Bead or No Bead? Floating Nymphs Get Fish

It might come as a surprise to new anglers, but bead head nymphs were a novel idea not too long ago.     For instance, the Prince Nymph was developed in the 1930s. These days this flybox staple is tied in endless numbers of variations, but rarely without a bead. For decades,  like most nymphs the Prince was tied with either lead wraps underneath the peacock herl body, or with no weight at all. And they caught fish. Lots of ’em.

Slim and sleek, these unweighted nymphs are great options for skinny water.

You’ll hear it time and again when talk turns to nymph fishing: if you aren’t ticking bottom, you’re probably not deep enough. Bottom rolling is definitely one of the most reliable and consistent methods for dredging up trout. Often the difference between finding fish in the water column is the addition of weight. The opposite is also true- sometimes fish are holding in a certain depth due to hatches, temperature or other factors. In these situations, a floating nymph is a great way to cover the bases, and find more fish.

An unweighted hare’s ear will get eats on it’s own, or in a tandem rig.

Here’s a great way to rig a pair of nymphs that takes a cue from competition anglers. In fly fishing competition, numbers are everything- and finding fish fast in whatever water you’re facing is crucial. It’s no secret that nymphing is the preferred method of competition fly anglers, and patterns that are suggestive of many insects without closely resembling anything. The prince nymph falls into this category, as does the hares ear and many more classic patterns. Unweighted options of these flies are a great start to experimenting with depth.

Try an unweighted nymph as the second fly in a two-fly indicator rig. Two to three feet of tippet tied to the hook of a larger, beaded nymph will often do the trick. The larger fly will tick the bottom, and keep the floating nymph dragging through the water column freely, looking like easy pickings for fish.


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