#9. Putting It All Together: Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing

by | Jan 2, 2022 | 4 comments

** NOTE ** This is the ninth and final featured skill in the Troutbitten series, Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing. You can find the overview, along with dedicated articles for each chapter and skill published HERE.

— — — — — —

So, at the conclusion of this nine part series, I’ve learned a few things. Breaking down these skills and putting them in order has helped my own angling, and I’ve seen my clients and friends respond in kind. Nine skills might seem like a lot. (To some it may seem too few.) But these really are the essential skills necessary for effective tight line and euro nymphing. Not much good happens out there if you’re missing even one of them. And all other techniques that follow have their roots anchored in these. 

I meet many good anglers on the water, and I’m privileged to guide so many excellent, technical fly fishers. I learn by watching them every day. I spent much of my fall/winter guide season discussing these nine skills, demonstrating them and refining things like the tuck cast, finding contact and guiding the flies through one seam. And the more we focused on this set of nine, the more relaxed I saw anglers become. 


Because tight line tactics, especially with a Mono Rig, are infinitely refinable. There is no end to how much better you can make the next drift. And if you get it perfect, then the next seam challenges you all over again. Contact and true control over the flies is a responsibility, and I’ve seen it overwhelm people at times. So putting a number on the most basic skills and putting them in order makes things manageable. 

Throughout the fall, as I introduced these concepts to my friends, I found that even the most experienced nymphing anglers were deficient in one or more of this set of nine. And most often, they knew it.

So when I wrote the first article in this series about six months ago, I was pretty sure I’d covered all the bases. Now I know that I have. These are the baseline skills that every other variation is built upon. Furthermore, the order here is solid. And there’s no sense jumping ahead without a good understanding and facility for what comes first. Ignoring any of these skills ends in an unraveling of the tactics. But treating them as building blocks creates a solid foundation.

  1. Angle and Approach
  2. Turnover and Tuck Cast
  3. Sticking the Landing
  4. Recovering Slack
  5. Finding Contact
  6. Finding the Strike Zone
  7. Guiding the Flies
  8. The Strike
  9. Putting it all Together

Now It’s Time For #9

So here we are at the ninth essential skill — the final skill — for tight line and euro nymphing. And it’s fair to ask if putting it all together is really a skill in itself. 

Answer: Yes it is. 

There’s a talent for combining all the essential techniques. Stitching them together seamlessly and flowing from one to the next takes a certain aptitude, and some intention.

It starts with a full understanding of all the previous skills. We don’t need perfection — just a solid understanding of what we’re trying to achieve. We need to see the difference between the flies dropping toward the strike zone as we recover slack. Then we find contact and guide the flies through one seam.

The trouble is, much of this happens all at once. Most of the middle steps can kind of blend together within just a few seconds — and they should. Because, ideally, we want the flies down in the strike zone and drifting as soon as possible.

Steps three through six then, are where a lot of the magic happens. Putting it all together starts with choosing the best angle of approach and having a great turnover cast. But sticking the landing with a little slack to let the flies fall, and finding contact enough to trust the strike zone read is where the biggest challenge lies. Again, it all happens quite fast in most situations. And after a while,everything seems to blend together. It should, really. But recognizing contact and then NOT seeing the slow down of the strike zone is valuable information too.

That’s how we put it all together. We watch the results of our cast, search for the splash of the fly, stick the landing, and then see beyond the sighter, into the water to where we know our nymphs are drifting.

READ: Troutbitten | See Beyond the Sighter

The best anglers read the sighter and feel the line. They see the speed, the angle, the depth. They judge the effectiveness of the presentation by using all the feedback available. Then they make the next cast and drift even better than last time.

That Was A Great Drift

We move from one skill to the next, deliberately at first, and then with fluidity. Cast. Adjust. Watch. Learn, and refine. Until finally, on consecutive presentations, we see what we were looking for. 

The satisfaction of getting a great presentation is enough. That’s the goal, because that’s what you can control. If the fish eats, it’s a fun bonus. 

READ: Troutbitten | Get a Good Drift — Then  Move On

By breaking things down into these nine skills, new anglers can quickly and efficiently learn the tight line game. Likewise, experienced anglers can go back to each of these skills and improve them.

Nymph fishing is like reading a great book, where you learn and discover more each time you revisit it. And as every athlete knows, advanced techniques always have their roots in the most basic skills. 

Refine one through nine. Then time and again, you’ll see what you want to  see. You’ll put it together. And you’ll say with confidence, “Now that was a great drift.” 

Fish hard, friends. 


** Next up, these nine essential skills are featured in a Troutbitten Podcast series,
where each skill receives its own episode.

** Find all Troutbitten Podcasts HERE **


** Donate ** If you enjoy this article, please consider a donation. Your support is what keeps this Troutbitten project funded. Scroll below to find the Donate Button. And thank you.


Enjoy the day
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. How do you and your Troutbitten crew get a good tuck cast over the opposite shoulder?

  2. A valuable set of advice. Greatly appreciated.

    Troutbitten has really helped me get there much quicker than If I had to learn on my own.

    For an old geezer that’s A big deal Dom.

    I have more time getting in the groove Catching beautiful trout rather than being frustrated stumbling around and learning.

    Really the added ingredient is good written instructions. I like podcasts and videos. But also need written words. Troutbitten.

    • Right on, Paul.

      Thanks for the support. And I completely agree about the written words. All forms of learning are valid and useful. But the written word carries the most room for detail, expansion and critical thought.



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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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