Fly Lines for Euro Nymphing
There are two main types of lines to use in European Nymphing, level monofilament and manufactured lines made specifically for Euro Nymphing. There are a few options in manufactured lines these days, such as the Rio Euro Nymph line and the Competition Nymph line from Scientific Anglers and they have certain advantages and disadvantages over using monofilament.
Monofilament line can really be considered the original method and certainly still works today. While monofilament can be much less expensive than a manufactured fly line, it is also less durable and usually has more memory as well. It must be spooled tightly in order to keep it from tangling around itself on a fly reel, which will also make it coil more when pulled off of the reel. The repeated coil and stretch combined with UV exposure will cause monofilament to break down faster than most manufactured fly lines. On the plus side, monofilament is stiff enough to avoid sagging in the guides while fishing and is easily tied to leaders and sighters.
Because many competitions require the use of a tapered fly line, companies began producing a nearly level line with a slight taper. The idea was to create a line similar to level monofilament in use, but with advantages over it and competition legal. Some of these lines even have a monofilament core, but ideally the core is a braided Dacron. The braided core offers a more supple line even in cold weather as well as the ability to splice a leader into for passing through the rod guides easily. For those that prefer a loop, most of these lines will come with it. One great advantage in the manufactured fly line is the slight texture. Monofilament can be slippery, especially with wet hands, but a slight texture on the fly line allows for a solid hold and direct connection.
Leaders, sighters, and Tippet
Leaders for European nymphing can be purchased or built and consist of the actual leader, a sighter and then the tippet. While Czech and Polish style leaders tend to be shorter, French and Spanish style leaders are longer, but experimenting and customizing is ultimately the best method.
From the fly line to the sighter is the actual “leader” which can be built from nylon or fluorocarbon. While fluorocarbon will be stronger, it is also more expensive and slightly heavier so nylon is usually a better option here. Connecting the leader to the fly line can be done with a “loop-to-loop,” a nail knot, or by splicing the leader into the fly line. If the leader was purchased, it is most likely made of nylon and is tapered, which will aid in the turn-over of the flies during casting, but this can be achieved by building the leader with multiple sizes of larger tippet as well.
The next piece in line will be the sighter, a brightly colored section of line to aid in visual detection of strikes as well as drift manipulation. Sighter material is available in a variety of colors, but most commonly yellow, green and pink. Choosing the correct color depends on the colors in the background of the fishing areas, which also vary, so the best option is multi-colored sighters. Adding blue and white to the color chart will help, especially when fishing in the fall when foliage colors are changing. The sighter is a constant reference point as to where your flies are and what they are doing at any giving time. The sighter will usually point to the flies, so a bend in the sighter facing downstream will typically mean that the flies are upstream and vice versa.
Choosing the right sighter is best done through experimenting, as there are many options out there. The most common type with Czech and Polish style nymphing is a piece of braided Dacron, or fly line backing. This type can be more sensitive as it is more mendable, but is also more affected by wind while fishing. For Spanish and French style sighters, a section of brightly colored monofilament is more common, but the two are quite different from each other. A French sighter will be a multi colored mono sighter just as the Spanish, only it is coiled up like a slinky.
From the sighter to the fly will be a section of level line tippet, preferably fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon tippet material is more abrasion resistant, is heavier and does not reflect sunlight under water, making it a better option than nylon material in this situation. Smaller tippets will sink slightly faster than larger ones so for much trout fishing, 5x is a great starting point. As with all fishing though, the tippet will need to vary by the water fished and the size of the target fish. The length of tippet will vary by the depth of the water and number of flies fished.
To allow more movement of each fly, they are tied on tags, short pieces of tippet stemming from the main line. The number of flies will equal the number of sections of tippet, so fishing one fly will require one section, two flies, two sections, etc. A good rule of thumb is for the total tippet length from sighter to the point, or terminal fly to be just more than the depth of the water fished.
Tying all sections of the leader together with standard blood or surgeon’s knots is one way, but using tippet rings can make rigging and re-rigging faster and easier. A tippet ring can be incorporated into almost any knotted connection from the leader to the fly tags. Most commonly, a tippet ring is used from the sighter to the tippet to preserve the sighter length when changing tippet.