Friday, February 23, 2007

There is a certain, undeniable magic about nymphing. You cast out with little more than faith and wait for the moment to come together. When nymphing the way one should, you don't look at the tip of your flyline, you don't look at your indicator, you don't watch the water for flashes or study the point where you leader enters the river. You just fish. You might be focussed on the swirl of water that marks an unseen boulder on the river bottom, you might be listening to the quiet roar of the rapids just upriver, or you might be watching the grass on the other side of the river sway and bend in the wind. Yet every so often you lift your arm, and there is a fish on the end of the line. Sometimes you lift your arm and it is a rock, or a stick, or nothing at all, but sometimes its a fish. Magic. If nymphing was anything but magic...a skill or a trick or something you could learn, practice or teach than at the end of the day you could explain it. You could say to someone "Yep, I set the hook because the tip of my fly line was moving too slow against the current. I lifted my arm because I saw a shadow on the river bottom move. I tightened the line when the perfection loop broke the surface tension." Sometimes you can say these things, and usually mean them, but when done right...when really nymphing you are usually as shocked as the fish. Call it a hunch, but what it really is, is magic.
Is there anything in the world that moves slower than a Blue Winged Olive dry fly sitting on the calm surface of a large back eddy, just 4 or 5 feet from a trout? Up until this point, you've likely done everything right. You stood back from the edge of the road and peeked over the lip like you were playing hide and seek with your kids. You spotted the fish, a few inches to a foot deep and hovering in the slight current, motionless in its movements. You snuck down the rip rap well away from the fish and carefully approached from behind, keeping your profile low and moving slowly. The cast is a good one and you avoided false casting over the top of the fish. Then you watch. The tiny dry fly sits there. Meanwhile, your fly line is being sucked back to you, dangerously close to causing the size 18 BWO to skim across the surface like a water skier. You know the fish can see the fly. It moved up an inch, maybe two in the water column, and it waits. The fly continues to not move, and the fish hovers. After seconds, minutes, hours the fly and the fish are right on top of each other. You aren't sure what happened. You know the fly didn't move so much as an inch, and the fish has been in the same spot since you saw it from the road. Then the fish eats your fly.


Wendy Berrell said...

Magic from the magician indeed. I'd expect nothing less, but it's still wonderful to read. Sounds like you had a fulfilling trip - I'm glad.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I've never been a huge fan of swinging nymphs, but your description illuminates its appeal. And the dry fly--or any form of sight fishing--that is the single best part of fly fishing, that moment of anticipation that shoots through you when you realize the fish is about to eat your fly. That, and the exact moment when you feel the line go tight in your hand.

John Montana said...

thanks for the comments guys. i commented this on "fishing jones" but it is worth saying here since this is a carp blog! while there is something to be said for the zen of nymphing, the sight fishing aspect of carp on the fly can't be understated. fishing for carp with a flyrod is a visual feast!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you remember me or not, but I went to Macalester college and took you on a recruiting visit in 94-95. We got to be really good friends, but then lost touch. If this is you and you remember me, feel free to send me an email; I would like to catch up with you and see how you and your family are doing. Looks like you are doing great, but would like to catch up. Hope to hear from you soon.