This is a tough topic because so many people that I meet on the stream fail to recognize that they need more weight when nymph fishing. And for what ever reason, they have trouble accepting that fact. I think it is because of a number of reasons. But perhaps the biggest is that they probably have caught many fish before without the use of a lot of weight. Why change? And this is where most people get stuck....including myself!
For slow, shallow and even runs the need for more weight isn't usually a factor. But in every other nymphing situation, I have found that the addition of more weight has made a difference.A huge difference. It can make a day of a few nice fish into a day to remember.
I recall such a story from a year ago....we were all fishing a nice deep pool with a good current at the head that seemed to drop off sharply. We were fishing the middle and tailout of that pool with good success. The only problem was, we could see some really nice fish holding on the other side of the pool sitting near a cut in the stream bead. We would drift and drift trying desperately to get our flies in front of the fish. We would even cast further upstream to try and give our flies more time to get down. The trout just sat there finning away in the current. Then a friend and I added more weight. An additional small split shot was added just above the other. This was they key. It put the fly in front of the fish and soon we were hooking up with these larger trout holding on that cut. The addition of weight made a day of 8" to 12" inch fish into a day with some really nice wild 15" and 16" inch browns.
More often than not the addition of extra weight will get your fly to the fish faster and keep it there longer. And in my book that means more opportunity to catch that nice trout, and more of them.
What I start off with when nymph fishing, is a size bigger split shot than I think would I need. I then adjust my indicator to keep that weight bouncing along the bottom. I add the weight about 4 to 8 inches above the fly(sometimes closer), and adjust accordingly. Some fish will need that fly right on the bottom. If this is the case, put the weight just a few inches above the fly. If you can't get the fly in front of the fish or you aren't getting any strikes...Instead of casting further upstream(to give it time to sink) add more weight! Add a small amount of weight at a time. Until you get that fly in front of the fish. I have found(for me) that casting further upstream to give your fly the time to sink doesn't work as well as adding more weight. Any little current or lift of the rod will move the fly out of the range of the fish, and by the time the fly is on the bottom again, it has drifted well past the fish. That little bit of extra weight will keep that fly in front of the fish longer!
I know that not every situation will require the addition of more weight. But more often than not, it does! And I am only talking about dead drifting a nymph here. With the upcoming summer months, when trout will often start to pool up and will not move as far to take a fly, it will often require precise dead drifts to regularly take fish.
Photos by Lucas Carroll