What is a Czech Nymph?
Classic flies for Czech nymphing are called Bobesh’s – this original Czech name we do not translate throughout all of the patterns because the name Czech nymph has quickly spread and now it is widely used when referring to the flies. Just imagine that someone asks what you are using and you have to tell them a Bobesh. They are going to wonder what planet you are from!
Czech nymphs are weighted flies tied on grub style hooks that imitate fresh water shrimp or case-less larvae of caddis flies. These imitative as well as super flashy patterns called clowns are tied mostly in size 8 – 16.
Their characteristic sign is a rounded (bent) grub hook, that is weighted with lead wire, lead tape and/or a tungsten bead. The body is created from natural Hare or Squirrel dubbing or a synthetic dubbing like Sow-Scud or Life Cycle. Another typical feature of a Czech nymph is the back, made from latex strips or a material with similar characteristics like clear plastic bags or Thin Skin. For ribbing under the back material, Krystal Flash or Flashabou is used and for the ribbing on top of the back material, monofilament or colored wire is a great choice to give you that realistic segmentation.
A real Czech nymph is always tied very thin so that it will sink quickly towards the bottom and there is usually some sort of “hot spot” incorporated into the fly. This is really important because it is a drastic color change that will entice the fish to strike.
The first Czech nymphs were tied from materials that would bring smiles to faces of today’s fly tiers. Imagine a plastic foam body from a kitchen sponge, horsehair ribbing and a shellback from a salami skin.
The use of grub style hooks gave the Czech nymph its characteristic shape and the original thicker patterns gave way to thinner, heavier patterns with the introduction of new materials that were readily available to the Czechs. In the beginning, imitative patterns were preferred, like scuds and caddis larvae but as time progressed and more and more anglers began experimenting, really colorful patterns began to emerge and work really well, especially on European Grayling.
Original single color bodies were enriched with various color or hot spots and eventually graduated to flies that are so colorful, the really do not imitate any natural insects in the river.
European Woven nymphs have been used over the years with great success, especially by former World Champion fly fisherman, Vladi Trzebunia. These style of flies are true fish magnets and really get to the bottom quickly. The history of the this fly is somewhat cloudy, but tying them is a true joy.
Czech Nymph Classifications
Group One: Sedges
These are more or less the true imitations of the sedge larvae of the genus Hydropsyche. The bodies are green or green-yellow, while the thorax is from dark green to black. It is interesting that among imitations there was not any representative that would imitate the larvae of the genus Ryacophila found. Even if there were such a case among Czech nymphs, then it would be just in this group.
Group Two: Bobeshes
Within the category there are five different types. These flies imitate the larvae stages of caddis and a range of other groups of aquatic insects with a slightly thicker profile body and numerous legs extending from the thorax region.
Bobesh – plain-looking nymphs with legs and a naturally colored body without any dark (black, dark brown) thorax.
Hermit – plain-looking nymphs with legs and bright black or dark brown thorax.
Flashy Bobesh – plain-looking nymphs with legs and with a flashy multi-colored body.
Carrot’s – plain-looking nymphs in natural colors with legs and bright red or orange ribs.
Pinky’s – plain-looking nymphs with legs and pink body.
Group 3: Wilds
This group of Czech nymphs does not contain a lot of named patterns at this time. These are plain nymphs without legs and in colors that are not common among any aquatic insects occurring naturally in the stream. As for the fish, wilds body shape and profile looks like food and in most cases, the extreme color seem to raise interest, especially in stained or off colored water.
Group Four: Bugs
This classification represents natural insect larvae with thick, fat bodies that are tied in various weights to fish the different water columns found in the river. A large number of these nymphs can be found in recent English fly fishing literature under the name Bug. Oliver Edwards has made this type of Czech nymph famous with his super realistic patterns he ties in his DVD, Czech Nymphing
Group Five: Larvae
These are many variations of the thin Czech nymph, which are tied without legs and have a body that is usually one color. These can be thin and legless versions of the various bobesh-like nymphs. By tying them way, they are classified as larvae of these original, plain patterns.
Group Six: Gammaruses
These are many patterns of Czech nymphs, which imitate various gammaruses. Their small bodies usually do not exceed 1 cm and are tied with numerous legs alongside the entire body. These nymphs are usually one color, but they can also have a colored head and/or body. We call these the “plain janes”
What is a Micronymph?
Micronymphs are smaller offerings that more readily imitate may flies and smaller
caddis larva present in most streams. This is a classification of flies that is rarely mentioned in any European nymphing presentation here in the US. The smaller nymphs are a great choice on the French set-up as they will not make a huge splash but will still get down fast.
Here are some characteristics of the micronymph:
- Typically size 12 and smaller
- Most are tied with just a tungsten bead and no additional weight in the underbody
- Some are tied with just small lead wire under the body to add the slightest amount of weight.
- They will all have some sort of trigger spot whether it is near the head of the fly or a tag on the butt section.
- There are a few patterns that have a soft hackle collar of partridge or hen hackle to give the fly a little more action in the water.
There are a tremendous number of variables to overcome when fishing with micronymphs. Hydraulics, climate and behavioral factors of the fish will affect the size, color, and weight of the fly or flies you need to use. Generally you will only fish one or two flies with this method, one close to the bottom and one suspended in the water column.
The flies are still lead and sometimes even pulled through the run which will cause the fish to turn and eat thinking that the offering is escaping. I know it seem strange that you are actually going to pull the flies and not dead-drift them, but trust me, it really works!
With time and experience you begin to appreciate the productivity of this method and add yet another method of catching fish to your arsenal.