Book Review: “Nymph Fishing” by George Daniel

I love the concept behind Nymph Fishing: after writing Dynamic Nymphing, George Daniel went out and did a whole bunch of nymph fishing with the goal of being able to write this terrific follow up — detailing what works and what doesn’t in multiple situations, what’s new, what’s changed, how he’s adapted, what he’s playing around with, all the while encouraging you to do the same.

And that may be what I like best about George. He’s a giver. He’s insatiably curious, and detail-oriented enough to take notes, write it all down, and share it. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty good nymph angler — I teach nymphing, after all — but it’s evident that George’s nymphing knowledge base far exceeds mine. What’s more, he doesn’t think he’s all that, and that gentle yet confident humility is what often marks the dividing line between a good teacher and a great teacher. His writing style is easy to read and follow, which cannot be said of many how-to fly fishing books.

You’ll find all kinds of leader diagrams, step-by-step photographic instruction, and fly patterns (hooray for tying nerds like me). But what I like best is that George squarely addresses the pros and cons of contact vs. suspension nymphing, and guess what — I can now point to one major nymphing authority who won’t snicker at me with my home brew yarn indicators dancing across the surface of the Farmington. Fly fishing is problem-solving, and there are many, many ways to do so.

The copy of Nymph Fishing they sent me had a big sticker on the cover that read, “REVIEW COPY NOT FOR RESALE NON RETURNABLE.” Yeah, right. This one’s mine. You’ll have to get your own.

In the interest of full disclosure, George is a friend. Those of you who know me, though, know I’m a straight shooter. This is an excellent book, and if you want to become a better nympher, you should be reading it. Nymph Fishing by George Daniel, Stackpole Books, ISBN 978-0-8117-1826-4



14 comments on “Book Review: “Nymph Fishing” by George Daniel

  1. Alex Argyros says:

    I agree with your assessment of George’s book, and of his character. In a recent email exchange with him, he told me that now, unhampered by comp rules, he fishes drop shot more frequently than pure Euro, although he still prefers drop shot nymphing without an indicator. Of course, that exchange took place about four or five months ago, and his thoughts on the subject may have changed.

  2. Alton Blodgett says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with George a few years ago at the CFFA annual banquet. As you pointed out he’s not only smart but he’s a really nice guy. If you’re friends with him…birds of a feather…

  3. Steve says:

    Got it, have read it, and its full of information. Be sure to read the captions on the photos too as these have some nuggets also.

  4. Nice review! So outside of picking up the book, what are some benefits of drop shop vs a tightline technique with weighted flies? I still find drop shot rigs more difficult to cast, and more prone to snag – could just be me though 🙂

    • Steve Culton says:

      Tim, I think we’re having a disconnect. Drop shot is a rigging/leader setup, and tight line is a presentation method. You can fish a drop shot rig while tight lining — in fact, that’s how I was fishing the Farmington when I caught that nice brookie earlier this week. Does that make sense?

      • Steve Culton says:

        I came back to this…for me the benefits of drop shot vs. weighted flies is that the bottom fly in drop shot will be 6″ or so off the bottom (I don’t think trout are looking down most of the time — they’re looking at eye level and up) and just the opposite from your experience, which is less snags (and if a terminal snag does occur, you lose weight, not a fly). Does that help?

  5. Steve says:

    Drop shot also helps avoid the Rock Snot which renders your anchor fly/shot into a blob! Ask me how I know!

  6. Alex Argyros says:


    You’ve mentioned in previous posts that in shallow water you dispense with the indicator but still use the drop shot rig. Is that still your wont? If so, could you describe what kind of water you fish without an indicator (i.e., how shallow, fast, etc.)?


    • Steve Culton says:

      Thanks for the question, Alex. It’s good one. Generally speaking, I use the indicator when a) I want to cover a lot of water/get a longer drift, b) the water is deeper and may have varying depths, c) in the winter when the takes may be subtle and my tactile senses off, i.e. my fingers are freezing, and d) when I feel like it. (This last one isn’t meant to be faceitious — I think it’s important to be happy and confident in your method.)

      So, last week I fished a pool that gets up to head high and has multiple seams, rocky bottom, varying depths (I was fishing in probably 2-4 feet of water). The river was up and I wanted to make sure my rig got down to the strike zone, so I was making a cast well upstream of where I wanted to target. I used an indicator — this plays to longer drifts and a variable structured bottom.

      Then, I moved to another location: a riffle that dumps into another deep pool. But the riffle, while having a decent gradient, is basically stable in structure(cobble bottom) and depth (about 18″). It’s moving as fast as any water on the Farmington. For me an indicator doesn’t make a lot of sense here, since my casts and drifts are going to be short. What’s more, the depth is such that I can feel the strike, and with the indicator, there will be a slight delay from strike to set. Now, If I couldn’t safely navigate that riffle, I would go with an indicator to cover more water, but with my 10 foot rod and my confidence in my wading, I could get to where I wanted to fish.

      A couple winters ago I was fishing a similar place, but the river was only running around 100cfs. I don’t like indicators in shallow water — this was only about a foot deep — so I used a tight line approach there with great success.

      I hope that helps.

  7. Alex Argyros says:

    Helps a lot. Thank you.

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