For the past couple months a lot of customers have been coming to the shop asking about European Nymphing, or Czech style nymphing – and for good reason: it’s a lot of fun and a very productive way to catch fish. I got turned onto the idea after hearing about it from local fly tyer Tony Torrence and watching Modern Nymphing: European Inspired Tactics which is a really great watch for anyone wanting a visual introduction to the technique. Since we’ve had so much interest in this method of fishing I thought I would share some of my insights. For anyone wanting an introduction to the technique please check out Introduction to Euro Nymphing from Vail Valley Anglers.
My preferred setup is a 10’0 or 10’6 3wt – there a few options including the Redington Hydrogen, Cortland Competition, and Echo Shadow 2. I went with the 10’0 3wt Redington Hydrogen and I paired it with the Airflo Euro Nymph line. For my leader I follow Devin’s formula (picture below) from Modern Nymphing with a couple variations. I use 8’ of 20 lb Maxima Chameleon, 3’ of 15lb Maxima Chameleon, 2-3’ of 11lb Rio Two-Tone Indicator Tippet (this is your sighter), followed by a tippet ring (I use the steelhead rings because trout is just too small). From this point I use 3-6’ of 4x Powerflex down to a terminal tippet ring at which point I tie 18” of 5x or 6x Fluoroflex to my weighted tungsten beaded nymph. Sometimes I’ll fish a two nymph setup with a 5” piece of 3x Fluoro tied off the terminal tippet ring. As far as reels go you want a somewhat heavy reel that will help counterbalance the extra length of the rod.
For someone who hasn’t done a ton of nymphing this style of fishing was fairly easy to pick up and almost immediately I had success. I was catching fish in water that I didn’t realize fish were holding in, or water that I would have passed over. And I was catching bigger fish that I would have previously spooked after a few false casts. And this is the main reason I think this style of fishing is addictive – the approach is stealthy. By virtue of using a weightless line, no indicator and a longer leader you’re eliminating a lot of the disturbances between you and the fish (no line hitting the water, no false casts overhead, and no indicator yanking out of the water when going to recast). I also like that I can go from deeper pockets and pools to shallow riffles without changing my setup. I simply lower or raise my arm to get my nymphs at the depth I want. It really opens up a lot of water this way. And truly I mean you can fish a 6 foot deep pool and a 2 foot riffle with the same setup and not worry about snagging. Along those same lines you can dissect sections of water more precisely. You can really fish every inch of water no matter the depth or speed with this technique.
The one downside to Euro style nymphing which is also an upside is that you essentially eliminate most of your casts. Instead of doing 3 or 4 false casts to get your fly in position you do a quick tension cast upstream or maybe 1 false cast and let your nymphs drop. If you enjoy fly fishing for the art of casting or just like bombing deep shots, this might bore you. But the upside to this minimalist approach is that you’re less likely to scare bigger smarter fish from false casting (that might have spooked after your first drift through).
Finally, the takes are awesome – I think this approach has made me a better fisherman because most of the takes I am noticing are tactile rather than visual. Yeah it helps having the two tone tippet as an indicator and for the most part that is what i’m watching with my drifts but 85% of the time I am feeling the strike before seeing any hesitation in my line. I feel more connected to my nymphs and more in sync with the drift in real time. And I am paying closer attention to any tactile movements with my line rather than just visual disruptions.
If you are keen to nymphing and want to up your nymph game I definitely recommend trying this method out and for the guys are dry fly purists – this might also change how you feel about nymphing.
A few of my favorite patterns for Euro Nymphing – Don’t be afraid to fish heavy!
Top Flies (12 and smaller): Pat’s Rubber Legs, Brillon’s Lucent Jig, Heavy Metal worm, San Juan Worm, Prince nymph, Mega Prince.
Terminal Flies (10 and larger): Hare’s Ear Jigged, Brillon’s Lucent Jig, Mega Prince Jigged, Prince Jigged, Jigged CDC Pheasant Tail Tungsten, Mckees Tungsten Rubber Legs.