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Friday, April 1, 2011

My First Time Czech Nymphing

During Spring, 2012, I spent a day on the upper Arkansas River with Steve Gossage. This was my third time fishing the upper Arkansas in the last five years, so to say I'm new to this huge stretch of water is an understatement, and the few times I've fished it we were tossing around streamers or dry flies. This time the entire day was spent czech nymphing, which was, also, a new experience for me.

Czech nymphing is a form of flyfishing started by the Polish and refined by the Czechs where the angler doesn't use a typical indicator or split shot. Instead, you use heavily weighted flies to get down to the fish, and a 1 to 2 foot long section of brightly colored monofilament at the end of your fly line which serves as your indicator. Here is my crude sketch of how the rig is set up. Feel free to laugh at your discretion...

On most Czech Nymph rigs you want a fairly heavy fly that serves as your anchor which is attached to the end of a 4-6 foot long 5x straight line leader. The anchor fly does exactly what it's name suggests, in that it gets your flies down, and helps you stay in contact with the bottom. Attach your droppers with 4-5x tippet above your anchor fly at a length that will allow your flies to drift without tangling on each other or your main leader. Twenty inches apart between each dropper seems to be the standard length between droppers from your anchor, or "point fly," up.

Photo by Kristen Patrocky
One of most important aspects of Czech Nymphing that I quickly discovered is that it's very important to stay in contact with your flies. Keep the rod high and make sure there is no slack in your fly line or leader. Anglers who have spent any amount of time on the water practicing high sticking will pick up the Czech technique quick because they have already spent some time staying in contact with the flies, or at the very least, the indicator through the drift using a standard two fly nymph rig.  When "Czeching" a lot of anglers will actually pull there flies through the drift so that they're moving slightly faster than the current.  Doing so makes it easier to feel the strike.

Staying in contact with your flies and pulling them through the drift can be a bit of a learning curve because most of us have spent all of our time using a strike indicator while trying to get the perfect dead drift. This is the reason that I, ultimately, think fishing with a Czech Nymph rig will make you a better all around nymph fisherman. You'll find that you're more in tune with whats going on beneath the surface, rather than staring a bobber waiting for a sign of life. One of the things I teach my clients is not to rely only on the indicator as your flies drift through the run. Try and keep your eye on the indicator while watching whats going on beneath the surface and trust your instincts.  If you think you saw the fish take your flies or your spider sense so much as tingles then set the hook.

Photo by Kristen Patrocky
Many anglers miss strikes because they are waiting for the indicator to pull under or jump and contrary to popular belief the indicator doesn't move every time the fish takes. In fact the average angler could get up to 5 strikes in a drift without ever being aware of it because they are stuck watching the indicator. A good sign to look for is a flash. When a trout moves on a fly sometimes they turn on their side at an angle where the sun hits the side of their bodies producing a flash that is visible even in deeper pools.

If you're sight fishing to a fish another sign to look for is what I refer to as the wink. The wink is when the trout opens its mouth. The interior of the trouts mouth is white which when opened is easy to spot against the dark bottom of a river. The shape of the trouts mouth when opened kinda looks like the shape of a human eye hence the term. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent hunting for big fish and the only sign I have that a monster trout is in the pool is an occasional wink.

One of the tools for czech nymphing are rods longer than 9 feet though a 9ft 5-6 wt. fly rod will work fine. Longer fly rods are becoming more popular amongst nymph fishermen because the extra length helps you get on top of the fish without having to make long casts that can spook fish by disturbing the water. Longer fly rods also have softer more responsive tips that help anglers detect subtle strikes.

Spools of 4x, 5x, and 6x flourocarben tippet material for building your leaders are a must. If your a fly tyer and you're wanting to tie some Czech nymphs you need spools of various diameter lead wire and tungsten beads to give your flies the weight needed to get down to the fish. To properly build your Czech rig you will also need a spool of highly visible 10-25lb mono fishing line as your indicator line at the beginning of your leader. Stren makes a high viz flourescent green and yellow mono that works great. Rio came out with a weight forward floating fly line that has the last two feet painted red that they call the indicator line which works great as well.

Photo of the Indicator section of a Czech nymph leader

I've said it a million times but what makes flyfishing fun for me is that there is always some new technique or trick you can learn to add to your arsenal that keeps things interesting. My first day fishing with this rig produced 3 nice fish on a stretch of water i'm not really familiar with and all three fish came on new patterns or spin-offs of original patterns that I created to fish this new technique. One fish would have made for a succesful day in my book the rest was just icing.

My first fish Czeching Photo by Jon Kleis
Nobody on this planet would disagree that these kind of experiences are some of the most rewarding in fishing. If you're interested in learning more about this easy new way to nymph fish stop by Anglers Covey Fly Shop (that giant log building on your right as your going west on highway 24 at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in west Colorado Springs) and I would be more than happy to show you a few tricks and what flies to use and how to get set up.

For any other flyfishing related questions or to set up a guided trip and have an adventure in Colorado shoot me an email at or go to and go to the hire a guide section and request me (Jon Kleis) in the special requests box when your setting up your trip.


  1. Hi Jon,
    Over the last couple of years I've been tying Czech Nymphs a little differently and thought you might like to give this idea a go. Rather than dubbing or floss I'm using various coloured copper wires woven together. By making the body of the fly out of the weight there's no need to add extra weight. Giving you a slim heavy fly that sinks really quickly. Here's a shot of a few.

  2. Crackaig I mean no disrespect but that has been done by a fellow colleague of mine in the shop Rick Murphy. He has a Czech pattern with Rainy Flies that is made of woven wire for the abdomen. Although I must admit that woven body is the only similarity between your's and his and I think yours looks good enough to eat! Thankyou for sharing!

  3. Met a guide in Bishop Ca. that has developed a Czech rig as follows. Rio Indicator line followed by approx. 60" of American Fishing Wire 7x7 Surflon Micro Supreme in Camo. He attaches a tungsten tipper ring to the this followed by two 20" sections of 3 or 4x tippet connected with blood knots. He then ties 8 to 10 inch droppers at the 1st 2 knots and the usual end fly. He has gone to the wire because the diameter is so much finer and somewhat weighted that his rig will drop through the water column much faster and is very durable. He has caught fish on the Owens River in 500 cfs water. Does not recommend it in eddy's or slower moving water as much. Thought it was interesting, had you heard of this?

    Doug from California

  4. we spent almost the day with this nymphing technique, simply superb.

  5. Hey Doug,

    That is a first for me. Sounds like a killer rig though. We sell those rings in the shop, and I have talked to guys that are big into European style nymphing and the most common setup I hear done with them is a basic rig only with rings instead of knots. The point fly being attached to the second ring with lighter tippet such as a 5 or 6x, and the idea is that if your anchor/point fly snags bottom you stand the chance of being able to break it off without having to completely redo everything.

  6. Thanks for sharing and I'm sorry about the late response. I somehow missed your comment.

  7. Loved the article. It’s the little things. Please select good fly rods

  8. That is great!I love this blog!Please select good fly rods


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