Euro Nymphing: Background Info
Euro Nymphing…you shouldn’t put it off any longer. It seems that the whole fly fishing world is going euro nymphing. 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. You should at least consider going in open minded about trying this technique , although new to many of us, that has proven to be very effective since the 1980’s. (Some flyfishing historians will argue that european nymphing is simply another step in the evolution of high-stick nymphing techniques that have been going on for the past 150 years!)
When people heard that the highly competitive USA fly fishing team had added euro nymphing to its arsenal of methods, people began to sit up and notice. A little closer to home, when Josh Linn, the “Fly Czar” at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop, told me back in 2019 that he recently had a 20-fish day on the Metolius I really started paying attention! That is no easy feat on that river. And then Josh put emphasis on his endorsement of euro nymphing by adding that he landed 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, it is important to educate yourself in the basics of this style with just enough information to get you started so you feel confident enough to try it out on the water. If you decide you like euro nymphing feel free to investigate it further.
Brad Jonasson Interview
Fellow CFF club member Brad Jonasson has really taken to euro nymphing, easily more so than anyone else that I personally know. In Texas Hold ‘Em poker language, you could say that Brad has gone “All In” regarding euro-nymphing. Brad agreed to answer a few questions designed to help folks that are unfamiliar with euro nymphing to decide whether or not to venture forward.
Question: How long have you been euro nymphing? What made you decide to try this method?
Brad: One day in June, 2018, while fly fishing on the Owyhee River with a small CFF group, Ron Bouchard appeared to outfish us all by euro nymphing.
Question: What percent of your time nymph fishing do you now spend euro nymphing compared to standard indicator nymphing?
Brad: I fish exclusively for trout, and since late 2018, I have focused solely on euro nymphing.
Question: Did you have immediate success euro nymphing?
Brad: At the outset, I enjoyed immediate, but modest, success, which inspired me to continue striving to improve, though the learning curve has been gradual. Right now I believe that I am an intermediate euro nympher, ready to move to an advanced level.
Question: If I have never done any euro nymphing do I need to buy a new rod, reel, and line?
Brad: Because euronymphing is a different animal, an inquisitive beginner should probably try some tightline nymphing with standard equipment (like a 9’ 5-wt rod) to see if he/she even likes it. Your current 4/5-weight reel will probably work fine. (For all of the reasons adequately spelled out in the literature, further pursuit of euro nymphing will eventually demand an investment in a 10-11’ rod built especially for that purpose.)
Question: What else would I need to get started for my first time out euro nymphing?
Brad: You would need a euro nymphing leader made of a hand-built mono leader that includes a twotoned sighter material (Rio), along with fluorocarbon tippets and a selection of tungsten beaded nymphs.
Question: Where do you like to go to do your euro nymphing and what kind of water do you look for?
Brad: Much of my fishing time is spent on the Deschutes which is ideal for euro nymphing. Look for riffles and runs where fish lay feeding because they are oxygenated and buggy. The Crooked River is also excellent if the water is not too low, although I caught a 20” rainbow at 70 cfs.
Question: Do you tie your own euro nymph flies?
Brad: If you are a fly tyer, euro nymphs are easy, and fun, to tie. You will need UV resin and a UV light for some of the patterns. You probably already have many of the necessary materials.Beginners – once you have learned the basic skills of fly tying, head to Youtube to create and tie your own euro nymphs.
Question: Do you have any other tips for the beginning euro nympher?
Brad: It is not just the acquisition of the equipment and flies that guarantees success, but an understanding and implementation of the “tight line” presentation and drag-free drift that is of greater importance. So study up with books and videos as I did.
Question: Can you recommend any resources for the beginner euro nympher?
Brad: I would recommend reading books (CFF library) and viewing videos (youtube) by George Daniel, Devin Olsen, and Lance Egan. Right now, to become an advanced euro nympher, I am digesting Troutbitten’s “Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing”, the best treatise on advanced euro nymphing I have run across. ( This can be found at troutbitten.com)
Euro Nymphing Flies:
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. Suffice to say we using “impressionistic” flies and are not trying to closely “match the hatch” when tying up many of the euro-nymph patterns.
The number of different euro-nymphing patterns on the internet has certainly exploded. It is easy to come up with your own variations of existing patterns by changing colors and materials. Here are a number of patterns to get you started (Many thanks to Josh Linn for the fly tying recipes):
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. It is literally “a weighted pellet with a tail”.
Hook: Jig hook #14,16
Bead: 3.3mm or 2.8mm slotted tungsten
Lead: 3-5 wraps .015
Thread: Orange Veevus 10/0
Tail: Coq De Leon
Body: krystal flash, mylar, floss, thread
Hot Spot: Fl Orange Veevus 10/0 thread
Wing Case: Black Loon Hard Head (or black nail polish)
Finish: Coat the body with UV resin
Perdigon Tying Tutorials
There are many opinions about what a good perdigon should look like. You will notice that some are quite thin while others seem quite bulky. The materials can vary and the end results are seemingly endless. Here are some online tutorials to check out:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-tuKpwbrX0 (Tyer: Devin Olsen)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LChpgNouQkg (easy segmented body technique)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXL42hqWJBw (tyer likes them thin!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmTs1NME8Uc (Tyer: George Daniel)
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). It is sometimes described as a pheasant tail with a hot spot..
Hook: Jig hook #14, 16
Bead: Copper or Gold slotted tungsten; 3.3mm or 2.8mm
Lead: 3-4 wraps .015
Thread: Red or Orange Veevus
Tail: Coq De Leon
Body: Natural pheasant tail
Rib: gold or copper wire
Collar: shrimp pink ice dub
Frenchie Tying Tutorial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMnx_Hz-oG8 (Tyer: Lance Egan)
Thread Frenchie Recipe:
Use thread for the body, instead of natural pheasant tail, and you then have a Thread Frenchie.
Thread Frenchie Tying Tutorial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n12lOMf9CDY (Tyer: Lance Egan)
The Sexy Walt
This is a dressed up euro nymph version of a fly called Walt’s Worm, which was created back in 1984
by Walt Young.
Sexy Walt Recipe
Hook: Jig hook #14
Bead: Silver slotted tungsten , 3.8mm
Lead: 10 wraps .015
Body: Hare’s Ear Dubbin
Rib: Small mylar
Sexy Walt Tying Tutorial: (Tyer: Josh Linn, Royal Treatment Flyfishing)
Euro Nymphing Leaders
There seems to be an infinite number of euro nymphing leader formulas out there and it can be confusing if you overthink it. So to simplify things, here is a nice video from Josh Linn at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop with instructions on tying up a euro nymphing leader that he says is perfect for all aspects of Euro Nymphing…
(Scroll down until you get to The Modern Euro Leader)
The Royal Treatment can sell you euro leaders already tied up or they can provide you a kit with all of the materials you would need to tie up your own.
Here’s a drawing of Josh’s Technical Euro Leader:
The Clackamas Fly Fishers normally try to schedule a fish-a-long on the Crooked River in March or April. Of course this will depend on the usual things like weather and water level. But whenever it happens, this would be a great time to practice your euro nymphing skills. If you are lucky, Brad Jonasson will be there and he will be happy to share his knowledge with you. And as always, Dave Kilhefner is is a great instructor of all things related to fly fishing, including euro nymphing.