How to Fish a Naked Line Chironomid Setup
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How to Fish a Naked Line Chironomid Setup

Strike indicators are an incredibly effective tool in stillwater fly fishing, but sometimes it is more fun to take the indicator/swivel setup off and fish a naked line.  Though it may feel very approximate at first, it can prove quite effective in some situations and can even out-fish the traditional static presentation.  I will typically fish a naked line when I am in water deeper than 15 feet and I know that fish are suspending themselves a little ways off the bottom of the lake.

A victim of the size 18 Chromie/Copper rib fished on a naked floating line with a 21 foot leader.

Why do I choose these certain conditions for fishing a naked line setup?  Fishing water that is on the deeper side will allow you to really slow down your presentation without putting your fly on the bottom of the lake.  As far as fish suspending themselves off of bottom, this means that they are not glued to the mud looking for pupa and are actively cruising at a variety of depths.  The grab that takes place when a fish climbs onto the naked line can be absolutely heart-stopping.

How is it done?  I will give you an example of an ideal situation followed by (what I believe to be) the appropriate leader setup.  It is mid-June, I am anchored in 23 feet of water and there is a steady chironomid hatch taking place.  I am looking at my finder to see that fish are suspended anywhere from 14 to 19 feet in the water column, giving me ample opportunity to cover those depths with a naked line.  If I were fishing 23 feet of water and seeing fish at these depths, I would fish a leader that was 17-20 feet in length.  I am a big fan of fishing straight pieces of 8lb or 6lb fluorocarbon, allowing the fly to sink at its fastest possible rate when not prohibited by the thick butt section found on a tapered leader.

Once you are set up, make a decent length cast and set your rod in the holder for at least a minute.  I do not do any count-down process as my attention span is that of a goldfish, naked lining is based largely on feel and intuition.

I wish I had a scientific calculation that determines how long you should let your fly sink, but I will typically just set it and forget it for 1 to 2 minutes before beginning a retrieve.  The retrieve is a painfully, painfully slow hand-twist retrieve with the odd small strip.  Pictured below are some fish that are clearly suspended a ways off of the bottom.

If you are hanging up on bottom halfway through your retrieve, begin retrieving sooner after the fly hits the water or shorten your leader slightly.  Often when fish are suspended in the water column, you will find them eating your fly before the retrieve even begins.

I hope this sheds some light on the naked line technique, if you have any questions you can leave them in the comments or fill out the contact form below!

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11 Comments on "How to Fish a Naked Line Chironomid Setup"

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Scott Bowen
Guest
Thanks Jordan for the article. I am trying to fish this method more and more as it is fun and a nice change from indicator fishing. The 1-2 min pause to let the line sink. Are you stating that it takes this long for fluorocarbon to sink 20 feet. If I am using a beaded Chironomid does that change the timing, or are you saying just let it sink so that it hits the bottom and then start your retrieving bringing it up through the layers that fish are at. Also on a side note. You have commented before but… Read more »
Pete Lyford
Guest

Is this done with a floating line?

Peter DeRoche
Guest

How do you attached the flourocarbon to your flyline? Braided loop?

Don Andersen
Guest
I fish long leaders a lot. 1) your picture shown is misleading as it would take a severe strike to pull the slack out of the line. 2) long leadering doesn’t require 1>2 minutes wait time. With a stop watch and six feet of leader to your fly, time the fall rate. Takes a lot less than 1 minute to drop well down. 3) surprised that you didn’t mention casting technique. A typical forth and back cast will truss you up like a Chrismas Turkey. 4) flies tied without metal beads work best as they don’t get to the bottom… Read more »
Davis । fishing guy
Guest

I would like to thank Jordan Oelrich first.Because he wrote better about line setup.I think those who love fishing like me.This blog is very important for them.I was looking for a blog like this.Thank you so much again for this blog.