How to fish emergers/nymphs in a lake?

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Nick Clayton, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. Ok, so I'm a bit lost when it comes to fishing emerger patterns and nymphs in still water. Should I be using a floating line, just let it sit? Strip very slowly? Varying types of retrieve? I got the impression that emergers may have been the way to go at Cady today, but I just didn't know how I should be fishing them, and when I tried I quickly lost confidence and changed tactics. Any suggestions?
  2. I fish emergers like dries in lakes. Seems to work for me. As for nymphs, I like them unweighted on a floating line with a slow hand twist retrieve. That is often the ticket on lakes over here, anyway.
  3. Thanks for the tips Ethan! Appreciate it.
  4. When I use emergers there, I generally let them lay still, however, an occasional small twitch can bring a good strike. You need to try both tactics. I have taken rainbows there on a callibaetis emerger, sometimes still, sometimes twitched, and occasionally dragged a foot or so. They may be taking it for something else like a caddis however, because I haven't run into many callibaetis there. Twitching a little beetle works too. Being a mostly dryfly guy (I said mostly---I've been known to drop a chrono on occasion--but it bores me to death) I use a dry line. I'll let the other guys talk nymphs to you. You might do a little reading on how they swim however, plus WATCH. I will once in a while twitch a dry fly, but not very often. I generally will cast and let it lay many time for probably 2 minutes. Don't be too impatient to pick it up and cast again, especially if fish are cruising in the vicinity. On the other hand, casting to rising fish can be quite productive. When occasional fish rise, I will be aggressive and paddle over quickly within casting range and cast to them. Often times it PAYS, especially if things are somewhat slow, at least you may have found a fish hungry enough that may show some interest. :)
  5. Subsurface I like to let them fall a bit, then give my toon a slow kick so they arc back upwards, and then let them drop again by pushing my feet back down deep in the water to stall my backward movement, repeat/rinse.

    I like to have some vertical movement now and then like they are on their way to the surface.

    Most of the time I fish subsurface until I see a lot of fish crashing the surface and then I will throw a dry right on top of them.
  6. I rarely use anything other than a floating line for this application. As others have said, slow sink, slow retrieves.
  7. When fishing an emerger or nymph in stillwater it's probably best to fish it in a manner which imitates the actions of whatever you're trying to imitate. In the case of the Callibaetis mayfly (the Callibaetis is our most important and, often, our only stillwater mayfly), the nymph is an active swimmer and prior to emergence sometimes goes through an active 'dance' which involves being lifted toward the surface by increased bouyancy caused by a buildup of gases under the exoskeleton then swimming back down to regain the shelter of off the weedbeds. Some others may actively swim right up to the surface.

    The emerger lies horizontally in the surface film making very little disturbance while undergoing ecdysis (love that word). The speed with which this process takes place is largely dependent on temperature and humidity and may vary from a few seconds to a few minutes which determines how long the fish has to zero in on, and eat, the emerger or dun.

    Knowing how the nymph/emerger/dun behaves should give clues to how to fish the imitation. The nymph imitation can be fished on a floating line with a retrieve consisting of a long, smooth draw on the line interspersed with pauses to allow it to sink again or with a series of strips imitating the fast, six-inch spurts of swimming of which the nymph is capable. The emerger generally just sits there essentially motionless except for a bit of wriggling while the dun might give an occasional 'skip' as he tries out his wings as they are being erected and dried.
  8. I've posted these pictures before; these are my most effective Callibaetis imitations: nymph, emerger and dun.
  9. Nick great question. Preston, thank you for such a detailed and pattern photo enhanced response.
  10. With a floating line you can let your offering wind drift if there's a breeze. I'll often fish a dry/dropper emerger and cast cross wind if the breeze isn't too stiff. Had great action in the shallows of the basin lakes with this method.
  11. At cady I mostly use a cast and wait approach when I'm using a surface emerger, I don't keep lifting and casting if I know there are fish working the area I've first made a cast to, I believe this just disturbs the fish and they will move away fairly quickly. If there are fish working in an area you have cast to just wait until either you are sure your offering has been refused or the fish have moved away, if overly impatient count to ten and then start slowly twitching the fly back, most of the time if there are a group of fish working an area and your pattern fits the bill you'll get a hit by just letting it sit, if you see individual fish feeding it can be very productive to cast to the fish or near it and this is when I follow a count of ten plan if there is no strike by the time I get to ten I will start moving the fly towards me slowly until its away from the feeding fish and then I'll cast to it again. For nymphs work those little puppies if you know there are fish feeding on nymphs of the type you are using, try to imitate the movement of the real thing.
  12. All good advice, lots of things to try and techniques to work on. Here is one one more suggestion for nymphing. If you hate sitting still as much as I do try tying your nymph on a long leader and then kick very slowly in a series of 'S' turns. On the outside turns the nymph will fall then as you change direction the line will tighten and the fly will rise toward the surface. Most strikes come at that point and you have to stay alert because the line has a curve in it.

    I like to use a floating line for this, it is particularly effective on really calm days when fishing can be real difficult. This also works well with a chironomid emerger such as a Kimball's Emerger. Grease the leader down to the last few inches so the fly rides just subsurface. Get plenty of distance between you and the fly when the lake is glassy smooth.
  13. Thanks for all the great input you guys. I'm heading back to Cady in the morning and I will experiment with all of these great tips. I appreciate it greatly!

  14. Another wrinkle. I use a sinking line that I troll behind my pram. I place the rod in a holder then grip the line in my hand while I grip the oar. Rowing causes the fly to rise and fall. as I move around the lake. Same technique works with a floating or intermediate lines.

  15. Doc, I noticed that technique of yours once. I thought that you were just all tangled up (ha)!
  16. That's funny you should mention that doc. After missing a strike yesterday because I was rowing and not holding my rod, I grabbed the line and held it in my right hand for a bit while rowing. I was trying to picture what my fly was looking like as I moved my hand back and forth with each stroke of the oars. I'll have to try that a little bit more from now on.

  17. To tangle or not tangle, that is the question. But seriously, after many hours of practice I am now able to row and chew gum at the same time. :)


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