European nymphing catching on |

European nymphing catching on


What: European nymphing clinic

Where: Fly Fishing Outfitters, in class and on water

When: Sept. 26, all day

Sign up: (970) 845-8090

AVON — With 30 years in the business, John Packer of Fly Fishing Outfitters thought he had seen everything.

And then he saw the World Youth Fly Fishing Championships, which took place here in Eagle County about a month ago.

“These kids were pulling 30 fish out of a hole that I thought had 10 fish, max,” he said.

Using the European nymphing technique, the competitors on Team USA – who would go on to win the championships – were fishing faster, cleaner, and pulling more and bigger fish out of the areas Packer has been fishing for decades.

He was enlightened.

Support Local Journalism

”At first I thought the (European nymphing technique) was madness,” he said. “Now I’m convinced. It’s not always the right application in all situations, but it’s another tool I think anglers here need to add to their toolbox.”

Packer has hired former competitive angler Jason Lieverst – now living here, he’s a former member the Netherlands professional fly fishing team – to teach European nymphing to the guides at Fly Fishing Outfitters.

[iframe src=”″ width=”640″ height=”360″ style=”border: 0px;”]


European nymphing is generally focused on fishing the bottom of the river, says Lieverst.

Rather than using a strike indicator, or a bobber, employers of the European nymphing technique use heavy flies tied with tungsten beads to get their flies to sink quickly.

”The bottom of the river is, believe it or not, where most of the fish are eating every day,” says Lieverst. “Standing closer to the fish than one might using a traditional method, anglers using European nymphing detect bites by feel, and by using a brightly colored leader and tippet as their indicator. We follow that colored indicator across the top of the water, so that when it stops or does something different than just drifting downstream, we’ll set the hook and usually there will be a fish on the end of it for us,” Lieverst said.

The flies are tied on jig hooks in European nymphing, which sit in an inverted position on the bottom of the river, reducing snagging and making it more likely to hook the fish in the top lip. Barbed hooks are not used in European nymphing, and often times, Lieverst says, the hook has fallen out of the fish’s mouth by the time it hits the net.


Lieverst has showed the other guides at Fly Fishing Outfitters the finer points of European nymphing. Raymond Kyle said the lessons made a lot of sense.

“The river is not flat,” Kyle said. “Rather than just going over one level, you’re getting to those holes and pockets, and you’re able to feel the bottom of that river. That’s where it kind of clicked for me.”

Kyle says he’s also found that the fish that hang out in those deep holes can be some of the larger fish in the river.

“So not only has my fish count went up, the quality of the fish, I feel, has been better,” he said.

Lieverst says it’s better for the fish, as well.

”This brings the fish into the net much quicker than a traditional method,” Lieverst said. “Having this clinic in this valley will educate the public about the benefits of this type of fishing.”

Support Local Journalism