of cold water, is the Czeck method of
nymphing. This is very similar to the "high stickin" method. It's a short line
technique used to basically keep your fly line out of the water and the flies in the
water column from near the bottom up a given distance. Doing so helps
eliminate much of the drag caused by faster moving water on or near the
surface pulling the fly line. The resistance of a thinner diameter leader isn't as
great as the large diameter fly line, consequently, there's less drag.
First of all, let me say that not all the slow moving water down deep is under fast
moving water on the surface. You want to also fish the current seams where the
slow water meets the fast water on the surface, and the slow moving water and
eddies that are outside of the fast current. The water on the bottom down deep
will probably be moving slowly the same as it is on the surface. Remember that
wearing polarized glasses will help you see where the deepest water is.
I suggest a rather long leader and tippet combination of at least ten feet. The
smaller the diameter of the leader, the less drag there will be. I don't suggest
anything larger than a 4X. I often use a 5X. Anything much smaller will begin to
present other problems when you hook the bottom or try to set the hook on a
You want the fly to be weighted heavily to get it down on the bottom quickly. I
prefer using split shot about ten inches above the fly but remember those of you
plan on applying what's written here to the park falls under the no lead
regulation. You will have to use non-toxic weight.
I do not like bead head flies although some of them work fairly well. Nymphs
don't have bead heads. It does help get the fly down because they do add
weight. Your much better off adding weight to the tippet than you are using the a
bead head for added weight. Weighted flies are okay but you will still need to
add more weight in most situations. Split shot will allow you to adjust the weight
for various depth and current conditions. Also, since the nymph is behind the
weight, It will allow the fly to move more like a natural nymph than a weighted fly
I suggest a fairly stiff fly rod with some backbone. This is a good application for
a fast tapered rod or fast tip rod. It certainly isn't necessary though. I would use
a nine foot rod, rather than a shorter one. From a casting standpoint, you just
want to make sure the rod will handle the heavy weighted fly. A five or six weight
rod should work fine. A six weight with a stiff tip is our preference.
The idea is to keep the fly line behind the fly. This will allow you to feel the fly.
You want to keep slack out of the line. Cast upstream and slightly across but
only a short distance of ten to fifteen feet. In most cases it will help to quickly
mend the line. When the fly first begins to head downstream, you want to raise
the rod to hold the tip of the rod high above the fly and keep the fly line out of
the water. As soon as you do this the line will begin to tighten due to the
pressure of the current. The idea is to let the fly drift in a natural manner and
not be dragged along by the fast current near the surface. You want the fly line
to be upstream or behind the fly throughout the drift. This will keep the line tight
so that you can feel the fly bumping along the bottom or when it is taken by a
Most anglers extend their arm out or reach out to extend the overall length the
fly is from their position. As the fly passes by, you want to slowly swing your arm
and fly rod from its up and across position to a down and across position
following the fly but staying behind it. As the line extends out downstream, the fly
will begin to rise back towards the surface and eventually reach the surface. In
the cold water, most of the strikes will come when the fly is directly across from
your position, or in the deepest part of its drift.
After you have made a few cast and made sure you have covered all the water
directly in front of your position you will want to take a step or two upstream to
be able to cover new areas of the bottom. You will always be standing rather
close to the area of water you are fishing, so you want to be extra careful not to
spook the fish. Move carefully and slowly and if you are wading, by all means do
not scrape or drag the bottom with your feet or you will spook every trout within
several feet of you.
You want to be ready to set the hook as quickly as the line changes its
movement, stops moving, jumps, jerks, twitches, or when you feel a tap or
movement of the line that feels unnatural. You will soon be able to tell the
difference in the fly bumping rocks and the bottom along its course and a fish
taking the fly. That will come with experience. If you are in doubt, set the hook.
You do that by raising the rod tip fairly quickly and smoothly with a quick jerk.
There is no need to jerk the fly out of the water or like you were setting the hook
on a bass with a plastic worm.
Next, I will discuss making longer cast and mending your line to get the fly
down. It's necessary to do that in some circumstances such as when the deep
water area is fairly wide and you cannot reach some of the deeper spots using
the "high stickin", or Czeck short line method.
Copyright 2011 James Marsh