Updated: Sep 12, 2020
An extremely effective fly-fishing technique
Tight line nymphing is called many things – most commonly Euro nymphing, but also Czech nymphing or Polish nymphing. The champion fly-fisherman and acclaimed author, George Daniel, refers to it as ‘contact nymphing’. Whatever you call the technique, it seems to be getting a lot of attention as a very effective approach to fly-fishing for trout.
I have used the technique while fishing on the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers in British Columbia with professional guide, Clint Goyette of Valley Fishing Guides. But I generally fish the way many of us do, with a standard leader/tippet set up and floating indicator. Recently, I was reminded how effective the technique can be during a trip to one of my favorite local waters with a fishing companion who was netting 2 fish to each of my one with his tight line nymphing set up.
With my interest in the technique renewed, I turned to my favorite guide, now friend, Clint Goyette, to ask him how to convert to tight line nymphing. Clint has been using the technique for a dozen years and refers to the approach as Czech nymphing. While he admitted that I can use my standard 4 or 5 weight set up to tight line nymph, he urged me to consider a specialized set up designed for tight line nymphing. As he put it, “you can use any club to put a golf ball in the hole, but it is best to use a putter”.
As far as Clint is concerned, tight line nymphing is the most productive technique in his angler tool kit.Given that he has competed at national and world championships, his preference for the approach carries a lot of weight with me. Add to that, he has put me on some giant bull trout using the technique on the Squamish River!
The advantage to tight line nymphing is that it gets the fly down deep faster and facilitates a longer drift, as well as more time in the strike zone. With the proper presentation, Clint believes that by leading the fly you have more control and setting the hook becomes natural, in fact almost second nature. He believes it is particularly effective in bouldery streams where fish are holding in tight, deep locations.
What constitutes a specialized outfit designed for tight line nymphing? To start with a longer rod of at least 10 feet in length. The longer rod gives a much greater reach and allows you to cover more water – it also gives you better control in ‘leading’ the fly. These nymphing rods also have a softer tip, to accommodate the thinner fly line and tippet. The butt section of these rods is stiffer (called a ‘fighting butt’) which some anglers believe takes the pressure off your forearm when high-sticking. Tight lining set ups also call for a much longer tippet and a colored sighter leader, which acts as your indicator while fishing.
I am looking forward to migrating to tight line nymphing this fall, but not before I complete Clint’s online course on the basics of Czech nymphing, which I just received as a birthday present.