Who Killed the Czech Nymph

In my search to find the perfect fly pattern for fishing a trout stream anywhere at any time, I would not hesitate to proclaim the Czech Nymph the champion. It was a long battle with a lot of highly qualified contenders all seeking the crown but through it all, the Czech Nymph is still with us.


 The Czech nymph suffered a significant hit when the United States started to enter into the Tactical-Euro nymphing scene. One might think that an archetypical European style of fly such as the Czech Nymph would come along for the big European world tour, but it didn't. I believe it was a matter of market timing and the quality of hooks that killed the Czech Nymph. A few big names in manufacturing and distribution saw the trend coming in the mid to late-2000s and made nickel finished barbless grub and pupa hooks available on the United States market. Unfortunately, they did not have a proper point design for fish retention. They merely eliminated the barb on a classic straight point hook design, which resulted in a horrid retention rate. A barb serves a purpose on a barbed hook, to hold the fish. Without that barb, the classic hook has lost its hook holding power. I believe it was those early hook models available to us that couldn't hold a fish worth a darn and the simultaneous introduction of jig hooks on the U.S. market that caused anglers to shift attention to the new star of the show, the jig nymph.

I have been fishing the Czech nymph since the summer of 1993; perhaps earlier if we consider the earlier caddis larva designs from the Jack Dennis / Randall Kaufmann era.  As I was transitioning into Czech Nymphing, a curved shank, dubbed caddis larva was the most productive fly style in my box behind the Pheasant Tail Nymph, also tied in the same Dennis/Kaufmann method. I found that Czech Nymphing style of fly fishing with a weighted green rock worm and pheasant tail in tandem, to be the best combo for fishing the 1-3' deep walking speed riffles on the Deschutes River. I usually fished a golden stone as my anchor fly before June and then switched over to Czech Nymphs following the Stonefly hatches.

With the availability of European hook styles that have a proper rolled point, we can now bring Czech nymph hooked fish consistently to the net. I found one model of a hook to be particularly useful, are the Hanak model #333 and Fulling Mill Czech Hook. While I usually shy away from proposing such a specific recommendation on hooks, my daily fishing logs show a hook to landing ratio that is heavily biased in favor of the rolled point czech hooks.

What makes Czech Nymphs particularly useful is that they mimic the shape and posture of a vast array of aquatic food organisms that fish regularly see. I tend to think that the form and posture of the fly alone is the strike trigger. As such, we have the freedom to experiment with the colors and sizes that suit our reasonable whim. I tie and fish a size 8 heavily weighted Czech Nymph wearing golden stonefly colors and pair it with another smaller contrasting Czech nymph. The fun for me when landing a fish while fishing a tandem rig is to see what fly the fish took. Sometimes, I notice species-specific fly choices when brown trout may go for the golden stone Czech and the rainbows choosing an upper dropper. This could be due to many factors that are beyond the scope of this article but I suspect current speed and sink rate are a primary factors.

I tie my Czech nymphs bi-direction as a function of speed and quality control in my fly tying workflow. I dub my way forward rear to front and then reverse directions tying down the shellback from front to rear with a whip finish at the back. In this step-by-step tutorial, I show you my tying sequence for tying clean Czech Nymphs.

Long live the versatile Czech Nymph!