So often you hear people talking about not wanting to Nymph. It’s too easy, or I hate staring at that bobber. And it’s true subsurface fishing isn’t near as fun as watching a fish rise. But, it can be very effective when done correctly. The fish feed approximately 80% of the time under the surface but the key to fishing this stage is knowing what your flies are doing. I think too often people put on a indicator and a couple of flies and just fish it. Then at the end of the day say it was good or maybe a little slow and blame it on the fish.
If your doing this you simply being lazy. The correct indicator distance is a time and a half of the depth in which your fishing. So if you put on a new 9′ footer with the indicator at the top your almost set for 6′ of water. But are you going to fish 6 feet of water all day? I’d guess not.
A second ago, I said almost set but thats not a definite. The idea about where to set the indicator is centered around the fact that the current is going to effect your rig enough to warrant the extra half even with perfect mending. But not all currents are the same. An thats why I said almost. The current speed and weight of your flies the play a huge factor. Lighter flies and faster current require more weight and maybe an indicator adjustment.
lastly is the mending factor. Believe it or not more important than when dry fly fishing. If your flies are not behaving subsurface then they won’t work. The difference is, there not working and you can’t see it like you do with dries. A good nymph angler is almost constantly mending, also feeding line out and bringing it in depending on the water there in. Those flies need to be dead drifting except when your fishing them as emerging bugs. But that’s a whole different story. I can’t tell you how often I watch people fish with micro drag or need to maybe make a mend downstream no matter how often you remind them. If you see even the slightest wake or pull against the current then a mend is needed.
Next time your out tinker around. Maybe a deep run with an indicator @ 12′. First file set 3′ down and the other at 6′, with a good size split in the middle. Or maybe leave a tippet tag long and tie your fly on that. Kinda Beaverhead style. Or at the very least, stop in a couple of riffles an make an indicator and weight adjustment. If nothing else your at least doing you best.

Till next Time
Doug Jones
Clear Creek Outfitters