You do not need a special rod for fishing the European nymphing methods, but a longer rod will make things a little easier, especially when you need to reach over a fast run and hit that pocket on the other side. A 9’ rod will work just fine when you are getting started, but a 10’ to 11′ length is the rod of choice for most rivers and streams. Sage has developed a Euro Specific rod called the ESN that has a softer action in the tip for increased sensitivity and a stout butt section for handling larger fish. These rods are available in a 10’ 2, 3, 4 and 5 weight as well as in an 11’ 3 weight and retail for $850.00
If you are not in the market for an $850.00 nymphing specific rod, there are many other options available that will get the job done and not break the bank.
One offering is from Cortland appropriately named the Competition Nymph Series that is offered in several models. A 9’6’’ – 2 weight, a 10’ – 3 weight, a 10’6’’ – 3 weight, a 10’ – 4 weight as well as a 10’6’’ – 4 weight. The rods are sensitive and have plenty of butt section to handle larger fish. Tips protect lighter tippet and they balance very well, even in the longer lengths. Rods retail for $249.95.
A second option is from a fairly new company that has really made a name for itself among competitive anglers with their rods. The company is Syndicate and they have several models of Euro specific rods to choose from. The 10’ – 2 weight is an amazing rod for smaller fish and smaller streams. The 10’ – 3 weight is probably their most sought after rod which has an absolutely amazing feel for the price. The last offering is an 11’ – 3 weight that has become a real staff favorite at the Blue Quill especially on larger rivers. Rods range from $299.00 for the 10’ models and $325.00 for the 11’.
The rods line weight is a personal preference but most anglers tend to lean toward the 3 weight models in these Euro specific nymphing rods. Now you might say a 3 weight is not enough rod for nymphing heavy flies, dealing with wind, etc. What you have to remember is the only part of these rods that is actually a 3 weight is in the tip section. As you progress toward the middle and butt section, the rods are more along the lines of a 4/5 and even a 6 weight in some models. What his does is increase tip sensitivity while giving you enough strength to land larger fish.
REELS: Reels are not really important except in those few occasions where you get that hot running fish and need a good drag to slow them down. The main thing with the reel is that it is heavy enough to properly balance your rod. A balanced outfit will make a huge difference at the end of a long day. You want the rod to balance on you middle finger right at the fatter part of the cork. If you are having trouble getting your outfit to balance properly, try adding lead adhesive tape to the reel. Remove the line and backing and add a little strip (1/8th if it is ust a little off to 1/4th thick for outfits that are way off) around the arbor which should make up the difference.
We like several reels for these Euro specific rods starting with the Lamson Liquid. This is an entry-level reel with an amazing drag that will last for years to come.
Stepping up one more level, the Ross Animas is one of the finest offerings we have seen at this price level. Super durable and made in the USA are slowly pushing this reel to the top of the charts for us.
If you are the type of person who has the motto, Buy Once, Cry Once then the Hatch Finatic 4+ for 10’ rods or the Hatch Finatic 5+ for anything over 10’ is the perfect choice. This is one amazing reel hand crafted in the USA and has proven to be almost indestructible but rest assured if there is a problem, Hatch has your back. The reel of choice for Steve Parrott as he feels the durability and reliability of this reel is one less thing he has to worry about on the river. They are not cheap but well worth every penny!!!
FLY LINES: Fly lines are almost non-existent in the Czech and Polish methods unless you are implementing a medium length drift. The Spanish and French Methods will make use of the fly line and this is where the problems begin. Sag will develop between the guides with normal Weight Forward and Double Taper lines, decreasing the “positive” connection to the flies. The solution to this is a specially designed fly line that will act like an extension of your leader. Steve Parrott spent 6 months working with RIO products on a design he had in mind and the RIO Euro Nymph Line was born. This is a thin diameter, low stretch line that is incredibly sensitive yet easy to handle with wet hands. It is a true game changer when it comes to Euro Nymphing.
Another option is the Airflo SLN (Short Line Nymph) fly line that was introduced in the Fall of 2015. This is also a thin diameter line with a low stretch core that provides great sensitivity and will not sag in the guides.
The Cortland Competition Nymph Lines are popular yet have a little different design approach. These are a traditional Weight Forward taper, yet the front taper is extremely long which acts like an extension of your leader. They have a braided core and a welded loop at the end for ease of leader attachment.
There is a second option from Cortland that has a full monofilament core for increased sensitivity called the Competition Nymph Mono Core Fly Line . This line is incredibly sensitive but has a tendency to coil in colder weather, which can lead to an extremely frustrating day, constantly stretching your line. There are hardcore believers in this line and it may be the one for you.
Polarized glasses are a must, first to help see the defining features of the stream and second to provide eye protection from the two or three fly rig when it gets out of control
Protective gear like a knee/shin guard will come in handy when you are trying to keep a low profile and fishing on your knees all day. The Rothco Knee/Shin is comfortable to wear and will stay put when crawling around or wading faster water, all while increasing the life of your waders and saving your knees.
Hook hone is a must!!! The flies are in contact with the bottom on every drift and will eventually dull the hook point. The sharper the point, the less likely you will loose a fish. Dr. Slick makes a nice one that will tuck away in a vest or hip pack without taking up a ton of room. Tiemco makes a smaller version that will attach to a lanyard or vest for quick and easy access.
Tippet material is probably on of the most improtant items you need to consider when fishing the European Nymphing Methods. Fluorocarbon tippet material will sink quicker, provide you with good abrasion resistance since your flies will be in contact with the bottom of the river and has superb knot/breaking strength when wet. One of the better tippet materials on the market for the price is the RIO Fluoroflex Plus. It has all of the benefits of fluorocarbon mentioned above yet is supple and easy to knot. At $14.95 for a 30 meter spool, you may feel that is a little pricey but when you consider the dollar amount of flies in the water, a quality tippet material make sure they stay on the line and not on the bottom.
The best stuff we have found to date is the Trouthunter Fluorocarbon Tippet. This stuff has the strength of iron yet ties knots with ease. If you like fishing lighter tippets (6-10X), Trouthunter is the absolute best possible choice. The nice part is they offer half sizes, which may seem like a gimmick but we can honestly tell you the opposite. The half sizes allow you do decrease the diameters of the standard sizes slightly to achieve better sink rates. All spools are color coded for size, which may take a while to learn but soon you will be able to recognize it with ease. Most will balk at the price of $22.95 for a spool of tippet material but you have to remember, this is a 50M spool and it last longer due to less breakage. When you break it out by cost per meter, the Trouthunter is the cheapest.