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15. How to pick water types and get a good drift. (15 of 21)

Picking the right water type, and how you present your flies in the current is about the most important aspect of nymph fishing. We’ll give you some guidelines on how to do this.

Video Transcript:

Okay. Now that we've explored some options for rigging up nymphs, let's take a look at how to fish these rigs, and how to detect those elusive strikes. How's the fish? Everyone seems to have questions about rigging nymphs with indicators and dry droppers, but people seldom ask about where and how to fish them. These aspects are equally as important, so let me share some tips with you.
Honestly, the best place to fish nymphs with indicators is in water with a broken moderately fast current, like I have here in front of me. You also want to look for places with a uniform rather than swirly current for a number of reasons. First, it's hard to follow an indicator and get a good drift in swirly current.
And second, although trout may hide under swirly currents from predators, when they feed, they like to be in a more uniform current because it's easier to hold their position and capture their prey. It's always a good idea to start first in faster water, especially because fish here have to grab quicker and they're easier to catch and strikes are more apparent when a trout grabs a nymph in fast water.
Here's what happens during a nymph drift, regardless of whether you're using an indicator or a dry dropper. You make a cast and the nymphs begin to sink. As the nymphs and indicator drift downstream, the nymphs get deeper and finally hang directly below the indicator, if all goes according to plan. This is the place you're most likely to get a strike, although trout can eat the nymph anytime during the drift.
And sometimes they take a nymph as soon as it hits the water. Sometimes the surface current moves much faster than the current below. Or if the indicator lands in a different current lane than the flies, the indicator will pull them off to the side. Either of these introduce drag and pull the nymphs. So they move counter to natural stuff drifting in the current, and they don't look realistic to the fish.
There are two ways to fix this issue. One is to make sure you cast your line, flies, and your indicator in the same current lane. Another is to add more weight to your leader so that the weight helps to counteract the pull of the indicator. Okay, I wanted to fish straight upstream in this pool, but I see some water under that tree that looks a little bit better.
And I don't want to wade. It's too deep to wade over there. So what I'm going to do is instead of mending because I don't particularly care for mending unless all else fails. So what I'm going to try to do is reach my rod tip out over there as if I were standing in that current lane so that without mending, I can still get a pretty good drift.
So I'll show you how to do it here. ♪ [music] ♪ By watching your indicator carefully, you can often tell if your flies down below are dragging or not.
An indicator that seems to ride in a perky manner on the surface at the same speed as the current or even slower is what you want. So just to make this clear, there's a difference between a dragging indicator and a lagging indicator, okay? A dragging indicator is when the indicator slides across currents when the line tightens, and you pull it back toward you and it goes across the currents.
A lagging indicator is one that's in the same current as the flies, but it's just going a little bit slower than the surface current because the water down below is always slower than the water on top. So to get that indicator to try to match the fly speed, you want it to be going a little bit slower than the top current.
This is not to say you can't fish indicators across-stream or even downstream. You'll get a shorter drift. But by making a reach cast or a slackline cast, mending, and maybe feeding some line into the drift, you'll be able to fish nymphs in any directions if conditions won't allow you to fish upstream, like when you have slow current on the opposite side of the river.
In this case, casting upstream gives you almost immediate drag. So, you're better off moving up and casting downstream to the fish from an upstream direction.