Nymphs are essential to successful fly fishing on the rivers of Northern England. I would say that perhaps 80% of my river fishing is done with a subsurface fly. River nymphs need to be small, with the correct silhouette and very importantly, carry the right amount of weight. The weight required might be an un-weighted nymph, a leaded underbody, a metal bead, a tungsten bead, or a combination of lead and tungsten bead. River nymphs with these qualities cannot be bought in shops. Below are the very nymphs that I use for all my river nymph fishing throughout the year.


Gold Head Pheasant Tail Nymph

Gold Head Pheasant Tail Nymph (£1.50) - this fly is nothing short of outstanding on the Yorkshire Dales rivers. It is a versatile nymph; I use it when upstream nymphing, as a point fly when fishing North Country Spiders and for fishing the 'duo' through shallow water. Size 16.


Copper Head Nymph

Copperhead Nymph (£1.50) - tied with a tungsten bead and lead under-body to get down quickly. I like to think that it is a representation of a cased caddis. Best used as a top dropper when Czech nymphing where it can be devastating! If I had to use just one nymph this would probably be it! Size 14.

Edwards Baetis Nymph

Edwards Baetis Nymph (£2.50) - an early season nymph originated by my friend Oliver Edwards to represent the Large Dark Olive Nymph. Early in the season, through to about early May, this fly catches lots of trout, fished either upstream or in a team of wet flies. It is a very intricate tying (hence the price) and incorporates eyes, head, splayed tails, segmented body, legs, wing case and 'ripe' wing buds (see enlarged image). Size 14 and 16.

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Mary Copperhead

Mary Copperhead (£1.50) - named after one of the best fly anglers in the country, Simon 'Mary' Robinson. This fly uses a tungsten bead to fish at depth quickly and has a wing case of pearl to add attraction. Hook size is practically irrelevant; bead size determines which fly to fish in each situation. It is used almost exclusively for fishing the 'duo' and 'trio' methods (teamed with a Pinkhamer), and upstream nymphing. 2mm and 1.5mm beads available. A deadly fly on most days!


Bead Size
The Worm

The Worm (£1.40) - I read about this fly a few years ago in the Grayling Society Journal, tied a few up and put them to the back of my fly box. Then one day, fishing a flooded River Nidd, I gave the worm its first wetting and the result changed my coloured water grayling fishing. It took every one of 16 fish I caught that day. It has since been used on all the dales rivers and even on the River Tweed and Teviot. I can confirm its effectiveness; it caught me my biggest ever grayling of 50cm in December 2006 on a flooded River Teviot. This is a very large 'fly'  tied on a size 8 swimming nymph hook.


Duracell Jig Nymph

Duracell Jig Nymph (£1.50) - another fly to filter south from the competition scene in Scotland. It is the creation of Craig McDonald, who has invented some outstandingly successful flies over the last few years. The body is made from a flashy UV dubbing, which is very attractive to both trout and grayling. The CDC hackle cloaks the body when fishing giving added movement and translucency to the fly. CDC is becoming quite a popular material for incorporating into nymphs. It traps tiny bubbles of air and its movement underwater imitates gills and legs of a live nymph. Tied with a tungsten bead on a jig hook so that it fishes point up, avoiding snagging the bottom. A highly recommended nymph. Sizes 12, 14 and 16.


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Quill Body Jig Nymph

Quill Body Jig Nymph (£1.50) - another tungsten bead nymph tied on the currently fashionable jig hooks. Jig hooks fish point up, meaning fewer snags on the bottom and in my opinion look the part as well. The quill body imitates the segmented body of a nymph and flashy thorax dubbing provides just enough glint to attract trout and grayling. This fly and the Duracell Jig above are both perfectly suited to fishing on French Leaders. Sizes 12, 14 and 16.


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Cat Gut Nymph

Cat Gut Nymph (£1.50) - I started to play around with cat gut in my flies a few years ago and found it to be a very effective material. It gives subtle colouration to flies and just the right amount of translucency. This is a good pattern throughout the summer months and into autumn when the nymphs of the paler upwing species are active. It has been particularly useful on the Slovenian rivers where paler flies work well over generally light riverbeds. Well suited to fishing on a French Leader. Sizes 16 and 18.


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Czech Nymphs...

Czech nymphing is one of the most successful methods you can use on any rain-fed river for trout or grayling. The introduction of Czech nymphing (or bugging) and Czech Nymphs in the 1990's revolutionised fly fishing on fast flowing, rain-fed rivers, throughout the country. Czech nymphing can be absolutely deadly when employed in the right places, at the right time, with suitable flies on a correctly spaced leader. The flies and leader used are all important and the key to successful Czech nymphing. The flies used need to be slim, without legs, gills, etc (so they sink quickly without resistance), and correctly weighted to fish in the zone of water near the bottom of the stream, but not on the bottom. Fishing on the bottom leads to frustrating false takes and lost flies. Fishing above the zone means the flies will be quickly swept away by the current and you will not catch fish. Hitting the zone is done by adjusting the weight (size) of your flies so that they don't constantly snag bottom, but also don't get swept away too quickly.

Czech Nymph Olive

Czech Nymph, Olive (£1.50) - a drab fly that has taken many trout and grayling, particularly from clear water, when things get hard late winter grayling fishing. Works well in clear or coloured water. Sizes 10 and 14 available.

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Czech Nymph Pink

Czech Nymph, Pink (£1.50) - a bright fly for use in coloured water. Some days trout and grayling will completely ignore this fly, other days they take it very well indeed. Strangely, it also works for grayling when the weather turns very cold in winter and the water goes crystal clear! Sizes 8 to 14 available.

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Czech Nymph Hotspot

Czech Nymph, Hot Spot (£1.50) - at times this Czech nymph can be devastating. I have had days when the trout and grayling have singled out this fly from the others on the cast, even when I changed its position on the leader. Works best in slightly coloured to very coloured water. Sizes 10 and 14 available.


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Indicators For Your Nymph Fishing...

Millstream Strike Indicators/bite indicators

Millstream Strike Indicators (£3.95) - self adhesive, pinch on, foam bite indicators. These are by far the best strike/bite indicators to use for river fly fishing as they are virtually weightless, give little wind resistance and, therefore, cast well on light river rods/lines. I use them for upstream nymphing by attaching one to the leader where it is knotted to the braided loop. They do not peel, fade or suffer from colour run. The closed cell foam won't get waterlogged like yarn indicators. The aggressive, waterproof adhesive backing, stays on the leader until you decide to remove it - and will leave minimal residue when it is removed. Available in yellow and red - I carry both to cover all light situations. Each sheet contains 32 punch-out indicators in two different sizes. Why miss fish by not seeing the take? Also useful for Czech Nymphing.

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