Anyone that has read a fly fishing magazine in the last few years has likely seen an article talking about Czech style nymphing or Czech style nymphs. The Czech Republic Fly Fishing Team developed this method of fishing to comply with international rules that prohibit the use of a suspension style strike indicator in competitions (no thingamabobbers or corkies allowed!).
The (BASIC) Czech setup is a simple one. From the fly line, starting with a 10” to 20” piece of bright colored line called a sighter* add 6 to 10 feet of straight fluorocarbon tippet.
4X and 5X are the standard sizes of line to use but 6X can be very useful for the clear waters of some spring creeks and highly selective fish.
A standard dropper rigging is preferred over tying the second fly as a trailer off the bend of the hook of the first fly. To tie a standard dropper rig on your Czech style line is very easy using a Blood Knot, Triple Surgeons Knot or a Tippet Ring.
Usually anglers tie the heavy nymph on the top tag and a lighter fly at the bottom and that is usually the way to go, but it can be switched to the heavy one on the bottom depending on conditions. My feeling is, the more you are fishing in rough, pocket water fish the heavy fly on the bottom, and in riffles and runs put the lighter fly on the bottom. I often fish 2 very similar weighted nymphs together with very good success. I do not enjoy fishing 3 nymphs but it is done with the heavy nymph tied in the middle.
With 2 nymphs weighted with tungsten bead heads, you will be able to achieve some amazing depths, and with no strike indicator on the line you simply raise or lower the rod tip to let more or less line sink, and to steer the flies in to the sweet spot.
French Style Nymphing – The Slinky
Another great method for European style fishing is the French style. The French method uses a coiled piece of line that spreads out like a slinky alerting you to a fish. While Slinky’s are called sighters, they act more like an indicator compared to the Czech style sighter but remain legal in competitions because they are not able to suspend the nymph like a bobber.
I’ve used the French Coil as a sighter and held it over the water with the flies dangling almost straight below. I’ve also applied a paste floatant* to it and floated it on the surface with the flies dead drifted behind like a strike indicator.
That is the beauty of these French Slinky’s, you can do anything with them and they detect even the most delicate take or subtle moment of the fish “just tasting” your nymph.
To make your own slinky at home, wrap your chosen size and colored monofilament around a dowel peg, taping one end with a thin strip of electrical tape. Make 18 to 24 wraps, with each wrap butting against the previous wrap and then finish with a 2nd strip of tape. You need to leave about 6 to 8 inches of “tag” coming out of each side of the dowel. Now comes the fun part. Get a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Once you have a rolling boil going, throw the dowel wrapped with the mono in to the boiling water and leave it there for 5 minutes. The reason I use thinly cut strips of electrical tape is it withstands the heat and is water proof so it holds up during this important process of changing the molecules of the nylon. Once you’ve hit the 5 minute mark remove the sighter from the boiling water and put it in the freezer overnight. I recommend making a dozen of these at a time, and having several to use for a week of fishing. Once you get to the river and decide to use the slinky, untape each end of the dowel and pull the mono off from the dowel and attach to your line. Keep the dowel for another slinky making session.
While the Czech style sighter will last all season long and beyond, a French Slinky is usually pretty stretched out after a half of day of fishing so plan on using at least 2 per day. They can be revitalized on the stream by dipping them back in hot water so some people will bring a thermos of hot water just for this. But these are really cheap to make and you can carry several with you for the day. Firehole River anglers in Yellowstone Park may have an advantage with the boiling hot pools near the river!