May 11, 2010

My Introduction into Euro Nymphing

For those of you with that kind of mind, please get it out of the gutter as this post is all about a fly fishing technique known as European style nymphing.   Disclaimer - I am in no way an expert in this method, it's origins or concepts but it is something I've wanted to try as a way to expand my fly fishing skills.

As I mentioned in previous posts, nymphing is the technique of presenting your flies sub surface down to where the fish do the majority of their feeding. There are so many methods of nymphing  to choose from and one just starting out could get extremely confused and all turned around.  From Spanish & French nymphing to Czech & polish nymphing, indicator nymphing, high-stick nymphing and ofcourse Euro nymphing.  Many of these techniques have many similarities but there slight differences were most likely born out of fishing on their home waters because of regulations and fishing pressure. As fly fishing has grown into competitions, competition and the rules that go along with them have also caused some type of adaptation and modification to these methods so even if the base concept is the same, the style, technique and even equipment becomes modified for those unique methods.

Because of all the different styles and techniques I thought it was important for me to get some help with putting this all into perspective and into play by enlisting the help of a professional guide and that is exactly what I did by booking my Euro nymphing trip with Aaron Jasper.  Aaron is the co-founder of Trout Predator Online (TPO) which is in my opinion the best site on the web to share information and ask questions about all things Fly Fishing.  TPO is a daily stop for me as Aaron and the folks who frequent TPO have been a huge help in my journey as a fly fisherman and you can find everything from fishing reports, fly tying videos, product reviews and tons of information related to all styles of fly fishing.  Have a question or problem just post it and you will be helped from some of the best people around.  Aaron's full time job as a teacher surely has something to do with how successful he has been as a guide and a fly fishing instructor.   I've had the chance to chat back and forth with Aaron on many occasions as well as attend a presentation on Euro Nymphing that he presented and I just had to book a trip with him and I was glad I did.

My trip started out with a 4am wake up with thunderstorms all around.  I had an hour drive to meet up with Aaron at Upcountry Sportfishing in New Hartford,  where we would be fishing the Farmington River, which by the way is probably one of the best fisheries in the state of CT.   A I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for Aaron a huge flash of lightening and a crash of thunder shook me and my truck and all I could think of was that I must be insane to go out fishing in this weather.  One thing I love is technology and using a few weather and radar applications I had on my Motorola Droid I was convinced we could get this trip in.

At our first stop Aaron gave me a quick introduction into my setup and the concept of Euro Nymphing and then handed me the rod.  After a few attempts at casting this new rig I thought for sure he would just leave me along side the river and move on, but he didn't and was able to get me corrected pretty quickly.   My first few attempts with the new tools of the trade threw a wrench into my casting and that was the first lesson learned this day.  I had thought and read that you didn't really cast your team of flies, but instead lobbed them along but i can tell you for certain, I did plenty of casting and not a whole heck of lobbing my flies.  Matter of fact I started to lose a little confidence in my abilities but Aaron stepped in and took care of that by explained that this is a learning opportunity and he was goign to put me in positions that would make me learn and I'm definitely not afraid to learn.

This setup consists of a 10 foot 3 weight rod, about a 15 foot total length for my leader which has a butt section connected to some type of inline sighter, which in this case was a coiled sighter (there is a great video on Fly Fishing Reporter that shows how to make a coiled sighter), then your tippet to your team of flies.  In these case we were using two flies on a piece of Fluorocarbon tippet with a larger, heavier fly as our anchor fly and usually a smaller fly as our dropper fly.  The only weight in our setup was built into the flies themselves and this entire setup is designed to get the flies into the zone and down to the bottom as quick as possible.  In simple terms you cast your flies, take up the slack so your sighter is on the water and your rod position is leading your team of flies down stream making for a direct line of contact to your flies.  Because of this contact you can feel everything (unlike nymphing with an indicator) and the coiled sighter adds to the visual detection and makes every little touch of your flies visible.  Just plain amazing.

We didn't catch anything at our first stop and neither was the gentlemen that was fishing just below us so off to spot number two.  First cast into spot number two and I see the coiled sighter twitch ever so slightly and think..hmmm, I wonder if that was a fish...That is about the same time I got lesson number two.  Expect to catch fish on every cast and when just starting out always set the hook at any hint of something different either in the contact with my flies or in movement of the sighter.   I'm a pretty quick learner and on my second cast I watched that sighter twitch ever so slightly and I set the hook and the fight was one.  I knew instantly I had a good fish and seeing I had been losing fish during the retrieve on my last few outings I had prepared Aaron and asked him to be on the lookout for anything I was doing wrong and he was and coached me through it which resulted in Aaron netting my first ever trout caught Euro Nymphing and probably my largest trout ever.  It was a beautiful large holdover Brown trout.  Check out that smile!!!

A Euro Nymphing first for me
19" Farmington River Brown Trout

After taking a few pictures of this bruiser and releasing him back to his hide I new right away this was going to be one of those days.  Yes, Aaron told me it would be before we even started but I guess with the bad weather around I just thought otherwise.  Lesson three - Always listen to your guide and believe in him, heck that is why you hired him.

We continued to work our way along this section of the Farmington River trying to dodge the thunder and lightening and looking for more large trout hiding spots and we found them for sure.  we netted almost 20 fish, many were holdover fish as well as a stocker or two and even a small salmon parr.  There were two bruiser fish lost on this trip and many more missed as I fell out of that ...."expect to catch a fish every cast" mentality on occasion.  I had one incredible hit that caught me a little off guard and I ended up setting the hook like I was Tuna fishing only to snap my leader.  Even Aaron who was standing next to me was in awe at the slamming the fish put on the flies.  What was amazing is that missing fish and losing those bruisers didn't frustrate us for long because there were plenty of beautiful holdover fish to help continue my introduction into Euro Nymphing and here are just a few of them.

That last picture shows me locked up on another bruiser and illustrates another lesson I learned. Just as expecting to catch a fish every cast, confidence is contagious so purchase a larger net.  :)

It doesn't matter if you are an experienced fly fisherman looking to expand your technique and knowledge or just starting out, there is a load of free information available to help you out there but nothing replaces some one-on-one instruction with someone that has the right stuff and Aaron certainly does.

Aaron guides in both CT and NJ.   To contact Aaron Jasper visit either TPO or his Fly Fishing Evolution website and I promise you will not be disappointed.

Next step is to continue Euro Nymphing on my own and I'm sure new success and failures with be found along with plenty of more questions.


  1. That's a very informative piece and some nice fish to boot!

  2. What a great post. With trout like that you ARE going to need a bigger net. I'll have to check out Aaron's websites now.

    FYI - I added you to my blogroll so I can keep up with your posts. Hopefully it sends a couple more folks your way as well.