Euro nymphs, or what some call tactical nymphs, come from the competitive side of the fly fishing community which depend on catching as many fish as possible within a timed contest. These barbless nymphs were developed for the European style of nymphing called Euro Nymphing.
Euro Nymphing is a technique of maintaining strict control over your fly line in an effort to detect the slightest of fish strikes. Nymph anglers do this by reducing slack in their line by keeping the rod high with a near taught line. But, they keep just enough slack in their line to create a slight ‘bow’ that indicates a fish strike by that ‘bow’ spontaneously tightening. Once they see that bow straighten ever so slightly, they set the hook. Chances of success are really good in that the hook either lodges into a fishes mouth or a rock. Usually, it is a rock.
Nymphing in the European style is incredibly fun and does prove to catch a significant amount of fish. If you do give it a try, here are some of our favorite euro nymphing patterns that offer strong hook sets and help reduce snagging with their barbless hooks.
This competition style euro fly is designed to penetrate the water column quickly and get down to the strike zone and keep them in the strike zone. Tied with dense steel hooks and tungsten beads, they drop fast into feeding lanes. These flies feature a barbless hook and a very long claw point. Even without the barb, the elongated claw point helps you hook nearly every fish and hold them on firmly. Minimizing the handling of fish is important as well. Barbless hooks allow you to release a trout swiftly without doing any major harm to it.
An excellent all-purpose nymph pattern that features a long gap tactical jig hook for better hookups and improved euro nymphing. European nymphers needed flies that would ride along the bottom without getting snagged. Eventually, they came up with competition flies featuring an inward curvature that lessens the chance of a snag.
The rough and tumble appearance coupled with a jigged hook will fool trout everywhere caddis call home. The dark olive appearance takes it even another step further in imitating caddis larvae with a bit of flash. Jig hooks provide a better hook set and help reduce snagging on the bottom.
Rather than imitate naturals, this pattern is an attractor fly, which is designed to grab and hold a fish’s attention. In my own nymphing rigs, I either fish this single or coupled with another fly or two. When paired with another fly, I always make sure to put this nymph at the bottom of the rig.
A hot flashy nymph for fast and deep pools. As it is a jigged nymph, you can let the Newbury’s Dirty PT Hot Pink fly roll along the bottom with fewer risks of snags. Start by focusing your casts within fast currents that run directly into long, deep riffles. More importantly, because takes will be subtle, use a small visual indicator.
This variation of a prince nymph is great for two reasons, 1. it has tons of flash and 2. it offers lots of movement. Typically, we pair this pattern with bulky flies that get held up in the water column like squirmy worms. As a heavier jig nymph we throw this at the bottom of nymph rigs so it can drag the other flies down through fast flows.
For every fish that’s caught matching the hatch, there might be five more that are caught using a solid attractor nymph. Enter the B Smo’s Deep Purple. The curved jigged hook and rugged body make it perfect for tumbling freestone streams and wild trout. With its flashy purple body and tungsten bead, it gets down deep and grabs the attention of trout. We love to use this pattern as a prospecting fly to see where trout are holding.
We love this pattern for streams that have high populations of net-spinning caddifly larva. Lift up a few rocks and check your local streams. They are naturally a bright green color and net themselves against rocks in fast flow water.
UV is a perfect material for early season muddy water. If the trout can’t see our flies, they can’t eat them! The brushy nature of this maggot with the hotspot behind the bead add even more to a fly that should be on rigs across the country during this high water time of year.
There’s something about the thin, but flashy, tail that drives trout wild! It’s a slender pattern that’s built for sinking quick and this pattern is a staple among backcountry fishers from both the East and the West. On freestone streams with quick drifts and narrow windows, this is a fly to have. It has just enough flash for attracting and just a hint of a natural’s body to fool over-fished trout.
If the looks of this fly don’t get you ready for warmer weather and swarms of mayflies nothing will! The prominent tail and two-toned head signify the always productive PMD (Pale Morning Dun), and fishers across the country have multiple versions of this classic in their fly box for good reason.
These micro streamers are an absolute favorite as a lead fly in our nymphing rigs. It has a hefty tungsten bead and a large hook gap for solid hook-ups. As an added bonus, the marabou and rubber legs give this streamer some great movement as you tight-line nymph this or, if you choose to, jig it across the current.
Here is another suggestion for your anchor flies. Add this heavy-duty Girdle Bug on the end of your nymph rigs for a fast dive to the bottom. The rubbery legs add plenty of movement as it tumbles across the bottom and you can practically feel it’s tungsten bead slamming into every rock.
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