French nymphing on the Wharfe

For pretty much my entire working life I’ve never bothered taking more than a couple of days off over Christmas but the new arrival at Yorkshireflyfishing HQ has prompted a volte-face this year. I took the whole 2 week festive period off which allowed a rare outing to the river with Stu (once self-guilt had been eradicated via much washing up, bin emptying and Dysoning). The night before I tried to refresh my understanding of French Nymphing by re-watching a bit of Modern Nymphing – European Inspired Techniques on Vimeo. It was Stu who put me onto this, it wasn’t cheap at about £15 but what else can you get with that nowadays, 3 pints and a packet of crisps if you’re lucky and far more useful.

We got to the river for about 10 and tackled up with our French leaders. I built mine as follows:

9ft of 25lb > 3ft of 15lb > 18 inches of 8lb Rio 2 tone Indicator tippet > 4ft of 5lb tippet with a dropper half way down. On the dropper I had a pink tagged tungsten bead fly and a heavily weighted epoxy coated fly on point (name I can’t remember). I felt quietly optimistic as I waded out to a good bit of water but took an immediate blow to morale as my neoprene waders began leaking within seconds of entering the river – what a great start to the session. However I persevered and tried to master the basics of French Nymphing and get my flies to fish right and keep in touch with the leader without dragging it along nor holding it back, and not letting the thicker indicator section enter the water. After a bit of exploration I finally landed a diminutive little fish which eased the pressure of blanking. Another followed, bit bigger this time and again was to the pink tag tungsten bead fly on the dropper.

Not much else came from this pool from me apart from a couple of offers but Stu who was fishing downstream had 2 or 3 fish including a half -decent sized example.

Stu’s fish
Stu in action

We moved further upstream to try a run called ‘the barrel’ but quickly ascertained there was too much water pushing through today so continued on to another section known to hold Grayling.

Yours truly in teapot configuration

Stu advised where the fish were known to hold and after a bit of searching I honed in on a strip of water that consistently produced takes and concentrated my efforts there. This resulted in a a couple of smaller Grayling, a decent sized one that pinged off before the net and a nice out of season brownie that looked like it had been attacked by something. Cormorant? heron?

We saved the best run for the afternoon session when we figured the day would have warmed up and activity would hopefully correspond. What we hadn’t bargained for was the cruel downstream wind barrelling down here and making any form of upstream fishing extremely difficult. Stu still managed a few but I was struggling and my left foot was bastard freezing – new waders required!

Stu playing a fish

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