Exclusive Interview with Lubos Roza
Q. When did you first get into fly fishing?
A. I started fishing at the age of 9, targeting pike, perch and other coarse fish. At the age of 13 I tried fly fishing for the first time and loved it. Only a few people were fly fishing on my local river, so when I started to use nymphs with gold beads, it was like I was catching every fish in the river!
Q. When and how did you first get into competitive fly fishing?
A. I dabbled in competitions from the age of 13, but I seriously started with our fishing ‘camps’ from 14 where I met one of my best friends, Milan Čubík, who was willing to teach us everything. Just one year later we participated in our first team competition and won. I won my first youth World Championship when I was 16. Milan is over 60 years old now and we are still good friends, and time to time we find a day to go fishing. Hopefully even more so in the future.
Q. What piece of advice would you give to somebody who wants to start competing?
A. The biggest piece of advice I’d give is to travel a lot. When travelling to different places you get the opportunity to fish with new people where you can watch, learn and put your own skills to the test. Fishing new waters in different countries forces you to adapt your techniques and approach, adding new strings to your bow so to speak.
Q. What is your favoured Euro Nymphing set up?
A. When the Czechs first started to fish with Czech Nymphs it was a very successful method. The key to success is to always be in contact with your flies. That’s why we all use long thin leaders and long rods. Our leader is level between 0.20mm – 0.25mm and 4.5m long in combination with thin nymphing line. For small and medium size rivers I use middle action 10ft 2# rod, for bigger rivers I use a 10ft 6’ 3#. I have a great relationship with Hanak and all these rods are superb for nymphing.
Q. Do you like to have lots of different fly patterns or a few favourite patterns in lots of sizes and weights?
A. I’m well known here in Czech because I don’t have many fly boxes! I think if you have a few good patterns which are working, you can fish all over the World with just these and catch fish. Of course, you must have different bead colours, some flies must be flashy, natural and even basic. I don’t believe it’s necessary to tie difficult or realistic flies. If you find the right colours and presentation, you will be successful.
Q. What are the key skills you think somebody should practise/master, to improve their euro nymphing technique?
A. There are a lot of skills you need to know if you’re going to be successful. One key element to euro nymphing is knowing that the surface current is faster than the water on the bottom of the river. To present your flies correctly, don’t lead your indicator at the same speed as the surface, try and slow down your flies to get a better ‘dead’ drift.
Q. What are the most common mistakes you see people doing when Euro Nymphing?
A. As I explained above, the biggest problem is the speed of your flies trundling along the bottom. But of course, it’s not the only mistake. Another huge mistake is the presentation. Many anglers cast their flies upstream and simply let the flies hit the bottom, then pull out and re-cast. I think this style of nymphing looks like the Hank Patterson movie, 8 steps to nymphing, it’s hilarious. As funny as it is, it’s not the correct way to Euro nymph. The key is to cast upstream, let the flies sink near the bottom then hold your indicator on or above the surface, allowing your flies to fish mid-water.
Q. How do you approach a new piece of river you have never fished before?
A. Before I go fishing, I try to get the basic information like what kind of fish I’m going to catch, the colour of the water and the type of river (flat, fast, big stones etc). Then I decide if I go downstream or upstream. Normally I go upstream on small rivers and downstream on larger rivers but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Everything changes according to the kind of fish, also if the water is coloured or clear. So, this question is not straight forward to answer. I have a lot of experience with many rivers so often go back on where or how I’ve caught fish in the past. Fish are usually in the same typical places so not too difficult to find if you are experienced.
Q. As a competitive angler, you obviously will use barbless hooks most of the time. Do you have any tips on playing fish when using barbless hooks?
A. Sure. First, I think it’s better to use barbless hooks because the hook can go easily into the mouth of the fish. Barbed hooks are a disadvantage as they don’t penetrate so easily. If you want to be successful, the hooks must be thin and usually small. The clever fish can notice the bigger hooks and often spook. If you’re playing a better size fish, I have one rule. Never fight the fish upstream, because if you fight them from an upstream position, the bigger fish can just stay put and we can’t move it up against the current. It’s always better to walk downstream below the fish and fight from there. Suddenly the fish must fight against you AND the stream, the fish becomes tired very soon. The next advantage is netting the fish, once it’s tired and you stay below it, you just move the fishes head up on the surface and the current can bring the fish to your net, easily and safely. That’s the right way to use soft equipment.
Q. Who were your biggest influences in fly fishing and why?
A. As I mentioned above, it was my good friend Milan Čubík. Since I started fly fishing, he was my fishing father and ever since we have been great friends. He is the type of person who never stops thinking and finding new ideas.
Q. You have had lots of success with competitive fly fishing, what is the achievement you are most proud of and why?
A. I had a dream to win all gold medals in each championship organized by fly fishing federation FIPS, and I did it. I’ve won youth World twice as an individual and once with the team. I won European individual and team. I won senior World individual once and World team three times in a row. Oh, one is missing, the World masters, but I have to wait 18 more years to compete! The biggest win for me was the Worlds in Czech. It was the time you would catch a fish in a muddy puddle. They were just everywhere. It’s always difficult to get success at home venues. There are a lot of local anglers and people on the bank watching you and it’s a big press. I won double gold there and it was so amazing to get on the podium in 1st position and see all my family and friends and listening to the national anthem.
Q. Do you have a tip or trick you are willing to share?
A. Fly fishing is a puzzle with 10,000 pieces, and if you can connect some together, then you become more successful. You can’t just learn one or two tricks and expect to win. Each time you lose it’s the best time to find the reason why and learn from this. Sometimes it’s better than winning!
Recorded by Kieron Jenkins for Fulling Mill Ltd on the 29th July 2019.
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