When it comes to rigging your European Nymphing leader, or whatever you want to call it….Some call it contact nymphing, tight lining, or just nymphing, there traditionally were not a lot of commercial options out there. With the surging popularity of this method that has certainly changed. For years most of us have been tying our own leaders and most of us debate a lot on the right materials to do this with. I personally still think this is the way to go because as you develop your skills with this method you will start to learn your own personal preferences and getting away from the bagged leaders will only help you progress more.
With that said, there are some leaders out now that get the job done pretty damn good, most prominently in my mind is the new leader from Rio that we will talk about..
The main commercial leader I have seen available and most frequently used in the past few years is the Umpqua Andy Burk Czech Nymphing Leader. This is a good leader for what it is, a Czech nymphing leader. What I have to say about that is that a lot of people have gotten away from true Czech nymphing under or close to the rod tip. The Andy Burk leader is an 8.5 foot 4X leader with a tippet ring and two droppers ready to go, just add flies and you’re off. If what you want to do is Czech nymphing than this is a pretty good “out of the box” setup. I like it for what it is. What I don’t like is that I cant adjust where I want the flies, and its only offered in one size and length. You can say “But Matt you can adjust where you want them.” And I say sure you can but if I am buying a specialized leader I don’t want to cut I into it, otherwise I will just build my own.
Another leader I have been seeing is also from Umpqua, its the Steve Parrot Ultimate Euro Leader. Its new, and its pretty good. This fancy guy comes in two lengths, 15 and 18 feet respectively in 4-6X in both lengths. Its a hand-tied leader designed by the master Steve Parrott. Its got good length and a nice fat butt section that leads to a two tone indicator section followed by a tippet ring. Than with actual good knot it has two sections of flouro tied in with a dropper tag. This leader is a lot more along the lines of what most people are building out there. I don’t see a lot of down side to this leader.
Finally the new Euro Leader from Rio. This is my favorite leader out there now just because its a little more versatile. They are 11’6″ long and the base of it is an off white tapered leader. The point of this is that you can see it, and I have to say even though I was doubtful, it matches the claim. From there its attached to almost two feet of Indicator material, I’m not sure how to describe this because its where the leader starts to lose me a little. Its a pink and green color that changes color too many times. I like two colors in my leader, this sighter goes from pink to green twice and I find that eyes don’t like looking at it as much as the two colors. At the end of this you have a tippet ring where you can add your own tippet. This is my favorite of the bunch, I like that you can handle your own tippet and I really like the white butt section. The only thing I don’t like is the sighter but I see myself just using the butt section and tying my own sighter in.
Its not the point of this post but I want to touch on your next option, building your own. At the fly shop I am affiliated with, the Hungry Trout, we recommend the following for starting out. We like a standard 9 foot leader 3X or less and I will come back to that. From there you are going to tie in a hi-visibility sighter section in two colors. this can be anything you like.For example, George Daniels uses or at least did at one point, Siman Bi-Color Material. The key here is to use a sighter material the same or very close to the same diameter as the tippet section of your leader, this will help prevent droop and drag in your sighter. If the material you use if fatter, you use a bigger size leader, say 2X or even 1X or 0X. Use good blood knots to connect all these pieces together and you wont ever have to fiddle with this part of it. At the end of your sighter you attach a tippet ring with a good knot and than from there you can add whatever amount and size of tippet you like and add your droppers from there. I generally am using 4X tippet for this part and 5X fro my dropper tags tie din with davy knots. I like to do this so if I snag a dropper I will break off the dropper before I break off the whole tippet section. For the sighter material I personally use Amnesia because I can see it better but this limits me a little because I am restricted to using a fatter leader for my butt section. I also substitute the tippet ring for a micro swivel to avoid any possible twist in the sighter of tippet section but this is probably unnecessary and I have seen at least on one occasion, a fish eat my swivel.