Thursday, December 5, 2013

Euro nymphing 101: Part 1

Euro Nymphing 101
A Euro nymphed rainbow from the Arkansas River on Black Friday
I had a friend and reader of the blog ask if I would give a general article on European nymphing with its basic concepts and why an angler might want to venture to learn it. I’ve been giving a Powerpoint presentation to clubs and clinics on this topic for a couple of years now. I consider the presentation to be only a superficial attempt at educating an audience on the subject and it takes me at least 1.5-2 hours to deliver. The shear fact of the matter is that I’ve been using the suite of more contemporary Euro nymphing techniques since Lance Egan introduced me to what he referred to as French nymphing in 2007. At the time it was a radical change that I wish I’d thought of myself years earlier.  There is no way to boil the topic down into a blog post, let alone a series of posts. There are books for that and, as I’ve mentioned before, George Daniel’s book Dynamic Nymphing represents the most complete treatment of the topic at present. In the end, nothing will educate an angler on Euro nymphing more than finding someone adept at it and spending lots of time on the water. However, maybe a background and basics on Euro nymphing will inspire a few more people to take it up so I’ll at least venture an attempt over a few posts. In this first post I’ll cover the background behind how I was introduced to the method.

Part 1:
In 2007, Lance Egan returned home from the World Fly Fishing Championships in Portugal toting a book by Czech angler Karel Krivanec entitled Czech Nymph and Other Related Fly Fishing Methods
Teaching my newborn the value of good literature
The book mainly deals with a style of nymphing that was largely phased out among the top anglers of the World Championship by the time the book was published. This style is reminiscent of what Glenn Zinkus described in an article I referenced recently. Krivanec's book might be part of the reason why American anglers have a somewhat outdated view of Czech/Euro nymphing even though it's only a few years old. However, Krivanec makes mention of French Nymphing and the exceptionally long leaders used for it in just a few pages.  Lance put this quickly referenced information together with the idea of a technique former Team USA captain Jack Dennis referred to as the “French Roll.” Jack thought of the technique as being used to imitate emerging caddis. In reality, it was a simply a very effective strategy to rapidly cover shallow water. It was typified by casting one or two small tungsten nymphs upstream and allowing only a very short drift before quickly picking up and casting again.
            About a month after Lance returned he called me and said he had something that was going to “blow my mind.” He’s not the kind of all too common angler who employs hyperbole to gain the favor of others. He’s too gifted to need anything other than his own skill for that so I knew he must have had something good. A few days later we piled in my car with our friend Kurt Finlayson and headed off to a small stream in central Utah. The stream is known for a dense population of small to medium brown trout that tend to respond well to dry or dry dropper rigs. We rigged up 3 rods with a dry, a dry dropper, and a French leader rig. We fished the first two rigs in a number of runs, riffles, and pools and usually caught several fish on each.  We then fished the French rig through the same water and often caught at least several more in each piece of water after it had been fished exhaustively.
I knew that Lance had come upon something special and I spent the next month before the National Championship learning as much as I could about the technique. I compared it to the dry dropper and Czech/Polish nymphing rigs, that I had been fishing in competitions for several years prior, in my own quasi experiments. Almost invariably, the French leader out-fished the other methods and I was catching staggering numbers of fish in addition to fishing water types I’d rarely found success in before. I found that the French rig provided technical advantages that made it the most versatile nymphing strategy that exists to my knowledge.
Most anglers in the competitive circuit now refer to the leader’s use as Euro nymphing because it has come to incorporate a variety of upstream and cross current approaches inspired by multiple European countries. In the next couple of posts I’ll cover how to rig for Euro nymphing, some basic techniques when using it, and why I believe it out-fishes suspension/indicator rigs in most water types and situations.

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