When I started Euro nymphing, Contact nymphing, Czech nymphing, whatever you want to call it, I was confused as to what gear I would need and why it was different from what I already had. As I became familiar with the new techniques I realized why it required different gear. I’m going to share what I’ve learned so you can avoid some of the mistakes I made early on. I’ll save you some frustration and maybe even save you some money.
*Keep in mind that my advice is based solely on wade fishing in technical high sierra rivers and streams for trout- It doesn’t pertain to stillwater, drift boats, steelhead or other large fish. Just river trout. OK?
By now most fly anglers in the US have heard of Euro-nymphing and likely even tried it. It’s not just a fad, it's a relatively new way to fish and it’s here to stay because, well, it just works. Will it ever replace indicator fishing or dry fly fishing?, no way. But it’s another tool in your bag and one that is just getting used more and more.
Thanksgiving presented an unexpected fishing opportunity this year. Our plans for outdoor festivities with friends were upended by bitingly cold wind and a friend's positive covid test, which left me with a few free hours in the middle of Thanksgiving day to check out the river. Stepping out of my truck on a sunny sage brush flat, the wind sliced straight through my puffy and cotton t-shirt. Cursing the lack of forethought, I rummaged for another layer of clothing without luck. Feeling stupid and a little desperate, I exhumed a buff matted with dog hair and crumbs from under the driver’s seat. With a shake, on it went.
If you’re new to ESN (European Style Nymphing) fly fishing you probably have lots of questions regarding tippet line. There’s very little information out there because tippet setup is specific to types of water, fish, conditions, etc. Here’s how I rig my tippet and why.
First the basics. Tippet is the thin clear portion of the leader that attaches the fly. It’s thin to cut through the current and minimize drag, and clear to not spook the fish. In Euro-nymphing tippet takes much more abuse because it makes frequent contact with rocks and gravel down at the bottom, so fluorocarbon is used because it is more abrasion resistant than nylon. And because fluorocarbon it tougher I can use thinner tippet than Nylon.