At least once every year, sometimes even two or three times, I find myself
standing next to a still, mirror-finish lake with a companion. As we look out
over the water, standing speechless for a period of time, I find that I am
once again awed by the massive number of rings that can be seen on top of the
water. Hundreds of thousands of tiny rings on the surface of the lake every
minute. This is an activity that could be witnessed all day long if the lake
stays like glass. Often I turn to my companion and say, " it always amazes me
to see that many nymphs all hatching at the same time." From experience I know
that this will usually cause my companion to give me a look like I may
not have both oars in the water.
Rather than leaving them questioning me, I offer the information that each one
of those rings is a nymph breaking the surface to dry it's wing and fly away.
I understand (and don't offer the information) that some of the rings are
caused by air bubbles, weed seeds, adult bugs and fish, but they are a small
percentage. The reason that I don't say anything then is because the goal of
the statement is to help them to develop an understanding of the importance of
the nymph to the ecosystem of a lake.
While sitting in a boat bobber fishing with minnows, have you ever wondered
what minnows eat? Have you ever wondered why, if you use worms to catch
sunfish how do enough worms get in the lake for that many sunfish?
The answer is they don't. The answer is nymphs . . . and that's
my final answer. Nymphs are to fish as grass is to cows. Add this analogy
to your fishing knowledge, because it is a truth that panfish graze on nymphs.
Armed with this knowledge you will understand what you are looking at
next time you see it. Why do panfish school in a specific spot? Nymphs.
If it's a truth that fish couldn't live without water, they certainly couldn't
live without nymphs. Next time your cleaning a bunch of sunfish look at
the stomach contents. That grayish, black goo is nymphs.
This is now the point in the article where the writer has the opportunity to
start writing in great detail with lots of scientific words in parentheses,
and little tiny pictures of specific species with tiny, tiny type and arrows.
If you don't mind I think we can skip that part, if you feel a deep seated
need for that type of info you can find it somewhere else on FAOL. I have
neither the knowledge nor the desire to get into that. If you come away from
reading this with the knowledge of the importance of nymphs then this article
has served it's intended first purpose.
The second point that I would like to try to explain to you is a retrieval
technique that I find very useful when nymphing for panfish. Nymphs eat
organisms smaller than themselves to survive. To get to a food supply some
nymphs crawl and some swim. The ones that swim, swim in or just over the
vegetation on the bottom of the lake. I have always made an effort to, as
closely as possible, duplicate what I feel the swimming nymphs actions
would be in the water.
Nymphing for panfish can be done with either a weighted or non-weighted nymph.
You could also weight either the nymph or the line, and use or not use a
strike indicator. Fishing with a non-weighted nymph you will find that you can
watch the connection between your leader and flyline for the take. It will
reduce the amount of hardware that you are trying to cast and probably take
care of a few casting problems you may be experiencing.
Enough said about all that, let me get to this retrieval technique that I
promised you. Now I will assume for the purpose of this explanation that you
are right handed, if you are left handed you will have to do this backwards. I
don't mean by that, that you will have to try to push the line out through the
guides, just read left for right and right for left. Hold the rod in your
right hand at a comfortable position in front of yourself. Your left hand
is positioned so the line lays across your thumb to your little finger.
Pinch the line between your thumb and index finger and roll your hand
clockwise. Next lift your pinkie over the line and roll your hand
counterclockwise. Now repinch the line between your thumb and
index finger and repeat the process.
This retreive will slowly move the fly along, much as a real nymph
would move. If the fly is weighted it will move slowly enough to
maintain a consistent depth during your retrieve. With a little practice
you will be able make the fly look as if it's floating or slowly
swimming through the water.
Good luck with this and like we say around the bait store . . . see ya
wader. ~ C. T.