Euro Nymphing, Grayling Fly Fishing Scotland

When I first heard about the Euro Nymphing techniques I was sceptical of them as a way of catching fish.

When you are more accustomed to casting longer distances far away from your presence in the river, the notion of fishing your flies almost underneath your rod tip and still catching fish seems, well, ludicrous really. Surely fish would be spooked by your presence?

However, it really does work and is an incredibly effective way of catching fish.

I adopt this method when fishing for Wild Grayling here in Scotland, and if you have never tried it before I would highly recommend that you do as this method will also catch trout feeding under the surface.

So in this post I wanted to share with you my own preferred set up which is relatively inexpensive to get started if you are new to this style of fishing, but is also really simple to set up and most importantly...effective at catching fish.

My ingredients for a successful Euro Nymphing style set up. I break the leader down into three sections connected by tippet rings, 9M of Camou, 2.5 feet of Rio Indicator Tippet and around 12ft of Stroft Mono, where I then tie my team of three nymphs.

Let's start with the Rod and Reel.

I use a Shakespeare Agility 10 ft 3 weight rod paired up with an Agility 3/4 weight reel filled up with backing only rather than the traditional backing and fly line set up. This rod can be picked up for a really great price at almost all well known tackle shops and really does provide great value for money.

I find this combination is really light in the hand which is important when you are holding the rod at arms length for long periods of time.

The length and weight of the rod are essential as there is no casting involved in this style of fishing. Instead of a traditional cast, you simply raise the rod once your nymphs have fished out downstream, and re-position them back upstream in a lobbing motion.

The soft action of the long and light rod will ensure that it loads quickly and easily, and gives just enough purchase to help you reposition your nymphs exactly where you want them.

The length of the rod will help you maintain control of your nymphs avoiding any unintended drag.

Constructing the Leader

I use a 9M long Camou French leader as the first section which is attached directly to the backing in my reel.

This helps keep the set up nice and stealthy for fishing in close and as it has a long taper, it helps with the repositioning of the nymphs back upstream.

To the Camou leader I then tie a tippet ring. Personally, I carry the riverge tippet rings in 1.5mm and 2.0mm sizes as I find them really reliable.

For the middle section I then tie on around 2.5 feet of the Rio two-tone indicator tippet which I find really easy to see, and it has excellent bite detection which is crucial to pick up on those soft takes.

Tie on another tippet ring to the end of the Indicator section, and I then use Stroft ABR as the final section of the leader.

I carry the Stroft in 1.8KG and 2.3KG breaking strain but mainly use the 1.8KG spool to be honest and the length of this section will depend on the water you are fishing.

As a general rule, I would recommend always setting up longer as you can always cut this final section off at the tippet ring and simply shorten and re-attach with minimal fuss.

Personally, I start off by using around 12ft of Stroft which I find works well in most conditions. If the water level is up though, I would add another few feet to this to complete the leader.

Choosing the Flies

I fish with a 3 fly set up with two droppers tied from the same breaking strain of Stroft as I have used for the final leader section.

Make sure the droppers are really short though as this will help reduce tangles so they don't need to be any longer than 3 - 4 inches in length. I leave around 1ft of space between each fly.

When fishing for Grayling, they are bottom feeders so it's key to ensure that your flies are getting down to where they are feeding.

This will require the use of three weighted nymphs and depending on the water conditions, I often also add some shot above the top dropper to help cut through any current. This ensures my flies are getting down quickly and fishing well.

On fly patterns, it doesn't have to be too complicated. I personally try to choose a natural nymph to imitate what they would be feeding on so a Hare's Ear or Peeping Caddis are favourites of mine, but with Grayling they also like a bit of bling!

They will often take a bright pink bug so I will always ensure I have one on every cast, as even if they don't take that option, I believe it serves as an attractor pattern and definitely grabs their attention.

I would then opt for a pattern somewhere in between such as a Hare's Ear with a pink or red bead/tag.

Hints and Tips

The best piece of advice I can share when fishing this method, is that stealth and careful wading are the keys to success and remember that there could be fish within feet of you so when you step down the river after every couple of casts, do so quietly and carefully.

When approaching the water you have to ensure that you are not casting any shadows or making any undue noise as you will find Grayling close in to the bank.

Casting a shadow over a pool, especially in clear water, can spook the fish and you will have ruined your chances for at least a while.

You should also focus on the creases in the river as well as foam lines as these are likely Grayling lies and continued focus on searching all of these areas will help increase your chances of catching a Wild Grayling rather than searching the river aimlessly.

When you are fishing your team of nymphs, you should ensure that sufficient tension in the line is maintained at all times and keep a finger on the leader to feel how they are behaving. You should be able to feel your nymphs touching the rocks and that helps confirm that you are at the right depth.

When you know you're fishing at the right depth, and you see the indicator section move at all in any way that goes against the current, set the hook.

Most often this will be a nymph catching a snag but it could also be a fish. Grayling have lightning quick reactions and failure to react to that indicator moving will mean that you have missed a chance. Never assume it's just a snag!

Unfortunately though, being at the right depth will also mean that you will get snagged and always have the chance of losing some flies in the process.

To save some time if this happens you can have a number of rigs already pre-prepared and set up ready to go using foam rig holders.

If you do lose a rig you can then cut off the remainder of the final section of the leader, peel your pre-prepared rig off the foam rig holder and re-tie straight onto the tippet ring and that will get you back in the water a lot more quickly.

From personal experience, there is nothing worse than losing your rig on a bad snag and having to exit the pool. Only for one of your mates to come through and take your place, hooking into a nice fish whilst you are still tying your flies back on that should have been yours!

I hope you give the Euro Nymphing technique a try if you haven't already as I'm confident you will find it to be a really rewarding way of fishing.