Czech Nymphing


Aquatic insects spend 99% of their life in the river and only leave that environment for a brief moment to reproduce and complete their life cycle. You only have to pick out and examine a few submerged stones to see the abundance of food crawling on the river bed; e.g. nymphs, shrimps, caddis larvae etc. All of which are a vital part of grayling & trout diets, and that is why nymph fishing is so successful. 

Heptageniidae Nymph

The Czech nymphing, or short line nymphing, was developed to target fish feeding on bottom dwelling insects in rivers and streams. On many fast flowing rivers Czech nymphing is an indispensable technique that should be in your arsenal because it will bring you a lot of unforgettable experiences; especially when there is no surface fly activity. It is not designed to compete with the excitement of catching fish on the dry fly but when you become proficient it will help you avoid blank days and maybe catch a fish of a lifetime.

The technique:

Basically, Czech nymphing is a method of fishing a team of 2 or 3 weighted nymphs on a fine leader at short distance, effectively under the tip of the rod with the fly line hanging above the water. With this method you are trying to catch fish that are practically under the tip of your fly rod.

There is no need to buy a special rod to start Czech nymphing, when I started I just used my 10ft, 6wt rod and a dry fly line, for a long a while. The main problem with this set-up is that it’s quite heavy and when fishing for long periods with your arm stretched it starts to ache.  Therefore, I bought a much lighter 10ft, 3wt rod loaded with a standard dry fly line, rather than a specialist Czech nymphing rod. The dry fly rod allows me to switch between Czech nymphing and the dry fly fishing quickly by just changing the leader.  

To help detect takes many anglers use an indicator, which can be something as simple as two different coloured lines joined together. I normally use a very simple and cheap set-up, just a 12″ length of fluorescent yellow nylon connected to the fly-line with a 3mm steel ring tied on the other end; to which I add 5 to 6ft of 4lb fluorocarbon depending on the depth of water fishing. If you search the internet you will find a wide array of alternative indicator options to choose from.  

My standard rig is composed of three flies spaced 18″ apart with the heaviest/largest fly on the point and the lightest fly on the top dropper because I have found this keeps tangles to a minimum.  In addition, I believe the lighter flies fished higher in the water column are more mobile and hence more closely mimic the motion of the natural insects. 

The technique involves casting the nymphs upstream, allowing them to sink to the bottom with your fly rod held with an outstretched arm. Then follow their passage downstream with the tip of the rod, making sure you keep in contact with the flies all the time. When the line tightens downstream of you and the flies start to lift off the bottom wait a second or two just in case you have a fish rise for the take, before recasting to cover a slight different area of the river bed.

Takes show up as a change in the motion of the leader, which could be: a slight stop in the steady downstream movement, sideways movement of the line, or a rapid deviation in line movement. Any of the aforementioned should be met with a strike. It is important to keep in contact with the flies by mimicking their movement through the water with the rod-tip, otherwise your ability to observe a take is significant impaired.

When and Where to fish:

On the Welsh Dee I will fish Czech nymphs on-and-off all year round, especially when:

  • the river is in spate and carrying colour;
  • when there is no sign of surface fly activity and other methods are not working;
  • In places where it is difficult to fish the fly with the other methods.

I usually fish Czech nymphs at the heads of pools and in shallow riffle sections, which I work through systematically with particular focus on the:

  • boundary lines between fast & slow currents;
  • deeper areas behind obstacles (e.g. rocks, weed beds, submerged logs etc.). 

Czech Nymph Patterns:

At the “business” end of the leader there are multitude of fly patterns that can be used. On the Welsh Dee I have found that water clarity is the primary variable to consider for fly selection, with river ecology and time of year being secondary variables. Therefore, based on this I have put together the following examples of flies for newcomers, all of of which I find work quite well on the Welsh Dee.

Point Fly Choice - Coloured Water (ca. sizes 12 to 8):​

Middle Dropper Choice - Coloured Water (ca. sizes 14 to 12):

Top Dropper - Coloured Water (ca. size 14)

Point Fly Choice - Clear Water (ca. sizes 14 to 10):

Middle Dropper Choice - Clear Water (ca. sizes 18 to 14):

Top Dropper Choice - Clear Water (ca. sizes 18 to 14):

Iron Blue Nymph
Black Tungsten Bead Nymph
Brown Tungsten Bead Nymph

[Disclaimer – like most outdoor sports, fishing is not without its hazards. Therefore, you MUST do your own RISK ASSESSMENT before starting to fish; especially if you decide to wade and/or fish at night. In addition, you must follow the club rules when fishing this water.]

Welsh Dee Fishing Information Source & Blog for the Welsh Dee

This website is primarily dedicated to fly fishing for grayling, trout & salmon. It provides helpful & interesting information on fishing the Welsh Dee, augmented with photographs and videos.  In addition, I will be writing about the techniques, tactics, and flies that prove successful on the various beats & pools throughout the year.