Guide to Buying and Setting Up a Euro Nymphing Rod // Line and Leader System
April 1, 2020
We help anglers from all over the world set up their Euro rods every day and the biggest questions are always about line systems and options. While this video explains line systems well, I wanted to post an entire blog post to make things simple when it comes to rod, reel, and line. The water can get muddy here.
Euro Nymphing Rods
Anglers tend to have an easy time choosing rods, budget is a quick filter and we believe in a limited number of brands so this becomes relatively easy. Longer is better for big rivers at 11' or 10'6", anglers that are fishing smaller waters will prefer a 10' rod. 2 weights are best for trout 16" and down, while 3 weights are most popular. 4 weights are for indicators. Joke. They are a bit heavy for most of us. You have to be a really capable angler to control small nymphs on a 4 weight. Let's choose a rod.
Our Top Euro Nymphing Rod Choices in Order
Reels for Euro Nymphing
This discussion can be pretty short. If you are investing in a fine rod, get a fine reel. It should have a large arbor so that line spools out smoothly when a fish runs (large arbor reels don't spin as fast because they are just that... large). If you are on a budget, no worries. There are TONS of options here. For a #3 rod, get a #5'ish reel. That will help it have some approximate balance and be a large enough arbor to give you an advantage on retrieve ratio. Most anglers prefer a dark or "drab" colored reel to eliminate flash.
Budget Pick for Euro Nymphing
A click 'n pawl reel is a great budget choice. It won't backlash, has a big arbor, and the drag is always light for protecting fine tippet often used in Euro nymphing.
A Top Choice for Euro Nymphing
There are quite a few choices, but the Lamson Speedster is performance driven for anglers that want a super large arbor reel with a fine drag.
This is a super large arbor reel, so it spools out smoooooooth. Has a great drag system for light tippet, and is a fabulous all around reel. Get the 3+ for your 2 weight setups, and the 5+ for your 3 weight setups.
Line System Options for Euro Style Nymphing
There are several options here for setting up your reel and line, I've tried them all.
1. RIO FIPS Euro Nymphing Specific Line - Best option for dedicated Euro Nymphing Setups. It just fishes better. The line is skinny but easy to handle, casts reasonably well, and the thin diameter mitigates wind. There is a reason this exists. It's just heavy enough to cast a small indicator rig or dry dropper (but not ideal like a WF line)
2. WF Floating Fly Line - You can combine just a regular floating fly line with the appropriate leader. This will work! However, the video may explain it better. But the weight of the line disrupts your control, its fatter which means it is suseptable to wind, doesn't fight fish on light tippet as well as a skinny line, and you lose part of the investment you made in your Euro rod.
3. Mono Extension - I've added 25' of mono to my fly line of various types. I've used Lazar Line, Maxima, and Slick Shooter. It will work but frankly it's a pain the ass to handle, gets memory (coils up like a slinky) and is not very convenient IMO. I've had students use it and it's never quite as agile. It seems like anglers more frequently tangle mono around the butt of their rod or what not.
4. RIO Euro Nymph Shorty - This is a good product. It connects loop to loop to the end of your existing fly line and temporarily converts it into a Euro Nymphing line. You still get the versatility of the WF floating line for dry fly opportunities, but get the advantage of the skinny line up front. If you are on a big river with big fish, you'll still deal with the issue of a trout dragging your fat WF floating line around in big current and breaking off your 6X, but its much less prevalent when using a RIO Euro Nymph Shorty.
Leader Systems and Materials for Euro Nymphing
This is probably an "overblogged" topic, so I'll keep it short. Eventually you will adopt something that works well for you, that you can repair as necessary.
In my classes, here is what we do:
1. RIO Euro Nymphing Leader - This is your starting point. You can fish it "as is" plus tippet but there are some easy mods that my students seem to prefer.
2. Cut off the tippet ring, extend it by about 18" with 4X RIO Sighter Material. Leave a single "whisker" on one side to mark this connection and give you a point of reference. Tie tippet ring back on.
3. Add 4' of Scientific Anglers 5X Absolute Fluorocarbon Tippet and create a two nymph junction by using a triple surgeon's knot. You can use 5X to the heavier fly on the longer tag, and it's optional to use 6X or 7X on the shorter tag. The shorter tag should be about 4-6" shorter than the heavier fly with about 12" of line of the main leader. DON'T GET TOO HUNG UP ON HOW TO DO THIS! Use some trial and error, just make sure you get good at rebuilding this junction. You will lose flies and tangle.
I demonstrate here using a strike indicator rig, but the junction is the same.
4. Shorten the butt section on the RIO Euro Nymphing Leader Unless you want to get driven insane, you will need to shorten the butt section in order to keep the connection to your fly line from scraping in/out of your eyelets. I like to fish a few casts and get my sweet spot dialed in, then look up at the rod and see where that connection is. I mentall mark the distance and cut off enough butt section to insure this joint stays outside the rod tip.
5. You now have a very good starting point. Eventually you will develop small customizations and hacks that best suit your fishery.
Flies for Euro Nymphing
As you progress you will certainly gravitate toward flies that work on your fishery. There are lots of flies that will produce outside of these basic choices, but we strongly encourage you to start with Tungsten Jighead nymphs. The extra weight will give you a more positive connection to the river's floor, and the upturned hook will help prevent you from getting snagged.