Euro Nymphing (EN): How to Read Water To Be More Effective
Euro nymphing (EN) is a technique that on some levels, has been around forever. Anglers would remove indicators with a high stick or tight line technique. They would cast close by and then straighten their rigging by taking in the slack line as it got closer to them. They would be adjusting the depth throughout the drift according to the speed of the current, the perceived depth of the river, and the structure of the river bottom. Current-day EN is exactly like this. EN offers anglers a deadly option for fishing fast deeper water and also slower and shallower water. It offers a better connection to the flies due to longer and more sensitive rods and thinner line and tippet, equating to a better ability to sense even the most subtle of strikes.
Learning the Basics of Reading Water
Understanding where fish hold and how hydrology affects the drift are key components to frustration and success for all fishers. Knowing that fish don’t “hang out” everywhere in the river is a concept that is learned. In general, trout will hold in places where they don’t need to exert much energy while still holding close to the current lines that bring the food sources to them. Trout will relocate to deeper water as the water temperature warms up and they are also protected from birds looking for a meal if they go deeper. During the warmer months when insect hatches are happening a lot daily, trout will find themselves in the upper water column feeding on emergers and adults.
When anglers have the opportunity to throw adult bugs at rising trout, every other technique will take the back seat for the moment. When the fish become finicky and indicator shy and levels drop the fish have more time to inspect and will turn their heads away more and this is another time of the year to consider euro nymphing. In recent years, euro nymphing has welcomed anglers of all ages and ability levels, allowing easier access to pieces of water.
The Advantage of Euro Nymphing
Traditional nymph fishing with an indicator has a better application for most water conditions, but euro nymphing can produce 10x as many fish once the angler has mastered what to look for regarding the story the river tells. The story is a test of patience and awareness. Don’t look at the river as a whole. Examine the way the current reacts to what’s subsurface. Surface turbulence means that there are obstacles not far below. Smooth surface water means that nothing is hiding directly below the surface. With polarized glasses, look through the surface layer and get a feel for the general layout of the river bottom. Walk around in the water a bit with the proper wading boots to get a feel for the river bottom also. Being aware of fallen trees and ledges gives anglers a better picture…the story. Once you have that visual, picture a grid line breakdown of that section of the river since euro nymphing does not cover large areas. Make your visual grid boxes 10’x10’ on average to help you assess and make a plan of attack.
Targeting the River Bottom
EN has a very specific application which is getting the flies to the bottom of the river quickly and then directing those flies as the current rolls them around the river bottom structures. Whether it’s a deep fast chute, a section of specific pocket water, or bubbly current seams, scouting with a sub-surface quick sinking sensitive rig will up your game considering that 90% of the time, trout feed in the rocks on nymphs and larvae of the immature bugs. If you only fish dry flies, you will be waiting for a while since fish feed below the surface 90% of the time. By targeting the river bottom, you’re much more likely to catch fish.
Euro Nymphing Learning Curve
There is a learning curve with euro nymphing and it’s steep and quick. After a few outings, you will start to understand the concept, after that it’s all about time in the water and it begins with curiosity. You can modify your existing nymph rod and leader setup to save some money, but if you decide the euro nymping is for you, getting the right equipment for the job will quickly move you to the next level.
Please feel free to reach out to Minturn Anglers your fly fishing experts at 970-827-9500 or drop us a line with any questions.