Indicator-less Nymphing

I’ve polaroided a nice brown at the tail of a pool and put a cast out with the Stimulator that had already been eaten 8 times before now. The fly goes over the fish and it doesn’t react. Nervously I try again, and still get no reaction from the fish. My fishing mate, guide and film maker Nick Reygaert, (who has way more experience at this than I do) says, “That fish will eat a nymph”. Sheepishly I ask, “Should I put an indicator on?” Nick replies, “I wouldn’t”.

I’ve done enough fishing to know there are times when fishing an indicator results in disappointment. Without one, your fly drifts more naturally, and there’s less chance of spooking the fish. So Nick’s advice was predictable, but I needed it to help muster the confidence not to put an indicator on. The fish was in plain view, and I knew I would see it eat the fly. But what if I didn’t?

I selected a soft hackle bead head pheasant tail and, shaking with excitement and nerves, knotted it on.

First cast was rubbish and way short. Like when a golfer gets the yips and makes a putt that rolls six inches when it was supposed to roll six feet. I was rattled. Was the indicator what I needed to fish to this trout confidently?

One deep breath and calm was restored. Then a short pep talk to myself that went along the lines of, “You’ve already landed a heap of fish today and you know what to do.”

Things slowed down and casting felt effortless again. I layed it out and the fish moved decisively towards the fly, opened its mouth, then turned, I struck, fish on. Perfect.

Confidence restored.

This was my most memorable fish of the trip. Not size related, just how it eventuated. Fishing this way I think, is more difficult than fishing a dry fly; and so this was a quiet highlight for me.

In landing that fish, I’d made another step forward in building confidence to do away with the indicator more often.

One piece of advice fishing like this: if you think the trout’s eaten the fly, it has. Back yourself. Strike confidently. The more fish you observe feeding, the more you’ll become familiar with their behaviour. You’ll notice the way they purposefully drift towards the fly, the white of their mouth as they eat, and the tilt as they swallow and drift back to their feeding lie. Build your confidence in fishing indicator-less. I find it a challenge and one of the most effective and exciting ways to catch a trout.