Making Nymphing Great Again

Sean Visintainer - 10/04/18

Euro Nymphing

From Zero to Euro

I thought I knew something about nymphing. But then I tried euro nymphing. I haven't picked up my indicator rod since the middle of August. In my twenty-five years of fly fishing I have never seen anything quite like this. Extremely high catch rates, efficiency, stealth, simplicity, and just plain fun. I am all for the experience of fly fishing, I love the adventure, and so forth, but I bet many of you, like me, love to catch fish.

Euro nymphing, also called Czech nymphing or tightline nymphing, is nothing new, quite frankly I feel like I'm late to the dance, especially for being in the fly fishing industry most of my life. Wayne Jordan at the shop has done it for at least eight years now and has been extremely successful with it on many local waters. It wasn't until his article Czech It Out! that I figured I better get my shit together and figure out this mystical form of railing fishing. Now having done it for the almost two months now, I've realized many things I knew, or more so did not know about presentation and fish and I realized that it wasn't that mystical at all.

The six biggest things I've learned about euro nymphing so far...

  • When done properly, you catch rates go up drastically. At one point in Wyoming Jen looked at me and asked, "Is this even fair?!". I just looked at her, shrugged, smiled, and went back to reeling in another fish. We also swung by Three Dollar Bridge on the Madison which is one of the most pressured areas of Montana and were able to pick off fish while others were not, probably due to the fact the drifts are so flawless.

  • You can cover more varied types of water than you could ever imagine in one drift. In one single drift you can go from fishing two feet of water (or less) to six feet deep (or more) by simply changing the direction of your leader angle in the water. Small slots, deep slots, drop-offs, fast water, slower water, it all can be covered.

  • You can now detect the most subtle of takes. I always knew that indicator fishing that you were probably missing subtle takes, but seeing is believing. Seeing hesitation in your leader is an eye opening experience.

  • You don't snag as often as you think. And if you do snag it's easier to retrieve your flies since you don't have much line out and/or are fishing jig patterns which unhook easier.

  • Flies matter less. What I mean by this is that the weight of the fly is more important than what the fly actually looks like. "Euro style" flies are often simple flies with tungsten beads and lead wraps under the bodies to help them sink fast to depth. They are streamlined to sink and don't have the intricate details that you find on many other flies. With precise drifts, I believe the fish is fooled more often than with a fancy fly. That doesn't help us sell more flies, but it is the facts.

  • It isn't as complicated as I originally thought. Overall it's actually pretty straight forward. Once you see how the euro set-up is rigged, it's very basic. Two or three flies can up your odds, but at least in our region, one main "point" fly will suffice and help reduce any potential headaches of multiple flies. While it can be done with a basic fly rod and a long leader, having the right tool for the job like a long, light rod, the correct leader and line will all equate to better drifts and presentation will in-turn help you catch more fish.

There is not a lot of people that LOVE nymphing. Rigging split shot, indicators, etc can be annoying and casting "junk" can be exhausting. Plus it's not that glamorous. But, indicator fishing catches fish, and at times, a necessary evil to doing so. Euro nymphing from what I have experienced eliminates some of those frustrations and increases catch rates. Like with all things there is a little learning curve, but if you have some fly fishing experience it doesn't take that long to get the hang of it and make nymphing great again.

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Euro Nymphing