What is Nymphing: In fly fishing, nymph is a general term used to describe a type of artificial fly representative of sub-aquatic trout food. More specifically, nymphs are designed to imitate immature (usually aquatic) insects in their pre-adult or larval stage.
As many insects spend proportionally more time in the nymphal stage of development than in the usually brief adult stage, nymphs compose in important staple of a trout’s diet. Nymphs can be tied to imitate specific points within an insect’s larval stage. The most common are nymph (mayflies and stoneflies), pupa (caddisflies and midges), and emerger.
Because these flies are fished entirely beneath the surface of the water, they are often weighted with wraps of copper wire, lead wire, or both. The use of beads of brass, copper, or tungsten as heads on nymph flies is also quite common, giving these imitations not only added weight, but a more realistic profile and a flashy, attractive quality. Nymph bodies often incorporate natural and synthetic dubbing material and soft, webby feathers to produce the underwater movement and action characteristic of real larval insects.
Fly fishing with Nymph
When fishing with nymphs, presentation technique is important because of the varied nature of sub-aquatic insect behavior. This was not always the prevailing thought on nymph presentation, as the nymph was originally thought to be the logical extension of the wet fly, but time and experience have proven that effective nymph fly fishing requires precise and thoughtful technique.
Biologically speaking, the term nymph specifically refers to the pre-adult form of an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis. In incomplete metamorphosis, the juvenile insect molts directly to an adult with no intermediate pupal stage or series of pupal stages.
With this more technical definition in hand, only mayflies and stoneflies qualify as “nymphs” in the strict biological sense of the term. Caddisflies and midges undergo complete metamorphosis and their larval imitations are thus often referred to as pupae rather than nymphs (though either is correct under the broad fly fishing usage of the term).
Sometimes a fly angler may hear some aquatic nymphs referred to as “naiads” after the mythical Greek water nymphs or “ephydriads” who would frequently seduce men into danger and death with their characteristic cold blackness.
Regardless of the name or pattern of nymph you might want to fish, there’s no denying that a fly angler wanting to catch more trout has a better chance at success by presenting a fly sub-surface…nymphing. To do this effectively, you need the right equipment. Red Truck Fly Rod Company makes the best nymph fly rod and outfit when nymphing for trout.