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How to Use Long Rods for Nymph Fly Fishing by
Nymph Master Bill

There have always been long rods used in nymph fly fishing. Then why have these rods now become so popular for nymph fishing? In one word..Weight!  The newer graphite rods are just so light that they can be made with extra length without killing your arm.  You can now use fly rods in the 10 to 12 foot range that are actually lighter than many 8 or 9 foot rods you have in your collection.

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What are the advantages of using long fly rods for nymph fishing?  Here are the main advantages of using long rods for nymph fishing:

  1. You are able to use fewer casts to cover the water and this includes numersous backcasts.
  2. You can keep almost all the line off the water which will help you spook less fish.
  3. You can controll the drift of the nymph, the location and you can pinpoint your cast better.
  4. You will hook more fish since you have more line off the water.
  5. You should be able to land more fish since you will have more control if you know how to land a fish which unfortuantely most fly anglers don't!

Let's talk about landing the trout.  A fly rod is a lever. You want to make it shorter not longer to land a fish.  Do not stab the sky and raise your rod overhead especially these long rods. This is the nonsense of television and stupid fly fishing videos.  If you raise your rod over your head especially on a spring creek you will give the trout an advantage that you may not be able to overcome.  You want to have a strategy on how you are going to play fish before you cast to him.  You don't want the trout to run in both directions. You figure out your best option versus before hooking him this is especially true if you can't chase the fish.

When you hook a trout with these long rods play the fish off the reel and keep the rod near your waist at an angle where you can be in control.  Let the bend of the long rod tire the fish...not just the tip. On a light tippet with a large fish in either a spring creek or a freestone stream if you lift the rod high you have a 50 percent chance of snapping a light tippet immediately.  Furthermore, if you are using midges or very small flies this technique will result in greater that 65% of the time the fly will come out.  These numbers are based on actual experiments over 40 years on the spring creeks of Pennsylvania. (In the photo You can See Vince Marinaro on the Letort Landing a Trout. Notice how he is not lifting the rod over his head!  Notice how all the rod is playing the fish. This rod is only about 8 foot but you get the idea!)

Vince Marinaro Landing a Trout on the Letort

You want the small fly to slide into the side of the jaw in my estimation for best chance of landing the fish. In these cases with small flies you want a slip strike rather than a sideways nymph strike.

To land the trout slide your hand up the grip this will take a 10 foot rod down to around 9 feet and give you an angle to land the fish.  Long fly rods are great but you should know how to handle them to get the most out of them.





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