PODCAST: Tight Line, High Stick, Euro Nymph, Mono Rig — What’s the Difference and How Did We Get Here? — S9, Ep5

by | Nov 12, 2023 | 11 comments

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Over the years, nymphing has grown up a bit. There’s more information, more styles and more acceptance of those styles than ever before. While nymphing was once seen as that thing you did when trout wouldn’t eat dry flies or wets, more anglers than ever choose nymphing first — as their go-to method for catching trout in all seasons. Because nymphing provides a unique complexity unlike anything else in fly fishing. And anglers who are dedicated to the craft take particular joy in seeing their refinements pay dividends.

All that is to say . . . nymphing is fun. And in large part, what makes it fun is the control that is gained through tight line tactics. Indeed, the popularization of contact nymphing systems coincides with the popularity and the surge of nymphing among the community.

One of the most frequent requests we receive is for a full breakdown on the differences between the tight line styles. What is euro nymphing, and how is it different than the Mono Rig? Can I tight line with a fly line and a shorter leader? Is that called high sticking? What are the key differences between Polish, Czech, French and Spanish nymphing styles? And how does a thinner or thicker tight line leader help or hurt my presentation?

Troutbitten has become synonymous with the Mono Rig. And while each of us at Troutbitten spends lots of time with traditional leaders and fly lines, we all enjoy the benefits gained from tight line tactics when fishing underneath the surface.

Of course anglers have been nymphing for a very long time, but it’s fair to acknowledge that a large section of the fly fishing world right now is centered on euro nymphing, with new gear, new ideas and new information coming out constantly. That’s the way it is.

So here is the first of two podcasts — our responses to the most popular questions that come from listeners.

In this episode, Austin Dando and I walk through the differences between all of these styles. We provide some history and think objectively about how far the tight line game has come. And next week, the rest of the guys will join us to talk about the strengths and weaknesses, the advantages and disadvantages of what we call the standard, thin and micro thin mono rig leaders.

Resources

READ: Troutbitten | Category | The Mono Rig
READ: Troutbitten | Beyond Euro Nymphing
PODCAST: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing the Mono Rig — Versatility and the Tight Line Advantage Taken Further
READ: Troutbitten | Design and Function of the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig
VIDEO: Troutbitten | Mono Rigs and Euro Rigs — Micro Thin or Standard?
READ: Troutbitten | Thin and Micro-Thin Leaders for Euro Nymphing and the Mono Rig
READ: Troutbitten | The Full Mono Rig System — All the variations, with formulas and adjustments
READ: Troutbitten | What You’re Missing By Following FIPS Competition Rules

Here’s the podcast . . .

Listen with the player above, or . . .

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Season Nine of the Troutbitten Podcast continues next week with episode six. So look for it in your Troutbitten podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.

 

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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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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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11 Comments

  1. Sitting here at work having a laugh listening to you guys joke around about how tippet rings and backing barrels are too heavy and suddenly I get to thinking a little bit… Next thing you know, I find myself looking across my lab at this scale that measures to the 1000th of a gram that I haven’t taken advantage of yet. I doubt I’ll get around to weighing out tippet rings or backing barrel dacron to compare it to three inches of leader, but next time I’m back on night shift so there are no bosses about to bother me, you better believe I’m bringing in my nymph box and getting organized according to weight.

    So Dom, if you ever have something you need weighed so precisely that your centigram scale just isn’t gonna cut the mustard accuracy-wise, feel free to hit me up. Heck, maybe we could figure out how much each individual wrap of the backing barrel uni knot weighs (both dry and wet of course)!

    “Is that a five turn backing barrrel that guy over there is using? What an idiot! Everyone knows that four turns with no more than a .37692 inch tag is the optimal backing barrel size for that leader. He’ll never catch a thing with a rig like THAT!”

    Reply
    • Ha. That’s right. “He’ll never catch a thing.”

      Ultimately, there are SO many other things more important than that tiny, tiny amount of weight. A lot of this drive to be lighter starts with the mistaken belief that being lighter looks more natural or catches more fish. That simply isn’t true. I wrote this article that fleshes it out a bit.

      https://troutbitten.com/2022/08/17/are-light-nymphs-more-effective-is-less-weight-more-natural/

      Fishing the rig that you have, understanding its strengths and weaknesses, and fishing it well is what catches more fish!

      Another article about thin and micro-thin leader specifically is here:
      https://troutbitten.com/2021/02/07/thin-and-micro-thin-leaders-for-euro-nymphing-and-the-mono-rig/

      Regarding weighing something that small on a gram scale, thank you! I might take you up on that offer some day. To this point I just weigh 50 tippet rings, for example, on my cheap gram scale, or ten feet of dacron, then divide it by the single unit. That’s how we got to the three inches point. YOu can use a one inch tag bagging barrel with five wraps, and it weighs (wet) as much as three inches of 4X.

      This stuff is fun, isn’t it?

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  2. Can’t wait to listen to this one. Dom, you know the journey I have been on and I am sure it’s no surprise that I keep reaching for my 10′ 4wt most times I head out. I just say I fish the mono rig when people ask about what kind of fly fishing I do. It circumvents the whole ‘euro nymphing’ stereotype. I think most people that give it a serious try will be amazed at how versatile and effective it is.

    Reply
  3. I love this stuff. Can’t wait for the next installment. In anticipation of that, let me ask you a long, convoluted question.

    I take it as axiomatic that fishing the way you love trumps everything else. When I lived in NY, I knew quite a few dry fly purists. They would ply Catskill streams using only dries. They were fully aware that other methods might produce more fish, but they didn’t care. They preferred catching fewer fish in a way they considered more beautiful and traditional than to pile up numbers using, for example, nymphs.

    But, if putting fish in the net is your goal, then numbers do count. That, in my view, is the strength of competitive fly fishing. A comp isn’t about subjective impressions, thoughts, or theories. A comp is like science: a scientific theory is only good if it can be verified experimentally, and, in a comp, the objective proof of a theory’s usefulness is fish in the net.

    Now, I know quite a few people in the comp universe. Almost to a one, they’ve adopted micro leaders, the latest being the ex-competitor George Daniel. I realize that they must abide by FIPS rules, but, even within the rules, there’s nothing restricting how thin your leader is. The Troutbitten standard mono rig is perfectly comp legal if one doesn’t use split shot, etc. And yet, hardly anyone in the comp world uses anything but a micro leader.

    Although fashion and social pressure are ubiquitous, and so must affect comp anglers, I don’t think that the triumph of micro leaders in that world can be attributed largely to buzz. I think that results are what matter.

    So, the question: you’ve said elsewhere that, given the versatility of the standard mono rig, in the long run, it will outperform a micro system. I agree. But, if one chose to accept FIPS restrictions, and if one were to fish only nymphs, do you still think that the Troutbitten standard rig has the advantage?

    Reply
    • You’re the best, man. Always coming up with great thoughts. Two things on this. And on my first response, I won’t pull any punches:

      You said:
      “Although fashion and social pressure are ubiquitous, and so must affect comp anglers, I don’t think that the triumph of micro leaders in that world can be attributed largely to buzz. I think that results are what matter.”

      I’m not so sure about that. I think I’ve seen the comp world move, en masse, too many times to believe it’s all because of the triumph of any tactic. To prove the point, I have a question for you: Are comp anglers now catching significantly more trout in competitions than ever before?

      You’re second question:
      “But, if one chose to accept FIPS restrictions, and if one were to fish only nymphs, do you still think that the Troutbitten standard rig has the advantage?”
      No! I do not. If I were forced into comp rules, I likely, probably, maybe, I’m pretty sure, I think so, would fish, likely most often a micro mono rig — especially because the leader length restriction.

      Good questions!

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  4. Informative and insightful as always. Thanks!
    I heard Austin mention twice that one can fish dry flies on a mono rig. I struggle to fish dries on the mono rig. So much so that I’ll peel it off and put on a regular dry fly leader. So does my casting need work? (likely 🙂 ) Is there a casting trick I’m missing? Do I need a 10 foot 3 wt ( i fish with a 9 foot 5 wt) Any help is appreciated

    Reply
    • Hi Pete,

      This article will help:

      https://troutbitten.com/2019/09/25/dry-flies-on-the-mono-rig/

      Yes, you probably need a cleaner cast. Almost always, we need more speed and crisp stops. I see that all the time. However, you do not need a special rod for this. You do need the right leader build and the right fly, though. All of that is in the article linked.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • Thanks. Much appreciated

        Reply
  5. Dom & Troutbitten Gang,

    It seems you guys are unaware that in competition fishing for rivers they will carry multiple rods configured for the various styles of fly fishing; nymphing, dry/dropper, dry and streamers. They also carry multiple rods for lakes but I don’t recall the set-ups.

    For my personal long leader set-up I’ve settled on a 12 lb long leader set-up (12lb maxima chameleon material from the butt section, through the indicator to the tippet ring), and then typically fishing 5x or 6x below the ring. I’ve fished a similar 10lb set-up but struggled to “see it” and missed a bunch more fish. I’m not desperate enough to fish a 5X level line set-up.

    Looking forward to fishing a Harvey leader with my dries.

    I think my comment came from this podcast.

    Reply
    • Hi Mark. Good stuff.

      I don’t think we’re unaware of it, I just don’t see that it applies to the conversation. I have no interest in carrying multiple rods. Around here, for the way we like to over water, it’s just a bad idea, and I find it really easy to just change leaders — takes about a minute, honestly. That’s far easier for me than carting around multiple rods. I think my way actually saves more time.

      I appreciate your comment, though. Not trying to be argumentative, either. Just saying why carrying multiple rods doesn’t make any difference to me for this line of thinking.

      CHEERS. And thanks for listening.

      Dom

      Reply

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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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