Seven Reasons To Try Euro Nymphing
By: Frank Day
Recently the Euro nymphing style of tackle and methods of presentation they employ are becoming increasingly popular among western trout anglers on both big and small water. At The Fly Fishing Shop we have been experimenting with these methods for quite some time. Here are 7 reasons you may want to consider picking up some Euro Nymphing tackle.
1. The short distance and constant connection to the flies lead to increased hook up rates
Many times I have watched a particularly educated trout take and reject my offering before I have a chance to bring my presentation tight to the fish where the hook could find purchase. With a Euro nymph set up, because you are leading the nymphs through the drift with your rod tip you are in constant connection with your flies. The instant a trout even takes a sniff at your offering you will be able to feel it and simply come up 3-6" with your rod and he's hooked.
2. It's applicable to both large and small water.
Often times people overlook Euro nymphing on larger western rivers because the drift is shorter and covers less water than a mended dead drift with an indicator. The river is wide, deep, and intimidating. The indicator rig gives the confidence of water coverage and numbers of fish fished too. The reality is that whether the river is large or small most fish will still gravitate to the softer edges and lies they don't have to fight the current excessively to stay in. Take the big water and break it down into smaller pieces of water and focus on those smaller pieces and intimately pick them apart which brings us to our third point.
Within the swung fly steelhead game, as anglers step through a run they cover a "grid" by stepping downstream. With each new cast as they are stepping down a run, they are covering a new window of water until they have covered all the available water they intend to fish. This same sort of systematic approach is possible with Euro nymphing. By starting short, and close to the bank, then progressively moving further and further out into the middle of the river you are able to cover all the inside holding water. Combine this water coverage outward with water coverage up or downstream and you can effectively put your flies through every square foot of water you intend.
4. Depth control
Depth control in the column is also unparalleled. there are often colored sections of line called "sighters". A sighter is a colored section of line that the angler uses to help gauge the exact depth their flies are traveling. The majority of behaviorally drifting insects travel in relatively close proximity to the bottom. Keeping your nymphs as close to the bottom as possible without hanging up is the deal when it comes to fooling nymph eating trout. Most euro nymphs employ heavily weighted flies or split shot at the business end of the leader. Because the weight is on the end pulling everything down as opposed to dangling under an indicator, finding the bottom is a much simpler task as opposed to an indicator adjustment which takes significantly more time. Just find the bottom and reference your sighter to be 1-3" higher in the column and your in the zone. Because of this, while the indicator fisherman is adjusting his setup to fish deeper towards the middle you simply took 5 steps forward and continued fishing and maybe even landed a fish or two before he's even returned to fishing. With a planned grid you intend to cover and nymphs that are within 3-6" of the bottom Euro nymph anglers are simply deadly. These days if I see someone Euro nymphing who appears to know what they're doing I'll simply keep walking. If there was a fish to be had he's probably already had him, appreciated him, and turned him loose.
5. Advantages on small water
Many of our smaller high gradient home streams found on Mt Hood are classic plunge pooly pocket water. This type of water has its classic pools but often times I find the most robust fish in these plunge pools. The typical small plunge pool is quite small with tongue of fast choppy water over a deeper calmer pocket. The larger fish in the small streams seem to not only seek the high oxygen content found in these sort of plunges but the overhead cover provided by the bubble chop. The bubble chop however poses a problem to us as anglers. Any dry fly will get instantly washed downstream by the small torrent. Likewise an indicator rig will do the same allowing your nymphs to sit for a brief moment before being unnaturally accelerated and ripped downstream. I've found that in these small pockets a Euro nymph rig will penetrate this layer of fast water down into the slower holding lie and stay there. Because of the thin diameter of the leader and its relative lack of friction and surface area in comparison with a floating fly line, it isn't readily ripped downstream by the fast current overhead. Your nymphs will gently tumble through the pocket until it shallows out and the calmer water below meets the faster overhead current. Because of this I find that a Euro nymph setup will out-fish a standard dry-dropper set up or indicator rig in smaller high gradient streams.
6. Euro nymphing rods can be effective lake fishing rods
Longer rods in the 10-11' range are excellent lake fishing tools especially from a float tube and small pontoon boats. With a float tube you are in a seated position and your casting plane is significantly lower than if you were standing. Extra rod length can help regain this lost height and extends the flight time of your loop allowing for a longer cast . Euro nymph rods also have soft tips with stiffer butt sections. They were designed this way for unparalleled sensitivity with the backbone to drive the point home, and lob heavily weighted flies. This action is also perfectly suited for fishing sinking lines in lakes where feel is everything. The stiffer butt section helps plays big fish and will cast denser full sinking lines easily. The softer tip section also protects fine leaders that are likely to be used when fishing tiny emergers in the surface film with floating lines.
7. Some forage items never leave the bottom
Certain prey items that trout feed on such as crayfish, sculpin, and larger stonefly nymphs are rarely found more than 6" off the bottom. All three of the above mentioned lack any sort of an air bladder or method of depth control and are generally confined to the bottom. Sculpin and crayfish in particular have a behavior that is very lending to Euro nymphing. They both live directly on the bottom and have a similar darting movement when alarmed. I will often use a heavily weighted sculpin or crayfish as my bottom fly. When allowed to slowly tumble across the bottom in combination with short twitches to animate them, their behavioral realism is unsurpassed and the effects are deadly.
Hopefully this has helped shed some light on the euro nymphing craze and why it's as popular as it is. For additional information feel free to call toll free at 1-800-266-3971.