My Introduction to Czech Nymphing at the 1996 World Fly Fishing Championships

The Czech nymphing story in the UK really started in 1990 when the World Fly Fishing Championship was held on the Welsh Dee. The outcome was a runaway victory for the Polish and Czech competitors, no one came anywhere near them, they dominated the individual placings and of course walked away with Gold and Silver team honours.

The fly fishing press laid much emphasis on the fast sinking woven nymphs said to have been used by the leading competitors. These woven nymphs were described in the angling press like some kind of secret weapon. Very little however was reported about the technique used to fish them. What little coverage there was, referred to this style erroneously as 'Rolled Nymphing'.

"The initiation into this deadly technique was soon to happen."

In 1996 the Czech Republic hosted the World Fly Fishing Championships and I was there as a member of the England Team. The initiation into this deadly technique was soon to happen.

Our official guide for the duration of the visit was Vít Misar, whom we discovered had only narrowly missed selection to fish for his country in the Championships. We were in the hands of a very skilful fly fisherman as we were about to find out!

"Vit on the other hand had caught almost thirty."

Our first practice session was on the upper Vltava, as near perfect a trout stream as one could imagine - gin clear, swift, nicely braided with weed and a bed of light coloured gravel and cobbles. This was going to be a breeze, we all dashed off to empty the river. When we all gathered some hours later for a beer and sandwiches, our enthusiasm had been somewhat dampened. Our attempts to extract grayling from the huge numbers in the river was frankly abysmal. Vit on the other hand had caught almost thirty. It was obvious that this Czech fly fisherman knew something we didn't. Instructions from our captain for the rest of the day were superfluous; Vít had our undivided attention!

The spot he picked to demonstrate the technique was a fairly uninteresting shallow riffle. It was barely calf deep and lightly laced with trailing fronds of weed. Not a single fish could be seen on the light bottomed streambed, why on earth was he going to do the demo here?

" Within two or three feet of the drift there was a minute 'tick' of the fly line."

Vít slipped into the shallow margin, pulled off a yard of line beyond the end ring and lobbed the three nymphs in upstream. The short length of fly line was held off the water and Vít deftly tracked the rod tip just ahead of the advancing braided connector. Within two or three feet of the drift there was a minute 'tick' of the fly line, Vít tightened instantaneously and grayling number one was soon unhooked and slipped back.

What happened then was a procession of fish, one after the other, then a couple of drifts with no takes, Vít moved a yard or two, lobbed in and proceeded to catch more grayling. After about grayling number ten he was almost manhandled out of the river, his leader makeup inspected and he was temporarily separated from his fly box - we had some urgent tying to do!

"Our mentor taught us well, the crash course paid dividends in the Championships."

So that was our introduction to the deadly art of 'Czech Nymphing'. Our mentor taught us well, the crash course paid dividends in the Championships. Several members of our team gaining high section placings and I had a first and third.

"What is more I was hooking good fish in places I hadn't previously considered worth fishing."

Naturally I was looking forward to trying my new 'find' back in the UK. Would it work as well in Yorkshire as it did in the rivers of the Czech Republic? Yes of course it did! It was devastatingly effective, what is more I was hooking good fish in places I hadn't previously considered worth fishing. More to the point, until now I did not have the method to fish those places. Fast turbulent areas are now the places I look for, and by tying nymphs in various weights, I can fish fast and deep, or fast and shallow, giving me even a broader range.

"You have to get it into your head that fish can be hooked at very close range."

For the newcomer to this technique there are three obstacles to overcome. The first is psychological, you have to get it into your head that fish can be hooked at very close range - this is the biggest obstacle. Second, get used to having a virtually redundant line hand and thirdly you must resist the temptation to cast - this is short line fishing, only one to three feet of line beyond the tip ring.

Oliver Edwards

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