Euro-Nymphing the Chattooga
Any avid fly fisherman will tell you that the pursuit never stops. We talk to each other, we read, watch videos, attend seminars; all in the hope of gaining new insight to make time spent on the water more productive. Sometimes it’s as simple as a new tying technique or slight alterations in rigging. Sometimes major transformations occur. I am currently going through one of those major transformations, exploring the world of Euro-style nymphing.
Fellow Headwaters guide Chris Grose has been trying to sell me on this stuff all summer. At first, I shrugged it off. As I thought about it more it occurred to me that this actually makes a lot of sense. Fishing on a tight line means you can more precisely fish every little thread of a run and if you’re doing it correctly will miss very few strikes. I talked to Chris, who fishes competitively, and procured a copy of the Euro-nymphing bible, Dynamic Nymphing, by George Daniel.
I also procured a new toy, a 10 foot 3 weight rod specifically designed for this style of fishing. Last week we were blessed with perfect weather and I was blessed with a couple of days off and quickly took the opportunity to go out and play with my new toy.
Last Wednesday my girlfriend Lee and I along with our 2 cattle dogs hiked down into an undisclosed location on the Chattooga River. If you fish and have never been on the Chattooga it’s a river you have to check out. If you have been on the Chattooga for fishing or paddling you know what a special place it is. We forewent setting up camp to get fishing right away. Lee looked at me with one eyebrow raised as I rigged up my new nymphing system. In lieu of my normal strike indicator I tied in a piece of brightly colored indicator tippet and ran a tag line off the tippet for my second nymph. “We’ll see what happens,” I muttered as we approached the river.
What happened, for the first hour or so, was nothing. I was having a hard time getting my flies to hit the bottom before leading them through the runs on a tight line. I stared intently at the indicator tippet wondering if I was missing strikes, not entirely sure exactly what to look for. This area looked fishy as hell and I knew there were trout to be taken, but couldn’t induce a definite strike. Feeling discouraged, I contemplated chopping everything off and going back to my old system. I resisted this temptation, trying to convince myself that with practice this would work for me. I assumed the problem was that my flies were not hitting the bottom, where 90% of the trout would be found. I made some adjustments to get my flies deeper and it wasn’t long after that something happened. As I led my flies through a promising looking run that indicator tippet suddenly made a noticeable jump. Strike! And there it was, my first trout on the Euro-nymphing system, a 10 inch wild rainbow. I was elated. This is it, I thought, this is the beginning of a whole new thing.
I quickly picked up a few more fish, several of which I actually felt eat the flies rather than relying on the indicator. My drifts began feeling full of potential and even catching relatively small rainbows and browns on the long 3 weight rod was a blast. The whole trip was a blast. Connecting with the river and its surroundings, connecting with each other after a hectic summer full of work, wearing out the dogs, throwing mouse patterns under the stars in search of a monster,(none found), and experimenting with a different style of fishing that I truly believe with a little more practice will be more productive. The pursuit never stops.
If you want to learn more about Euro-Nymphing, join us December 12th at 7:00pm at Headwaters Outfitters. Chris Grose will be on hand for a seminar and Q & A! Click Here for more details.