The French are masters at catching fish when the stream seems to be void. They are great anglers and it shows with 6 World Championships to their credit. I begin to dig around to really see how they fish and the methods that they rig their leaders. Their secret is pretty hush hush, but with some prodding, I was able to open up some of their secrets.
French Nymphing Method
They use super long leaders that are had tied and boiled to make then very supple. Their leaders will average 12 to 20 feet long depending on the conditions.
Their rods are usually 10 to 14 feet in length to make fishing this long of a leader a lot easier.
They fish directly up stream, pulling the flies back toward them in the water column by raising the rod tip up and moving the rod back through the drift. I know this may seem totally against all that we have ever learned, but so it the entire European method.
The flies are almost always small offerings like the micronyphs or smaller Czech style nymphs that are light to medium in weight. The French developed an extremely effective coiled indicator/sighter sometimes refered to as a “Curly Q”. The coiled indicator will not effect cast because you are not casting that far and the benefits of strike detection is well worth an additional effort required to cast this set-up. You cast your flies up stream and begin your downward drift, the indicator is slightly stretched, but still in coils and when the fish takes, the coils elongate and then you set the hook.
The main reason this indicator is so effective is it allows a little give when the fish takes so there is no tension or resistance felt by the fish. When fishing the Czech or Polish method, we are always tight on the line and when the fish takes, it immediately feels resistance and will usually spit the hook before we can set it. The coiled indicator/sighter allows you that extra second or two before the fish feels resistance to get a good hook set and increase your chances of landing that fish. I know it sounds crazy, but seeing is believing.