Fly fishing rod

Salomone: Stripping Nymphs on Calm Waters

The author’s niece, Alison Dodd (right) and her daughter, Ella Salomone (left), show off their catch.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy Photo

The window closes quickly as the winter months approach. A hard water roof will soon cover lakes, ponds and reservoirs. Flat water enthusiasts should venture out before the ice sets in. Those who succeed will find success tempting for trout with an active presentation. Stripping nymphs in calm waters will cause your rod to bend.

Those who enjoy flat water fishing should venture out before the window of opportunity freezes over for winter.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy Photo

When fly fishing with a woolly bugger, movement is the key factor for success. It is rare for a stationary fly to produce. It’s true, you can drift a woolly bugger across a stretch of river or lake with moderate results, but for the most part streamer flies are moving targets and for good reason.

The movement associated with streamer flies is the key factor in the productivity of this type of fly. A swimming silhouette commands a feeding response in large trout – predatory instincts take over and the fish give chase. Always an exciting approach to the river, streamer fishing is an active presentation style that leads to increased action and moves fish.

With the rapid fall upon us, movement became key. The trout continue and participate as planned. Cooler nights and changing leaves are visual indicators letting anglers know that fish are active and ready to move in for food.

Knowing the reactions the trout will produce leads anglers to fly in a different direction than normal. When most anglers tie a nymph fly, the goal is to have a seemingly free-floating appearance. Anglers strive for a natural presentation where the insect drifts at the same rate and speed as the water around it. If there is no current, the insect is motionless, waiting to be discovered by a feeding and cruising trout.

But now is the time to give some movement to your nymph fishing. Trout are willing to travel a considerable distance to capture food. A moving underground insect will attract the attention of any trout within sight. A free swimming bug is an easy meal for any trout. I haven’t found an insect that can swim faster than a trout, however, there are plenty of insects that possess extreme locomotion abilities.

Nymphs, leeches, gnats and scuds can all be associated with the movement to attract a trout.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy Photo

When movement is added to your presentation, the trout reacts. Damselfly nymphs are wriggling and wriggling delights that entice wild trout to eat and are just one example of a swimming aquatic insect.

Leeches swim actively with a ribbon-like motion. The pulsing kick of a leech in mid-water rings the dinner bell for hungry trout looking to muscle up for winter. A leech is a large, protein-rich meal that trout often enjoy. A leech pattern – like a squirrel tail leech – presents an easy, slow-swimming, unweighted meal.

Trout will not miss a leech swimming slowly across a lake. Retrieving a leech fly that is just above the tops of weeds creates a situation where trout visibly follow the moving fly, often for considerable distances before engaging. Natural tones such as tan, brown, olive or black mimic a variety of leeches. Some fly models that incorporate ultraviolet (UV) fixing materials possess a certain realistic quality that other materials cannot replicate. Leech patterns with UV materials appear to swim and move during the break between strips.

Alison Dodd with a calm water rainbow.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy Photo

Another active aquatic insect that can be stripped with great efficiency is scuds. Small shrimp-like pieces that seem to drive trout wild, scuds come in a variety of colors from olive and pink to an orange color that mimics a dying or dead scud. Extremely active swimmers living near weeds in ponds and lakes, all trout eat a scud.

Gnats are the last flies that can take advantage of movement to entice trout to eat. A striped midge in red or black colors pulled through calm water with long even stripes always brings the trout to the net. It was incredibly surprising how quickly a midge nymph can be stripped in the water and chased and eaten. Flies like Pat Dorsey’s Top Secret, in a variety of emergent midge patterns, with white protruding from the head or rear of the fly are good choices for this technique.

Stillwater Enthusiasts: The season is coming to an end, and players are actively chasing moving aquatic insects. Trout are ready to travel great distances for a swimmer fly and giving your nymphs movement is the way to go.

Now is the time to add movement to your flies to attract trout.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy Photo

Whether it’s a leech, a scud, or a gnat nymph, give it a small strip.