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Thread: Weighting nymphs for streams and rivers

  1. #1
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    Default Weighting nymphs for streams and rivers

    Hi Guys,

    I'm going to start tying up patterns for the streams and rivers soon, in preparation for the opening of the new trout season. Now, I haven't focussed on tying for the streams and rivers before, apart from the odd dryfly now and then.

    As such, I'm looking to hear from you how you weight your nymphs. I'm interested in specifics - how much weight do you add to nymphs of different sizes, how do you add the weight (ie with beads (mention sizes), lead wire (mention guage) etc etc), do you vary the weight you tie in for different conditions ? What is your "standard weight" that you tie in if you have a typical weight.

    Also, out of interest, I bought a book called Nymph Tying Techniques by Jim Schollmeyer last week. Has a browse through it this weekend and its a fantastic book, well worth adding to the library if you're into fly tying.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShaunF View Post
    Hi Guys,

    I'm going to start tying up patterns for the streams and rivers soon, in preparation for the opening of the new trout season. Now, I haven't focussed on tying for the streams and rivers before, apart from the odd dryfly now and then.

    As such, I'm looking to hear from you how you weight your nymphs. I'm interested in specifics - how much weight do you add to nymphs of different sizes, how do you add the weight (ie with beads (mention sizes), lead wire (mention guage) etc etc), do you vary the weight you tie in for different conditions ? What is your "standard weight" that you tie in if you have a typical weight.

    Also, out of interest, I bought a book called Nymph Tying Techniques by Jim Schollmeyer last week. Has a browse through it this weekend and its a fantastic book, well worth adding to the library if you're into fly tying.
    Hi Shaun

    For trout in rivers, I normally fish either jusy dry, or dry-and-dropper, or indicator-plus-dropper (or two droppers), or long leaders and weighted nymphs retrieved through slow pools.

    For dry-and-dropper...I usually go with an unweighted nymph (just soaked in the river prior to fishing), or a slightly wieghted nymph...with one or two turns of lead-tape, not much at all. (After all you don't want to pull your dry under all the time). Never any bead-heads.

    For Indicator-plus-droppers, I use NZ style fishing mostly. The dropper would be a bigger fly (i.e. #10, 12 or 14) with a bead-head. The point fly will be smaller like a # 14, 16, or 18 and either a small amount of lead-tape, or a bead-head (matching size of hook of course). (I'.e. # 12 bead-head ZAK and on point a # 16 PTN, either non-weighted, small amount of lead, or small bead-head). (All brass, no tungsten...the extra weight is not needed.)
    This all depends on the flow, and the depth of the section of river I am fishing. Higher flow/deeper...calls for slightly heavier flies...low flow rate, not too deep...I would go dry-and-dropper anyway, or NZ-style nymphing with flies that are not too heavy.

    If the fish are rising...dry, no question. Otherwise, try dry-and-dropper, no weight on the dropper. Then, go NZ-style with beaded flies, and the weight depends on the flow and depth.

    I also have Jim's other book...the Fly Tyers Benchside reference...it was pricey, but worth every cent and there is almost nothing or no tecnique that is NOT in that book!

    Cheers
    Mike

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShaunF View Post
    Hi Guys,

    I'm going to start tying up patterns for the streams and rivers soon, in preparation for the opening of the new trout season. Now, I haven't focussed on tying for the streams and rivers before, apart from the odd dryfly now and then.

    As such, I'm looking to hear from you how you weight your nymphs. I'm interested in specifics - how much weight do you add to nymphs of different sizes, how do you add the weight (ie with beads (mention sizes), lead wire (mention guage) etc etc), do you vary the weight you tie in for different conditions ? What is your "standard weight" that you tie in if you have a typical weight.

    Also, out of interest, I bought a book called Nymph Tying Techniques by Jim Schollmeyer last week. Has a browse through it this weekend and its a fantastic book, well worth adding to the library if you're into fly tying.
    Hi Shaun

    To answer this in the way you want it answered will take close on hours, as this is a topic that can really lend itself to extreme complication.

    Thus I will only provide pointers:

    1. Do not waste your time with any other beads than tungsten, get yourself packets of each size you can lay your hands on from 1mm to 4mm.
    2. Match the bead size with the hooksize or fly size, you can use a 4mm on a size 14 but it will look bad. Use common sense here, there are people that will tell you this size hook matches that size bead, but just make sure your fly still looks within proportions and you are there.
    3. Match lead wire guage with hook or fly size again to thick a wire will not look good. I prefer square lead.
    4. Tie a few flies with 2 turns, some more with 4 turns and so on and try to mark your flies so you know which is which. Differnent tying thread colour can be used to mark, or tying in a small piece of coloured thread in the tail without changing fly charater can help with this marking, or pack the flies in your box in such a way to help you remember which is which. You will not know before you get to your river what weigth you need.
    5. Don't just weight think, a heavily bulky weighted fly looks bad and might not sink as fst as you think, slimmer flies sinks better.
    6. Don't just weight think, lead turn positioning can achieve very good results as to how your fly will swim, upright, point up etc.
    7. Flat lead can also be useful in getting your fly swimming differently and can be used to shape your fly body nicely.

    This is my 2c

  4. #4
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    This thread is going to get some of the purists going.
    I have never tied wieghted flies specifically for the Cape streams. At best, I would go for a small tungsten bead. You have to remember that a waighted fly is going to present really badly, and spook a whole lot of fish.
    In Rhodes earlier this year, I fished with weight for the first time on a trout river. Basically two nymphs, with a little lead putty, or "deep soft weight" above the top fly. Then an indiator dependant on the depth. This rig had awasome results, where dry fly fishing would have been difficult. The theory was that the larger fish are deeper, and this proved to be true. I tried this on the Cape streams as well, and it did work, but not as well as in Rhodes. I think that the Cape streams have better riffle and pocket waters that hold large fish, and shallow drifts, such as what you would get from soft hackle flies, are better.
    In my opinion, wieghted nymphs for the Cape streams are not really going to give you huge advantage. The advantages you may get by fishing them in really deep pools, are not worth the dissadvantage you will experience by the bad presentation you are bound to experience.
    There are of course situations where you may want to do some short line nymphing, where weighted flies will give you the advantage, but there again, a well placed dry and soft hackle combo will also work well.
    Disclaimer.... none of my posts are intended to be "expert advice"..just opinions from someone who is willing to help where he can.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ShaunF View Post
    As I'm interested in specifics - how much weight do you add to nymphs of different sizes, how do you add the weight (ie with beads (mention sizes), lead wire (mention guage) etc etc), do you vary the weight you tie in for different conditions ? What is your "standard weight" that you tie in if you have a typical weight.
    Hiya Shaun

    When I still used to guide, I tied my nymphs in 3 classes of weight - Light. Medium, Heavy. They were then placed into flyboxes of the same weight-class, ie, I had a Light, Medium & Heavy box. That made choosing a fly very easy.

    Since I tie 90% of my nymphs on #16, the other 10% on #18, I use a very simple method of weighting them. I use 0.15mm lead wire for all my nymphs.

    Lightly weighted:
    3 turns of lead, under what will be the Thorax of the fly.

    Medium weighted:
    6 turns of lead, under what will be the Thorax of the fly.

    Heavily weighted:
    9-12 turns of lead. This usually takes up the length of the shank, with the last couple of wraps doubled over the 1st, under what will be the Thorax.

    Keep in mind, these are for the rivers in Rhodes, and my heavies will probably faal under "unweighted" for the Vaal guys

    If I tie a beaded fly, I will use 2 turns less, to make room for the bead, the weight will stay more-ore-less the same.

    Hope it helps ...
    Mario Geldenhuys
    Smallstream fanatic, plus I do some other things that I can't tell you about

    "All the tips or magical insights in the world can't replace devotion, dedication, commitment, and gumption - and there is not secret in that" - Glenn Brackett

  6. #6
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    Thanks guys, keep the replies coming. Interested to hear also from any of you who have spent any time on the KZN rivers and streams like the Loteni, Mooi and Little Mooi, Bushmans etc.

    I've spent a little time of these waters before, but would rate my experience as fairly amateur, and hence wanting to improve my rivercraft and give it a bit more focus.

    In the past, I've tended to fish mainly dries, and the nymph's I have fished in the past have been slightly weighted with a brass bead, or a turn or 2 of lead, or totally unweighted, just squeezed in the river as Mike previously suggested.

    I felt that there's probably a lot I could improve upon so await your further replies with bated breath !

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by pieterkriel View Post
    To answer this in the way you want it answered will take close on hours, as this is a topic that can really lend itself to extreme complication.
    Aint that the truth!!! Depends on where, time of day, river conditions and clarity, water flow, depth, species targeted, etc.

    I always stick to the routine...try a dry through likely spots first..then dry-and-dropper...then deeper with NZ-style rig, and slightly weighted flies...and so on.
    With little weight though, you CAN get your flies down deeper, if you mend and have good line-control skills. If you can manage a drag-free drift (what's that??) the flies will get down deep enough anyway.
    As in throwing reach casts, tuck casts, mending the line on the water, high-sticking, etc. Try that, before you go HEAVY flies.
    Real heavy flies are more suited to the Vaal...there are no trout streams in Natal that flows like that!
    (Or are there??)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyGuide.co.za View Post
    Hiya Shaun

    When I still used to guide, I tied my nymphs in 3 classes of weight - Light. Medium, Heavy. They were then placed into flyboxes of the same weight-class, ie, I had a Light, Medium & Heavy box. That made choosing a fly very easy.

    Since I tie 90% of my nymphs on #16, the other 10% on #18, I use a very simple method of weighting them. I use 0.15mm lead wire for all my nymphs.

    Lightly weighted:
    3 turns of lead, under what will be the Thorax of the fly.

    Medium weighted:
    6 turns of lead, under what will be the Thorax of the fly.

    Heavily weighted:
    9-12 turns of lead. This usually takes up the length of the shank, with the last couple of wraps doubled over the 1st, under what will be the Thorax.

    Keep in mind, these are for the rivers in Rhodes, and my heavies will probably faal under "unweighted" for the Vaal guys

    If I tie a beaded fly, I will use 2 turns less, to make room for the bead, the weight will stay more-ore-less the same.

    Hope it helps ...
    Mario, thanks thats a brilliant reply, and essentially exactly what I was looking for - how you experienced river guys approach weighting your flies, and what constitutes "light" "medium" and "heavy"

    Now from what I gather, you've spent a bit of time fishing the streams and rivers in KZN, and I haven't yet had the opportunity to venture out into your neck of the woods. How would you compare our waters to what you typically fish in the Rhodes and surrounds ? Similar ? Totally different ? Would you suggest any different approaches to weighting flies as a result of any similarities or differences in the streams?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShaunF View Post
    Thanks guys, keep the replies coming. Interested to hear also from any of you who have spent any time on the KZN rivers and streams like the Loteni, Mooi and Little Mooi, Bushmans etc.

    I've spent a little time of these waters before, but would rate my experience as fairly amateur, and hence wanting to improve my rivercraft and give it a bit more focus.

    In the past, I've tended to fish mainly dries, and the nymph's I have fished in the past have been slightly weighted with a brass bead, or a turn or 2 of lead, or totally unweighted, just squeezed in the river as Mike previously suggested.

    I felt that there's probably a lot I could improve upon so await your further replies with bated breath !
    Shaun, why don't you mail Dean direct and ask him? He knows those rivers very well too. He may not reply, if you don't include some smut though...

  10. #10
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    I can only second hat has already been said:

    If it ain't Tungsten, don't bother with a bead. Rather then use lead under the thorax.

    I tie two kinds of flies, 'control' fies and 'naturals' which I fish for Troot or SM Yellows.

    The 'control' flies will be weighted with tungsten and/or lead and will be slightly larger than 'the hatch' or my intended presentation fly.

    I prefer not to weight #16 and up with lead unless I have a good reason to, I prefer a slim natural looking fly and rather increase the weight on the control fly through the use of tungsten and lead if applicable. If I have to weight the fly I prefer to tie nymphs on caddis/grub hooks, it just looks better with a weighted fly than the standard normal nymph hooks plus the increased gape is always beneficial.

    What you can also look at doing is to start buying 2XH or 4XH hooks, those are pretty darn heavy on their own and if you tie your small nymphs on heavy wire hooks there really isn't any use for additional weighting on the fly, unless you're tying a control fly.

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