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ORVIS – How to Fish Deep Nymphs

When it comes to catching trout in streams, using deep nymphs in fly fishing is a reliable method all year round. No matter the state of the water, you can always have success by fishing nymphs near the riverbed with a strike indicator. In this video, Orvis experts Dave and Amelia Jensen will guide you on how to effectively fish deep nymphs and maximize your chances of catching fish.

If you want to explore more fly fishing techniques, improve your skills, or discover new tools, we recommend checking out our other instructional resources available at Orvis. “ORVIS – How to Fish Deep Nymphs” is a video presented by The Orvis Company that teaches the technique of fly fishing with deep nymphs to catch trout in streams. The video emphasizes that fishing nymphs close to the bottom with a strike indicator is consistently effective, regardless of water conditions. Dave and Amelia Jensen guide viewers through the process of dredging the river bottom with nymphs, providing valuable insights and techniques. If you are interested in enhancing your fly fishing abilities and expanding your knowledge of fly fishing techniques, skills, and tools, this instructional resource is highly recommended.

Deep dropper rigs, ranging from 24 to 48 inches, play a crucial role in this method. The video touches on various topics, including the transition from shallow nymph fishing to deep droppers and the use of indicators such as the New Zealand strike indicator system. The importance of using large, buoyant dry flies to entice trout, focusing on drifting the dry dropper, and adjusting the setup to effectively fish in different water conditions is also highlighted. Whether you are a novice or an experienced fly fisherman, this video offers valuable insights and techniques to improve your success in catching trout with deep nymphs.

Choosing Deep Droppers

When it comes to choosing deep droppers for nymph fishing, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. One effective method is to use nymph incentives, which are small lures or attractors that can entice trout to strike at the nymph. These incentives can be a variety of things, such as small jigs, beads, or even flashy materials tied to the nymph. By adding an incentive to the nymph, you can increase the chances of attracting trout and getting more bites.

Another important aspect to consider when choosing deep droppers is the transition from NIM (nymph, indicator, and midge) fishing to fishing with deep droppers. NIM fishing is a popular technique that involves using a small indicator to suspend the nymph below the surface. However, as the name suggests, NIM fishing is primarily focused on midge patterns and is not as effective for imitating other types of insects. Transitioning to deep droppers allows for a wider range of insect imitations and can be a more versatile approach.

To effectively fish with deep droppers, it’s important to use a poly-based indicator. Poly indicators are highly visible on the water and can provide more accurate information about the drift of the nymph. This is especially important when fishing at depth, as any subtle changes in the drift can be crucial. By using a poly-based indicator, you can have better control over the presentation of the nymph and increase your chances of success.

Fishing Deep Droppers

Knowing when to fish deep droppers is crucial for maximizing your chances of success. As a general rule, fishing deep droppers is most effective when trout are feeding near the bottom of the water column. This can occur during periods of low light, such as early morning or late evening, or when water temperatures are cooler. Additionally, fishing deep droppers is also a good choice when trout are not actively feeding on the surface and are more likely to be searching for food below.

When it comes to choosing the types of insects to use as droppers, it’s important to consider the specific hatch and conditions of the water you’re fishing. Paying attention to the local hatch charts and consulting with experienced anglers or guides can provide valuable insights into which insects are most prevalent and effective at any given time. Common nymph patterns such as Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, and Prince Nymphs are often reliable choices.

Tying a four-foot section of tippet below the dry fly is an effective technique for fishing deep droppers. This allows the nymph to sink to the desired depth while keeping the dry fly floating on the surface. The length of the tippet can be adjusted based on the depth of the water and the preference of the angler. By utilizing this method, you can effectively present both the nymph and the dry fly to the trout, increasing your chances of enticing a strike.

ORVIS - How to Fish Deep Nymphs

Drifting the Dry-Dropper

drifting the dry-dropper setup requires careful consideration of the specific fishing conditions. When fishing in shallow rocky runs, it’s important to focus on a controlled and precise drift. The dry fly should be presented upstream, allowing it to drift naturally over the nymph. Pay close attention to any irregularities in the water, such as seams or eddies, as trout are likely to be hiding in these areas.

In deeper runs, it’s important to adjust the depth of the nymph to match the water column. This can be achieved by adding or removing split shot weights or adjusting the length of the tippet. By getting the nymph down to the appropriate depth, you can effectively target trout that are feeding near the bottom. Additionally, it’s important to vary your drift presentation by adjusting the speed and angle of your cast. This can help imitate the natural movement of the nymph and entice more strikes.

Focusing on the dry dropper transition is crucial when fishing with this setup. The transition between the dry fly and the nymph is often a hotspot for trout activity. As the nymph drifts below the dry fly, trout will often strike at the point where the two meet. By paying close attention to this transition point and being prepared for a quick and accurate hook set, you can increase your chances of hooking into a fish.

Handling Heavy Nymphs at Depth

When fishing deep droppers, it’s important to consider the weight of the nymphs and how they are presented in the water. One key aspect to keep in mind is the importance of using a buoyant dry fly as an indicator. By using a buoyant dry fly, you can easily track the drift of the nymph and detect any subtle strikes. Additionally, a buoyant dry fly can serve as an additional attractor for trout, increasing the chances of getting a bite.

Watching the drift of the dry fly is crucial for detecting strikes when fishing with deep droppers. Any sudden movement or hesitation in the drift can indicate that a trout has taken the nymph. It’s important to maintain a constant vigilance and be prepared for quick hook sets. By closely observing the drift of the dry fly, you can improve your reaction time and increase your chances of landing a fish.

Emergences and swinging nymphs can be effective techniques for enticing strikes when fishing with heavy nymphs at depth. Emergences occur when the nymph rises from the bottom of the water column to the surface, imitating the natural movement of an emerging insect. This can trigger aggressive strikes from nearby trout. Additionally, swinging the nymph can mimic the movement of a drifting insect, making it a tempting target for hungry trout.

Spotting Trout Feeding on Small Nymphs

When it comes to spotting trout feeding on small nymphs, using a deep sparsely tied dropper nymph can be highly effective. By using a sparsely tied nymph, you can imitate the natural appearance of small nymphs and increase your chances of fooling trout. Additionally, fishing the dropper at a deeper depth can be more productive, as trout feeding on small nymphs are often found closer to the bottom.

Using an alternative dropper setup can also be a successful approach. Instead of using a traditional fly as the dry fly, try using a small indicator or a buoyant piece of foam. This can help with visibility and tracking the drift of the dropper nymph. Additionally, using a different hook size or color for the dropper nymph can make it stand out and attract more attention from trout.

Making small adjustments to your fishing technique and presentation can make a big difference when targeting trout feeding on small nymphs. Pay close attention to the behavior of the trout and adjust your tactics accordingly. This can include changing the depth of the nymph, adjusting the speed of the drift, or experimenting with different fly patterns. By being adaptable and willing to make small changes, you can increase your chances of success.


Choosing the right deep dropper setup and fishing techniques can greatly enhance your nymph fishing experience. By utilizing nymph incentives, transitioning to deep droppers, and using a poly-based indicator, you can increase your chances of attracting trout and getting more bites. Fishing at the appropriate depth, using the right types of insects, and tying a four-foot section of tippet below the dry fly are all important considerations when fishing deep droppers. Drifting the dry-dropper setup with precision, focusing on the dry dropper transition, and adapting to various fishing conditions are key to success. Handling heavy nymphs at depth requires a buoyant dry fly, watching the drift of the dry fly, and considering emergences and swinging nymphs. Spotting trout feeding on small nymphs can be achieved with deep sparsely tied dropper nymphs, alternative dropper setups, and making small adjustments. By following these guidelines and being observant on the water, you can increase your chances of landing more trout and having a successful nymph fishing experience. Happy fishing!

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