Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1.    Midges
2.    Little Winter Stoneflies

Most available/ Near hatching and other types of available food:
3.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
4.    Blue Quills  (Nymphs)     
5.    Blue-winged Olives (Nymphs)

Basic Nymphing Using A Strike Indicator - Part Two
I didn't mention it yesterday since it's quite obvious, but if needed, you can also shorten or
lengthen the leader and tippet to make depth adjustments. The problem with this is that it takes
far more time and effort than adjusting the amount of weight or adjusting the position of the strike
indicator. It does bring up the question as to what the length of the leader should be. Here's my
thoughts on that.

First of all, it depends on the type and depth of the water your fishing. Let's confine it to the
freestone streams of the Smokies. That's different from drift boat fishing the Missouri River, for
example, and many other nymphing situations you may encounter. Even then, it depends on the
stream level (which also affect the speed of the water) and type of water your fishing. By type of
water, I mean fast runs, pockets, riffles,  heads of pools, tail ends of pools, etc.

For example, let's say your using an 8 foot leader and tippet length, with a hook size 18 BWO
nymph. You have two #6 size split shots placed about 8 inches above the nymph on your 5X
tippet. Your fishing a rather fast run where the water is about 5 feet deep. In this case, the strike
indicator is probably only about a foot or less below the fly line/leader connection. After two or
three cast you notice the fly hasn't touched the bottom and appears to not even be getting close
to touching it. Your options are reduced to adding more split shot or increasing the length of the
leader. You cannot increase the depth by setting the strike indicator higher because it would be
up on the fly line rather than the leader.

In this case, I would probably add one or two more split shots. Lets say that even after that, the
nymph still wasn't touching the bottom and getting down like it should. I feel like the rig would be
too obvious to the trout and too goofy looking to just keep adding weight. If I redid the weights,
using larger size split-shot, it would ruin the fine, 5X tippet. To do that the best way, I would have
to cut the tippet off and add a new section starting all over adding weight. I could also add about
two feet to the overall length of the leader by redoing the leader. Even though I could add two
feet to the existing leader, I most likely would just go to a new 9 or 10 foot leader length that
ended with a 5X tippet. Using a hook size 18 fly, I would not go to a larger size tippet.

To be truthful, I would have never tired what I just described because I would already know
through experience that the rig wouldn't work well for that depth and speed of current. I would
start out with a longer leader, but in the scenario I presented, I'm trying to make a point of the
importance of overall leader length.

If you see someone fishing a nymph who doesn't frequently adjust his strike indicator position or
who isn't adding weight, changing leaders or constantly messing with something, your most likely
looking at someone who isn't catching very many trout. There's not a streams in Great Smoky
Mountains National Park that I know of that has a level bottom and a constant depth of water. I
don't know of any that has a constant speed of current in the pocket water sections of the stream.
It's impossible to set the strike indicator such that it presents the fly at the perfect depth
throughout the entire drift

If someone is fishing correctly, It's also impossible for them to prevent hanging the fly on
something every once in a while. If your watching someone fishing a nymph that isn't hanging up
at least every few minutes, your most likely watching someone that's catching few, if any, trout.

On the ideal drift, you should touch the bottom at the middle of the drift. The middle of the drift is
the point at which your indicator is closest to your proximity. When you change positions on the
stream, fish another section of water, you most likely will have to make an adjustment. Naturally,
this is much easier to do by moving the position of the strike indicator than it is to add or
especially, reduce the amount of weight. The point is, if you can make the adjustment by
repositioning the strike indicator, you should. As mentioned above, removing weight isn't easy
and unless your using some type of non-split shot weight, it will damage the tippet.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh