European or “Euro” Nymphing is a versatile and extremely effective style of fishing that allows you to fish efficiently. You can achieve the depth required at a faster rate and stay incredibly connected to your flies throughout a drift. Euro Nymphing may sound like a “mystery” because it wasn’t originated here in the United States, but in fact has been the main style of fishing in European countries for a very long period of time and the technique used for competitive fly fishing.
Euro Nymphing has many advantages compared to other fly fishing set-ups such as indicator fishing.
- The rod tip is elevated enough so the sighter, 2-3 brightly colored sections of the line that act as the indicator, is visible and straight almost all the time. This makes for a well-connected, controlled drift.
- The angler is also able to “lead the flies” in a drift and present different sighter angles to reach various depths of a run which eliminate all weights and conventional indicators.
- In place of split shot, most flies used with Euro Nymphing are weighted with quality tungsten beads.
- Euro Nymphing can detect strikes with the slightest of movement in the sighter so set the hook often!
- It requires a lighter fly line then usual so the sag won’t change the speed of the flies or hinder the sighter angle or drift in any way.
Eliminate the Mend
Personally, I have fished many different lines and found the Rio Euro Nymph 80ft double taper line to be adaptable in most, if not all conditions. There is virtually no mending required with Euro lines as they are light enough to pick up off the water and you don’t have to keep adjusting the line constantly with the current. This is a very important factor when fishing because you want the flies to be presented in the most natural way and maximize drift time.
When nymphing, I tend to fish a two fly rig with my flies about 50-60cm apart from each other on a “tag” system which allows the top fly to move freely and is easier to change out (see “Rigging the Leader” below). Some people prefer to put flies very close together but with proper weight and drift speed I find spacing them out a little longer helps in the long run.
Understanding the Weight
Lastly, one of the most important factors is the weight of flies. Paying attention to how deep a fly will sink can be vital to catching fish. When you eliminate traditional weight with split shot and use varied tungsten beaded flies, you can fish smaller and heavier weighted patterns that get in the zone quickly. This is perfect for picky fish and allows you to cover the hardest flowing water in the river to a shallow riffle with just a quick change of fly pattern with a different weight. It also saves time because you don’t need to adjust a strike indicator or split-shot—just alter the fly pattern and tungsten bead weight and then consider tippet size.
My Fly Rod
My leader is 12ft of 12lb. fluorocarbon for the butt section, 8ft of 10lb fluorocarbon for the mid-section, finished off with a 2ft-tapered colored sighter. This leader is great for searching heavy, faster runs and still works really well in technical situations like pocket water with small flies.
The main reason Euro Nymphing has proven so adaptive is you’re in control of every aspect of the line, leader, flies, and rod. Every part can be dialed in just the way you need it to be for the short time you’re fishing. There is less guess work as to what the flies are doing below the surface since you know immediately from the feed back in the sighter and length of the two flies spaced out. Overall, Euro Nymphing is a streamlined and efficient way to catch fish and I would recommend it to any one who is currently fly fishing or wants to start.
You don’t have to cast far to Euro Nymph either so it’s great for the beginner fly fisher! Rods are longer in length, typically 10ft, 3wt. vs. a traditional 9ft. 5wt trout set up.
Jack Arnot is our youngest and still one of our most accomplished ambassadors. He is a junior at Vail Christian High School and still finds time to be a competitive angler and avid fly tier. Outside of fly fishing he excels in cross country and track. This kid is one to watch – check him out on social media @jackarnot.