This month’s fly tying article is going to be a bit different. Instead of highlighting one particular fly we are going to be looking at a whole family of flies.
European nymphing?? It seems that the whole fly fishing world is euro-nymphing. But it is not a matter of just getting on the bandwagon of the newest fad, because in fact, euro-nymphing is not really all that new. Although new to many of us, it has proven to be very effective since the 1980’s. (Some flyfishing historians will argue that european-nymphing is simply another step in the development of high-stick nymphing techniques that have been evolving for the past 150 years!)
Perhaps you are on the fence in deciding whether to jump into euro-nymphing. Well, when you hear that the highly competitive USA fly fishing team has added euro-nymphing to its arsenal of methods, it should make you sit up and notice. Back in 1989 the fly fishing world was changed when Polish angler Vladi Trzebunia caught more fish by himself than the combined total of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place teams at the world championships! A little closer to home, when Josh Linn, the “Fly Czar” at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop, tells me he recently had a 20-fish day on the Metolius I really start paying attention! That is no easy feat on that river. Now, I don’t get over to the Metolius very often, but I am not sure if I have landed 20 fish on that river in my lifetime. So we are in for a treat this month getting to have Josh as our guest speaker and also have him available as the guest tyer to share his knowledge at our monthly Fly Tying Night. (And at our meeting be sure to ask him about landing two fish at once. Also on the Metolius!)
So, what is euro-nymphing? In its simplest description, it is a way to fish subsurface flies without using a strike indicator or adding extra weight onto your line. it is a method of maintaining a tight connection with your fly, a method to dead drift your fly and to eliminate slack in your line, and a method to maintain control over the depth and speed of your drifting fly. Some people call this Czech nymphing, some call it European nymphing, and some call it tight-line nymphing. You can call it whatever you want.
There are a number of variations of euro-nymphing styles (Polish, Czech, Spanish, French, etc), each employing both similarities and differences to the other methods. If you study them all and overthink too much, all of the information will soon put your brain on overload. Before you blow a fuse and get discouraged, we’ll let Josh break down this whole European-style nymphing to the basics and teach us enough to get us started.
The types of flies for euro-nymphing will differ from many of the nymph patterns that you are accustomed to using. They nearly all are heavily weighted for their size, usually employing tungsten beads to get them down to the desired depth. Along with the tungsten beads tyers often add wraps of lead wire for additional weight.
You will notice that many of the euro-nymph flies are also sparsely tied and have a smooth and streamlined appearance. This aids in getting the flies down quickly to the fish zone. Many of our standard nymphs have a bushy or rough look to them, which causes them to drop more slowly due to added friction as they sink through the water column. Many patterns employ a bright hot spot near the head or tail, or both. The appearance of many of the flies can best be described as “attractor” patterns since they do not seem to closely resemble any life forms in the river, (or on this planet for that matter). Suffice to say we are not trying to closely “match the hatch” when tying up many of the euro-nymph patterns.
Flies for euro-nymphing are rapidly evolving. Here are a number of euro-nymph patterns presently in use:
This fly was first developed by the Spanish competitive fly fishing team but really was made popular by the French team. Wraps of lead wire are often added behind the tungsten bead head. The tail is generally coq de leon. Using different materials for wrapping the body accounts for the numerous variations of this fly. It generally is tied with a very smooth and streamlined look, and needs to be coated with UV resin or clear fingernail polish. It is interesting to note that the name Perdigon comes from the Spanish word “perdigones” which translates as “pellet” or “shot”, as in bird shot. So the Perdigon is literally a weighted pellet with a tail, and it drops through the water like a rock.
The Mic Drop
A Perdigon style fly with a body made of thread wraps ribbed with wire.
Basically a Perdigon made with a peacock quill body.
Most of the credit for this fly seems to go to Lance Egan, a member of the USA fly fishing team. He actually says his version is a variation of a previous pattern (perhaps borrowed from the French team?, hence the name). Using pheasant tail fibers in the body, it is sometimes described as a pheasant tail with a hot spot. Egan says he won one session of the world championships in 2006 using the Frenchie.
The Thread Frenchie
As the name implies, this fly substitutes thread for pheasant tail fibers in the body.
The GTI Caddis
Another Lance Egan pattern, GTi is a short for “Go To Imitation”. It is a larger fly and makes a good point or anchor fly in a euro-nymph rigging.
The Red Princess (or Czech Princess)
Not as smooth in appearance as many euro-nymph patterns due to an added cdc collar. (Club member Kevin Luettgerodt likes this pattern after recently landing a beautiful 18-inch redside on the Metolius.)
Join us on Wednesday, April 24th at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn for our next Fly Tying Night. Guest tyer Josh Linn will be guiding us in tying up euro-nymph patterns, including some of those shown above. We will be starting at 6 pm. Hope to see you there!