Trout primarily feed beneath the surface. On heavily pressured fisheries or on days when surface activity is limited, nymphing offers the greatest chance for success. For many anglers, the increased complexity and challenge of controlling the drift can make it difficult to know where to start.
On a recent trip to Montana’s Bitterroot River I spent a day with experienced guide John Herzer exploring the most effective subsurface techniques. The trout were very active as the Skwala stonefly hatch was just starting. As we made our way down the river, I bounced between floating indicator and tight-line European nymphing styles, taking fish in the long slick runs with a floating indicator and hooking fish in the more churning, intricate currents with the European methods. Larger, bright colored flies accounted for the majority of the bites with fish recovering from a long winter looking for larger meals.
While these fish were aggressive and floating indicators took many fish under the early spring conditions, the European style method of angling will become far more effective as the water warms up and more bugs become active.
You can read more about the Competition Nymph and other innovative lines from Cortland at http://www.cortlandline.com/fly-fishing and check out Nymph Like You Mean It on the Cortland Fly Fishing You Tube channel.