Czech Yourself Fool


Written By: Justin Dobson/Jamie Keown - Photos By: Justin Dobson/Kyle Vaughan     

I was recently asked:

“I wanted to know your take on Czech nymphing or other types of tight line nymphing without the use of indicators.”

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, it’s essentially fishing very long leaders and heavy flies, some using tungsten beads. You basically guide the flies through runs standing parallel to the target and flip them back upstream with a water haul after each drift.  Generally longer rods are used in conjunction with longer, sometimes colored, leaders so as to never have fly line on the water. (check out one of many Youtube videos on Czech Nymphing if you are still scratching your head)

I have tight lined deep pools to get my flies deep without a ridiculous leader length.  Otherwise I use indicators.  Even with tight lining, most are watching their fly line or brightly colored tippet section as an indicator so I don't see any kind of "purist" excuse.  Some benefits I find to using an indicator are:

  • being able to set a depth your flies will drift at and change that depth quickly to find fish feeding in a water column
  • being able to present your flies from downstream or increased distances, rather than standing, kneeling (or crawling in chigger infested shores) next to the water where fish are holding.  A large figure creeping parallel to fish is surely more likely to spook fish than any indicator floating overhead.

I have a theory about indicators that may be complete non-sense, but it seems logical.  I use “thingamabobbers”, not only because they have the highest buoyancy, but they have a low, nondescript profile.  If I buy the ones with line picks I cut them off, and I try to only use white colored ones unless conditions call for a brighter color.

I don't buy into any non-sense about being a purist.  I say do what works for you.  Just like any other type of art, fly fishing is about personal style and preference.  But as stated by the person who asked, adding this new trick to your arsenal of knowledge never hurts.

After my reply, I asked my pal Jamie K for his 2 cents on my thoughts just for the purpose of a debate.  Here is what I got:

OK, first off the benefits I see regarding Czech nymphing is that it allows the angler to cover a lot of water with little casting.

You hit the nail on the head about fishing them upstreamIt's impossible. In my mind it makes this technique almost useless for highly pressured fish. The technique is definitely an art form and probably not a bad one to learn, but it's not the end all be all. I fish without an indicator when you’re fishing conflicting currents where in those situations the indicator (and excess fly line) would create drag on the fly. Fishing without an indicator is also a great way to fish emergers or swing flies for that matter.

“Indy” nymphing is definitely where it’s at in my own opinion. I don't pay much mind to what people say, indicators don't spook fish. If that were the case you wouldn't have fish trying to eat them as I’ve seen several times. I don't think the color matters much either, as I fish the ones I can see best. I think you covered the finer points well. You can set and adjust depth easily, and making an upstream approach is only really feasible with this method. 

To me the proof is in the pudding. How many guides do you see czech nymphing (yeah not many). The competition fly fisherman have made euro nymphing in general popular, because they are being timed and you want to catch as many fish as possible to give yourself the greatest odds of getting some bigger ones.

After replying to this question, both Jamie and I had a very successful weekend using nymph rigs under indicators.  The fish taken surely hadn't got to be this big by being dumb.