Q&A: What Do You Have Against Euro Nymphing?

by | Feb 6, 2024 | 59 comments

The Q&A series on Troutbitten is an effort to answer some of the most common questions I receive. Here’s the latest . . .

Question

This question came through the comments section of the website. There was no name attached.

Hey Troutbitten,

I’m a competitive angler living in Tennessee. But I’ve traveled for two years now, around the country and even overseas, matching my fishing skills against the best fishermen in the world.

All of them are euro nymphers, because it just works to catch the most fish.

So my question . . . What do you have against euro nymphing?

I’ve listened to a handful of your podcasts and seen a few videos where you talk about euro nymphing compared to your mono rig system. I don’t see the difference. And if there is a difference, I’m sure euro nymphing would win.

Answer

Let’s take a deep breath first. I hope not to bring controversy with my answer. But I’ll answer you honestly, because I’ve received similar questions over the years.

The framing of your question betrays a misunderstanding of my thoughts on euro nymphing. That’s understandable. Because after 1200+ articles, 100+ podcasts and 60+ videos, no one is expected to digest it all. I think it’s easy to miss some important tie-ins and not quite understand the nuances. So this is a good chance for me to clear things up. Thanks for your question.

I’ll be blunt, brief and honest in my reply. Hopefully, I can bring a few things into the light.

You probably realize the backlash out there against euro nymphing. You’ve probably seen the negativity around the term and the tactics. While it’s one of the most popular methods and topics in fly fishing, it’s also one of the most polarizing. You’ve surely encountered that negativity yourself, and maybe it’s part of the frustration apparent in your question.

So then, I’d like to acknowledge the objections of many anglers to euro nymphing in my response. I feel that I have a good read on the topic, because I’m right in the middle of it. I see this objectively, from all sides.

I’ll also link to many resources across Troutbitten where I’ve gone through much of this discussion in different ways.

Here we go . . .

Photo by Bill Dell

A Daily Technique

I fish with euro nymphing tactics almost every day I’m on the water. Euro nymphing is . . . tight line nymphing with nothing attached to the leader but the flies themselves. No added split shot, no added suspender. That’s a fair definition.

There are great advantages to fishing this way, and I choose a euro nymphing method often. There are also major disadvantages to fishing this way, so I fish other nymphing methods just as often.

As soon as I add a yarn indy or a bobber, I’m not euro nymphing. And when I choose split shot or drop shot for the weight, that’s not euro nymphing either. Likewise, when I fish streamers on a tight line, it’s not “euro-streamer fishing,” because that makes no sense.

We do much more with these tight line rigs than just euro nymphing. And the limitation of the term and the euro nymphing system tends to hold anglers back. For decades I’ve called the tool I use a Mono Rig.

READ: Troutbitten | Beyond Euro Nymphing
READ: What you’re missing by following FIPS competition rules — Part One
READ: Troutbitten | Design and Function of the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig

Why not call it a “euro rig?”

Because “euro rig” is a bad way to describe a general tight line system . . .

It’s a Flawed Name

The term euro nymphing caught on because the industry liked it. It was a good label for a bunch of new gear and another way to specialize a part of fly fishing. That’s both good and bad.

But, let’s be honest, anglers liked the name too. My friend, Trevor, once said this about euro nymphing on our podcast: “This is how you can be a nymph man and still be elite!”

“Euro nymphing” gave cover to all the high stick junkies and Mono Rig knuckle draggers out there. Suddenly, something they’d been doing for ages had a name that came with some respect. This wasn’t backwoods chuck and duck, this was . . . European.

But there was bound to be opposition to any tactic or term that harbored a hint of elitism.

Am I making too much of the name? Maybe. But the term is also confusing. Euro nymphing was coined to encompass the tactics of Czech, Polish, French and Spanish nymphing. Anglers finally realized that no one was out there doing just one of those things with a fly rod, so euro nymphing made a nice umbrella.

That’s all fine until you attach an indy to the same rig. What is it now?

And I can’t streamer fish with my euro nymphing rig, can I? Yes, it’s a deadly way to fish steamers, but should we call it euro-streamering then? That sounds silly, so the term “euro rig” caught on.

But what the hell is European about fishing with a long length of monofilament instead of fly line? Nothing at all.

That brings us to another resistance from anglers to the term euro nymphing. Fishermen across the world were fishing tight line rigs for a very long time before the term euro nymphing was first minted and printed. And people get defensive about assigning regionality to a technique.

“I did it first.”

“No, she did it.”

“Bullshit. It was my Spanish angler friends who did it first.”

Who cares? The truth is, most of us don’t care who did what first, and we realize there’s no way to accurately nail it down anyway.

The terms tight line or Mono Rig are preferred by many of us, for two reasons: They describe the rig without limitation, and they don’t credit a region within the term. Essentially, they remain neutral and wide open to whatever adaptations an angler might dream up next.

“Euro rig” is just a bad way to describe a tight line system.

The Comp Thing

This one is gonna hurt a bit . . .

Euro nymphing is inexorably linked with competition fishing. That’s how it was introduced to fly fishers at large. The most visible educators of euro nymphing, selected by editors and publishers in our industry, are (almost) all competition anglers.

Add in the recurring assertion that competition anglers are the best fishermen in the world, and you’re sure to encounter resistance from many corners of the fly fishing public. Objectively, that resistance should be expected.

As a guest on a recent podcast, George Daniel reminded the host that comp anglers who medal are the best competition anglers in the world. He simply pointed out the difference in the skillsets. These are the best anglers in the world . . . who choose to compete. The selection process for the national team has been notoriously unfair over the years, favoring those who’ve previously competed and been part of the team. Also, these are the anglers who have the funds, the time, the resources and the desire to enter competitions in the first place.

Hopefully, my comments here will not be misconstrued. I mean what I wrote above. I also believe that most if not all who regularly make it to the top of a leader board in fly fishing competitions are excellent anglers. They are experts in a field. Are they the best anglers in the world? Probably not. But to George’s point, they are the best competitive anglers in the world.

Sadly, the link between competition angling and euro nymphing trickles over to all types of tight line fishing and even nymphing in general. I do not compete, and I’ve previously stated that I don’t think competition is good for our sport. But I run into opposition and even antagonism against some of the nymphing tactics I write and talk about, because some readers put all of this into the competition basket.

That’s alright. You and I must both acknowledge and expect the negativity we will receive (for different but also similar reasons).

It’s Not Fly Fishing

Euro nymphing most definitely is fly fishing, but you’ll never convince a certain population of anglers who resist that notion.

Inevitably, this sentiment comes from those who misunderstand the techniques. There is a pure elegance in euro nymphing that matches a fly line pushing a Royal Wulff to the target. Contact and control, in the hands of someone who can make the most of it is a downright fun way to fish. These rigs paired with good technique give a skilled angler awareness about where the nymph is and authority over where it goes next.

Many anglers who say “that’s not fly fishing” have never seen what the system can do. They think it’s nothing more than lobbing and slinging weights around. But as I say so often, the standout advantages of these rigs happen when we learn to cast them like a fly line.

I’ll add in my personal objection to the move, across the euro nymphing world, to micro rigs. I’m baffled by the swift change, seemingly en masse and all at once, by almost every educator and proponent of tight line or euro nymphing. I use micro mono rigs, and I like them — sometimes. I’ve used these leaders for many years. But they are not the answer to everything. They are simply another tool that I’m glad has gained acceptance. But starting a new angler on a micro rig is a mistake. Technique and casting suffers, as new anglers never learn a fundamental concept of fly fishing — using a line or leader to push things to a target instead of relying on weight to pull the leader to the target. Lacking that knowledge and skill hurts all anglers, sooner or later.

READ: Troutbitten | Mono Rigs and Euro Leaders — Micro Thin or Standard? (with VIDEO)

More Than You

I have one more point about euro nymphing or tight line tactics and the Mono Rig in general.

Some people don’t like when you catch more fish than they do. Tight line and euro nymphing is supremely effective. A good angler uses these tools to eliminate drag and present nymphs precisely how a trout wants to see them. So numbers of trout find the net, and jealousy follows.

Euro nymphing gets blamed for anglers raping the river and damaging trout populations. I believe none of this is founded or fair. It’s up to each angler, regardless of the tactic employed, to learn fish handling skills and use them. Catch and release trout safely. That’s the best message. Instead of blaming a method, be happy for anglers when they catch trout, and help educate others about catch-and-release.

READ: Troutbitten | Are We Taking the Safety of Trout Too Far?

It Is What It Is

I hope my answers here effectively outline what I believe.

I don’t have anything against euro nymphing as a tactic. I use it often, but won’t be limited to it.

I don’t like the term euro nymphing because of the connotations and the limitations associated with it.

That said, I don’t think we can change it. Just like the rest of language, we are stuck within a framework for communicating that precedes us. We can only do our best to define and work through this system accurately.

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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59 Comments

  1. Very well said & very fair. Let’s hope this response can put this question to rest!

    After anglers go through the ‘maximize # of fish’ stage and the ‘catch the biggest fish’ stage, I find they then try to maximize versatility (can I catch fish using a few different techniques during the day?). At least I did. And for versatility, nothing beats the mono-rig approach.

    Reply
    • That’s a good turn on the stage that most anglers say is the hardest fish stage. I like what you said there. I agree.

      Reply
  2. So . . . What do you have against euro nymphing?

    For me, the better question is . . . Why don’t you euro nymph?

    Not sure if I’m in a tiny minority, but I have nothing against others who like to euro (tightline) nymph, yet I would not touch the technique with a 10′ 3 wt. Please don’t conflate a personal dislike for a technique with a dislike of that technique when others use it. One angler’s meniscus is another angler’s river bottom. No?

    “The best [competitive] fishermen in the world are ALL euro nymphers, because it just works to CATCH THE MOST FISH.

    Herein lies the PROBLEM for me. Euro nymphers trying to slay multiple dozens of trout (mostly tidlers) per day by force feeding Perdigon nymphs is the antithesis of what I want from a day of hunting individual trout. It is not an accomplishment that would provide me with any degree of satisfaction. A DFO friend of the late Gary LaFontaine summed it up for me with this line: “Nymphing for trout is a lot like drinking prune juice, it is very effective but not worth bragging about.”

    I just hope that the warrior, vacuum the stream mentality is not setting expectations so high that anglers become disappointed with a 1, 2, or even 6 fish day. In the world of trout hunting, a 6 fish day is as good as it gets. I wonder how the super successful euro nympher avoids becoming jaded by a technique that is almost too effective? What can that 37th trout in the net possibly mean? and how badly do you need to land that 38th?

    Great topic, Thanks

    Reply
    • Totally agree Rick. I understand and respect the skills in the tactic but not at all interested in turning my fly fishing into golf. I may be the exact opposite in my fly fishing approach. When I do catch that one special fish in a day I call it my walk off fish. Take a walk at that point, enjoy the day, just being out is the point, sit by the vehicle, talk with others (although it seems these competitive fishers are a little less friendly after they give you the day’s big number). Anyway I know the skills and tactics are all legit . Maybe I am too old and set in my ways but getting that special fish on top with a decent cast over that log is all I look for.

      Reply
        • I like this reply best. Walk off. Anything after the first Fish caught is gravy. I euro nymph because I have a bum shoulder. I enjoy it. But am finding I want to explore other finer points and techniques. And learn to enjoy the surroundings more as you suggest.

          Reply
    • Good thoughts. And thanks for your reply. My objection is that you’re lumping all who euro nymph into the mentality of lots of fish as the goal. That’s not fair at all. Many tight line or euro nymphing anglers choose the tactic because they simply enjoy fishing it. And they might just as well have the goal of hunting trout and only sight fishing. The trouble in this community (maybe its just human nature) is the rampant generalizations and assumptions.

      You can hunt trout, as you put it, with any tactic. Just like you can click a counter and aim for high numbers . . . with any tactic.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  3. I totally agree, Dom. Like you, I enjoy the versatility the mono rig brings. Just attended the Fly Fishing Show in Atlanta. George was there promoting the micro leader. Most of the action still revolves around using a traditional fly line though. Couldn’t help thinking that most of those folks in attendance would be better off going to Troutbitten and learn the mono rig system.

    Reply
    • As I said above, the micro leader is just another tool. It’s part of a versatile approach that I use every day. I don’t like limitations, that’s all.

      Also, I’ve learned a lot from George, and I love his ideas.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  4. It’s boring! And I know it works but can’t stand it.

    Reply
    • That’s a surprising comment that I don’t know if I’ve ever heard about tight line or euro nymphing. There’s so much complexity to what happens in a single drift, that I usually hear the opposite: “It’s too much work.”

      Thanks for your reply, Mike.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
    • boring? I find it can be too mentally taxing. I have complete control over the key variables of the drift. (with great power comes great responsibility). Sometimes using a suspender removes the burden, at the cost of getting boring after awhile.

      The folks who I’ve met who call contact-nymphing tactics boring tended to not understand just how much control they could have…or what they could learn from reading the sighter.

      It’s kind of like non-baseball fans saying it’s boring. If you know the sport, you are more aware of the thinking going on during what appears to be slow periods.

      Reply
        • I agree the baseball comparison is spot on! So many nuances taking place in a ball game that those unfamiliar with the sport will not see. Same with “euro” nymphing et al. My home waters are often so crowded, I learned tight lining to stand a better chance of coming in behind others and catching fish. But on the rare chance I’m alone in a spot when a hatch occurs, I love throwing a dry or emerger on a floating line, and I love fishing streamers after heavy rains. I also love to bass fish and crappie fish and bream fish, sometimes using “horror of horrors”, a spinning reel! Yikes! I just love to fish, using what works at the time, or what rod I happen to have. I have fished bass tournaments; won a couple! Never did I think I was better than anyone….. just luckier or maybe better prepared that day. To put down others or their style of fishing is typical of what’s wrong in our world. Live and let live! And to the guy or girl who wrote the initial comment that got this started, and who did not put their name: you’re a chicken shit!! Mr Swentosky, my hat’s off to you for maintaining your composure!

          Reply
    • Just walked into my local fly shop to purchase leader material to build another mono rig. Was told that the 10’4wt I use will not suffice and that I should at least be using a longer “euro” rod, euro line and a micro leader and perdigons. Enough said. After leaving that shop I thought no one is going to tell me precisely what to fish with or how/when to use it. I’m always open to suggestion but please don’t force feed euro nymphing to me as the tell all only way to catch trout. Droppers, Indy’s, drop shots, soft hackles and streamers have always worked for me. I think I’ll stick with them

      Reply
      • “And so it’s come to this.”

        Like I said in the article, I’m dumbfounded by how quickly so many anglers have moved in one direction, all at once. I’ve been around for a while, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a quick change — especially toward something that is so specialized, and especially with such conviction and even rejection for doing things another way. It’s strange.

        Reply
  5. Here’s my take on it; I fish with a long (25’+-) leader with a dual colored sighter and light tippet. Attached to that are a couple of weighted flies; one on a tag, one on the point and they are different size, weight and style. Most trips to the river I catch several fish, my personal best is somewhere around 50. I’m also known to toss dry flies on a more conventional set up. Call me and my techniques what you want. I’m just there to feel the tug and have fun.

    Reply
    • I think that’s what most long term anglers would say too. You fish the way you like, keep exploring and learning, and aim to have fun, or what’s the point anyway.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
    • That’s pretty much my perspective as well, Joe (and btw, your rig sounds like mine). Since I ditched the bobber (mostly), I started catching a lot more fish and have had a lot more fun as a result. Therefore, I don’t care who calls it what. I really don’t. It’s not even an interesting arguement to me. Let’s just fish!

      Reply
  6. This is an excellent set of reflexions on a surprisingly controversial topic. Let me add a few observations of my own.

    It is true that comp anglers may not be the best fly fishermen in the world. Of course, they may be. And that’s the point. What comp angling has done is created a kind of experiment from which somewhat objective findings can emerge. Everything else is subjective and anecdotal. Joe Humphreys, or Domenick Swentosky, may be the best fly angler who’s ever lived, and the standard mono rig, untethered to FIPS rules, may be the most effective tool out there for seducing trout, but unless we set up an experiment, i.e., a series of comps, we’ll never know. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does suggest that the ultimate value of competition angling is that various techniques and rigs can be evaluated in as objective a manner as is possible given that some variables can never be eliminated so as to achieve a totally flat playing field.

    A second, minor, point: there’s nothing in FIPS rules prohibiting the use of streamers. Comp anglers regularly use them.

    Reply
    • Good stuff, Alex. Counterpoint on your comp argument that, “unless we set up an experiment, i.e., a series of comps, we’ll never know.” I’d say that because of competitions, anglers have mistakenly made many conclusions about what works for regular fishing. That’s the point of my series titled, What You’re Missing by Fishing Under FIPS Rules. Competition, even outside of the odd FIPS rules, sets up an artificial scenario, and I’m not sure how much we can actually learn from that. There are too many variables. If you and I were competitors in a competition, and we used two different tactics. You winning the competition does not prove that Alex’s tactic is better. It probably proves that Alex is just better. Fishing is too unpredictable, there are too many variables, to deduce much at all from results in a competition. That’s another whole article topic though . . .

      Cheers, Alex.

      Reply
    • “A second, minor, point: there’s nothing in FIPS rules prohibiting the use of streamers. Comp anglers regularly use them.”

      Sure. I don’t think I suggested otherwise, right? If that’s confusing in the article, I’ll change it.

      Cheers.

      Reply
  7. What exactly are you saying is boring? Strict European Nymphing? Tightline tactics with a mono rig? Nymphing in general?

    If you think either euro nymphing or nymphing with the mono rig is boring you probably haven’t dug deep enough into it. There is a tremendous amount to learn with each tactic and an almost unlimited amount of refining.

    I have fished the mono rig for over 3,000 hrs on the water. I have only just begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. I don’t know how anyone could claim it’s boring. Every time I think I have a tactic refined I uncover even more layers to that tactic that I have yet to explore or become proficient at. It’s feels like an endless source of learning which is what keeps me engaged.

    Fishing with a traditional line and leader is fun too. But I only enjoy it when I feel like it is the best option to achieve my specific goals on the water.

    If you prefer one style over the other there is nothing wrong with that. What’s the point of being on the water if you are not enjoying yourself? I personally love it all and want to master every aspect of the game. I also love to catch fish. Most often the best way for me to achieve that goal is with a mono rig.

    Reply
  8. I’m with Joe B on this one. Over the 40 or so years on the stream/river, I have used every system available to catch trout. Now my only rule is catch and release. Many folks sit along a river waiting for a rise. I have been one of those people. Not having the time to be on the water every day at the right time forced me to learn new ways to enjoy the sport. When rising trout show themselves, a spare reel in my pack is all I need to re-rig and change tactics. Don’t care what what you call it. Moving trout safely from the stream to my net is my only goal.

    Reply
    • Hi, Mike. I’m still new, but I spent 200 days on the river last year and never saw an angler sitting along the river waiting for a rise. I think that type of angler is almost extinct.

      Reply
      • They are still around. I have a good friend who searches for risers almost every day. He and a rotating group of (retired) friends meet informally every morning, hang out, drink coffee, sit at picnic tables, take a walk once in a while and fish dry flies, most often to rising trout.

        Reply
  9. Unfortunately people like to standardise or compartmentalise because that way they can articulate what it is they are trying to do. I am with you on this Dom.
    (Full stop).
    Bit we went through this with the wet fly versus dry fly debate between the likes of Skues and Halford. Who was right, who was wrong? In the end both thrived.
    Thank goodness they did not have social media.

    Reply
    • For sure.

      No right and wrong tactic, either. But it IS wrong to misunderstand and mislabel things, because it causes more confusion and builds more walls in the end.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  10. Hey Dom, the more I listen to and read Troutbitten, the less convinced I am that this matters. You’ve got an inordinate need to be purist about definitions and terms. I know that you think clarity helps us think about our tactics and differentiate between them. I know versatility is the official Troutbitten watchword.

    But, really, I think most fly line-and-bobber nymphers just think of “Euro Nymphing” as “taking off the bobber and fishing with a longer rod.” The comp-related definition is overly meticulous and is not what people have in mind when they hear the term.

    I think the better way to answer this question would be “I love Euro-nymphing. I do it all the time. But of course I often add shot, and/or a bobber, and I love to streamer fish on a tight line, too.”

    “Euro nymphing” is only “limiting” if you utilize an overly-limiting definition of “Euro Nymphing,” and I just don’t think that’s necessary or helpful.

    Cheers anyway!
    A

    Reply
    • Thanks Andy, but it’s really not that easy. Because I’m surrounded by these topics everyday, I see the confusion that the terms bring. I see the backlash, the unnecessary frustration and the misunderstandings around the topic. It stems from a lack of clarity, and from all of the things I addressed above. I understand your perspective, but from my angle, it’s not that simple.

      Adding split shot and an indicator is not euro nymphing. Just like using a spinning rod with a casting bubble and an Adams is not dry fly fishing.

      As an author and communicator, I can’t accept the proposition that knowing our definition of things is irrelevant. Words matter. They are the foundation of our ideas.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • Thanks Dom. I didn’t say words don’t matter, nor did I proffer the proposition that knowing definitions is irrelevant. My point is rather about an adherence to a narrow definition of Euro Nymphing when only a very narrow slice of the angling world uses that narrow definition. Not to get all ‘philosophy of language on you,’ but meaning is in the usage, not in a petrified dictionary definition. The dictionary, in fact, changes to reflect usage; the dictionary does not prescribe usage. The reason people get the impression you are somehow against Euro Nymphing is because they hear you griping about FIPS rules when you’re not a FIPS competitor. I humbly suggest that you could educate about distinctions without insisting on a narrow definition of Euro Nymphing. Don’t get me wrong: your work has helped me learn distinctions of these tactics. I’m just saying that the people you’re actually educating–your audience–can get by without the definitional purism you employ. 🙂

        Cheers
        A

        Reply
        • Definitions matter, a lot. Not a meeting of my large NYC-based fly fishing club passes where people hate on or express strong opinions about “euro nymphing” with little to no idea of what these tactics entail, and what distinguishes a 20lb maxima mono rig system with split shot from a micro thin euro nymphing rig following competition rules. It’s all lumped together and completely understood and articles like this are much needed to add clarity to very muddy waters.

          Reply
          • That’s what I should have said. Good point.

          • I’m not saying that articles aimed at reducing confusion and clarifying matters are unimportant. I’m saying that it doesn’t serve anyone to say “Euro Nymphing is only fly fishing with weighted nymphs and nothing else attached to the leader, and don’t call it Euro Nymphing if you’ve got split shot.” I’m saying that it would be advisable to say “when some or most people speak of Euro Nymphing, they merely mean nymphing without an indicator on a tight line, even though a small segment of the angling world thinks we’re talking about FIPS regs.” Then you can go on to talk about how you utilize the tactics. But fighting for a narrow definition of Euro Nymphing just because FIPS has regulations that most of us don’t care about … is not helpful. You can help your NYC club understand different tactics without insisting on a FIPS definition of “Euro Nymphing.”

        • I get your point, Andy. But I don’t agree that my definition is narrow. My definition is what euro nymphing is/was.

          And anglers trying to use the same word to describe an additional set of tactics is precisely where the problem arises. My argument for that is already under the header above: “It’s a Flawed Name.” Using “euro rig” to describe a long length of mono is problematic.

          Anyway, semantics discussions can be endless. But the larger points hold.

          Thanks again.

          Cheers.
          Dom

          Reply
          • Fair enough, Dom. I don’t think any of this is nearly as problematic as some think. Just an extra sentence to describe what you’re doing with your leader can clear everything up. Go ahead and let the terms be loose–that’s my take. Thanks for the good work of education and explaining tactics. That’s where the gold is.

            Now pardon me while I go try to catch a trout with a Euro Rig and some split shot.

          • DO it! Ha. Thanks for your thoughts, Andy. Good things for me to think about. Cheers.

  11. Dom, another great article on the nuances of numphing. People have been fishing with bottom rigs using bait and lures in saltwater and freshwater around the world since ancient times. An old method of fishing that has been given a new name by competition fly fishers. Whether you put weight in your fly or add a split shot as lead weight is nothing new to the fishing world. Considering all types of fishing rigs one can set up and use the bottom bouncing or drop shot rig is the best rig to use in most fishing situations. Ninety percent of the time it will catch more fish per day than other types of rigging. I know because I have used, most of them, and that system is deadly. Thanks again for a great article.

    Reply
    • Cheers. I think there are new things in fishing all the time. But just like writing a new song, the same chords same chord progressions might be used, but with different turn of phrase or new riff, something familiar is tweaked. I encountered a lot of new ideas in my few decades of nymphing. But I agree that almost nothing can be truly novel anymore.

      Reply
  12. I feel like the industry (produces and) pushes far too many “standards”.

    Growing up, we did a lot of river fishing from the bank below a dam tight lining a single 1/16th or 1/8th oz jig for crappie and white bass and it worked great.

    I fly fished for almost 15 years with a standard WF line set up and had a love/hate relationship with it the whole time. Always felt like there was a disconnect between me and what I was fishing… then in 2019 I learned about the mono rig – boom – instantly I was connected again. What a beautiful thing in so many ways.

    First – it just makes sense.
    Second – I surely wasnt spending God knows what on a 2wt whippy stick or $75 on some “euro-fly-line” that literally never (or barely) leaves the rod tip.
    Third – I can build it how I want. Not stuck with a factory leader that does really only one or 2 things okay; and that also isn’t cheap in relative terms.

    I get that a big part of the industry is built on innovation, but they sure seem to tailor the innovation toward gear that only a fraction of the population can truly afford. But at the end, fishing is just fishing. Be it with a black/chartruse jig, or an pheasant tail above a dropshot. And, chickens are eggs.

    Reply
  13. Dom,

    Enjoyed this one. Especially the part about who did it first. Who cares ! The question should be, who is catching the most fish.

    Reply
    • Right on. Or, who’s having the most fun. Remember that many of us choose these rigs simply because they’re fun to fish. My goal, quite honestly, is not to catch the most trout. My goal is to fish well and enjoy doing it.

      Reply
  14. Dom ,u know you can answer like I do.
    Yea what ever,I’ll see you on the creek tomorrow.

    Reply
  15. Great discussion…hear’s my two-cents worth. Fishing styles come down to personal preferences. There is no right-wrong or best-worst way that fits everyone. The goal is to enjoy yourself and the style (or styles) that bring you the most enjoyment is what’s best for any given person. But, to really know your own preferred style, you have to experiment with at least a few different styles along the way. I used to say that I’d rather catch one trout on a dry than ten on nymphs. I went a whole year fishing only dries, then I went a whole year fishing only one dry pattern because of a “I bet you can’t…” sort of dare, then I came to my senses. With the help of info from Dom and Troutbitten, I learned (or rather am learning still) the mono-rig system and its versatility and have come to think this way:
    1) I’d still rather catch a trout on a dry than on a nymph
    2) I like casting a fly line more than casting a mono-rig (maybe when I get better it will be a tie)
    3) I’d rather catch some trout than no trout (although just being out there trying is it’s own reward when you hit a certain age)
    4) I can catch more trout on nymphs and a mono-rig than on dries most of the year
    5) I catch bigger trout on nymphs and a mono-rig (in the same places I fish dries)
    6) If I’m fishing thin blue lines for brookies it’s all-dries-all-the-time
    7) If I see any rise…that nymph is coming off and a dry cast with fly line is going on!

    Reply
    • I like what Bill says.
      I say if you stay within the regs have at it. See you on the creek.

      Reply
  16. I like euro nymphing as I find it the most relaxing way of fishing, and i find it rewarding catching fish that i have fooled into taking in a dead drift,also I can catch fish in conditions that may not be suitable for other types of fishing, I like to dry fly fish also, but one of the rivers I fish regularly does not seem to have any decent trout rises, I used to set up two rods for this river but I don’t bother now, as the dries rod barely gets called into action

    Reply
    • Good stuff. I just choose a versatile rod that can do anything. Like you, I prefer to meet the fish on their own terms. Usually that’s underneath. But when I see rising trout, I do not want to pass up that opportunity. I always found carrying two rods a major burden. One versatile rod does it for me. Streamers too.

      Reply
  17. Gawd, what a can of worms this topic is.
    The saying “opinions are like a…holes , everyone’s got one” surely applies to this topic.
    Who cares what others think often applies too.
    As an ex comp fisho from Aus I’ve also been though all the wringers. Comp fishing is a tough gig , and not for everyone(most).
    For me it took my fishing to the next levels, after having fly fished for 20 years starting in the early 80s, before this scurge called the Internet was around.
    But it comes at a cost, in many ways. It definitely narrows one’s focus. It has too, because you are after maximum points, not maximum pleasure.
    When I gave it up in 2008 my pleasure fishing reached a new level. I was free again to fish how I liked. Who cares how many.
    And by the way at world level there are many great fishos. Half the field could win. A lot of it is luck. There is no level playing field, bias can’t be prevented and it can put the best anglers at the bottom of the field , or at least way down. It is really a team event, and that is as it should be. On many occasions the best teams do tend to be at the top.The individuals
    should be a secondary consideration.
    Re the name euro nymphing- it took a long time to find a handle. It was Czech, it was Polish, it was French and Spanish and all contributed to the evolution, which continues.
    And make no mistake, dry fly is important too. Often more so.
    And the commercial interests in their various forms revel in it, what a money spinner.
    I love all sorts of disciplines, and will often leave the euro nymphing( or some aberration of it) alone until I need a fish on a tough day, because there’s always a fish to be had if I need one. On other days it s the first cab off the rank.
    Sighted nymph fishing, no indicator, now there’s some skill required.
    Dom, thanks for all your efforts at trying to clear the muddy water. But it s always going to get dirty somewhere.
    What a great forum you present.

    Reply
  18. I couldn’t finish the question without commenting .
    Mr/Ms. “competitive” flyfisher.
    Simply, no you do not fish against the best fly fishers. Numbers alone don’t make you good. The best is someone you never heard of and don’t want anyone know them.

    Reply
  19. Well written to address many problems folks have with “Euro nymphing”. I agree that it’s misnamed and limiting. I’ve called it “tight line” or “high stick” nymphing since way before Euro Nymphing was a thing. Before strike indicators or bead head nymphs came on the scene (about the mid-70’s) I learned to nymph with an orange butt section piece added so I could track the drift easier. Euro guys now call it a sighter. I also did spin rod nymphing with a “bounce Rig” (mono rig) that was popular in one form or another on the Provo River since the 30’s. Cortland came out with an exceptionally light fly line (Deep Nymphing Line) and I switched to that for much of my stream nymphing because it got a better drift, without the “drape effect” of weighted fly lines. Euro guys reinvented it and it’s called “Euro nymphing line” now. I didn’t like competition fishing because it seemed the Euro guys stuck regulations on it that specifically ruled out many American rigs and strategies. I could keep going but will end by saying that “fly Fishing” has evolved considerably and continues to evolve. Do it the way you like!

    Reply
  20. It isn’t flyfishing. Why not just stick a spinning reel on a fly rod to throw your jigs? But I don’t have a problem with people that can’t cast a fly rod doing it as a way to catch fish.

    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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