Pickering Beck

Heavy nymphs do the business in a murky beck


What a dismal July day. Drizzle, easterly wind and the temperature hovering around 13C. Crap. Anyhow, plan A was to have a go on the very top beat of the Seven at Spaunton Moor. But when I got there at 10.30am the water was running like a steam train and the colour of hot chocolate – unfishable.

So I hastily formulated a Plan B and headed for the Duchy section of the Pickering Beck for the first time this season. Here the water was up and coloured but fishable:

Today was going to be an experiment. I’d try two heavy nymphs on a French leader set up with a 7.5ft rod – nylon only on the reel, no fly line, and a coiled pink bite indicator. I wasn’t massively confident; the water looked a bit too fast for my liking and I suspected that the fish might be holed up and not too bothered about feeding. The first half hour or so seemed to confirm my suspicions with zilch activity – nothing was interested in the two beaded nymphs, nondescript orange bug with a flashabou rib on the point and a slimline creation on the dropper whose body consists simply of pearl flashabou wound onto the hook shank:

But then I did get a tiny fish on – and just as quickly off again. Nonetheless it meant that the fish were taking. I was concentrating on the slightly deeper water at the edges. Finally took one:

And after that things began to hot up considerably. I think the water must have been dropping rather than rising as I had feared and the fish were certainly feeding.

I was particularly keen to try a spot where I do the invertebrate sampling. It looks really fishy but I’ve always struggled with dry fly or standard spiders/nymphing:

Gratifyingly I picked up three fish in the deeper, slacker water either side of the point of the island – about this size:

By now I was getting into some kind of rhythm and was getting a feel for the sort of water where the fish were likely to be hanging out. I flicked the flies under this tree on the right:

And pulled out this little beauty:

Anyhow, had a few more along these lines:

Fantastic little sparklers. In the end I bagged, I think, 16 fish and lost half a dozen more. So that experiment succeeded. I can’t think that I would have had such a productive day with conventional fly-line tactics. Hmm, this short-line nymphing is becoming extremely interesting.

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  1. Excellent effort. It’s feels crude but it’s very effective compared to traditional methods. I think it’s because you get your nymphs fishing deeper a lot earlier.



  2. Cheers Dave. Yes, I think you are right about the nymphs hitting depth quickly. Also you just have more control and drag is minimised I reckon. It does seem like a killer technique – but is it fly fishing? And does that matter?

    1. I think it’s still flyfishing as you’re imitating a natural insect to fool the fish and there’s still plenty of watercraft involved (not so much in my case). There’s plenty of cruder methods out there such as the dreaded blob.


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