Euro Nymphing: the Ultimate Guide

Over the last few years euro nymphing has become increasingly popular. That is because it can be incredibly successful to present flies where the fish feed. 

Overview:

What is Euro Nymphing?

European Nymphing Rod 

Nymphing Reels

Euro Nymphing Setup: Leader and Tippet

Euro Nymphing Flies

FAQ

Brown trout with nymph in hand
A wild brown trout that took a small nymph

What is Euro Nymphing?

The technique initially emerged in competitive fly fishing in Europe. That’s why fly fishermen often refer to this type of fishing as euro nymphing, european nymphing, polish nymphing or czech nymphing. The technique behind this style of fly fishing is always the same. 

Since the trout feed mostly under the surface, the chance to outwit them there is very high. A trout knows its food very well and behaves rather suspiciously towards the nymphs we present to it. If the nymph does not drift in a natural way trout and grayling reject the fly. So when nymphs are being fished, the presentation is often crucial.

Rudi Heger - Deutsche Traun - Nymphing
A classic spot for euro nymphing

The technique uses a long rod with a short line. The nymph should be fished precisely and every bite should be recognized immediately. Not every place is suitable for euro nymphing, because the fishing is done at rather short distances. Ideal are fast currents, deeper pools at a distance of about 10 to 15 feet which can be fished efficiently.

Euro Nymphing Rod

Fly rods used for nymphing are typically a bit longer than a normal trout rod. As a general guideline a rod for european nymphing should be around 9” to 11”. Think of the rod as the prolongation of your arm as you fish this technique at very short distances. That’s why an extra bit of length can make a difference in the range you can fish from a certain spot.

Nymphing rods have a medium to fast medium fast action in order for you to be able to detect any take. A rod with such an action also makes the lob cast easier which is the casting technique used for european nymphing. Most of the rods used for euro nymphing are in the #2-#4 weight range. 

Rudi Heger - Deutsche Traun - Sage Click 3/4/5
A #2 – #4 rod of 9″ – 11″ and a heavier euro nymphing reel for nice balance

Here are a couple of great rods for this technique:

Which Euro Nymphing Reel to Use

To balance the longer rods it is recommendable to use a slightly heavier reel than you would use for dry fly fishing for example. Another nice feature is a close cage reel. This prevents the leader from getting trapped in the reel (which can cause major frustration). 

Here is a selection of great euro nymphing reels: 

Leader and Tippet

Rio Two Tone indicator

The leader is one of the most crucial elements in the euro nymphing setup. Since this technique can essentially be fished without a fly line the leader often serves as a replacement for the fly line when making short casts. For the euro nymphing setup the leaders are very long between 15 to 30 feet from fly line (or backing respectively) to fly. The reason behind the unusual long leaders is the drag. Any thick material on the water will cause your fly to move unnaturally and faster than it would without being attached to a line. 

Rio Fluoroflex 5x

If you want to use a fly line for your euro nymphing setup make sure you choose a very thin line. All of the leading manufacturers have special fly lines for euro nymphing. For your leader you can use a tapered one than you can buy out of the box or create your own by connecting colored leaders such as the Stroft Color. Tie a tippet ring to your leader and then connect your tippet which should be in the 5-7x range. As tippet material you can use monofilament or fluorocarbon whichever you prefer. 

When it comes to the size/diameter of the tippet you should go as thin and light as possible. Here again a thinner diameter means a better, more natural presentation of your nymph and a light tippet makes your fly sink fast. Fluorocarbon is nice in terms of abrasion resistance. But high quality monofilament such as the Stroft ABR has a high degree of abrasion resistance as well. It really comes down to your personal taste here. 

Here is some great leader and tippet material

Nymphing Flies

Most of the time you don’t need any fancy flies for this technique. Simple patterns tied with a handful of materials work well in most situations. More important than the pattern is the weight of the flies/nymphs when euro nymphing. It is recommendable to carry a number of different weights and sizes in your fly box

Tungsten gold flashback pheasant tail
Tungsten Gold Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph

A lot of fly fishermen use tungsten heads since tungsten is very heavy and hence makes the nymphs sink to the bottom fast. Many euro nymph specialists also swear by jig heads for their nymphs since the upside down effect makes snags a lot less likely when your nymph is bouncing close to the bottom where the fish feed. 

Tungsten copper Hare's Ear black
Tungsten Copper Hares Ear Black Nymph

The way you present your flies is across and upstream. You are basically standing below the fish to not spook them since you’re fishing at short distances. Make a short cast and then lift your arm as the nymph drifts through the current in front of you. Make sure all of your leader is off the water with only the tippet being in the water. This way you can detect any take no matter how subtle it may be. Don’t be frustrated in the beginning. It takes a bit of practice to detect the takes. Rather set the hook once too often than not. You will learn quickly. 

Here are some great nymphs for this technique

FAQ

What is Euro Nymphing?

The technique initially emerged in competitive fly fishing in Europe. That’s why this type of fishing is often referred to as euro nymphing, european nymphing, polish nymphing or czech nymphing. The technique behind this style of fly fishing is always the same. 

What rod to use for Euro Nymphing?

Fly rods used for euro nymphing are typically a bit longer than a normal trout rod. As a general guideline a rod for european nymphing should be around 9”6 to 11”.

What reel to use for Euro Nymphing?

To balance the longer rods it is recommendable to use a slightly heavier reel than you would use for dry fly fishing for example. Another nice feature is a close cage reel. This prevents the leader from getting trapped in the reel. 

What flies to use for Euro Nymphing?

Most of the time you don’t need any fancy flies for euro nymphing. Simple patterns tied with a handful of materials work well in most situations. More important than the pattern is the weight of the flies/nymphs when euro nymphing. It is recommendable to carry a number of different weights and sizes in your fly box.