I was fishing recently and decided I wanted to make a video to show others how to tight line nymph. I’ve taught many people who have never picked up a rod how to use this tactic. It’s a fantastic technique to have in your bag of tricks if you want to be more successful and diverse on the water. I’ve used it countless times when the water is skinny, fish are easily spooked, or there’s simply no room to cast. In the mountains of NC where I grew up, many streams are thickly lined with rhododendron. Teaching yourself how to tight line nymph can be a game changer in those situations.
For the purposes of the video, I chose to go to the riffles below the hatchery pipe at the swift river. This can be a good place to learn due to the flows, depth, and the short distance you need to extend your rod.
The goal when tight line nymphing is to keep your line as tight as possible, try to position your rod tip above your targeted area, and guide the nymphs through the water at relatively the same speed as the water flow. 90% of the time I use a two nymph set up. I like to keep my rod tip elevated slightly downstream from where the line meets the water, because I believe it helps with hook sets. In the video below, one thing you’ll notice is that my hook sets are very subtle. That’s what you want! The key here is to keep constant contact with your flies, and gently lift any time you see a pause or hesitation in the line. You will occasionally get hung up on the river bed, but just remember to lift the flies slowly and guide them through the run. When going over any rocks and debris, you might be surprised to find a trout waiting for the nymph to settle down after freeing itself from a rock. If you pull up too harshly, you could be missing out. A lot of people will not even have fly line out the reel when tight lining. You’ll notice in the video that I do. A little loose line in the guides doesn’t bother me, but some people don’t like any slack at all.
In the video, I’m using a neon indicator tippet because I thought it would help viewers watch the line for strikes. The tippet works well because it was easy to tie in a strip between my leader and standard tippet, which didn’t require me to have an entire indicator leader set up. I personally use a different strike detection tool when not doing a video that I’ll write about in another post. I find that indicator line is too much work for me, and I believe the bright colors hinder dry fly fishing by scaring fish. As I’ve mentioned before, I switch tactics multiple times depending on conditions, so I don’t like feeling like I’m confined to one method all day.
For anyone who’s interested in learning tight line nymphing, I encourage you to watch the video below and hopefully see if you can detect the strikes. These were my first few casts of the day, and it’s unedited so you can see my misses as well as my successes. I haven’t seen many point of view videos, so I hope this is helpful in showing others how to tight line nymph. I also wrote a post many months ago about fly fishing books. I highly recommend George Daniel’s book, “Dynamic Nymphing”. It’s a detailed book on the various nymphing methods out there. If you have questions, feel free to drop them in the comments or send me an email. Have fun out there!