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  • Writer's pictureSatoshi Yamamoto

Euro Nymphing: Evolution or Hybrid!? & Myth Busting

I do have my own favorite styles and situations of fly-fishing, meaning I would choose a certain time of the year, particular weather, gears, flies, target species, etc. As for the guiding, I do have systems and formulas that I have developed through my decade of experience. Yet there are so many facets that would make me adjust or change my systems and formulas. Over all, I try to keep my eyes and ears open and be adaptable to any situations that fly-fishing or the life would throw at me.

One of recent phenomenons around me is so called Euro Nymphing. It’s an American term to define and combine various nymphing methods used in European countries such as French, Spanish, Czech, so on. I learned that. Theories, methods, and gears, I did learn as well. I even have had a client or two who did Euro nymphing with marvelous results. I even have been hearing that there are fair numbers of folks, from near and far, who are trying to apply Euro nymphing at a spring creek.

I do agree on advantage: get down quickly with tungsten nymph patterns and, most importantly, catch fish. However, I have witnessed some disadvantages = disagreements: the set up WITHOUT a fly line won’t allow an angler to cast dry-flies or other methods when situations change quickly. Consequently one has to carry an extra rod-reel-line (or more, perhaps with a guide or in a boat). MOST SIGNIFICANTLY, if one depends on that style of casting all the time, his/her REAL casting will be sloppy.

Two more points of discussion: Gear. One of the leading theories of the set up is that the 10-11 feet rod with soft tip would prevent the tippet as setting the hook and fighting the fish. Also it helps anglers to reach out a bit more. However this can be easily fixed by using one size heavier tippet. Also by carefully wading, the distance can be shortened. After all it’s only 1-2 feet of advantage. If one wants to cast nymphs real far, nymphs rigged with the regular fly line will do much better jobs. Terminology. Isn’t this a high-stick nymphing or a tight line nymphing?, seriously. In my research and understanding, these have been practiced before indicators became really popular and hit the market. Certainly it may sound cooler than “American nymphing“, “Indicator fishing”, “Bobber fishing”, etc. But to be truthfully honest, this method of nymphing is nothing new. Over all, this is another market gimmick or niche in the fly-fishing industry.

Now this is a serious claim. But please don’t get me wrong. I do admit the effectiveness of Euro nymphing. I’ve been pondering the method to practice Euro nymphing without all the setup, in other words, with the regular rod-reel-line. Also practically speaking, not every fisher or client, including myself, owns the complete Euro nymphing setup or is willing to carry a couple of rods all the time or to walk between a stream and a parked car.

Pondering and planning for around three years, opportunities for experiment finally arrived. No 1 Flies. I purchased jig hooks and tungsten beads in a few different sizes. I studied a few common pattern, tied some, and started adding some ideas and modifications. No 2 River. Bighorn River is well known for its productivity with nymphing. It is always tempting to rig up and cast a bobber, splitshot weights, and two nymphs and catch some trout before the hatch would start but during this past trip, I pressed my temptation and determined to focus on Euro nymphing experiments. No 3 Gears. I was with a 6-weight 9-foot rod, a weight-forward floating line, a regular reel, and the leader length 12-13 feet ending with 4X as the Bighorn has been producing huge trout constantly throughout this season.

I got to a spot where I fished and guided with a bobber rig before with some good catches. Again, it was very tempting to rig up and fish with a bobber. But I focused on conducting my experiments. So instead, I rigged either two Euro style nymphs or one Euro style paired with a regular nymph pattern. With the latter, I switched which would be tied top or bottom. And the tip of my fly line is the indicator, or a “sighter“ in Euro nymphing jargon.

Just shy of 20 inches. And here’s the ultimate proof.

Below is the actual fly. Temporarily I would call a Hot Spot Pheasant Tail Euro Nymph. It was tied on a solid hook but it did get opened by the size of trout who put some very strong fights with 4X tippet. Yet I did reel him in.

So I finally did conduct experiments and proved that Euro nymphing can be done with a regular gears and Euro style nymphs can be incorporated as well.

At the same time, I started using the Euro nymphing style patterns during the Yellowstone River float trips. Using as a dropper under a big dry-flies or grasshopper patterns, it has been very effective, really.

Now I’ve got homework through winter till next spring. I will purchase some more different sizes of jig hooks and tungsten beads and tie up more Euro style patterns. I’m very positive that I can introduce this method to my clients when time and place are right. Also, these patterns can be incorporated into the float trips as long as I carefully observe the depths and currents. Say, when the Yellowstone River becomes just ready to fish = water is just turning green yet running high, a reasonable size of tungsten stonefly nymphs would be very helpful. They would get the depths yet due to the velocity of the river early in the season, it would not pull the bobber in as everything would keep drifting. Then as the water level recedes throughout summer, the tungsten nymphs in stonefly sizes would be too much.

Well, it became a serious blog post as I did before. Since I started this new format on my website, I’ve been trying to keep it concise and get-to-the-point. But this topic needs to be like this.

This article is never intended to deny or criticize Euro nymphing and people who are doing it. Nor implying people who don’t want to, including myself, are being cheap to buy Euro gears (indeed they are not expensive as the line and the reel with a proper capacity to accommodate backing and line are not needed). To me, it’s just another nymphing technique. And again, I will tie Euro style pattern and incorporate them into my regular fishing from now on.

So next time on the stream, when you suddenly want to Euro nymphing while you are with a regular rod-reel-line, rather than going back to your car, try Euro nymphing with what you have just like I did.

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Feb 23, 2023

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