Did you happen to read last week’s post entitled Winter Fishing with Euro Nymphs? I wrote about fishing with a couple Euro nymphs, the Pheasant Tail Perdigon (body of Veevus Body Quill) on the bottom, or point, and a Rainbow Warrior Perdigon. I fished several times last week, experimenting with different nymph rigging techniques.

Rainbow with Pheasant Tail Perdigon | www.johnkreft.com

I’ve written over and over how much I enjoy fishing with dry flies. But I fish with nymphs periodically in the winter when I don’t see fish actively rising. Most of the time, that means the fish are close to the bottom feeding on anything in the “drift”…insects floating with the current.

In order to have any chance at all of hooking and landing fish, the fly fisher must present flies in the fish’s feeding lane. This is when nymph fishing is effective and perhaps the only method of catching fish that day.

This Rainbow Warrior is a nymph I’ve used in the winter the last few years…and it works!

Rainbow Warrior | www.johnkreft.com

But I wanted to do a little experimentation by fishing with Euro nymphs. Remember my comment above about locating the fly close to the bottom where fish are eating?

Many Euro nymphs are tied utilizing thread for the body and collar. The theory is to eliminate (or minimize) any dubbing to expedite the bead head nymph sinking to the river bottom where the fish eat. Put on a tungsten bead and let it quickly sink to the river bottom, like a pellet (hence the Spanish word, Perdigon).

Here is a Rainbow Warrior Perdigon nymph to compare different tying styles.

Rainbow Warrior Perdigon | www.johnkreft.com

The first day I used Euro nymphs with the same technique I always use a two-nymph set-up. I tied a nymph on and tied the dropper to the bend of the hook with an improved clinch knot. Then I tied the heavier fly on the dropper, which was about 15 inches long. (Read more in my post – How to Fish Unweighted Nymphs.)

The other days I decided to tie on a tippet ring to the end of my leader with an improved clinch knot. A tippet ring is a small circular ring to attach multiple lines. It offers a quick way to change leader and tie on different flies. I used a 15 – 18 inch length to attach the heaviest fly and another 6 inch length and tied on the smaller fly.

That was my set-up.

I cast upstream and tried to lead my rod tip in front of the flies as they drifted downstream and raised the tip to keep the line tight, manage slack, and eliminate drag. This method allows you to feel the fish strike quicker. It’s the technique Euro nympher’s use. To me, I call it high-sticking, a method I learned many years ago. My soft tipped 9 foot 5 weight Winston BiiX fly rod works very well for this type of fishing. To fish Euro nymph style, many fly fishers use a 10 foot 3 weight fly rod. This set-up offers advantages to use very light leaders, like 7X. I used 6X last week and seemed to do just fine.

Here are the flies that worked for me.

Euro Nymphs | www.johnkreft.com

These flies are the ones my friend Jeff Perin taught at a recent Central Oregon Flyfisher’s Winter Fly Tying class. He taught three of his favorite Euro nymphs – a Pheasant Tail Perdigon (plus my variant using a hot orange bead), Olive Perdigon, and Rainbow Warrior Perdigon.

The Pheasant Tail Perdigon caught the most fish. But it might have been because it was the bottom fly most of the time.

And then there’s this beauty…

Metolius Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

How about a couple Brown Trout!

Metolius River Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Metolius Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

To say it was an incredible week is an understatement. One of my friends believes I’ve gone over to the dark side and won’t go back. He fishes mostly dry flies as well. We’ll have to see about that.

I know fishing nymphs can be very effective. But there is a joy I feel seeing a nose and then the mouth open to eat my fly. Hard to explain the exhilaration.

All I can say is fishing the Euro nymph style can be very effective.

If you’d like more information about Euro nymphs, be sure to read my previous posts – More Euro Nymphs.

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. I use the drop shot method when fishing midges with 2 droppers. BB Shot on the bottom then 6-10” above a Midge Pupa (22-26) bottom fly and Midge Emerger (22-26) About 18” above that. Works great on the San Juan.

    1. Hi Mark

      Thanks for the Comment.

      Yes, I realize how effective the drop shot method can be. The Metolius used to restrict the use of split shot, so I got used to that and tied flies with weight in them. I still like that method. Somehow for me, I just don’t like the split shot…to each their own, which is the beauty of fly fishing. Having said that, it’s a technique Bill Seitz uses and would out fish me any day of the week!


  2. Thanks for the report.

    It would be interesting to compare the efficacy of various types of Euro nymphiing rigs with Bill Seitz’s drop shot technique.

    1. Alex

      Thanks for leaving a Comment.

      Bill is the master and I wouldn’t want to suggest his drop shot technique doesn’t work. I fish the Metolius a lot and it used to be split shot was illegal. I’m used to that and find it hard to put them on my leader…but that’s just me. Nothing wrong with the effectiveness of drop shot.


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