LEAD UNDER BODIES:
The heavy weights
An angler once told me that when you are approaching a river to nymph it you should think of the river as a restaurant. There are three levels to the restaurant, the surface, the mid rift and the bed of the river. Now the trout are the customers and they can be sitting at any table on either level and at any table across the river, it is your job as the waiter to put their dinner on their plate and in turn they will eat it. So by dividing the river up you can strategically put your nymphs on every level and at every table therefore presenting your nymphs to every trout in that swim exactly the way they want it, doing this will maximise the water you cover with your nymphs and maximise the trout you can catch from that swim.
The top two tiers of the restaurant can be reached by light nymphs pretty handy but what about the bottom level? This level is where most fish do the majority of their feeding and fished correctly it can be the level an angler can do the majority of the catching. Heavy bugging or nymphing can be a very productive method in catching trout but there are some vital components that must be considered first before one starts catching the fish. One of the most important rules is that if your nymphs are not rolling along the bed of the river you will not catch fish.
So the nymphs must be weighted and some must be very heavy to get to the bottom of fast running and deep water. There is a number of methods of adding weight to your nymphs but you must also remember that the size of the nymphs must remain realistic and be slim this will help them get to the bottom faster than large bulky nymphs. Tungsten beads are a must for this method of fishing but also they will need a little help to get to the bottom.
Lead can be added to the hook behind the bead head to give it the required weight to get down deep. But there are a few different way to apply the lead for different nymphs. An important thing to remember is that you must try get as much weight on in as little space as possible and still maintain good shape to the nymph. There has been some hooks developed over the years with lead already on the hooks and some of these can be quite good and I do use them in certain patterns.
These caddis shook’s are made of lead and are very heavy all the angler needs to do is add some coloured materials to the front of the hook and they can be quite successful peeping caddis.
The Lead added to these other nymph hooks are designed to be covered by tying materials again they are very good in their own right and can save the angler a good bit of time when tying lots of nymphs. These heavy nymphs can act as weights to bring down lighter and smaller nymphs to the fish if required to do so. They themselves might not catch the fish but play a vital role in your team of flies. Both are available in various weights which is very important. A fly tier should always know which nymphs weigh what; this can be done by the use of coloured threads at the heads of the nymphs. The slightest difference in weight can mean catching or not catching fish, the colours represent the different weights of the nymphs so you know which is slightly heavier than the next.
It is my preference to tie in my own lead on to the hooks this way I can create the required shape, size and weight of all my nymphs this can be done a number of ways. When adding your own lead it is again very important that you try to get as much in as possible without you’re under body getting to big and bulky, using flat lead helps you achieve this. When applying round lead it leaves valleys between each turn which would then have to be filled with thread in some cases or be filed down to the desired size. Where as flat led fits side by side and leaves no valleys just all lead, as shown below:
Flat lead neatly fits together
Two layers of round lead can leave a lot of filing or having to fill the ridges with thread . Therefore not getting the full amount of weight in the allowed space and the fly is in danger of been oversized. It is also very important that you glue in your lead no matter what type before beginning to dress the fly, this will stop your fly falling apart.
Using different sized flat lead you can create a good dense body size with maximum weight on the hook. I use larger lead nearest the hook and smaller lead for the top layers. With a small bit of filing I can create an almost perfect under body to my desired weight and shape that will penetrate the water quickly and reach the bottom as fast as possible.
Always use good quality leads some cheaper leads do not contain the same weight as the better quality and it will make a difference.
One fly shape that I would use round lead in is for my fresh water shrimp which needs to be flat in profile and have a good depth in their backs. Using longer lengths of lead nearest the hook and shorter lengths as you tie in each piece one directly above the other creating depth in the body but the profile remains slim and narrow.
Once you have added your lead to your required shape and size then you are ready to begin dressing the fly. Using some dubbing brushes, scud back and mono for the rib you can create a good range of nymphs that will catch fish in all depths of water. Remember when tying weighted nymphs they do take time to tie correctly and if you do not take the time to do all the prepping then they will fall apart when bouncing along all the rocks on the bottom of the river.