– [Host] Welcome, everyone,
to The New Fly Fisher. In this very special episode, we’re focused on learning the
basics of European nymphying, also referred to as
tight-line nymphing. Joining us, is Jesse
Haller, from Vermont, who’s a passionate
fan and instructor of this style of fly fishing. We’re on the Farmington
River in Connecticut, fly fishing for trout and learning about
this super deadly way of being successful,
even in tough conditions. Stay with us for this truly
educational learning experience. (peaceful guitar music) – [Host] Today we’ve traveled
to beautiful Connecticut, in early October to fish
the famous Farmington River. Usually this is a perfect
timing for fishing the Farmington, as water
levels should be low and quite reasonable. But unfortunately,
the region was hit with a major sustained
rainfall days before we arrived and storm systems continue
to blow through the region. The river is high
and somewhat murky, very tough conditions
for any angler. Thankfully we’re here to
learn about European nymphing, also known as tight-line
nymphing, from Jesse Haller. Jesse is helping me to
understand the principles of this deadly type
of nymph fishing, which is becoming
increasingly popular throughout North America. Jesse is a product development
specialist with Orvis and has been a major
force with the company for developing European
nymphing products. Jesse is also on the board
of directors for AFFTA and is passionate about
the growth of fly fishing in America. I am very excited to spending
the next several days with this exceptional angler! (happy orchestral music) – So Jesse, here we are
on the Farmington River, and really nice run,
there’s some other anglers just down below us, but
you’re gonna teach me a technique which I’ve been
hearing about for years. It’s another tool to
have in the tool kit. Can you talk to me about
this, and what type of fishing we’re going to be doing? – [Jesse] Well this
European style of nymphing technique has been a
really popular technique as of recent, certainly because it’s an extremely
effective way to nymph. And the reason why
it’s really effective is that it uses heavier
flies, and light tippet, and what that does, is
allows us to penetrate the water collum much faster, get our flies into
the strike zone, and give ourselves
some more opportunity. The more time in
the strike zone, the more time at the cafe, the
more time to get some food. This technique also
allows us to stay in relatively close
contact to our flies, unlike a suspension
device, or an indicator, we’re actually
creating some slack between the indicator
and the flies bellow, as well as slack between
our rod and our indicator. We’re running under, just
under tension right now with this rig, and that allows
us to instantly register what’s going on with
our flies down below. So if fish are a
little more finicky, and they touch the fly,
we’re gonna know about it through the sighter. – I think one of the first
things we’ve talked about that’s really
important, are the tools that we’re gonna be
using to do this. You just mentioned a sighter, so can you explain what the
tools are to get started here? – So typically, you’ll
see a lot of people use a 3 weight rod in this
situation, a 10 foot 3 weight rod, but it could
be 10 1/2 foot, 11 foot, but the 3 weight seems to
be this kind of sweet spot. And the way these rods
are actually designed is a very sensitive tip,
a pretty sensitive mid, and a nice strong butt section. Why this tool is
so great is that it creates a lot
of tip sensitivity, and when we’re tapping along
the bottom with our flies, it allows us to register
what is going on underneath, and once you’ve kind of
dialed in the technique, you’ll actually feel the
flies ticking on the bottom, which gives you the kind of
next level of sensitivity that you don’t necessarily get
with the suspension device. The longer rod helps with reach,
and kind of getting across, as you can see, it’s a
relatively decent size of water we’re on right here, and
because we’re typically fishing a little bit closer
to ourselves, and not throwing a
suspension device out there and bending to it, we
typically work a little bit closer, so the extra
length of the rod does help quite a bit with, you know,
manipulating the flies over complex currents and
keeping them in straight paths. – So you were
saying before, like, typically you’re
gonna fish out like, twice the length of the rod, – [Jesse] At most.
– [Host] At most, like 20 so you’re inside 20 feet. – [Jesse] You know, 2
times the length of the rod is really the maximum,
you may try to stay right under our rod tip
as much as possible, that allows us to be
much more in control of what’s going on, the
further we get away, that’s a little bit
less easy to control. So the closer we stay in,
the higher the ability to dissect the water in
much smaller portions, like grading off the water
and working in small portions, versus kinda throwing
something out there, and hoping you’re
in the right spot, never really knowing exactly
where your flies are. This technique, and with
the leading of the flies, allows us to really stay
in those small channels and really effectively
cover water. – The lead you’re using
here is kinda unique, you’ve got some
colored line up here, and it’s a fairly long
one, you’ve got a tag, you’ve got, so you’re
using a 2 fly system, obviously legal
here in Connecticut. What is the general
rule for the leaders? – [Jesse] Well,
you can kinda break a European nymphing leader
down into 2 sections, kind of your upper leader,
and then your sighter, and then your lower leader. There’s a million different
formulas in the world on how you build
your upper leader. Very simply you can use a 9
foot 2X or a 9 foot 0X leader, and then you’re gonna
attach about an 18-24 inch sighter material, which is
the colored monofilament that you noted, that’s our
kind of strike indicator if you will, it also
really gives us a good idea of what’s going
on with our flies. We can follow our sighter
down, and it tells us where our flies are. Below that I have a
tippet ring tied on, a 2mm stainless steel ring, and that’s just for
ease of rigging. It ends at the sighter material,
and starts at the piece of fluorocarbon tippet below it. Now fluorocarbon tippet
below it is all one diameter, and that helps a lot with
helping the sink rate. Here you have
5Xútippet material on, so that should sink
relatively fast, combined with the
heavier chunks of flies you’re gonna put on bellow. As you come down
the tippet material, there’s a tag in, where we
use a Double Surgeon’s Knot to create about a
smaller 4-6 inch tag, and then 18-20 inches of
the remaining material, so you can put two flies on it. – One of the biggest
problems I have when I’m indicator fishing,
whether it’s for steelhead, on a great lakes tributary, or it’s on a trout
river like this, is that the indicator,
what’s happening at the top, with water flow, versus
what’s happening down below, is completely different speeds,
and I know the velocities are impacting my presentation,
and this gives me a lot more time in the
kill zone, as we call it, or eating zone. Can your explain a
little about that, and what that
velocity change does, and what the advantage is
of what we are doing here, compared to using and indicator? – Absolutely, if we were
to kinda cross section a piece of river, looking at
our top flow, kinda the middle, and all the way down to what
we’re calling the strike zone and the kill zone down
there on the bottom, they would be moving at
different velocities. The top is typically almost
some of the fastest water, and as you come down,
just a little bit, that’s basically the fastest
portion of the river, so we need to make sure we
get through that top portion as fast as we can,
because the bottom part is considerably slower. When you know you’re
in the strike zone, you’re watching the bubbles
move much faster than your strike indicator,
or your sighter material, and that’s already telling
you that your flies are moving much slower
than what’s going on on the surface of the water. This technique, with the
weighted flies and the tippet, really helps it get
down, simply because, the thinner the diameter
of the material, the faster that it will sink, and certainly with that
top portion of the river, we wanna really get down as
fast as we can through that. With a traditional leader, you have a much thicker butt
section there on the top, and that’s considerably
faster than the bottom, so with a traditional
leader with that thick butt section, that’s gonna get
caught up in that faster water much easier, because it’s a
much thicker diameter material. With using 1 single
diameter like we are today with 5X, that’ll get
through that much faster, and not to mention it’ll
also be much more resilient as the current pulls on it,
and keeping our flies lower in the water collum, they’re
much more in the strike zone. (peaceful guitar music) – Its all yummy
looking in the water – Yeah – We can just start
wherever, I mean, there’s only a few
defining characteristics throughout the,
this stretch here, they’re kinda looking for ya. – [Host] Look at that pan
there, it keeps coming up, there’s some rocks there.
– [Jesse] Yeah. So for the cast, it’s
not all too different from how you would
traditionally cast. One of the challenges
that people kinda, at first kinda come across
when they are fishing, is just simply that
we have a long leader, we have a thin fly line,
and we have some heavy flies on the end. We may choose to just
come and do a traditional kind of forward cast, just
being a little more patient for allowing the flies
to come front and back, and once we’ve kinda
set our distance, and we’ve kinda set this as
the distance we’re gonna fish within, towards the
end of the drift, rather than coming
straight back up and doing another forward cast,
we may choose to simply do a flip cast, in which case,
we’re just gonna point, bring it forward, and there
we go, we’re back in the game. – [Host] The rod tip basically
leads the line, right? – [Jesse] That is correct yes. So with the drift, unlike a
traditional or an indicator rig, where we may actually lay
some slack on the water, we’re gonna keep our line up, we’re gonna have just a
little bit of sag in the line. Notice how there’s just
a little bit of sag in the slider material, and
you’ll notice it ticking the bottom once in a while. Get down to about right
there, that’s about the end of your drift, if
you go much further, you’re actually gonna start
pulling your flies closer to the bank, it’s gonna
cause a little bit of drag, so you’re fishing about
45 up, and maybe 25 down, so a little bit kinda
like that, not a full 90. 70 degrees lets call it. – [Host] But that whole drift, you’re pretty much on
the bottom the whole- – [Jesse] That’s
correct, absolutely. So with that light tipping
material, and those heavy flies, it allows us to get
down pretty quick, and I’m simply just
leading that sighter, maybe collecting a
little bit of slack, kinda leading it down, just
staying right in front of it, so the second one of
those gets snagged here, you can see the sighter
wanna stop the second that it makes contact
with the bottom. – And what are you looking
for, in terms of a strike, I mean, you’re going tick
tick tick and all of a sudden bump or stop right? – So the sighter does
resonate a whole lot, because we’re leading
in front of it, the second that
something happens, it will resonate
through the sighter, through a tick, or
a stop, or whatever. Sometimes it’s a very
aggressive shot forward, that’s very clearly a fish,
sometimes it’s just a stop in the sighter that will
just indicate that a fish has eaten it, and they may
not have as aggressively take in some situations. So as we’re leading the flies,
we really wanna make sure that we’re not
pulling them too fast. That’s why we kinda look for
that subtle drape in the line. We don’t want it to
be completely taught, we simply wanna just
stay in front of it, if we’re moving too
fast, you’ll notice that the sighter
stays really tight. That means we’re probably
pulling our flies a little bit too fast, if we go too
slow, our sighter will kinda start to loop underneath
us, and we’ll actually loose sensitivity with the flies,
so what we are trying to do is just match that current
flow, and just let that sighter be just under tension, and wait, and you should be able
to feel slight resonance of the bottom through
the rod, and certainly the sighter material will tell
you if anything does happen. So we’ve had a couple emerging
insects and a few rises, so I switched over to
a couple soft hackles, I’m just gonna popping it
along just off the bottom, trying to give a little
bit of a movement with some soft hackles, and
it did just induce a strike, so we’re gonna try doing that
and see if that does anything, as we kinda work back
across this water where we saw some fish earlier. (upbeat guitar music) – [Host] The rain kept
coming down off and on, throughout the day. Despite this and
the rising water, I was learning a
great deal from Jesse about the techniques
for European nymphing. – We’re in a little
bit deeper water here, so I’m fishing with a
little bit more weight, trying to get my flies
down into that lower part of the river, so casting
just a little bit further than I normally would. Once those flies set up,
I’m simply leading my rod right out in front of the
flies, really carefully trying to match
that current speed. I’m doing a little bit
of hand tending here, as the flies come
down the stream at me, and that allows
me to keep my rod at a good hook setting position. If I move my rod too much,
I actually loose a lot of my hook set, so I
don’t have as much power, but if I tend my line, right
here, just very carefully as I’m moving the rod
slowly, I can preserve a lot of the hook setting power
as it comes down the river. The other great thing
about the sighter material, is that because everything’s
in a straight line, if I was looking down my
sighter I know my flies are following right down that,
so I know exactly which part of the river my flies
are coming down. So when I reset, I wanna move
a little bit further out, I just simply go out
a little bit further, and that sighter will tell
me, yup I am a little bit further out, so I’m not
covering the same water, but really breaking
down the water into a much smaller
portion, thus covering the water much better. So when you look at
a run kinda similar to what we’re fishing
here, at a quick glance, it’s relatively uniform. What we try to do is
break it down into grid, and we might take out casting
distance, maybe 15-20 feet down in front of us, and
kinda pick that as our lane, and kinda just work our
way out into the river, fishing that lane, and
with this technique again, we can be relatively precise
with where we’re casting, and where our flies
are, so we may kinda choose a little lane,
a little bubble line, and we’re gonna work that. Once we feel like we’ve covered
that bubble line well enough or that 6 inches, or that
12 inches really well, we’re just gonna take
that next little lane that looks really good, and
start running casts down that. And then simply wade out
a little bit further, and try keep that lane
kinda coming straight across the river, and once
you get to a point where you can’t wade enough or you don’t want to
disturb that far water, maybe you’ll come back and
fish from the other bank, you’ll come back, slide
upstream another 20 feet or so, 25 feet so you’re kinda creating
a new section, and then, fish that thing exactly
like we were talking about, just going right down that
lane, picking all those kinda micro scenes,
and kinda coming out, just gridding the
water, allowing you
to really affectively cover all the water. And if we fished a lane and
didn’t have a lot of action, we may make some subtle
adjustments like fly-way, fly selection, tippet diameter,
to improve our opportunity maybe on the next lane. – [Host] We were
fortunate to be able to find accommodations
literally right on the river during our stay. Legends On The Farmington River has become well-known to anglers for their wonderful
accommodations and
convenient location on some of the best trout
waters in the region. It’s a great sportsman
lodge for families, friends and even large groups. During the remainder of
the day and into the night we were hit with another
down pour of rain and the river went from a
norm of 540 cfs to 1700 cfs. The true meaning of
tough conditions! But I had faith that Jesse
would be able to put us on fish and use European nymphing
techniques to catch trout, even in these high
water conditions. On our second day,
Jesse and I were joined by professional guide and
Orvis shop manager Ed Fowler. Ed is a consummate angler, and passionate about
the Farmington River. Best of all, he is really
funny and entertaining person to spend the day with. – So the normal flows most
people will kinda fish this pool, trying to get out
towards the tree over here and that far bank, but when
the water comes up like this, you’ll kinda see that softer
water up here on the left, and most of the fish will
actually slide up onto this kinda gravel and sand
where Jesse’s fishing here, and it’s a great
opportunity to capitalize on some of those bigger fish. – [Jesse] We’ve got the high
water going on right now. I’ll try to go to the high water
game, get some heavy flies. Something that they can
see, larger protein snacks, so we went with the large kinda
crane fly larvae imitation called the mop. Nice big protein, looking fly. Get their attention. – You all right?
– Oh, that’s a good one. – There we go,
there he is, nice. Nice, good fish. – Yup, there we go, just kinda
prospecting that cross stick grating off that
water, trying to find, kinda work through the fish. All right! – There you go! – Pretty little fish. – [Host] Like every sport, fly
fishing has its innovations and right now, one of the
biggest-and the most productive is European Style Nymphing. Fly fisherman in Czechoslovakia,
Poland, and France perfected Euro-nymphing
and today anglers throughout North
America and learning to embrace this stye of fishing. So why should you try
it out the next time you hit the water? It’s really quite simple. Because, Euro-nymphing is
absolutely one of the best and most effective means of
breaking down sections of river and allowing you to fish
virtually every inch of it. As Jesse haller has taught
me these past two days, once you get the hang
of European nymphing, not only will you learn
all the small differences on a rivers bottom
but more importantly, you will become a far more
effective and successful angler. We hope you enjoyed this episode and our thanks to Jesse
Haller for helping us learn more about this wonderful
means of fishing. Take care and we hope to
see you on the water soon! Hi! I’m Tom Rosenbauer For videos like the one
you just saw and more Subscribe to our channel You don’t want to miss our
weekly uploads of Educational Videos, Exciting trips, and much more.


  1. Great job boys. I love the Farmington, being a local myself ! Dead drifting soft hackles has always been a favorite method for me. When the fly is on the rise and swing in the water column can be a killer ! Thanks for the video 👍

  2. Definitely trying this nymphing technique this summer, gotta fish the Farmington too, very nice.

  3. Very informative well-done video. Wish it wasn't filmed on my home water lol but, great content.

  4. This seems to me a way to sell us more equipment. New small weight long rods, the new reels to go with them, and the million versions of leader/tippets. I'm not sold…

  5. This fishing technique is not fly fishing, it's touch fishing with artificial, but anyway you can also use the worm, maybe catch more fish.
    Greetings giovanni

  6. I’ve been fishin this way about 2 years now. Big producer. Days of getting skunked are long gone.

  7. Except for the technical setup, they've been 'Euro nymphing' on the Upper Sacramento River since the early 1900's by Wintu tribesman, Ted Towendolly and later Ted Fay. Basically the same drift technique except Ted Fay didn't have any "sighter" section of line, but instead he'd to follow his connection knots. The bigger the knot the better, especially as he got older I suppose.

  8. Why are these guys fishing Helios instead of Recon 10ft 3wt? Isn't the Recon designed for Euronymphing while the helios in that configuration is just a nymphing rod?

  9. Eastern Pennsylvania in fall and end of summer when the water is low; rain and thunderstorms is a good sign for great fishing.

  10. You can slow down your drift with a regular rig by adding more length between the indicator and the flies ,you can also slow it down on the bottom by adding a little more weight ,thats how i do it

  11. Your average fisherman needs to use a indicator, not everyone is a pro

  12. This is the best video I've seen on this topic. I'm just getting into euro nymphing and this helped a lot.

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