Normal Nymphing

Pliva Autumn

Watching a nymph fisherman practicing his art awakes old echoes in my mind. I can see my grandfather dredging the river depths: just mastery, monofilament, weight… and a hook at the end. The only real difference is artificial nymph instead of earthworm… and rod length.
I wonder why nymphers don’t use some 5m long rod, similar to that telescopic fiberglass one of my grandpa. I presume that it is just competition rules what prevents fly fishers from arming themselves with a long bait rod with a fly reel attached. It would be a strange vision indeed, but just a little step up from the usual view of a fly reel loaded with as much leader as fly line, the latter acting exclusively as a very expensive backing. Anyway I suppose that we should, again, put the blame on competition rules for the current irrelevant presence of fly line in a fly reel.

A matter of personalities I suppose, but, although worms proved to be much more effective at times, I never asked my grandfather to introduce me to the bait fishing secrets. It was the take to the fly what haunted me, even when, in these old times of mine, “fly fishing” implied a combo of bubble float and a bunch of Coq de Leon wet flies. But it was the utmost gracility of presenting a fly by means of a fly line what attracted me to proper fly fishing in the first place, and I am very reluctant to renounce that pleasure just to catch more fish.

But don’t get me wrong, I respect every approach to fly fishing. In fact I am guilty of trying, now and then, to catch some fish just by means of long leader, 7X tippet and a tungsten nymph (you know, even casting geeks like to bring fish to hand once in a while). Not an easy task judging by my results.

But, when I had finally admitted with resignation that nothing could ever fill the current gap between nymphing and fishing with a fly line, I met Pliva River and Zeljko Prpic; both unique in their own right.
Pliva is an amazing water. Born of a couple of sources coming out of a wooded mountain slope, it gets up to some 50m wide when it is just 1km “old”. Due to its depth wading is restricted to a few specific areas or plainly impossible, depending on when in the season you are visiting.
Pliva trout and grayling aren’t very inclined to feed on the surface so nymphing is the usual approach to this very technical river. A very heavy tungsten nymph on a long leader and a 2m long 0.10mm tippet. Getting the proper depth and drift, and detecting the lightning fast takes without an indicator, require extraordinary skills. I see myself unable of learning them all, what usually leads to Zeljko’s desperation.

The unique aspect of this nymphing technique, what reconciles nymphing to “proper” fly fishing, is that is normally practiced at distance. At times really serious distance. This clip shows master Zeljko presenting his nymph some 28m away; a very long cast for a superheavy 7g tungsten nymph on a #6 weight line.

Anyway I am equally frustrated and delighted by trying this particular technique every year, and I can’t avoid tears coming to my eyes when I hear Zeljko:

-Aitor, now we will try normal nymphing   🙂

4 comments on “Normal Nymphing

  1. Marc Fauvet says:

    oooooooO ! he’s good !


  2. Aitor says:

    Best fly fishing guide I’ve ever met and a good friend.


  3. […] I have lost count of the number of times I have read and heard that kind of statement. Being a 99.9 % dry fly fisher myself I, almost, agree. There is a lot of truth in that reasoning. Anyway, if we don’t catch as many fish further than 12 meters away it could also be because we don’t cast to them, couldn’t it? Admittedly getting a dead drift with a long cast is some sort of mission impossible, although there are nymphing techniques for which distance isn’t a problem: if there is a fish lie out there… out there my nymph goes. […]


  4. […] Frustrating and absorbing in equal parts, Pliva offers some of the most challenging sight nymphing you can find anywhere. Even blind fishing with tungsten beaded nymphs is pretty special. […]


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