THE CORRECT LEADER IS CRUCIAL FOR RIVER NYMPHING. WE REVEAL SOME AWESOME SETUPS FOR QUICK-FIRE SUCCESS.
To summarise, most of this style of fishing is done with a single, long, level length of line, thickness dependant on conditions, however, some prefer a continuously tapering leader, which when constructed correctly helps present your flies delicately with the ultimate in presentation and precision.
Both of these setups will also deliver the flies over great distances, so you don’t need to get close to present your flies to spooky fish. There’s no fly line to be pushed and pulled by the current, and these leaders, tapered or level, will let the flies fish with minimal drag and that’s an impressive feat when it comes to river fishing.
A coloured indicator (usually mono or copolymer) is attached between leader and tippet, and this offers us the ultimate take detection as it sticks out like a sore thumb against most backgrounds. The main advantage of this line of attack is that your offerings, you can use dries as well as nymphs, and Streamers, are presented in the most natural way possible and with minimal effort.
To fish in this manner, you need a rod that’s up to the job. Now, for most of us, a 10ft 3wt, designed for this style of fishing is spot on! On larger rivers longer rods can be a real advantage, you can see more info on equipment needed here.
Good -To-Go Leaders
Rio has been able to pick the brains of some of the most knowledgeable anglers out there, and have harnessed all this information to create a couple of ‘good-to-go Euro Nymph Leaders!
The RIO Euro Nymph Leader is ‘hand-tied’ the ideal length for anyone looking for a made to measure option for some serious nymphing action. They are 11ft long, and feature a very unique taper – these leaders taper from 15lb down to 8.5lb – which enables anglers to deliver their flies exactly where they want them in all weather conditions. An awesome feature of these tapered leaders is the colour; they’re a milky white, so stand out against most backgrounds, something that can make a significant difference when it really matters.
At the business end of the taper is the indicator, there are 22-inches of two-tone indicator nail knotted to the leader, giving you an overall length of nearly 13ft. The leaders come with options when it comes to the indicator; there’s yellow and pink as well as black and white banding. Colour changes are at 8-inch intervals, so there’s plenty to focus on when fishing. Each of these options offers their own advantages in varying light conditions, something we’ll look at more closely in a future blog. The indicators also feature a micro ring, so that fast and easy connection or change of tippet is a breeze, crucial when targeting various water conditions.
The RIO Technical Euro Nymph Leader Is for anglers that are looking for a little more finesse in more challenging nymphing situations. The Technical Euro Nymph Leaders feature the same build quality and excellent features, hand-tied, a choice of two, two-tone indicator sections, and micro tippet ring on the business end. It’s longer, 14ft of the same white high vis material, with a 22-inch indicator section, giving you a leader around 16ft. This allows more reach and better presentation when trying to cover water effectively. The real key is the diameter; the ultra-thin butt section tapers from 10lb to 6lb which offers more sensitivity when it comes to take detection.
The other noticeable area is ‘line sag’ there’s far less of it due to the thin line. A thicker heavier line will see a bow form between the rod tip and water’s surface. When a fish does take, this bow in your line means a fish can take without you noticing. A more direct thinner diameter line, means takes are registered straight away. Better take detection means more fish in the net, bonus!
Both these leaders offer exceptional build quality, are easy to use, all you need to do is attach the appropriate tippet, some flies and you’re ready to fish. I would recommend you use them with a thin nymphing line like the RIO FIPS Euro Nymph line, not your usual floating line as this is too heavy and the sag shall create an unnatural drift.
First up, let’s look at the level line; it’s simple and easy to create with the minimum of fuss.
I’m going basic here as it’s for everyone, fish with a thickish line (yes, people use super thin line, but they know what they’re doing). Don’t use Fluoro it’s too heavy, a mono or copolymer is far better, look at RIO Powerflex and in a 0.25mm diameter. It’s a good ‘hedge your bets’ diameter, and this is thick enough to cope with windy days and thin enough to allow you a good presentation It has stretch, which I like, saves me getting broken on thin tippet and it’s a light grey, not clear so that I can see it.
As you’re not in a FIPS competition, which restricts your overall leader length to twice the length of your rod, look at a length of 6 to 9 meters, the longer it is the further you can throw the flies, BUT a longer leader means that there’s more bow in your line which affects take detection, it’s a kind of trade-off.
Don’t make this too long! I like a short section of around 18-inches, it’s manageable and very easy to see. Any longer and it starts to affect the casting stroke, meaning the flies are not delivered in the correct manner. Look at a diameter that’s less than the level line, 0.05mm less than the mainline, you’re starting to taper, which aids delivery.
Rio has a couple of two-tone indicators, and I use both. The bright colours, pink and chartreuse for dull days and I love the contrast of black and white on bright days. You can if you wish to combine both and then you never have to swap over!
When attaching the level line to the indicator I prefer to use a barrel knot, it’s small and compact and slides through the guides better than most knots, more so when you add some Loon Knot Sense or Hard Head to make it super smooth! You can also leave tags here at the knot, again another visual for you to focus on should you need it.
At the business end of the indicator though, rather than knots, I much prefer to use a tippet ring. The Rio Tippet Rings are small, lightweight and super strong and make any streamside adjustments to your tippet easy and fuss-free. I use a blood knot for attaching these, fast and straightforward. Use a tucked one for the indicator connection and untucked for the tippet ( this means you can pull the knot free on the tippet side, clever eh!)
Now, when you’re fishing in this manner, using nymphs or dries, go for soft and malleable tippet material, a material which will allow you to present your flies naturally, allowing them to move with the current.
I like the RIO Fluroflex Plus, as It’s one thinnest Fluorocarbon’s on the market, it’s very strong for the diameter, and it features excellent knot strength too, great when you are fishing over a heavy riverbed. It’s also incredibly supple which offers featherweight presentation. You can use other materials though, it all depends on the size of fish you’re targeting and the way you’re fishing. I keep my knots 50cm apart, so 50 cm from the indicator, my dropper (three-turn water knot) then a further 50 to the point fly. If I use three flies, the same rules apply. As for dropper length, I like to keep them short, no more than 20cm as I feel this shorter length offers me a better connection.
In the next part of this blog, we’ll look at tapered leader construction the benefits of using it and also the fantastic RIO FIPS Euro Nymph line which is designed specifically for this style of fishing, and more importantly how to get the most from it…