Euro-Nymphing the Chattooga

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Any avid fly fisherman will tell you that the pursuit never stops.  We talk to each other, we read, watch videos, attend seminars; all in the hope of gaining new insight to make time spent on the water more productive.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a new tying technique or slight alterations in rigging.  Sometimes major transformations occur.  I am currently going through one of those major transformations, exploring the world of Euro-style nymphing.

Fellow Headwaters guide Chris Grose has been trying to sell me on this stuff all summer.  At first, I shrugged it off.  As I thought about it more it occurred to me that this actually makes a lot of sense.  Fishing on a tight line means you can more precisely fish every little thread of a run and if you’re doing it correctly will miss very few strikes.  I talked to Chris, who fishes competitively, and procured a copy of the Euro-nymphing bible, Dynamic Nymphing, by George Daniel. 51Wr96OCXIL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

I also procured a new toy, a 10 foot 3 weight rod specifically designed for this style of fishing.  Last week we were blessed with perfect weather and I was blessed with a couple of days off and quickly took the opportunity to go out and play with my new toy.

Last Wednesday my girlfriend Lee and I along with our 2 cattle dogs hiked down into an undisclosed location on the Chattooga River.  If you fish and have never been on the Chattooga it’s a river you have to check out.  If you have been on the Chattooga for fishing or paddling you know what a special place it is.  We forewent setting up camp to get fishing right away.  Lee looked at me with one eyebrow raised as I rigged up my new nymphing system.  In lieu of my normal strike indicator I tied in a piece of brightly colored indicator tippet and ran a tag line off the tippet for my second nymph.  “We’ll see what happens,” I muttered as we approached the river.

What happened, for the first hour or so, was nothing.  I was having a hard time getting my flies to hit the bottom before leading them through the runs on a tight line.  I stared intently at the indicator tippet wondering if I was missing strikes, not entirely sure exactly what to look for.  This area looked fishy as hell and I knew there were trout to be taken, but couldn’t induce a definite strike.  Feeling discouraged, I contemplated chopping everything off and going back to my old system.  I resisted this temptation, trying to convince myself that with practice this would work for me.  I assumed the problem was that my flies were not hitting the bottom, where 90% of the trout would be found.  I made some adjustments to get my flies deeper and it wasn’t long after that something happened.  As I led my flies through a promising looking run that indicator tippet suddenly made a noticeable jump.  Strike!  And there it was, my first trout on the Euro-nymphing system, a 10 inch wild rainbow.  I was elated.  This is it, I thought, this is the beginning of a whole new thing.

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I quickly picked up a few more fish, several of which I actually felt eat the flies rather than relying on the indicator.  My drifts began feeling full of potential and even catching relatively small rainbows and browns on the long 3 weight rod was a blast.  The whole trip was a blast.  Connecting with the river and its surroundings, connecting with each other after a hectic summer full of work, wearing out the dogs, throwing mouse patterns under the stars in search of a monster,(none found), and experimenting with a different style of fishing that I truly believe with a little more practice will be more productive.  The pursuit never stops.

If you want to learn more about Euro-Nymphing, join us December 12th at 7:00pm at Headwaters Outfitters.  Chris Grose will be on hand for a seminar and Q & A!  Click Here for more details.

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