Euro Nymphing is an emerging technique that is taking the fishing world by storm. This technique uses European-style flies and a specialized nymphing leader to catch trout in rivers and streams.
As a general rule, Euro Nymphing flies are slimmer and more prolonged than typical dry flies. They are designed to sink at a fast rate through the water column to reach the optimal feeding zone for fish species such as trout and grayling. Modern Euro Nymphing Fly Patterns often use tungsten-weighted bead heads and newer barbless jig style hooks.
Some Euro nymphs are tied to resemble specific prey organisms, while others are tied in a general trout-catching pattern. In this article, I'll describe the most common European nymphs and give you enough information to identify each species.
European Nymphing Flies for Stream Trout
Euro nymphing is simply a method of fishing nymphs for trout that was born from competitive fly fishing tournaments. Heavily weighted flies and light tippet are used to quickly sink flies, and a "sighter" is used instead of an indicator. The goal is to present the flies in just the right place, rather than using strike indicators or high-floating dry fly patterns.
Euro nymphing has different styles, but one of the most common is called Czech Nymphing. This style was developed by Europeans who wanted to compete with their local anglers in rivers that had fast-moving currents, deep pools, and difficult access. They developed a technique to cast weighted flies into tight spaces to get below the trout's feeding level.
The flies are typically fished at depths of 6-18 inches above the bottom in deep and moving water, depending on the current speed and fly size. The leader is usually between 20-30 feet long, and the tippet is very thin, usually 4X-8X. The flies are typically fished in a dead drift presentation, probing the bottom and swinging at the end to entice a take.
Euro nymphing is popular because it's an exciting way to catch fish that fight hard on light tackle, and it works well for anglers fishing difficult waters. It takes some time to learn how to do this technique correctly, but most fly fishers agree it's worth overcoming the learning curve!
Identifying Euro Nymphing Flies
You'll need to identify the aquatic insects in your area that are most likely to be found on the river bottom. Matching the hatch is not necessarily the goal when you're nymphing because trout are often eating small crawfish, minnows, and other prey.
Fast Sink Rate
Euro nymph flies have an advantage over split shot and other traditional forms of weight because they sink at a much faster rate. This gives your flies more time to work the bottom, where trout often feed during low light conditions such as pre-dawn.
Nymphing is effective throughout the season, but it really shines when fishing pressure increases and fish begin to relate to patterns better than traditional dry flies.
Euro nymph flies are tied very slim, allowing them to naturally drift along the river bottom. Many of these patterns are tied weightless, or with low amounts of lead wire, so they can be fished close to cover without spooking fish.
For euro nymph flies, you'll need to tie them on a long shank hook with the bend of the hook pointing towards the tip of your fly. This gives you more room to work with when rigging up and enables you to use much longer droppers than you would with traditional nymphing flies that are often tied on standard or scud bug hooks.
Jig hooks are ideal for euro nymphs because the slightly upturned bend will not crimp your leader material when you set the hook. Larger sizes such as a 2 or 4 can be fished in slower water, while smaller sizes like a 16 and 18 are best suited for faster water where fish feed on tiny prey.
Matching the Hatch with Euro Nymphs
Stimulator and mayfly patterns make up much of what's called Euro Nymphing today. Matching hatch patterns in your area can be extremely helpful when fly fishing, but many of the designs from world-class competitors act more as attractors than actually matching the hatch as other fly patterns attempt to do.
Emerging insects such as Blue-Winged Olives (BWO's) and Pale Morning Duns (PMD's) are a favorite food source for trout in spring and early summer. Combined with an anchor fly that cuts through the water surface fast can be a deadly combination for catching trout.
Stonefly patterns and mayfly patterns can aslo be fished on euro nymphing rods during high water conditions.
A great year around pattern would be one that imitates the midge pupa. Midge Pupa patterns such as a Zebra Midge are probably one of the most effective feeder patterns because they imitate the aquatic stage of midges found in rivers which are available all year round unlike mayflies or stoneflies.
Midges are found in riffles, runs, and sometimes slow pools during warmer months. When you find midges in the water, trout will be feeding on them because they're one of their favorite foods to eat after emerging from shucks. With this midge fly patterns, you'll be able to catch trout in every season.
Midge pupa patterns are often fished with a swing technique by allowing them to drift naturally through the current before the line tightens and the midge emerges to the surface.
The Best Euro Nymphing Flies
Euro Nymphing flies are different from traditional nymphing flies and popular European Nymphing patterns in that they're slim and resemble small aquatic insects. These types of nymphs are tied to sink quickly and drift the bottom naturally because the fly is loose in the water instead of using split shot or other weights.
Tungsten beads can be added to Euro Nymphing flies to add weight, but it's much more common for anglers to use slim lead wires or no weight at all when fishing these types of patterns. Even with little or no weight, Euro Nymphing flies will still trail behind your downstream leader until you begin moving them upstream like a traditional swing technique.
The best euro nymphing flies don't necessarily imitate a specific insect; they're designed to look slim and resemble small prey that fish feed on. As long as your pattern is slim with an upright profile, you can catch trout all year round by using euro nymphing flies.
It's an open-water competition-style euro fly that is meant to dive into the water column quickly and get down to the strike zone, keeping fish in the strike zone. They drop rapidly into feeding lanes after being tied with strong steel hooks and tungsten beads. A barbless hook and a long claw point are included in these flies.
The elongated claw point, without the barb, aids in hooking nearly every fish and keeping them on. It's also beneficial to minimize the amount of handling fish get. Barbless hooks enable you to release a trout quickly and painlessly without causing significant damage.
Hard Body Perdigon Jig
Perdigons are strong-bodied nymphs with an epoxy covering that encases the entire fly for better weight and durability. The finest thing about these flies is how quickly they descend and how long they persist. Most Euro, Czech, and Tight-Line nymphing anglers have a variety of colors and bead sizes available.
The first reason this pattern is excellent is that it has a lot of flash and movement. Typically, we use bulky flies that are held in the water column, such as wriggly worms, to match this design. As a heavier jig nymph, we cast this at the bottom of nymphing rigs to pull down other flies through fast currents.
This pattern, which is an attractor fly instead of a natural imitation, replicates mayflies, stoneflies, and other species. This pattern isn't meant to imitate naturals; rather, it's an attractor fly that attempts to grab and keep a fish's attention.
What Does a Perdigon Fly Imitate?
Perdigon flies are Spanish nymph patterns, which were designed by Spanish fishermen in their local waterways, where trout are highly wary, and catching them requires real fly fishing ability. Perdigon is a Spanish name that refers to a shot (pellet) and implies something already known.
Perdigon, on the other hand, is a term used to describe lead pellets. The name "Perdigon nymph" isn't derived from its resemblance to a food pellet, despite its hefty weight. It's named after the resemblance of Perdigon nymphs to lead bullets because both sink helplessly to the bottom of fast-flowing rivers owing to their tremendous weight.
The Euro nymph is a versatile imitation of many aquatic creatures. It's an effective fly fishing technique for trout and steelhead fishing in streams, and rivers across the world. When you're trying to catch more fish this summer with the Euro Nymphs or any other flies on your line, remember that they are imitations of all kinds of things from mayflies to dragonflies.
They may not be as flashy or beautiful as their counterparts such as dry flies, but they are a living example of the diversity and beauty in our world. Euro nymphs mimic many aquatic creatures such as mayflies, stoneflies, midges, shrimp, worms and caddis.