How to Fish Czech Nymph Style

Maybe you've overheard other fly anglers talking about their annual trip to the Czech Republic, seen pictures of fly boxes stuffed to the gunnels with Czech style weighted nymphs, or even tried Czech Nymphing without much success.  Then it is no surprise to learn that this style of fly fishing is extremely productive, and fun.  Why? If you were to turn over a few stones on the river bottom, you will discover nymphs and larvae are in abundance and form an indispensable part of the Trout's diet.  Therefore, learning to master the Czech Nymph fishing will give you some unforgettable sport.In this article we offer clear and practical advice on how to fish in this style, as well as highlight the tackle and techniques you need to learn.

Whether it’s Czech nymphing, Polish-style nymphing, or any other interpretation of these fixed-line methods – they all share one common theme; that of presenting flies at short range where a controlled, natural drift of the terminal tackle is achieved.

Although the presentation is paramount, the concept of this technique is ultimately to exploit fast, boisterous flows, or the deeper parts of a river. This is something that’s nigh on impossible to realise with more traditional methods when copious amounts of fly line snake across the river.

The Basic Method
Generally speaking, short-line nymphing involves lobbing your flies, leader and a short section of fly-line upstream at about 30 degrees to your position (diagram 1 below). Fished close together, a team of three heavy flies will sink quickly.

Cast 30 Degrees Upstream
With approximately a foot of fly line extending outside the rod tip, hold this clear of the surface, so the nine-foot leader angles steeply into the water. As your flies progress towards you, they should be tracked using the rod tip. Remember now, to guide the rod at a slightly slower pace than that of surface currents, because deep down on the streambed, friction between water and substrate reduces flow rates.

Allow Flies to Drift To One Side
The flies should be allowed to drift to one side of you and downstream (diagram 2 above) until a tensioned line causes them to lift off the bottom. As this can be a critical moment, don’t be in any hurry to hurtle the flies back upstream. During any drift, takes are determined by the fly-line stabbing forward (upstream), in a very positive manner, or the line hesitating. With the latter in mind, it’s as well to maintain a slight dogleg between fly line and leader (diagram 3). Once the flies are on the dangle, using a long, lazy sweep of the fly rod, present your flies at a different place upstream once more.

Watch Out For Stabbing Takes

The Fly Set-Ups
Many consider a three-fly set-up the norm when short line, Czech-style nymphing because this provides increased weight and gives the angler many options with regards to fly choice. As a rule, the flies are arranged on short dropper legs no more than 20 inches apart. It’s customary too to attach the heaviest fly on the middle dropper (diagram 4 below). The idea is that all three flies are now presented closer to the stream bed while allowing a marginally lighter point fly some degree of freedom to waft about seductively (diagram 5 below).

Fly Set-up
Fly Set-Ups for Czech Nymphing
Where shallow runs, riffles with boulders, or weedy channels occur, a two-fly rig goes some way to avoiding constant snagging. Again these can be arranged on some nine feet of leader overall with the heaviest pattern occupying the dropper position (diagram 6 above).

Tackle Choice
Rods rated for 3-5wt lines that are 10-11ft in length are perfect for fixed-line nymphing. More lofty outfits provide a greater reach, which in turn allows for slightly longer casts/drifts and more control over terminal tackle. As casting in the true sense isn’t necessary and with only yards of leader protruding, a more forgiving, softer rod blank cushions the blows of large, or hard-fighting fish. Something along the lines of a Greys Streamflex is ideal.

Greys Streamflex Fly Rod
Regarding a suitable fly line for Czech Nymphing, the Airflo Euro Nymph Fly Line is hard to beat.  This super thin specialist nymph line is built on a non-stretch core for maximum feel and features Airflo's super -dri coating so it floats extremely high in the water.

Airflo Euro Nymph Fly Line
Granted, the reel merely stores line, but because fish are hooked literally at your feet and can hare off in fast currents then something dependable is required, which is why a disc drag model such as a Hardy FW DD Fly Reel is recommended.  Despite its incredibly low weight, it offers an exceptionally smooth drag, which is important when fishing lighter lines and leaders.
Hardy FW DD Fly Reel
A straight through (level) leader of some nine feet will suffice and because it’s more abrasion resistant, fluorocarbon is a suitable choice. The idea is that level monofilament possesses less surface area than a tapered leader and therefore cuts through water more readily to help achieve depth. As for turnover, the sheer weight of heavy bugs provides impetus here. Given normal river flows, 5lb breaking strain should suffice and gives you some hope of retrieving flies that snag bottom. Where heavy water or floods occur, then step this up to 6-7lb breaking strain.  If you opt for a French Leader, you can't go far wrong with a Hends Camou French Leader.

Hends Camou French Leader
Another popular choice for Czech Nymphing is Rio Two Tone Indicator Tippet which offers a hi-vis two-tone indicator for maximum strike detection.

Rio 2-Tone Indicator Tippet

Which Water to Target
When this method came to the fore, naturally the whole idea was to target fish which held in seemingly impenetrable pools. Generally, good results are expected in faster water from thigh to waist depth.
However, as invertebrate colonies populate all types of streamy water, then you should look to search a whole range of areas that include calf-depth riffles to deep, rocky channels. By tweaking leader set-ups coupled with the angle of approach, it’s possible to search any area with appreciable flows.

Boulders and pocket water are a natural draw to trout and sometimes grayling. Because of swirling currents, these can be notoriously difficult to master. However, as no fly line comes into contact with surface currents, short-line nymphing is well suited to these water types.

Something else that needs consideration is the time of year. High summer and low levels point to depleted oxygen when trout seek out fast, agitated currents for comfort. Conversely, come a raging flood in the depths of winter, Grayling will prefer spots where turbulent flows are deflected, or fall slack, like the inside corner of a sweeping bend for example (see diagram 7 below).

Seek Out Fast, Agitated Currents
Keep On The Move
For any form of subsurface fishing, searching tactics should be used to find our quarry. If you are using a fixed, short line, then remember to only make two casts from one position before taking a pace or two in your preferred direction. Better still, aim to grid reference the section of water you’re planning to fish and make a methodical blanket sweep of this (diagram 8 below). Furthermore, where fish are encountered, it’s important to make several probing casts from the same position, before moving on. This is especially important where grayling are concerned, which have a reputation for packing tightly together.

Cover The Water
Swapping Flies
As you progress through a pool, the depth will vary considerably and many anglers might feel the need to change flies in a bid to deal with these fluctuations. In many respects, this remains impractical simply because you will ultimately end up continually swapping nymphs rather than fishing.

Fulling Mill Sparkle Orange Czech Mate
Where water less than knee depth occurs, aim to pitch your flies more broadside on (see diagram 9 below). This subjects them and the entire leader to the effects of the flow. A tensioned line now prevents them from sinking too quickly, so they remain higher in the water.

Pitch Your Flies Broadside
Conversely, angling casts directly upstream (diagram 10 below) reduces any tell from currents on your leader system, allowing the flies to plunge deeper.

Angling Casts Directly Upstream
Naturally, casts placed at different angles between these two extremes will alter the speed at which your flies descend, thus allowing you to explore different water depths using the same weighted patterns.

Handy Box of Czech Nymphs
As highlighted, learning to master Czech Nymph style fishing will give you some unforgettable sport.  And because the focus is on presenting the flies at close quarters using a longer rod, it is also a very relaxing method with not a lot of casting involved.  So the next time you are Trout or Grayling fishing, and struggling to catch fish using traditional dry or wet fly methods, why not give Czech Nymphing a try and you might just surprise yourself how effective it is!

For more advice on the short-line method, don't forget you can visit us instore at Glasgow Angling Centre or Edinburgh Angling Centre where our friendly helpful staff can help you with any aspect of Czech Nymphing or Game Angling in general.

This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.


  1. good article good drawings

  2. good article good drawings..

  3. Excellent blog folks - never tried this method but have known of it and seen it used to very good effect on the upper Clyde - the info here gives me the chance to give it a whirl

  4. Mentions French leader bib not how to set it up and fish or


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