Nymph Flies

Euro Nymphing Flies Explained (Drifting Deep)

Euro nymphing has grown in popularity here in North America, because it works.  I would even say that with the right river conditions fly fishing with euro nymph flies should be the first technique you use when assessing a river. 

Fundamentally, Euro nymph flies are heavily weighted flies with trim bodies to reduce water resistance so the fly sinks quickly.  Often the fly will use a jig style hook to reduce snags by keeping the hook point up. The line and fly rod setup further allows the fly to drop into the “fish zone” with a longer fly rod guiding the fly.

Characteristics of Euro Nymphs
Characteristics of Euro Nymphs

Like many fly fishing techniques specialized equipment has evolved to make this method more effective.  This includes the flies, fly lines, longer fly rods and fly line leaders. Don’t let the specialization stop you from using this technique.  Your regular setup can be adapted to add the core principles to use euro flies.

More anglers are joining the euro nymphing bandwagon. The main reason for its growing popularity is simply because it is the easiest fly fishing method that can increase your hook-up rate. 

Some key environmental conditions should be considered when tying on a euro nymph fly.

  • Water flow – euro flies can work in stillwaters, but this type of fly works best when the current drifts the fly to the fish.
  • River bottom – the river bed should be relatively clean of woody debris. Bouncing a euro fly through areas with sunken logs is a sure way to snag and lose flies.
  • Short casts – the angler needs to be able to guide the fly through the holding water, which requires shorter casting distances. (Hence the use of longer fly rod lengths)
  • Wadable water depths – casting 15 feet from your rod tip requires the angler to get close to the fish.  Wading in a current up to your armpits isn’t safe.

So, in this article, you will learn everything about euro nymphing flies and the best patterns to adopt for your next fishing trip.

What is Euro Nymphing?

Fly fishing has had many inventions over the years, and currently, the best and most productive one is Euro nymphing. Euro nymphing was perfected by the anglers in France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia before competitive anglers adopted it as their winning technique.

Guide Tip: If you’re looking for a little bit more on this confusing technique check out my article -> Experimenting with Euro Nymphing

As more anglers discovered this method’s effectiveness, it showed up online. Fly anglers adopted it in North America. Today, Euro Nymphing has featured in many angling magazines, and firms have started producing specialized tools for this technique.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering what this fishing technique is and why you should adopt it. Well, Euro nymphing is quite different from the traditional fishing methods. This technique uses a long leader, a thin tippet, and heavy flies to get the bait down faster.

To do this, you need a different setup, especially since you’re not using the weight of the fly line to cast the fly, but you’re using the weight of the fly and the fly line to cast quicker. (source)

Euro Nymphing allows you to explore the rivers in a unique way. This fly fishing technique lets you split the river into different parts and explore every inch of the river step-by-step. Plus, you can cast it the usual way or just let the flow of the river sink your insect.

When done correctly, you’ll hook more fish within the shortest time, by getting your bait/fly into the “fishy zone” where the fish are holding.  (source)

Qualities of Great Euro Nymphing Flies

Go back to the basics – think about matching the hatch, but with a really heavy fly. Pickup a river stone and check the bottom, another place to look is sunken shoreline logs.  Strip the bark and inspect.  Green caddis? Brown crawlers? Stonefly? Match the size and color, then select a fly with the weight to sink, but still drift.

Zebra Midge for Euro Nymphing
Zebra Midge for Euro Nymphing

Choosing the right fly can be pretty tricky. So here are some of the factors to consider when picking the right Euro nymphing fly include:

1)   Fast Sinking Rate

What makes euro nymphing successful is that your fly maximizes it’s time in front of the fishes’ nose.  I know that sound silly, but a regular nymph flutters down in the water column, getting pulled and redirected by the line and conflicting currents.  The heavy weight of a euro nymph (using tungsten beads and lead wire) combined with a thin fly line setup rockets the nymph to the bottom.

Remember, if the fly takes a long time to get to the bottom, it isn’t where the fish are. (source)

Guide Tip: Casting nymphs is a little tricky. I’ve got a casting guide to get you pointed in the right direction. (PUN) Read the article here -> Nymph Casting Techniques

2)   The Profile of the Fly

Another feature that will affect its sinking rate is its profile. A buggy and thick fly won’t sink faster than a slender one. So, a considerable percentage of Euro Nymphing flies have slim tapered bodies. The trick is to keep them thin and slender but still realistic. (source)

3)   Trigger Points – Colors and Flash

Another key feature is the inclusion of some trigger points. In most cases, the trigger points may be the addition of flash materials, brightly colored beads, tail, or fluorescent colors. These trigger points can help attract the fish and make the fly stand out. (source)

The Best Euro Nymphing Flies in the Market:

1)   Perdigon Nymph

Perdigon Euro Nymph
Perdigon Euro Nymph – photo credit UMPQUA

The Perdigon nymph is an exceptional nymph that has migrated from competition fishing found in most recreational stores. This nymph has all the characteristics of an exceptional nymph.

It has a large tungsten bead, a pronounced wing case, and a slim tapered body. On top of that, it comes with two trigger points.

Its thorax is made from fluorescent materials, and its body is made from some flashy materials. This nymph is available in a wide range of colors, with the most common sizes being from 12 to 18mm. (source)

2)   Jig Head Flashback Hare’s Ear

Flashback Hares Ear Nymph - jighead
Flashback Hares Ear Nymph – jighead – photo credit UMPQUA

Maybe you’ve heard the adage for nymphs.  “Use something brown and about 3/8 inch long” What describes that quote better than a Hare’s Ear.  Hare’s ear nymphs should be a fly in every fly box. 

When the water speed increases and you have a cobble bottom river, reach for a jig head version. I like size 14 with a chrome or black tungsten bead.

3)   The Frenchie

Frenchie Euro Nymph
Frenchie Euro Nymph – photo credit UMPQUA

The Frenchie is an exceptionally adaptable nymph. It is tied using similar materials as the Gun, but with a few tweaks that make it ideal for Euro Nymphing. The first adaptation is the jig hook which points upwards, resulting in fewer snags at the bottom of the river.

The second adaptation is its fluorescent color right behind the beads. For most Frenchies, the makers prefer using either fluorescent pink or orange, which fish can spot from a distance. (source)

4)   Caddis Nymph

Caddis Euro Nymph - heavy beadhead
Caddis Euro Nymph – heavy beadhead

The caddis nymph is mounted on a curved shank, giving it a more natural appearance. This nymph has a bulkier appearance, which may turn off for some anglers. But what it lacks in sink rate compensates for it in its profile appearance.

This nymph is available in a wide range of sizes and colors, which makes it available for almost every river on the planet. (source)

5)   Beadhead Zebra Midge

The Zebra Midge is another exceptional nymph that resembles a midge larva. I’d call this nymph an original euro nymph, but when it was developed words like euro nymph weren’t being used. It has all the classic characteristics of a Euro nymph though. The traditional nymph has a black body with silver wire and beadhead. A

My favorite size is 14 to 18. I’ve tied this on a jighead hook, but I didn’t see an increase in my hook rate. Mimicking a the larva stage this natural bonces along the bottom making it a perfect bug to imitate.

A favorite color for me is red. The in the below video you get a chance to see how fast this fly is to tie.

Before transforming from larva to the adult stage, some air bubbles form on its exoskeleton. The midge nymph represents this stage of its life. This nymph comes with a heavy bead and a slim profile that allows it to sink fast. It is available in various colors, including olive, black, brown, and red. (source)

6)   Walt’s Sexy Nymph

Walts Sexy Nymph - classic Euro Nymph Style
Walts Sexy Nymph – classic Euro Nymph Style

If you’re a beginner and are looking for the best nymphs for your fishing arsenal, then you should try Walt’s nymphs. The Walt’s nymph was developed in the 1980s by Walts Young in Pennsylvania, and it imitates a wide range of larva. This unique nymph’s hook is always facing upwards, which allows for fewer snugs. You can add a fluorescent color behind the bead to serve as a trigger point. (source)

7)   Rainbow Warrior

Rainbow Warrior Nymph
Rainbow Warrior Nymph

Every angler should have another unique euro nymph is the Rainbow Warrior. This nymph is easy to tie and is a “go to” nymph for me when clouds overcast the water. I like the curved hook shank style, my opinion that it increases strikes.

Plus, it is available in a wide range of sizes and colors. However, its sink rate is not as fast as the other options in our list. But it is an excellent option for fishing in slower water. So, a well-equipped bait box should always include the Rainbow Warrior.

8)   Squirmy Wormy Jigged

Jighead Squirmy Worm
Jighead Squirmy Worm – photo credit UMPQUA

I get harped on quite a bit because of my love for “squirmy worms”, I can’t help it though.    The jig head version of the squirmy worm has increased its effectiveness for me.  Fast to tie and with a tungsten bead, these little beauties sink fast.

I’ll freely admit they aren’t the most durable fly, but if something works you’ve got to go with the flow.

Guide Tip: For fly tiers save those beat up squirmies – especially those tungsten bead versions.  Cut off the old material and re-tie with a new body.


Do You Need a Special Fly Line When Euro Nymphing?

No, when starting out, concentrate on using a long leader and fly selection.  The fly line when “true” euro-nymphing is more for handling.  Meaning the thinnest line that is still comfortable to slide through your hand.  Using a long leader (think from the fly and into the reel spool) will provide the sensitivity to feel a fish strike while allowing the fly to sink fast.

Can I Euro Nymph Using a Regular Fly Rod?

Well, the short answer to this question is yes. You can cast the Euro nymph using any fly rod, but you must consider its flexibility, length, and weight.  Longer length fly rods are preferred to help lead the fly along, but not required.

Last Cast Euro-Nymphing

Euro nymphing is one of the latest inventions in fly fishing that has been gaining popularity at a very high rate. But the only difference between Euro style and traditional nymphing is the high weight of the fly and methods of increasing the speed the nymph sinks.

Don’t let all the technical jargon build a barrier for you not to try this.  Get a heavy nymph, lengthen the leader setup and get out on to the water.

More Nymph Fishing Articles – WHY because NYMPHS Catch Fish!

Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How to Fly Fish


  1. YouTube Contributor, Intro to Euro Nymphing – Orvis Learn to Fly fish, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFe5et0mwFY/ Accessed January 17, 2022
  2. YouTube Contributor, The Best Nymphing Flies (Euro Nymphing 101), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r9L6FBG9ao/ Accessed January 17, 2022
  3. YouTube Contributors, An Introduction to the Basics of Euro Nymphing, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L67r-CaLk5I/ Accessed January 17, 2022
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