Adventures in Fly Tying...
Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Video Production by Jim Stuard
Czech nymphing is a style of
fishing that originated in central and eastern Europe. It was
first introduced to western anglers through the cross pollination that
is a natural by-product of competition. The 1984 international
fly fishing competition in Poland exposed the Czech competitors to the
method, which is one of fishing at short distances. It's said
that most of the Polish competitors were forced to fish short, because
they had no fishing lines at disposal and had to substitute them with
thick nylon monofilament. Necessity being the mother of
invention, the Czechs adopted the killer Polish technique and refined
it for use in the next round of tournaments. It has, in the
intervening two decades, become a "go to" technique for trout
fishermen faced with fast, shallow pocket water.
The Czech technique, and the
compact heavily weighted flies required to successfully implement the
method, are now a staple in many fly boxes around the world. The
system is seldom used in a warm water environment, though.
That's a shame because all the reasons for using it in cold water
apply to our warmer fisheries, too. Fast(ish) water running
through a narrow cut funnels food and increased oxygen levels to fish
holding in critical pockets of water. These conditions are just
as attractive to smallmouth bass (and carp) as they are to trout.
In the Czech technique a heavy fly is fished with just a bit more than
a rod's length of line and leader. The fly must sink very quickly and,
once on the bottom, it is "lead" through the run just slightly faster
than the natural flow of the water. This keeps a tight line to
the nymph, negating the use of strike indicators (though many prefer
an indicator to detect light bites) and even traditional casting.
The hardest part of using this system is wading with enough
deliberation to prevent spooking the quarry. Think "hunting" and
you'll get a good idea of what's needed. The system works very
well during those summer flows when the fish are all looking for
overhead cover (broken water) and increased oxygen levels. It's
also a great system during the higher flows of spring when searching
the bottom of an eddy at the head of a pool is a good idea. Tie
a few of these versatile flies for your next outing! I carry
them in size 6, 10 and especially 12 in my warm water nymph box. You
can see that I have a few more to tie to fill in the row - this row is
almost always missing flies!
Hook: Curved scud hook or similar 1x-heavy
wet fly hook, size 6 to 16.
Thread: Black 6/0, 140 denier
Weight: 10 to 20 wraps of lead or lead-free
Body: Dubbed with a spiky mix of light blue and dark blue
Flashabou dubbing, light and dark gray hare's mask
Hot Spot: Seal fur dyed jungle cock orange
or a similar substitute
3mm thick strip of plastic from a heavy duty plastic baggie
Ribbing: 4x monofilament leader
up from black tying thread, well lacquered for a high gloss finish
The primary characteristic of a Czech nymph
is that it's designed to be fished on the bottom.
Because of that it's necessary to weight the fly. This is an
excellent choice of fly when you are fishing a trout stream using
very small midge nymphs. Use a heavily weighted Czech nymph
to take the size 20 (or smaller) caddis or midge to the bottom.
You'll be surprised how often a picky trout decides a size 12
Czech is more appealing that a size 24 zebra midge! This is
a killer technique for panfish and smallmouth, too!
Once the hook shank is covered with lead
wire, tie in a piece of monofilament tying thread, 3x or 4x tippet
and a slice of plastic for the shellback. I like using a
strip from the top of a package of fly tying materials, the
plastic is tough and thick enough for the job, often features a
reinforcing rib right down the center and, best of all, its free
and you already have some on your tying desk!
Mix one part of light blue and one part of
dark blue Flashabou dubbing material with two parts of natural
hare's mask dubbing and one part of dark hare's mask dubbing to
come up with a mottled, dirty gray blend that has bits of flash
interspersed throughout. Use this same dubbing blend to tie
a bead-head hares ear if you're looking for an advantage on a
trout stream. Mad River browns just can't leave that flash
of blue alone! Dub a body 3/4 of the length of the hook shank.
Don't use was, you want the dubbing to be able to "pick out" to
form lot's of inherent "micro-motion" fibers.
Dub a hot spot for the upper 1/3 of the
shank. Leave plenty of room for a big head. This is a
fly that is very amenable to a quick tie, its easy and the
proportions are obvious. I like to use orange for the hot
spot - here I'm using seal dubbing in "jungle cock orange."
You can also use any fur or even chenille or yarn for this little
hot spot. The contrast often attracts fish and I've found
that orange can often be a very productive color.
Pull the plastic strip over the back for a
shellback. Don't trip the plastic or you are likely to pull
it out from under the thread wraps when you wrap the rib.
Let the length hang over the eye.
Wrap a rib of monofilament. About 6 to
8 medium-tight turns will be enough -more for a larger fly and
less for a smaller one. You can vary the thickness of the
rib to match the fly. On a size 6 I use 10lb test, on a size 14
I'll use a very fine fly tying monofilament. Tie the ribbing
and the shellback off and trim them together.
Build up a big thread head and whip finish.
If you want to spin a bit of dark or black dubbing for the head,
that's okay, too!
Whip finish to complete a secure fly and...
Coat well with head cement.
Once the head cement is dry, use the points of your tying
scissors or a dubbing brush to pick out the fibers on the bottom
of the fly. These little fibers will add a lot of subtle
motion to the tie.
The finished fly is a very buggy imitation, but it's also very
easy to tie. You'll want to carry a lot of these!
Till next time, tight lines and clear flows…