Euro Nymphing for Beginners

I have no business writing about euro nymphing for beginners, other than I tried the technique. And I liked it. I’m an old school fly fisher – I fish nymphs with a strike indicator and two flies, the last fly tied on the bend of the hook of the first. I might add a split shot above the first fly if I need to get the nymph into the hot zone.

However, at the urging of our one listeners, I decided to give euro-nymphing a try. At the end of this post, I offer up a three resources, including a four-minute overview video that I found on the technique.

I thought you might benefit from five basics that I’ve learned from my short journey.

1. Start out using your existing rod.

With euro nymphing, the recommendation is to purchase a longer rod. And for sure, you need to purchase one if you plan to get serious about the technique. Euro-nymphing rods are longer, between 10 to 11 feet, and you generally purchase the rods in a 2 or 3 weight.

Initially, I thought, “Hey, my 9 foot, 6 weight should work. Why don’t I try euro nymphing first? One or two feet can’t make that much difference, right? If I like it, then I’ll purchase a new rod.”

Now that I own a euro-nymphing rod (10 foot, 3 weight), I realize how lousy my regular rod was for this technique.

However, I caught quite a few fish on my regular rod using the euro technique. One day in Montana, I caught eight browns in about 45 minutes while Steve and a friend sat along the bank and ate lunch.

So you may want to try out euro nymphing with your main rod, just to see if you think you’ll like the different way of nymph fishing. Once you’re all in, though, you definitely need to pick up a euro rod.

Just so you know: I picked up an “Echo” euro nymphing rod for about $250. One of the top rods on the market (at least by way of reviews) is the Sage ESN at around $900. I’m too lousy of a euro-nympher to appreciate the nuance of a $900 rod, so I went with the Echo at the recommendation of a friend.

2. You’ll need a different kind of leader.

With euro-nymphing, not only is the rod different, the tackle is different.

I purchased a Rio, 11-foot leader, but frankly, any brand works. Don’t get side-tracked by which is the better brand. The euro leader is longer than a traditional leader. The 11-foot leader is basically 9 feet of a tapered leader with two feet of “indicator material” or “sighter” – which is different in color than the opaque white, so you can see it in the water.

At the end is a tippet ring. You will tie on additional tippet (and then your flies) on the end of it.

3. You will need a “sighter” at the end of the leader.

A sighter is simply colored material at the end of the leader to which you tie your tippet. You can buy leaders that already have the sighter material attached to it. That’s what I prefer. Other fly fishers purchase the leader and the sighter separately – and then tie the two together.

I buy the full euro leader with the sighter material. Life is too short for one more knot to tie.

4. You need weighted nymphs.

With euro nymphing, you do not add split shot or weight to get the nymph down into the hot zone or near the bottom of the river. The nymphs themselves are weighted. They are called “tungsten weighted nymphs.” The eyelet is to the side and looks like an old fashioned jig.

In fact, they are called “jig nymphs.”

I purchased four standard nymphs to start: the rainbow warrior, the pheasant tail, the gold-ribbed hair’s ear, and the prince nymph.

5. I use double-tapered fly line.

Many euro nymphers use “level line,” because, frankly, you’re only casting out about as far as the leader, maybe a little farther. I’ve found that euro nymphing works best in smaller rivers with well-defined runs that I can get up on. I’m sure the professionals would mock my lack of expertise, but my longest casts tend to be fifteen, maybe twenty feet.

In general, the fly line takes on a lesser role in euro nymphing.

The one tip I took away from a book I read (the one listed below) is to use double-tapered line. That way, I can switch to a dry fly rig without having to carry two rods or having to run back to the truck to grab my regular rod. You can’t sling dry flies with level line.

Three resources

The videos, books, and articles on euro-nymphing for beginners are legion. Here are just three:

    Overview of Euro Nymphing

    Explanation of the Euro Leader

    Nymphing – the New Way: French Leader Fishing for Trout

4 Replies to “Euro Nymphing for Beginners”

  1. Great topic. You nailed it with not needing a new rod to try Euro nymphing. Leaders will be the most important. If you are using thin euro nymphing fly line you can start with a leader that is 12′ of 20lbs butt section. I recommend Maxima Chameleon. 3′ of 12lbs Amnesia and 18″ of sighter material to a tippet ring. Then 2′ – 5′ of 4x-7x tippet depending on depth of water. If using Regular fly line then double or triple the length of butt section. This will keep your fly line on the reel and prevent sag. Sag is the enemy when Euro nymphing, you lose contact with your flies and lose strike detection. Build the remainder of the leader as mentioned above. I could go on and on but I think starting with the leader is very important.
    As for other references check out
    Devon Olson and Lance Eagan ( Members of Team USA fly fishing team also have videos on Vimeo for a small fee called Modern Nymphing the basics and Modern Nymphing Elevated. They also have a book titled Tactical Fly Fishing, Lessons learned from Competition for all anglers.
    Good luck and have fun

    1. Thank you, Glen! You are my inspiration! Thank you for pushing me out of the nest!


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