A primer on Czech Nymphing
Based on observing a demonstration by Oliver Edwards
By Terry Lawton
The Czech style of nymphing is a high speed, close range and deadly
technique for catching fish in the right type of water. Like many
fishing techniques, the origins of the Czech technique are uncertain
but it is thought to have been used first in the 1970s. It may even
have been introduced from neighbouring Poland. Because it is such
a fast and effective technique, it has been put to good use by competition
To use the technique successfully you want a fast, turbulent water:
typically fast flowing rivers and streams rushing down a mountain
side or off moorland. Everything is done to get the flies (three
on a cast) down deep as quickly as possible. This is why Czech nymphs
tend to have very smooth profiles with very little hackle which
might delay the sink speed, as well as being heavily leaded. There
is no casting - as we know it normally - involved as only about
three feet of line is extended beyond the top rod ring. Only the
leader is in the water.
Making the leader
Because no traditional casting is involved, there is no need for
a tapered leader. The leader is made out of a length of mono of
a suitable breaking strain, based on size of fish likely to be caught
and the character of the river bottom. You must use mono that is
strong enough not to break when you hook the bottom or a rock. To
make-up a leader, start at the bottom end. You will need a leader
with two droppers that are 20 inches apart. Take your first length
of mono and attach another length to it using a Surgeon's knot.
The dropper must be on the parent leg and pointing downwards. When
you have completed the knot, trim the dropper to about four inches.
Now tie on another length of mono so that the next dropper is 20
inches from the first one and trim the dropper to four inches. The
next length of mono to be tied on is the last one and this connects
the leader to the end of the fly line, using a coloured braided
loop or a Roman Moser Minicon. When making up your first leader
it will pay to make this last section over long. The overall length
of the leader should be a little less than the length of your rod.
The idea is that when you catch a fish, after you have played it,
you can raise your rod and take hold of the fish easily without
having to alter the length of line beyond the top of the rod. You
can adjust the length of the leader by shortening the top length
of the leader.
The heaviest nymph goes in the middle with a lighter fly on both
the point and the top dropper. This helps get the flies down and
ensures that they swim correctly. When you start fishing, do make
sure that every time you hook the bottom that you check your flies:
check that the hook still has a point as well as clearing away any
weed. If you find that you are catching the bottom too frequently,
change your flies - certainly the heaviest - to lighter ones. As
you will have been handling the leader a lot while making it up,
you must degrease it well before starting fishing so that it will
sink quickly. When fishing you will watch the end of the line like
a hawk, so make it bright and highly visible, hence the use of a
coloured braided loop.
Having made-up your leader and extended three foot of line, the
first thing to do is to fish your way into the water. Don't just
get in and start wading: this is guaranteed to frighten away fish
near the bank. Fish all the water that you can reach from the bank.
It is vital to keep the three flies separated when casting. The
cast is more of a lob than a cast. At the end of the cast lift the
leader and flies out of the water quickly and simply describe an
upstream arc with the end of your rod. The minute your flies land
in the water, you must watch the end of a line for the slightest
movement, hesitation, dip or check that indicates a take. Raise
the rod at the slightest of indications of a fish. If there is nothing
there, simply lob the flies back into the water again. Make sure
that you always lead the flies downstream with the rod tip.
Because you can cast and fish a stretch of water so quickly, you
can search every likely lie. Move slowly and carefully because as
you are using such a short line, you will be catching fish very
close to you. If your first choice of flies is catching fish, there
is no need to change them. But if you are not catching fish, try
a change of flies. If you are going to fish a shallower stretch
of water, it makes sense to change to lighter flies which won't
sink so deep and will be less likely to catch the bottom.
The Czech technique is very different from the traditional English
style of upstream nymphing which was developed and refined on slower
and smoother flowing rivers and streams. But used in the right places,
the Czech technique is fast and deadly.