Setting up a Euro Nymphing rod for High Stick Nymphing is not a lot different than setting up a regular fly fishing rod.
In a conventional set up, you would need a backing line, a flyline, a leader, and a tippet. What is different in High Stick Nymphing, is adding a sighter between the leader and the tippet.
What is a sighter?
In a short description, a sighter is a Hi Vis line, used to control your fly depth when High Stick Nymphing. It also allow you to easily follow your line through the movements. Imagine casting a very thin line in the water and trying to follow it through the current.
High StiCK euro nymphing Rod and Reel
Preferably, a euro nymphing rod would be best, a down-locking rod. This is because you will always be reaching out, and a heavier reel will make a good balance to make the rod feel lighter. Your backing line is attached to reel by using a Uni or an Arbor Knot.
For trout fishing, you would need a Euro nymphing rod weight between 0 and 6, depending on the size of the trout you are targeting. For the sake of this article, a 3 weight rod will be used.
As for the rod length, you would need to find out where you will be nymphing mostly, and buy a rod accordingly. Remember that you will fish as far as you can reach with your rod. So if you are in a wide stream or lake, you would need a 10 to 11 foot rod. If you are in a small tight stream, then you would use a shorter rod.
Use a 3 and 4 weight reel, some fishermen actually go up to 5 and 6 weight reels. It all depends on balancing the euro nymph rod and the reel as the length of the rod varies and affects the balance. Balancing is very important since your shoulder is in action most of the time. The right balance will make your shoulder less sore.
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Use 20lb line with 100yd for regular and small size trout. The type of fly-line does not really matter here as you are only casting the leader not the fly-line compared to the conventional fly fishing. Tie your fly line to the backing using an Albright Knot.
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Use tapered 9ft 3x leader for simplicity or construct your own. There are different combinations out there, but one thing in common for High Stick Nymphing tackle, the longer the leader, the better.
Longer leaders reaches 30ft, while shorter reaches 9ft. The sweet spot is between 15 and 20ft. At some point, with experience, you will be able to judge the best combination depending on how spooky the fish are, the length of the nymphing rod, and the power of the current. One of the main goals of the leader length is to avoid it going through the guides. The leader should always be out from the guides while casting as the knots will mostly get stuck and hinder the smoothness of the cast.
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Some fishermen use non-tapered leader, some use tapered leaders, and others use a combination of both. You can construct your own leader by the following:
42inches of 20lb + 42inches of 15lb + 42inches of 12lb and you use a blood knot to connect the leaders together. Don’t do a Surgeon‘s knot for joining leaders because it is bulky and it wont go through the guides easily.
As a rule of thumb while doing the Surgeon knot, the line with the thicker diameter should have less wraps and the thinner line should have more wraps. So that means it would be less wraps of the 20, extra wrap with the 15 and so on.
High Stick Nymphing Sighter
As mentioned earlier, the sighter is the unique characteristic in setting up a High Stick Nymphing. As for the sighter, a use blood knot or an Albright knot to attach your leader to the sighter. Or you can attach the leader to a tippet ring using a clinch knot, then attach your sighter from the other end.
Use 6 inches to a couple of feet, I find 9 inches is a sweet spot. Leaving the tag ends is favorable for some fishermen since it can give you a good visual for tracking your line, and also it won’t hinder your casting since it won’t be inside the guides.
You can buy ready use sighters or make your own as well. It is actually cheaper to do your own, all what you need is 2 colors of Hi Vis lines that you can properly see. Common colors are a combination of pink, fluorescent, and orange. The Hi Vis lines are usually mono-filament lines.
Add tippet ring from your sighter using clinch knot, or attach your tippet to the leader using a Uni knot. Use 6x to 4x tippet diameter, 6x for easily spooked fish. 5x is more common as it can handle bigger fish. You would need about 3.6ft to your fly.
Some fishermen use 3ft of 3x, then depending on how deep is the pool is, they add another 2ft (half of the pool depth, 4 ft) of 5x using a Surgeon’s knot (I usually prefer blood knots as it has less breaking angle between the joined lines)
Personally, I would rather stick to a uniform size of a tippet in nymphing since different size of tippet will not travel evenly under the water. Hence, a “drag” will be created and the fly will be travelling in an unnatural way under the water.
The thinner the diameter of the tippet, the less of a surface area it has, the more it cuts better through the water. Generally speaking, in fly fishing, use the smallest tippets in diameter that you can fish with, and that will depend mainly on the size of the fish you are catching and the fly you are using.
Finally, attach your fly to the tippet using an improved Clinch knot.
Summary for High Stick Nymphing Rod Setup
And since we are High Stick Nymphing, then tight lines everyone! (you actually need to have no slack)