The Ultimate Hybrid Approach: What the hell is a Flymph anyway?

20 Apr

I love flymphing. I love it because it is hard to screw up, I think it may even be impossible to screw up but it is challenging as well. And it is also deadly effective.

flymph SwittersB & Fly Fishing.

A good looking flymph. Image originally posted on SwittersB & Fly Fishing.

Pioneered by Leisenring and Hidy, this method was revolutionary…in the 1940’s.

What is a flymph?

Well any softhackled fly could be one.  To me a flymph is really more of an idea, or a shape rather than a type of fly. They need a soft hackle.  I think that would be my only real requirement.  I like mine to be non-weighted, although sometimes I have been known to bury a small copper bead behind the soft hackle.  I think normally flymphs are tied in drab natural colours, but don’t be scared to experiment as the partridge and orange or a bright yellow body has been known to be deadly under the right conditions.  There are even flymphs with full flash bodies and dark hackles that can get some attention in stained water.  Some guys tie sulphurs, or march browns, and some are just a marabou body with a soft hackle.  I like flies that are simply buggy, not too specific, because the truth is when something resembles nothing it can resemble anything.

Placement of the bead in a flymph. Photo originally posted

What is flymphing?

Flymphing is a state of mind. It is as easy as you make it, or it can be challenging and demand all of your fly fishing prowess. I like to think of flymphing as a hybrid approach.  It is equal parts upstream nymphing and downstream swinging.   It is slow and steady fishing, I prefer to use it in slowly moving pools or moderate riffles. It is also really effective in short pools where one cast can cover the riffle at the head of the pool and the tail out.

To start flymphing cast upstream and across with a slack line cast.  I prefer a tuck cast or wiggle cast depending on the cover around the river.  The cast is exactly like you would make when nymphing, but is is important to put a little more slack in the line to encourage the flymph to sink to your desired depth during the drift.  Allow the fly to drift in a drag free fashion until the fly is downstream of your position.  Then allow the line to tighten up naturally, this will cause the fly to swing.  If you play with your mends and drifts and everything works out, you can have a very natural drift along with a slow steady swing that resembles a nymph rising to the surface, or a minnow swimming to shallower water.  Allow the swing to hang out a few seconds.  Sometimes I’ll even throw out an extra mend to kick the fly out toward the middle of the river again.  I like to play with the swing portion. A strip here, a mend there, can change the swing and be the little scurry in the fly that triggers a hit. Leisenring lifts are also useful to encourage strikes.

Big Flymphing. We are all seeing the huge flies that are being created to go after bank browns, and articulated creature flies with legs and fluff that we used to think were just for musky.  I think the flymphing revolution is also upon us.  In faster water or deeper pools I will use the flymphing drift and swing to work the seams with my bigger streamers.  Not Tall Pines Flies Project X, but woolly buggers, conehead zuddlers and leech patterns all work really well.  I think it resembles a stunned or disoriented baitfish that regains consciousness and heads for the bank.  That  may be over thinking it, but it is entertaining to imagine yourself as a disoriented baitfish and realizing your in the middle of the river and need cover for protection.  When I am fishing these big flies I make sure the swing and strips are a bit more aggressive.

You can even use the same cast, drift and swing for elk hair caddis or other high floating flies.  The result is a drift then skate type of presentation that is a bit different than the presentations the fish may have seen before. It sounds crazy enough, it just might work.

Well that is an introduction to flymphing.  Grab some simple flies and hit the water.  It is a great way to work on your casts, drifts, mends and swings all without changing your flies.


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