Euro Nymphing for Rednecks - Tackle, Setup, Rods

May 9, 2018

I am a recovering bobber addict. I have caught so many fish over the years on indicators, or bobbers, that I have had a hard time getting away from this setup. Part of the reason we all have gotten so hooked on bobbers around here is that most guides row and fish from boats.  We teach folks to use bobbers early on because its easy, they show their friends, and so on and so forth.  Now we have a giant population of bobber fisherman. Great job America. Euro nymphing definitely takes more time to learn and more touch to be successful. In the end, you'll be able to put more trout and bigger trout in the net if you can master both disciplines and use each at the given time.

The fact that every fly fishing competition is won using a Euro Style (this includes Czech, Polish, French, etc.) techniques should tell you its worth checking out. When using this technique you are fishing for EVERY fish.

Euro style nymphing without an indicator is most effective while wading.  This is great news for all of you that don't want to hire a guide or launch a boat every time you want to go catch some fish.  I would encourage all of you die-hards to invest some time and a little bit of money expanding your skill set.

Why Euro Nymphing?

I dabbled in ESN over the years but didn't have much success until this past year.  I was using the wrong rod, wrong leader, wrong flies, and still sucked even though I was standing in the right spots.  I wanted to get good at this so I can share it with all of you wade fisherman that don't want to hire a guide to catch fish.

Public water, smart trout, and limited wading access is what most of us are up against. What if we had a method that allowed us to fish a small area and it was an effective enough strategy you didn't have to move much?  Enter... Euro Nymphing. It's very effective for imitating the primary food source of picky trout. Nymphs.  Trout eat nymphs. Lots and lots of nymphs.  Learn to Euro Nymph and you won't have any trouble having productive catching on public water.

How Do I Get Started?

Order this DVD.  I watched it 2 consecutive times before I threw the line. It's that good. BUY THIS DVD if its the only thing you do. Trust me. 

Get the right gear and set it up right.

The Overall Concept and Tackle Set

I will keep this short.  This is "point blank" range fishing without and indicator on a semi tight line. You can get perfect presentations because you don't have a bobber there to drift ahead and drag your flies. 

1. Rod - long and light. 2-3 weights 10-11' long are almost essential.
2. Lines - It's not essential to have a Euro Nymphing Line (but it helps).  You can mitigate this with long leaders.  I use a standard WF3F on all my rods so that I can theoretically change leaders and throw dry flies during a hatch. 
3. Leaders - Totally essential to have a good leader with a sighter.  
4. Euro Specific Flies - Weighted flies, preferably with Tungsten Beads and Jigheads.  I like #12-#18 for general sizes. You can use stonefly nymphs and big flies but you won't have as much success if you plan to "pick the water over".

Jighead style nymphs are deadly. Get Tungsten Bead Jighead Hooks!

5. Tippet - Fluorocarbon Tippet 3X - 6X will get you by no problem.

Rods for Euro Style Nymph Fishing

You'll need a long rod with an ultralight tip. This is essential!  You need to finesse perfect drifts with small flies. That's the key. Perfect drifts and it's why nymphing on a semi tight line without an indicator is so deadly.  Here are some rods that we sell and endorse.

ECHO Shadow II Czech Nymphing Rod

We sure like the 10' 2 Weight for medium to small water. It's very light and makes a super delicate presentation.  ECHO Shadow II Euro Nymphing Rod

Redington Hydrogen 11' 3 Weight Rod

This is our choice for larger to mid sized rivers. The reach of the 11' rod gives you significantly longer drifts. This is critical in larger pools where the fish might see the fly coming for some distance. Redington Hydrogen 11' 3 Weight for Euro Nymphing

Sage ESN II Euro Nymphing Rods

This is the premium Euro Style Rod at our shop.  I have the 10' 4 weight and love it. In retrospect I wish I had gotten the 10'6" 3 Weight but didn't know how much I would enjoy this type of fishing.  The 10' 4 weight is great, but a bit finer touch would be better. In fact, the 2 weight is the Cat's Meow for small flies in the 16-20 range. Sage ESN Euro Nymphing Rods

Fly Lines and Leaders for Euro Nymphing

This video may explain the fly line issue the best.

Leader Systems for Euro Style Nymph Fishing

The leader system you use is crictial. We jokingly call our in-house leaders "Redneck Euro Leaders" because we make the Sighter out of backing.  The dacron gets damp and seems to help stabilize the presentation. There are several ways to get started.

RIO ESN Leaders

Try one of these. They are a bit harder to see than the bright Dacron we use, but getting started you should definitely decide for yourself. Get two of these in case you love 'em.  I used them recently with small flies in slower water and it was nearly essential to have this leader (versus DIY Dacron systems) due to the light breeze that had a greater effect on the leader  

Redneck DIY Euro Nymphing Leaders

Ingredients for DIY Leaders

20# Chartreuse Backing for the Sighter (2 Tone Orange is Very Nice) Sighter should be 12-18" or so.
RIO Fluoroflex PLUS Tippet 3X - 5X - This will get you started

You can build your own and we often use two varieties. Each to their own! Here are a couple of examples and links to the materials to build them.

  1. They just released their second video, so if you can't get enough of the first video, there's more to watch!
  2. Hey guys, With your 20' Maxima leader, do you tie a perfection loop to the fly line end of the maxima? thanks!
  3. Hi Ethan, You can do that yes, and I attach it with a perfection loop. This helped me get started and seemed to work ok but I have started using these - They are very nice, super simple too.
  4. What reel would you recommend with the Sage ESN 10’6” 3 wt rod?
  5. I’ve been eyeing the Hydrogen Trout Spey 3113-4 for some time. Would you recommend just going ahead and picking that rod up and using it for both trout spey & euro nymphing? Or is the spey handle going to be really getting in the way for this style of fishing?
  6. Hi Joe. I have a question about the tippet rig (after the sighter). Specifically in one of your Euro Nymphing videos you explain tying the middle of a continuous piece of tippet using a Surgeon Knot (into a lead piece of tippet) to form two tag ends, then used for attaching the anchor and trailing nymph. The potential issue with this is that the tag ends exit the Surgeon knot at opposite ends of the knot (one facing upstream the other facing downstream). Under tension the upstream facing tag end will tend to pull the knot apart potentially weakening it. Do you have an opinion or experience about the strength of this knot versus, say, an Albright knot (both tag ends will face downstream) when used to accomplish the same thing?
  7. Joe, What reel are you using on your Shadow II set up? How is the balance? Do you think a light weight reel balances this rod better? Thanks for your input