Flies for European Nymphing
While most flies will work for European Nymphing, traditional patterns incorporate specific designs to be effective. Usually, hooks are barbless and use a jigged, curved or straight shank shape with super points and wide gapes. Companies like Hanak, and Dohiku are on the leading edge of these hook styles. These flies are tied with tungsten, brass and lead to incorporate the ideal amount of weight, as no split shot will be added to the leader while fishing. Fly shapes and sizes are also manipulated to create the most effective pattern for each situation.
Most flies specifically for European Nymphing are tied on manufactured barbless hooks. This is not a requirement for this style of fishing, but a barbless hook does result in better penetration. This also means the hook will come out more easily, requiring constant pressure from the angler to stay hooked, but is also easier to remove from fish, clothing, skin, etc.
Hook styles were made popular with each style of European Nymphing with the Czech/Grub coming from Czech, the jig coming from the French and straight shank really stemming from the Spanish and Polish style of nymphing. Each hook style can be used in each nymphing style, but the hook shape sometimes also determines the weight of the fly. The Czech/grub hook is curved and is typically used for heavy grub style flies such as caddis. These can be tied without weight, but are usually the heavier patterns with lead wire and tungsten beads. They are great anchor flies for deep and fast water situations.
The jig style hook is easily the most popular style of fly these days because it is most versatile. Almost any pattern can be tied on a jig hook, big or small, heavy or light. The jig hook is also popular because it will drift with the hook point up, resulting in fewer snags and better hook ups with fish.
Finally, the straight shanked hook that is widely used in every fly fishing style. Most of the time, smaller, lightweight flies will be tied on these hooks. Patterns such as the Spanish Bullet Nymph are perfect for this hook style.
Weight is most important in European Nymphing, as that is what will get the fly in front of the fish. Every angler should carry a variety of flies in extra heavy, to lightweight to cover each situation. Heavy flies are going to be tied with lead wire under bodies and tungsten beads, while lighter ones will have less or no added weight. Brass beads and lead free wire are also used in tying European style nymphs.
Something to consider when purchasing hooks is that each model may come with multiple hook point styles. This may include the standard straight point, up-turned point and even a wave point.
The Up-turned hook point is meant to hook and stay hooked better than the standard point because it has a slight upward bend. These hook points tend to get damaged more easily than the standard point.
The wavy point is the lesser known style and is meant to hold fish better than the standard and up-turned point, but also requires a better hook set to penetrate initially. Few companies manufacture this style of hook. It is best to experiment with each style to find the preferred one.