May 23, 2019 4 min read

Some of the best inventions and methods are the products of competition.  Competition drives us to innovate and make things better and more effective.  Euro nymphing is a great example of this as it evolved from the rules of competitive fly fishing industry, as you may have guessed, in Europe. 

Over time, different countries have pioneered the techniques (think Czech, French and Spanish Nymphing) that characterize the form today.   Many fly anglers are discovering this to be one of the most exciting and effective ways to fish a nymph!  In this post, we’ll dive into this tactic and explore why this form of fly fishing is a highly effective technique to add to your angling quiver. 

The Technique

Euro nymphing is all about getting a fly to sink to the bottom of the water column quickly where trout are feeding subsurface and keeping a constant connection between the fly and the angler while minimizing drag.  - let’s explore this technique in its different components!

The Rig

While there’s no one way to do it, a typical euro nymphing rig begins with several feet of heaver (20 lb) mono, followed by a shorter 3 foot section of lighter mono (15 lb), about a foot and half of a multi-colored indicator section (also referred to as a sighter and is used to detect strikes) connected to a tippet ring, and finally 3 – 4 feet of tippet with a weighted nymph (usually a tungsten beadhead) and then another 2 foot section of tippet with a weighted nymph on the dropper.   You will want to adjust your tippet section to be about a 1.5 times the depth you are fishing.  This rig can be built DIY, or, if you prefer there are also companies selling ready-to-fish euro rigs.

Casting

Casting in euro nymphing is quite different then the casting used in traditional fly fishing.  Instead of using the weight of the fly line, in Euro nymphing we are actually using the weight of the fly (usually a weighted nymph) to propel a light leader section.  To cast, lob the fly into the desired upstream position.  As the fly drifts to a position below you, repeat the cast to place the fly in the upstream position again.  Using this method, you will find yourself moving frequently, to cover each section of the water until you find fish. 

As mentioned, this casting technique is generally more of a lob than a true cast and uses little to no fly line.  In fact, some anglers who favor euro nymphing methods actually prefer to not use any fly line on their reel at all, but simply a backing section attached to a long leader!  If you decide to use a fly line for those situations where you may need a little bit more distance, a level line in the 2 – 4 weight class is ideal for casting this kind of rig. 

Drifting

Essentially, Euro nymphing may be classified under a group of fly fishing methods referred to as tight-line nymphing techniques.  Similar to high-sticking in high mountain stream pocket water, in Euro nymphing the leader is kept taunt – that is above the water surface with the sighter section visible (watch movement in the sighter for indication of a strike, then set the hook by raising the rod).  The beauty of Euro nymphing is in the high degree of control that it enables the angler to have on a drift. 

Using this technique, the angler can feel the fly bumping on the bottom of the water column.  In addition, keeping the line taunt and the sighter section straight, you can use the rod tip to control speed of the fly’s drift.  When this technique is executed correctly, mending the line is no longer necessary on a drift as there will be close to zero drag!

Flies

With Euro nymphing, it’s important to have flies of various weights for different kinds of water.  For example, in fast moving pocket water, a heavier nymph that will drop into the strike zone quick is essential.  For slower, more shallow sections, simply adjust the rig with a lighter fly.  The simplicity in switching from different weights for different water conditions makes Euro nymphing a highly adaptable and efficient technique!

Flies used for Euro nymphing generally have a slimmer profile designed to cut through the water so that the fly sinks to the bottom fast.  Since split shot weight is not used, the weight is built into the fly through tungsten bead heads or wire tied to the hook shank.  Many Euro nymphing rigs will use a heavier, anchor fly, with a second fly tied on a part of a dropper rig.

Rods

The best rods for this application are longer in length (think 10 foot, 2 -4 weight) than a traditional trout rod.  A longer rod helps the angler keep the leader taunt and above the water.  Also, since Euro nymphing does not employ long casts with heavy fly line, a fast action rod is generally not necessary.  Instead, rods designed for Euro nymphing have more sensitive mid-to-tip rod sections that enable the angler to feel a strike or the bottom of a stream. 

Revolutionize Your Nymphing Technique

Euro nymphing is a highly effective technique that greatly expands the angler’s opportunities at trout.  Waters that are too fast for traditional indicator and dropper rigs are no problem for a heavy nymph.  In addition, this technique is easily adaptable to different types of water and is highly efficient as you can simply swap out weighted flies for different types of water.  Point-in-case, Euro nymphing is revolutionizing the way that fly anglers fish nymphs and represents an exciting evolution in fly fishing!


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