(Flyfishing International, 2010-07-11 23:56)
by Günter Feuerstein
Although it was more than 30 years ago but I remember quite well the time when my friends and I started fly fishing. From this day forth we fell in love with the picture of the enrolling line in the air which carried our flies to the target. No long rod, no heavy tackle, just an artificial fly casted with a long elastic weight called a fly line. It was a great feeling! Something totally new. We loved it and still do.
The beauty of the enroling line is what makes fly fishing special and what makes the big difference to spinn or match fishing where you just cast a weight without doing any false casts. We fished with dry flies first as dry fly fishing was for us the most spectacular method. In the end of the seventies when we tried to start using underwater patterns - aka nymphs. We fished the Bregenzer and Dornbirner Ache at that time, two of the larger rivers in Vorarlberg, the province in the western part of Austria.
While the mighty Bregenzer Ach (due to water power plants, now sometimes only a small stream :( ) made a long drift possible our home river -the Dornbirner Ache- was different. Many places did not make a combination of upstream and downstream fishing possible because in the part of the river where trout were abundant there were a lot of little weirs and short runs of sometimes only 2-5 m length. This forced us to use a different technique to catch fish. In fact, the technique we used was nothing else but the last part of a common upstream nymph technique. First you presented the nymph with a tuck cast as it had to sink fast. After that you shortened line to avoid any slack and started lifting your rod a bit to have a good view at the end of the fly line or leader to detect any takes and to reply with a quick strike. The closer the nymph came to our stand the higher we lifted our rods to make the drift slower and to keep the nymph down at the bottom of the river bed. This last part with the rod up was especially used behind the rocks as there was no other chance than to fish this way. But despite its effectivity and the fact that we were only using common nymphs but no heavy weighted patterns we were not really fond of this method. We liked to see a beautiful loop travelling through the air carrivng our nymphs to the target.
A bad development started
In the eighties int. fly fishing championships started to become popular. The FIPS Mouche started to organize fly fishing world championships. One of those championships took place in Poland but the local people there did not have any proper fly lines. So they were allowed to use common lines, too. The only possibility for them was fishing heavy weighted flies and droppers on short distance, in fact more or less directly under their rod tip. They just made the flies roll on the bottom for a few seconds. It was an old technique even used by poachers with worms in former times. The unexpected happened - the Polish won the championship and in the year after even became world champions! After getting in contact with this technique the Czech team started to learn it and two years later in 1986 they won the world championship. Soon after that the "new" technique was made popular and articles were written in several magazines where the Czech praised "their" technique as Czech Nymphing. Was it something new? No! Is it a good business to sell Czech Nymphs? Yes. Is it really fly fishing? In my opinion it is not, but this depends what fly fishing means for you.
What is fly fishing all about?
If you call the fishing with a bubble and dry flies fly fishing, then Czech Nymphing is fly fishing, too. If you are of the opinion fly fishing is done with a fly line that is used to carry your fly, nymph or streamer to your target then it is not. As weighted alibi flies(the hook melted into in the drop like end weight is far too small to catch fish) up to 10 g(!) and more were and are still used for Czech Nymphing in special situations it is obvious that it is completely impossible to make any overhead false casts with them (at least not with a proper technique and class 3-6 grayling rods). Quite often you see these Czech Nymphers even fishing only with long leaders maybe using a meter of fly line out of the rod tip, somethimes even less.
If the fly line is not used as the weight which carries the fly or nymph to the target but a weighted end nymph or nymph system is used as a casting weight IMHO this cannot be called fly fishing.
If it is only about to catch fish on a nymph no matter what tackle is used, one can fish this system much more effectively. In Austria where I was born, the Tirolerhölzl was created a long time ago to fish multiple nymph systems es pecially for grayling. Therefore a spinning or light match rod is used. This technique is really deadly and because of the declining numbers of grayling and the possibility to even failhook fish on intention with it, the Tirolerhölzl is meanwhile forbidden in many Austrian rivers and even whole Austrian provinces by law.
Here in Austria they have recognised that this is a dangerous method and they will probaly try to totally forbid it on the long run. But now it starts entering even fly only waters again but through the back door under a new name and under the cover of being a fly fishing method. What a ridicolous development!
Hereby I want to ask all owners of fly-only-waters to overthink this development and their tackle regulations. In my opinion it would be a good decision to ban all nymphs, nymph systems and streamers which cannot be cast by using multiple overhead false casts on an average distance of 15 m. The fly line has to be used to carry our patterns to the fish otherwise we will loose this traditional technique on the long run. History has proofed that all development that leads to a progress(in this case more fish) is difficult if not to say impossible to turn back.
IMHO Czech Nymphing should not be forbidden, but it should be forbidden in all fly-only-waters!
Please support my attempt to preserve fly fishing as a unique, beautiful and ellegant way of catching fish and change the regulations in your fly-only-waters so the Czech Nymphing technique cannot be used there any more!