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Reading Water For Nymph Fishing Techniques

You get to a new river and have a basic idea of the style of nymphing you want to try. You think, today feels like a great day to work on indicator nymphing. So you build your leader, tie on your flies, and set your indicator to what you feel is a good starting depth. Now, you�re standing on the bank looking over a run you want to fish. The stream is dotted with boulders and the current alternates patches of swift and slow classic pocket water. You know fish are hiding in there somewhere, but where. There seems to be at least a hundred places to cast. The question is, where do you start and how do you approach the water so the fish see your flies without seeing you? Then you make a wise choice: Instead of jumping in a casting away aimlessly, you walk up the bank to gain a higher vantage point to survey and read the water. You study what the current is doing and identify several likely fish holding pockets. Now that you know where the fish likely are, you have a vague idea of a casting strategy and are ready to start picking apart the water cast by cast until you start hooking fish.

Making an Educated Guess About What�s Below the Surface
The problem with reading the water for nymphing is that you never really know what the fish are doing down there. When a hatch is going strong and you can clearly see what bugs are emerging and where the trout are sipping them in, your fly selection and presentation options are relatively straightforward tie on a dry fly that closely resembles the naturals and focus on upstream dead-drift presentations. But when you�re nymphing and no hatch is happening making an educated guess about what the trout are eating and where they might be holding is really your only option.

Most Trout Streams Follow a Simple, Repeated Pattern of Riffles, Runs, and Pools
Luckily, the workings of a river the interplay between current and structure are not entirely a mystery. As water flows from high to low, streams take on a variety of shapes and features, most of which are relatively predictable runs follow riffles, pools follow runs, and riffles follow pools.
Of course, every river has its own unique shapes and characteristics, but you can generally count on most trout streams to follow the same basic pattern.

Trout Use Certain Features of a Stream and Avoid Others
Trout don�t use the entire stream. Certain stream features and water characteristics are more suitable for trout and once you have a basic idea of what these areas look like, you�ll have a quiver full of clues to help you find and catch fish in every new stream you visit.

Trout Favor Areas of Slow Water Next to Fast Water
Like all wild animals, survival is a trout�s primary goal in life. A trout�s survival depends on two things:

  1. Eating as much as possible
  2. Burning as little energy as possible
  3. Not getting eaten by a predator

Trout, being the efficient creatures they are, accomplish all of these survival tasks simultaneously by carefully choosing where they spend the majority of their time.
So what does a trout�s ideal holding location look like?
In short, it�s an area of slow current next to an area of faster current.
While this is an incredible simplification of complex trout behavior, most of the time it?s true
Here's why?
In an optimal holding zone following these parameters, a trout can swim easily and stay protected by structure then dart out into the faster water to snatch up any food that floats by.
Your goal, then, is to find these places of slow water and drift your flies through the nearby faster water, hopefully catching the trout�s attention with your trout-food-imitating flies.

Three Stream Features to Look for That are Perfect for Nymphing
Now that we�ve covered the basics of general areas where trout will hold in a stream, let�s get a little more specific so you know what to look for when nymphing a new stream.

How to Work A Run Without Spooking Fish
To minimize the risk of spooking fish, it�s generally best to start at the end of a run and work your way upstream. This way, when you kick debris while wading, it won�t flow through water you haven�t fished yet. Remember, you want the fish to see ? and hopefully bite your flies ? before they ever know you�re there.
If you�ve taken the time to read the water and identify where you think trout will be holding, don�t be afraid to fish the run hard. Drift your flies through every likely holding spot and always be ready to set the hook. The more time you spend reading water and catching fish, the more intuitive the act becomes. Use the tips in this article (chapter) to help you get started and don�t be surprised when you develop a sixth water-reading sense!

This article was taken from the Guide Recommended -Fishing Tips from the pros. Checkout their web site Guide Recommended for a wealth of great information about fly fishing

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