Euro Nymphing

Euro nymphing vs Indicator Nymphing

By: Robert Van Rensburg

Part one

These articles are intended as a general overview of Indicator and Euro nymphing. They will hopefully give an angler starting out in fly fishing some pointers.

Knowing when and how to properly fish both the Indicator and Euro rig is a fundamental of nymphing a river.

Euro nymphing is a form of tight line, high stick fly fishing, using Ultra-thin floating lines or monofilament. Longer, tip action rods with reels to balance and flies designed to sink to the appropriate depth fast, a coloured monofilament or wax sighter and no strike indicator on the water in part two I will cover this technique.

Conventional nymphing with a floating line, tapered leader, strike indicator and split shot on the tippet is the foundation of many anglers nymphing and will always have a place in river fly fishing but there are disadvantages in a conventional approach to this technique. Understanding these disadvantages will enable you to fish the indicator effectively, by making appropriate changes to your equipment, flies and presentation. This will result in a higher catch rate.

For all river fly fishing techniques, it is important to understand water hydraulics. This will help you read water flow, where fish hold and feed at different times of day and seasons. It will give you the knowledge on how to rig and fish these varying situations. Depending on the depth and substrate water is generally slower on the bottom and along the banks. Rocks, trees, back eddies also have an influence on speed and flow of the river. The fastest part of the water column is the surface. A tapered leader with a thick butt plus tapering mid-section and buoyant strike indicator, will be drifting in the fastest part of the water column and will be moving quicker than the water at or close to the river bed where your nymphs are swimming, creating drag.

To compensate for the floating line, thickest part of the leader and strike indicator floating in the fastest part of the current, mending of and slack in the fly line is used to stop the surface current from pulling this rig downstream which will make the flies swim faster than a natural aquatic insect and away from fish holding zones. Potentially spooking wary fish.

When fishing up and across the indicator is usually slightly down stream of the line as it travels down with the current. Slack and mends are placed upstream of the indicator, when a fish facing upstream takes the flies the angler has too strike up or in an upstream direction with the rod. Away from the fish and potentially pulling the flies from the fish’s mouth. Soft takes are more difficult to detect with indicators in slightly faster water.

An indicators depth should be set according to depth and speed of the water. I personally do not go by the rule of “twice or one and a half times the depth of the water”. This can put a large underwater bow in the tippet causing unseen drag and missing softer takes. I prefer the indicator to be directly above the flies and not up the leader feet or meters away. Direct contact between indicator and flies. No underwater bellying of the tippet. In Faster deeper water I prefer to fish a level leader made up of tippet only. No heavy Butt and mid-section being dragged in the fastest part of the current. I use a long-tapered leader in in shallower softer laminar water with small yarn indicator or dry dropper and light flies. This aids turnover of the tippet and presentation.

If you place split shot on the tippet above or below flies it creates a junction point. I have watched wary fish in Colorado and Montana pick up a fly very softly. This small amount of energy imparted from the fish then has to flow from the fly through the tippet to the split shot or shots then up the thicker sections of the leader through the fastest current and finally to the strike indicator. The indicator hardly moves, and the fish is away. In water shallow and clear enough you might be able to see the fish open its mouth and inhale the fly then strike, but in situations where its not always possible to see everything the fish are doing down there you need the indicator. Split shot below the flies on the point of the tippet with the fly’s tied on droppers is a highly effective way to rig with weight on the leader. There is no hinge point. Individual droppers are tied into the tippet. Each fly is tied separate on its own tag or dropper. I personally do not like the “New Zealand “rig. Tying one fly into the bend of another fly. For me it’s is the most ineffective use of two flies. It also greatly reduces your chances of hooking two fish at once. I discourage this technique when I guide and show clients the many advantages of fishing flies on separate droppers. If you tangle, then work on your casting.

Learning to execute several casts is your foundation to success. For nymphing The Tuck cast, Reach mends {left and right} are a must. On a river large enough Fishing 360 degrees opens up all the water to you.
Quality tied flies and fly choice on the water are important but a high standard of casting, presentation and drifts are the deciding factors.

In part two, I will discuss Euro Nymphing. (part two available soon)


robert van rensburg     See more from Rob at Big Sky Anglers