Category Archives: Joe Dellaria, Learning From The River

Nymphing Subtleties: Part 2

Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria, Woodbury MN

In Part 1 of this series, we began looking at using a two-fly set-up where the lead fly is a dry fly of your choice with a dropper to a bead head nymph. We looked at how the types of dries, the dropper length and diameter, and the size and type of bead head influence how deep the nymph will run. In the second part, we will look at how the style of the fly influences the depth and how one can adjust the different variables to consistently tick the bottom. When you get all that right, this can be a very productive style of fishing.

Style of fly. I have found that color and type of fly often doesn’t make a big difference as long as you get the nymph down to the right depth. However, there are days where color or style can be important so don’t be shy about switching nymph styles if the bite is slow. The bigger issue is how fast do you want the nymph to fall and how deep do you need to be to get fish. This is where the style of the nymph plays a huge role. For faster sink rates and deeper water, I prefer using Copper John nymphs. They drop like a rock (especially when you drop your last one accidentally into the water). I use these in deeper or faster water. If you find that you are snagging too much with a Copper John you can either downsize one size or switch to a fly style that has a slower sink rate. For these situations I like Prince and Pheasant Tail nymphs. When I am facing shallower or slower water and I want a slower sink rate, I reach for my Hare’s Ear patterns in various colors. They sink the slowest as the fuzzy body style produces drag that reduces the sink rate. more…

Nymphing Subtleties: Part 1

Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria, Woodbury MN

This is a two-part series on nymphing in low water conditions.

A few years ago, Wisconsin changed the opener of the pre-season catch and release season from the first Saturday in March to the first Saturday in January. If you live in the upper Midwest, you know that January is usually when we experience a stretch of sub-zero weather. You may be thinking, is this guy nuts (That’s a separate discussion we can have over a beer or two!)? However, in this case, we were experiencing a heat wave with temperatures approaching freezing and bright sunshine. The radiant energy in the sunshine is enough to minimize the ice in the guides and the reel, so I decided to go fly fishing.

I checked my fishing log to see what I usually use in the early pre-season and proceeded to rig my rod with a float indicator, a #6 bead head olive wooly bugger, and an 18-inch dropper to a bead head silver lightning bug. Within a few casts it became clear this was not a good choice as I was spending most of my time walking through my best spots getting my flies unsnagged from rocks and other debris on the bottom of the river. more…

Motivation to Use BIG Flies

Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria, Woodbury MN

Larger streamers, wooly buggers, and girdle bugs can provide exciting fishing. There’s nothing like the jolt of a large fish crushing a fly on the retrieve. However, as I have gotten older, my casting shoulder has become increasingly less enamored with throwing these larger flies for hours on end.

Then a couple of years ago I caught 29 fish that were 15 inches or bigger. That was my best year ever for larger fish. Over 80% of the fish were caught on a nymph including the 22 incher! The nymphs were sizes #16-#12. An additional 11% were caught on wooly buggers or girdle bugs sizes #10-#6. The remaining 8% came on #14 parachute Adams and #10 hoppers. I also fished larger streamers, wooly bugger, and girdle bugs over the course of the season, but none of my largest fish took any of those offerings.

This success in numbers and size shifted my strategy in subsequent years to focus on nymph fishing unless there was an active hatch. While I have not reproduced the number of larger fish, I have consistently caught the largest fish on a nymph in the intervening years. And, yes, I still put on larger flies for 10-15% of the time. This served to solidify my belief (or bias, if you prefer) that larger fish can be caught consistently on smaller flies. more…