Pickering Beck

A few more little grayling to boost the confidence


Up to Pickering Beck once again to have yet another go at getting to grips with this French nymphing business. The conditions were pretty much spot on: no wind and the water up an inch or two from last time and with the merest hint of colour. It was pretty cold though, 3C according to the car, and within a few minutes of getting into the water my feet had pretty much disappeared as far as my brain was concerned.

Anyhow, I’d rigged up with two beaded hare’s ears, the fatty on the point and the little one about 14 inches above it on a 4 inch dropper:

After losing the point fly on a snag – I gave it a tug and it broke at the dropper knot, so that was down to me – I re-rigged and made my way to the nice deep run where I’d picked up a small grayling on the last outing.

I lobbed the flies into the pool and followed the line back with the rod tip held aloft – that’s right isn’t it? Each time the indicator (a couple of inches of fluorescent braid) made an odd movement I gave a little jerky strike. Mostly just the bottom – pulling out the odd twig or leaf. But then and lo and behold this little critter was on the end:

A few casts later, same pattern: many ‘false’ takes then another little grayling:

I pulled out another of similar size from the same pool and hoped I might have a few more – but no such luck. I moved on to the next pool but nothing was doing. Still, three fish was not a bad start.

After half an hour of working my way upstream to no avail I came to a little weir where the pool is deepish for this beck – maybe four feet – and where I have caught decent fish on the maggot. I’ve struggled here with the fly:

I managed to get a decent foothold on some submerged masonry blocks on the left-hand bank and got the flies into the pool. There was quite a bit of bumping as the point fly tumbled along the river bed, and I pulled out more than a few fairly substantial branches. But then I hit a better fish, which indeed turned out to be a grayling – maybe three-quarters of a pound:

And then a couple more, a shade smaller:

That turned out to be it for the session (a bit under three hours): half a dozen grayling and a couple of small trout. A good day for me and the confidence in this system of nymphing is growing. All the grayling took the dropper. So what would happen if you dispensed with the point fly and instead nipped a BB shot on the end? Surely that would at the very least reduce the number of snags. When I get a bit better at this, I might give that a go.

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  1. Hi Simon
    Try tying some of the point patterns on Jig Hooks. They tend to swim point up ands get snagged less.
    I am advised to keep tracking the rod tip downstream of the cast after you have lobbed upstream so that you are in contact with the point fly. I am no expert on French nymphing but really enjoy it

  2. Thanks Graham – yes, have tied some jig hooks and use them, I think they do snag less. Trouble is I tied a load of heavy nymphs on standard hooks before I came across jigs and feel I ought to use them up. It must be the Yorkshireman in me!

  3. Simon, there’s something about sticking a shot on instead of a fly that just doesn’t seem right. Perhaps it’s where the fish were lying for you, but I reckon I usually catch as many on the point as dropper. Confidence is everything!

    1. Yeah, agree that bunging a BB on the end of the line might be a bit sacrilegous Jon. Hopefully I’ll reject that idea when (ha!) I pick up a few fish on the point fly. Interestingly the two little trout I caught yesterday took the point. You’re totally right about confidence!

  4. Have you tried using co-polymer nylon? I’ve had a lot more success on the french nymph with Orvis Superstrong+ in 5x and 6x (occasionally 7x if the fish aren’t too big or it’s not snaggy).
    It seems to cut through the water a lot easier and keeps your drifts at the pace of the current.

    I’ve only been french nymphing a few years but after a few fishless trips it finally ‘clicked’ and it’s now my most effective way of fishing (but still enjoy fishing dry fly more :-)).

    Keep up the blogs, by the way, I really enjoy them! Great hearing that it’s not not all about fishing superstars with 2 and 3lbers crawling up the rod, but we enjoy it anyway! Tight lines…

    1. Hmm, interesting Carl. I have to say that in general I’m something of a nylon sceptic, but perhaps I’ll give that a go. A few of my spools are getting low so when I replace them I’ll give the co-polymer a go. I’m hoping you’re right that suddenly it’ll all come together. I’m pretty certain that a good amount of the difficulty is in detecting takes, or at least distinguishing a take from a snag. I’ve read how grayling in particular can suck in a fly and spit it out again in a jiffy. Thanks for your kind words about the blog.

  5. It’s great to see that you’re mastering this nymphing lark. Like a few have mentioned above, when you do start catching then your confidence and self-belief does increase. What I’ve learned is that you can only catch what is in your swim and once you do find them then you’ll usually get takes.

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