How To Fish Stillwaters

March 29th, 2004

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher


Float Tube Magic
Float Tube Fly Fishing Strategies, Part 4

By Patricia C. Pothier

Nymph Strategies

The immature stage of aquatic insects life cycle is often referred to as a nymph and is imitated by a variety of artificial flies. Because nymphs are such an important part of the trout's diet, knowing how to most effectively fish this stage of the insect's life is important. First, you need to consider when to fish them. Trout are most interested in nymphs just before they hatch into mature insects. However, even when the peak of a particular insect hatching season is over, trout still remember and cue into nymphs. Nymphs are also available to trout as they move about in weeds and mud searching for their own food.

Exactly where the nymphs are located in a particular lake is dependent on the season and the species of insect. Usually in spring and fall nymphs are found in weedy shallows, while in summer and winter they are more likely to be around deeper weeds. They are also found at inlets, around natural springs where the temperature never gets too hot or cold; near drop offs and mid-water shoals; and at the bottom in lakes that don't stratify.

Nymphs that are rising to the surface to emerge as mature insects are often caught in the water surface film, which is like a tight membrane. As they wait for their wings to dry and unfold they are vulnerable to trout. When trout are feeding on these trapped nymphs at the surface, you can see both their heads and tails as they scoop up this readily available food. If trout are feeding on nymphs which have not reached the water surface film you will see a bulging rise and part of the back of the fish. On observing this sub-surface feeding, use an intermediate, very slow sinking line or a floating line with a weighted fly. Also, if you know the direction that nymphs are traveling, cast so that your artificial fly is moving in the same direction as the nymphs. For example, the damselfly nymph must swim to shore to complete its life cycle. Trout station themselves in positions to intercept these shoreward bound insects; therefore, you must cast out toward the middle of the lake and retrieve toward the shore in the same direction that the insects are moving.

The artificial fly you use should simulate the type, color and size of the insects that are emerging. Most nymph patterns fished in mid-depths or near the bottom are fished with sinking lines. The line has a sink rate matched for the depth you are fishing, with a 6-9 foot leader and with a very slow retrieve interspersed with pauses and jerks. Chapter 5 describes specific types of nymphs and further strategies for fishing them. ~ PCP

More Strategies next time.

Credits: Excerpt from Float Tube Magic By Patricia C. Potheir, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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