Euro Nymphing on the Madison River

A few weeks ago we cut out of work early on a winter day to try out a few euro nymphing tactics on the Madison. The team rigged up our favorite euro nymph setups, loaded the dogs into the trucks, and took off to the river. 

Euro Nymphing Gear I'm Using

My go-to euro nymphing rod is the Sage ESN 10'6" 3WT rod. The ESN (European Style Nymphing) is a dedicated euro nymph rod that's lighter for the more frequent casting you'll be doing and has a super responsive and sensitive tip. It also has the down-locking reel seat that all the real euro nymph fans are into. The 10' 6" length gives you a lot of reach and sensitivity to control your line and your drift. All that being said, the best thing about this rod is fighting fish. It's super sensitive and the length just makes it really fun when you have a big fish on the line.

I've got the ESN paired up with the Spectrum LT 3/4 reel from Sage and the Rio FIPS Euro Nymph fly line. Euro nymph lines are not the greatest to cast; it has a very flat and thin diameter, a lot like a running line, and doesn't cast like what you're used to with your traditional fly lines.

I'm also using the Rio 0X to 2X Euro Nymph Leader with the built-in sighter tippet material and tippet ring.

Euro Nymphing Gear

Rigging up for Euro Nymphing

From my tippet ring I run 4X fluorocarbon for about two-and-a-half feet. From there I used a double surgeon's knot to add two to three feet of 5X fluorocarbon. I left about a 10-inch tag end from the double surgeon's knot in the middle.

In the video above, I start by fishing tungsten bead jig nymphs. #12 copper john as the point fly, and the #14 jig head pheasant tail as the tag fly. The beauty of the jig flies is they don't hang up on the bottom that often or easily.

Catching a Fish

One of the key elements to success in euro nymphing is to find the right water. Most of the casts will be the same distance every time, and your drifts around 20 to 25 feet. Finding a good spot that has the right distance and the right angle for that is key. Look for deep slow trenches behind boulders that are a good distance away. Position yourself for an upstream angle cast.

I'm typically casting 20-25 feet upstream at a 45-degree angle. On my drift I lift up on the tip so I can see the sighter tippet and follow it downstream with the rod tip. The flies are tapping the bottom occasionally. Once I have a fish on, I almost always get these fish on the reel.

Watch the video above to see how this day euro nymphing on the Madison turned out and leave a comment on the video to let us know what you think or any questions you have.

Spectrum LT Fly Reel

Euro Nymphing the Madison

Madison River From Above

Catching a Fish

Euro Nymphing the Madison

Walking on River


4 comments


  • MRFC

    Lawless – it’s a super fun tactic and can be more productive at certain times. Either way, definitely an exciting new challenge. Thanks for watching!


  • MRFC

    Mike – Thanks for the feedback. We plan on making more on-the-water videos like these that give a few tips and tricks to take with you. Try it out sometime, and give us a call or chat if you have any questions. Tight lines!


  • Mike Kalmanson

    I’m just learning about Euro Nymphing. Your email demonstrated the process and gave me some understanding of how to rig up and do it.


  • LAWLESS

    Great video..ive heard people talking about euro, never tried it. Great overview and love the video, specially the outcome with our true colors


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