Euro-nymphing

Let me start out by saying I am no expert on Euro-nymphing. I do a little bit on my local rivers and catch a few trout alright but I am not one of these lads who can almost empty a river at one go. I use the method sparingly and often only when other methods fail to produce. I’d rather fish traditional wet fly style, either swinging them down-and-across or short lining upstream or (of course) dry fly. I have fished in the company of anglers who excel in euro-nymphing and it is impressive how they can winkle out fish on days when nothing else will work. Each to their own I guess.

I see there are some lovely rods specifically built for this style of fishing but I use an old ten foot six inch Orvis which just about does the job for me. My leader for this style is built from a heavy butt section of 8 pound nylon tapered to a 3 pound tippet about two feet long and a single dropper. Three nymphs is probably a much more efficient way of fishing but the rivers I fish are heavily overgrown and it is hard enough to fish with two flies let alone three. I fish around the clock, reach and lift, and all that good stuff and sure enough I catch some trout. My choice of patterns is woefully inadequate but in my experience they work as well as anything else and better than most others.

Hook sizes range from 12 to 16 jig hooks. I have used Hends in the past and can’t fault them. My two staples are a pheasant tail and a hare’s ear. For weight I use either normal black, gold or copper slotted beads or tungsten slotted beads. The PT has cock pheasant tail fibres wound as an abdomen, ribbed with wire (copper or gold usually). Tails are either PT fibres or more often than not some fibres off any old cock hackle which happens to be lying on my bench at the time. The thorax is a few turns of brown olive seal’s fur.

The hare’s ear is tied on the same hooks and the tails are just as nondescript. The body is dubbed fur from a hare’s ear mixed with a little of the body fur from the same creature. I sometimes rib this one with yellow wire but just as often it is plain old copper wire I use. The thorax is brown olive seal again.

Although there is little difference in my two patterns some days the fish want one but not the other so it pays to have both in the box. I have tried numerous other patterns but keep returning to these two. I recently bought some nice ‘dark copper’ tungsten beads from Piscari-fly down in Kilkenny. These look the business and I am looking forward to trying them out. In terms of bead weight I use 2.5mm up to 4mm but most of the time two flies with 3mm beads is fine for the waters I fish. Obviously I go heavier for deeper/faster water and lighter for shallow/ slow water.

As I say, I am no expert on euro-nymphing and won’t waste your time going over the way I fish but check out any number of videos on the internet for details of the method. Bite detection is possibly the biggest challenge and I have tried various brightly coloured strike detectors in the past but none have been amazing. I just look for any tiny movement in my leader and lift into it. Most of the time it is nothing but the flies bouncing on the bottom but I do get it right some of the time.

My local rivers are small and narrow so it is easy to cover all the water most of the time. The main restriction is from tree branches which make casting a challenge on a windy day and consequent losses of leaders and flies is a common problem. This is part of the reason for tying such simple flies, each one could easily be stuck up a tree on the first cast, so better to carry plenty of quickly tied flies than a handful of absolute beauties. In the past few seasons I see more and more anglers fishing euro style around these parts, so it is becoming more popular even on the small streams. It is another style for you to try out (and more flies to tie of course).

4 thoughts on “Euro-nymphing

  1. I have fished Euro-nymph style for the past 3 or 4 years and I really like it. It tends to produce more fish for me than I ever thought possible. I prefer it over every other method except (yes, of course) dry flies. Your fly selection looks good to me. I also have been using some soft-hackled nymphs. One is called Gordon’s Fire-Starter Nymph but you could easily add a partridge hackle to one of your fly patterns as well. For strike detection, I almost always rely on “feel” before I ever see a twitch on my sighter. I think the faster stream sections I fish in require it. Perhaps a dedicated Euro-Nymphing rod is the key with more tip sensitivity. I use a Syndicate Pipeline Pro in 3 weight and 10 foot length. Something a little longer would be fine too, but not shorter.

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  2. From time to time I am tempted to invest in a nice long, light nymph rod but what holds me back is the need to switch between methods at short notice. I can be happily euro-nymphing when a burst of flies hatching bring the trout to the surface and I can very quickly chop off the nymph rig and be flicking a dry fly in minutes. My old 10’6 Orvis does not excel at anything but is passable at most things. The idea of lugging more than one rod around is a non-starter for me with all the undergrowth and trees I have to negotiate. Who knows, maybe I will weaken and buy a dedicated nymph rod!

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    1. It’s a valid concern. To combat that, I bought a second spool for the reel on my Euro rod. It has a 3-wt WF floating fly line on it with a 6X leader and tippet all ready to go. The spool is small and goes in a pocket in a velvet bag and snaps in easily. All I have to do is thread the rod guides and tie on a fly. The rod is not a dream to cast dry flies but it’s good enough when a hatch fires off. Regarding flies, I might add, I often use a small winged wet fly, such as McPhail’s Adult Midge, as my dropper fly. It hangs and wiggles above my heavy point fly/split shot by about 18 inches. I definitely get some bites on them.

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