Page 1

30-34 River Trouting


4:25 pm

Page 1

Game Fishing


Trouting Angler File

Name: Andrew Ryan. Occupation: Instructs at Clonanav Fly Fishing Centre and runs courses on all aspects of fly fishing. Location: Clonanav Fly Fishing Centre, Nire Valley, Ballymacarbry, Clonme, Co Waterford. Contact: 00 353 (0) 52 36141. Fax: 00 353 (0) 52 36294. Mobile: 00 353 (0) 87 2680213. E-mail: andrew@flyfishingireland. com . Web: .

30 Irish angler

Part One – Upstream Nymphing Andrew Ryan describes how he fishes upstream using nymph patterns tied with an Irish twist.

30-34 River Trouting


4:26 pm

Page 2


et me say now, that when it comes to trout fishing in rivers my preference is to use a dry fly. However, trout do not always rise. There can be adverse conditions such as a flood, drought or high winds, making fishing with a dry fly impossible. Therefore, when the going gets tough, I use something different – with one of my favourite techniques being upstream nymph fishing. Nymph fishing is versatile, it works well in all conditions and can be successful when other types of fly fishing fail. Remember that only around 10 per cent of a trout’s feeding is at the surface. They spend a lot of time feeding on, or near, the bottom as well. In Ireland, most river anglers fish with either dry flies or a team of wet flies fished down and across the stream. These techniques work very well under most conditions but in low or high water their success rate can be restricted. Dry-fly fishing is very much limited to fishing when the conditions are perfect, with hatches causing fish to rise. A wet fly tends to work best in faster and higher water. When choosing the upstream-nymphing technique you’re going to use, the most important thing is to fish the correct water, which is dependent on the river level. If you are fishing in high water or flood conditions, you will want to fish stretches with weaker currents and not too much flow. These might be areas you would normally wadee through to reach the trout. With high water levels


If your luck is in, your indicator might disappear – leaving you attached to a beast like this!

Two anglers work their way upstream, fishing the head of a pool with nymph tactics.

Irish angler 31

30-34 River Trouting


4:26 pm

Page 3

Game Fishing and strong currents, the fish tend to get pushed out into shallower water, where it is easier for them to remain in position. I will now give you some tips that hopefully will help you catch a few wild brown river trout this year.

Which Water? During the summer months, in low-water conditions, nymph fishing works best in the fast, deep runs. The trout tend to hug the river bottom there, where the water is cooler and food items are plentiful. Therefore choice of water is crucial to success. If you are fishing water that is too shallow (for summer low water) you tend to pick up lots of small fish and snag the bottom too easily with your flies. Conversely, under high-water conditions, if you fish water that is too fast and deep you will not get your nymphs down to the fish. You may even scare them while wading through the shallows to get to the deeper runs.


Accurate Casting Upstream nymph fishing requires short, accurate casts. The maximum distance that I normally fish this method is 30 feet. Any longer than this and the flies do not fish


Wading and fishing upstream means you can access areas like this that aren’t fishable from the bank.

correctly and you will have constant tangles. The ideal fishing range is 20 feet. This allows you to keep your rod tip high, therefore allowing the nymphs to sink much deeper. This will also give you better control of the flies.

Maintain Contact Maintaining good contact with the flies and retaining tension on the line is one of the keys to a good strike-to-catch ratio. Your cast should be aimed at the top of a run so your flies go down deep and quickly, aided by the current pushing down on the leader. The trout’s strike will normally occur very close in front of you, as by then the flies will have reached the bottom or the depth where the fish are feeding. I regularly hook-up with fish just a rod’s length away, so it is imperative not to recast as soon as the indicator reaches you. Let it drift right past until it is downstream, before lifting off. It is crucial to stay in contact with the strike indicator, as the tiniest movement may be a fish. Okay, I admit that it may be the nymph dragging or touching the bottom but I advise anglers to strike anyway, as you can never be sure it’s a fish or the bottom until you do.


Rod Tip High

4 On wild brown trout fisheries, catch and release should be practised where possible.

32 Irish angler

It is important to keep the rod tip high. By doing this you will have less line on the water to drag, allowing the nymphs to fish deeper and behave more like natural insects. Having too much line on the water will allow the current to determine the path of the flies, rather than yourself. Less line on the water will cater for sensitive bite indication and,

30-34 River Trouting


4:26 pm

Page 4

consequently, more hooked fish. When you try upstream nymphing for the fist time, your hook-to-catch ratio will be poor. It takes practice to hone your concentration (and keep it for hours on end), thereby increasing the ratio of bites to hooked fish. Much of this is down to your confidence in the method. This is a technique you need to know works before you get out there and try it. I always combine a positive mental attitude with a high degree of alertness, so I am always ready to set the hook when I get a take. A positive attitude results in more fish. Note that, with this method, your hook points are in constant contact with pebbles on the bottom, so check them regularly for sharpness or blunting. Carry a ceramic stone on the outside of your vest to sharpen hooks when necessary.

Note how this angler is using bankside cover, so the fish aren’t aware of his presence.

Tackle To fish in this way, you’ll need a standard 9ft rod rated with a 5-wt or 6wt line. I prefer to use a stiff rod as it has a little more power to lift up flies from the depths. A weight forward floating line is best because it is easier to cast a short length. Leader construction is crucial. Start with a short leader, no longer than nine feet. You will have many less tangles and spend more time fishing. When you become competent with the technique, you can increase leader length. Fishing a longer leader can give you much more control over the depth you are fishing. If you use short leaders it means that often your nylon is thicker and will not sink so fast.


Andrew Ryan’s Top River Nymphs

Brick Nymph

Hydropsyche Nymph

Copper Brassie

Gold Head Prince

Hook type: Kamasan B100. Tying thread: Beige UNIthread. Underbody: Medium lead wire, wound from head to tail. Rib: Fine copper wire, closely ribbed. Body: Rear two-thirds should be brown and brick-red dubbing; the front one-third should be lemon dubbing.

Hook type: Kamasan B110. Tying thread: Olive. Underbody: Medium lead wire wound from head to tail. Tag: Glo-Brite No3, short tuft. Rib: Lime-green floss or other strong, narrow ribbing material. Body: Lime-green dubbing. Shell back: Nymph skin. coloured with permanent pen. Thorax: Three short pieces of dyed black peacock herl, looped in with shell back ribbing on either side to form legs. Head colour: Black.

Hook type: Kamasan B100. Tying thread: Black UNIthread. Underbody: Tying thread. Abdomen: Copper wire. Thorax: Peacock herl. Head: Brass bead to suit hook size.

Hook type: Kamasan B100. Thread: Black. Head: Brass bead. Tail: Biot, black Body: Peacock herl. Rib: Tinsel, gold. Wing: Biot, white. Hackle: Furnace hackle.

Flies supplied by Donegal Fly Fishing Co

Irish angler 33

30-34 River Trouting


4:26 pm

Page 5

Game Fishing How To Fish Nymphs Upstream

The bite indicator is tied to the leader just below the fly line Floating lines must always be used for this tactic A good-quality fluorocarbon leader is a must. Try 6lb breaking strain Flow direction

Use a 9ft leader

The first nymph should be heavier

The lighter nymph goes on the tail

Using longer, finer leaders will allow the nymphs to sink faster and deeper, thus ensuring that you get down to the level where the fish are. I usually fish with 6lb Fluoroflex from Rio, or 6lb Frog hair. Both of these materials are strong and fine.

Flies Fly choice is governed by the depth and speed of the current in the river you’re fishing. I tend to use two flies on my cast. The first fly is tied to the end of the leader, as if you were tackling up to fish with just one fly. I then attach a six to eight-inch section of nylon to the bend of my fly and tie a second fly to this (see diagram). The first of the two nymphs should be the heavier. If the dropper is too long, you will easily get tangles and the tail fly will not fish correctly. The smaller and lighter tail fly should wiggle along behind the heavier fly. Lead shot can also be used to get the flies even deeper but I tend to use these only in flood conditions. Adopting this technique will increase your catches immensely, as you will have a technique for conditions that you would not normally catch fish in. Flooded April days and dry warm August afternoons have often been transformed into memorable fishing trips, as a result of my upstream nymphing.


34 Irish angler

Fly choice is governed by the depth and speed of the current. I use two flies on my cast, the first nymph being heavier.

Upstream nymphing is a very effective tactic for big brown trout.

River trouting nymphing  

An article by Andrew Ryan published in the Irish Angler Magazine

River trouting nymphing  

An article by Andrew Ryan published in the Irish Angler Magazine