Euro nymphing, a style of fly fishing used in tournaments, is slowly gaining popularity in Maine. More fly fishers are trying it, such as at a recent seminar in Gardiner, where Registered Maine Guide Mike May demonstrated the technique. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

At a fly fishing gathering in Brunswick last month, only eight of 35 anglers raised their hands when asked if they had tried Euro nymphing. At a seminar at a Gardiner fly shop in early May, only a half-dozen fly fishers came to learn the trendy fishing technique with the unusual name.

But some anglers expect this up-tempo style of fly fishing to spread across Maine for a key reason: You can catch more fish, devotees say.

Euro nymphing is a form of fly fishing where you fish a shorter tight fly line, use heavily weighted flies and fish close to the bottom of a stream or river. Some anglers even use knee pads to kneel near shallow water to get closer to the fly line.

Rather than passively casting out a long length of fly line and waiting for the feel of a tug on the line, you cast a short line and watch the “sighter” (the high-visibility section of the fly line) on the water’s surface see – as well as feel – “the take,” that glorious moment when a fish takes the fly.

“Normally, we look for big fish in the pools and walk by the shallow areas. This technique allows you to pick up fish in the shallow water, as well,” said Selene Frohmberg, co-owner of Selene’s Fly Shop in downtown Gardiner, where the seminar was held.

The Euro nymphing technique, which some call tight-line nymphing, grew in popularity in Europe in the late 20th century, mostly at fly fishing competitions. It’s recently become more popular in America, but it’s just starting to make inroads in Maine.


Anglers consider it a ramped-up version of nymph fishing. In nymph fishing, anglers fish down deep while trying to replicate a swimming nymph, the aquatic insect that is a favorite food source of trout. But in Euro nymphing, there’s no need to look for deep pools, where trout often linger. It’s fine to fish in shallow water. Shallow water.

The gear also is different in that the rod is longer, generally about 10 to 11 feet, the tip of the rod is more sensitive, and part of the line includes a fluorescent section that allows for a clear visual cue when a fish hits and the line goes tight. So the angler can see the line twitch before they feel it. A Euro nymphing set-up – rod and reel, lines and flies – costs $500 to $700.

Registered Maine Guide Mike May, who taught the Gardiner seminar, compared it to ice hockey because the angler keeps a tight connection between the rod tip and the flies – similar to how a hockey player keeps the puck in close to the stick while moving it down the ice. Both sports promise fast action.

Registered Maine Guide Mike May gave a class on Euro nymphing in early May along Cobbosseecontee Stream in Gardiner. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Jeffrey Bush, the president of the Merrymeeting Bay chapter of Trout Unlimited, is not a convert. Bush helped organize the club’s April meeting that included a presentation on Euro nymphing. Yet before the seminar, Bush shrugged when asked about the trending fishing technique.

“I’m a skeptic,” Bush said. “But it is something that’s very current.”

Ray Minchak quickly defended what he called a sure-fire approach to landing fish, what he called: “trout vacuuming.”


“It’s been evolving here (in the U.S.),” Minchak said. “You use heavily weighted flies and a three-fly cast. You have success because you have to pay attention.”

Those who attended the seminar to learn Euro nymphing all agreed: They were after the greater catch rate.

“I wanted to up my game. This gives me a little bit more of a fighting chance to catch fish,” said Jennifer Lummis of Yarmouth.

Among the six fly fishers who came to attend the seminar, two were new to fly fishing and didn’t even know how to cast. Frohmberg said that doesn’t matter in Euro nymphing, because you only cast once.

Selene Frohmberg, co-owner of Selene’s Fly Shop in Gardiner, ties a fly used in Euro nymphing as her dog, Happy, looks on. Frohmberg has held seminars on Euro nymphing at her fly shop, and she sells the equipment used in the trendy fishing technique. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

You can Euro nymph using traditional fly fishing equipment, although having the more sensitive rod and the fluorescent line makes the fish strike more obvious. Rather than only feeling for a strike, an angler can feel and also watch for one, thereby increasing the chances of catching fish.

Like many fly fishers, those who Euro nymph pursue trout exclusively in rivers and streams. But the technique can be used anywhere for any fish, Frohmberg said.


“You can take bits and pieces of Euro nymphing. You can use the parts that work for you,” Frohmberg said.

Matt Bailey of Windsor, a fly fisherman for 15 years, has been Euro nymphing for several years. A few years ago he got the gear for it, to make it that much more effective. He took the class to become more proficient at the fly fishing approach.

“They say if you’re feeling the fish you’re catching you’ve probably already missed quite a few. If you can see your line twitch in a way that doesn’t look natural, then odds are there’s a fish,” Bailey said. “Trout when they’re feeding, they take in all sorts of things and gum it. So they take in twigs that they may swallow, but a lot of times they spit it out. If they take in your fly and you don’t feel it, they may spit it out.”

Lummis doesn’t intend to go buy all the gear. She already has three fly rods. She only plans to buy just the fluorescent line used in Euro nymphing and a few Euro-specific flies, ones that are heavier and will sink to the bottom.

A fly fisher since 2019, Lummis, who belongs to the Maine Women Fly Fishers, has hired fishing guides and even gone on remote fishing trips. But she wants to be more proficient in the sport so she can enjoy catching fish after work during the week.

Armed with more information on Euro nymphing after the Gardiner seminar, Lummis was excited to try it on her home water.

“I’m going to use my gear, but tweak it and see what kind of luck I have,” Lummis said. “I struggle nymphing. I think it’s because my (line) slaps the water, it’s too disruptive. It scares the fish. I need help getting my fly down deeper.”

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