Fly fishing for trout on rivers has some inherent advantages over using traditional lures or live bait. During the spring and summer months, trout in fast-moving waters are primarily feeding on bugs. Presenting dry flies, which remain on the surface of the water, has always been a great way to target trout. However, one of the main limitations of this tactic is that it only allows you to target the fish that are coming up to the surface to feed. This is where nymphing comes in. See, before caddisflies and mayflies become the flying bugs that we are familiar with, they live down in the water in a larval or nymph stage. Fish love to feed on these young insects which can be found under rocks, floating downstream, or attached to other objects on the bottom of a river. Most fly fishers are familiar with nymphing as it’s the best way to catch fish when theres no specific hatch happening on the surface.
Euro nymphing, also known as french nymphing, Czech nymphing, Spanish nymphing, or tactical fly fishing, takes the nymph strategy a step further. It involves using heavy nymph patterns. Many of these Euro nymphs are made with heavier hooks and weighted with heavy tungsten beads or jig heads. The idea is that you’re not going to be casting the nymphs out real far and you want to get them to the bottom of the river as quick as possible. Once on the bottom, you can drift them along and hopefully catch the interest of a fish. Now, because you are fishing subsurface with Euro nymphing, you need some way to detect strikes when they occur. The standard strike indicator for Euro nymphing is a sighter or differently colored section on your leader. This allows you to see when the weighted nymph gets taken by a fish. You then set the hook and reel it in.
You can get as deep into Euro nymphing as you want and you should know that it’s a great way to catch lots of fish. Specialized Euro nymphing rods are generally between 3wt and 5wt and are going to be 10 feet long. The extra foot of length compared to a standard fly rod enables you to better keep the rod high in the air. Using a lighter-weight rod will increase your contact with the fly and give you a better feel for what is going on with your nymph on the river bottom. However, you can Euro nymph with your current fly rod. Rio makes a Euro nymph fly line called the “shorty” which is a 20-foot section of untapered fly line which attaches to your current fly line. Simply rig that up, use a Euro nymph leader with a sighter, attach a weighted nymph and start catching lots of fish.