Whether you’re using a full mono rig, specialized euro nymphing line or a hybrid version thereof (see pros and cons of euro nymphing lines and mono rigs), the sighter is a critical piece of your euro nymphing setup. Not only is a sighter used for detecting takes (strikes) and gauging drift depth, but it also plays a part in how the rig turns over during euro style “casts”. While there are various options for euro nymphing sighters, in this post I’ll describe how to build your own tapered sighter using 2 different colored sections of Amnesia monofilament line.
Before jumping into details, just a quick level-set on where the sighter sits in your euro nymphing rig. The diagram below depicts a full mono rig for euro nymphing from reel to hook. As shown in the top section of the diagram, the sighter sits between your euro/mono line and the tippet. Since it’s common to change/replace the tippet below the sighter, a tippet ring is used on the lower end of the sighter so that tippet can easily be replaced without cutting into the sighter itself.
Why Build Your Own Euro Nymphing Sighter?
Today there are a lot of options for euro nymphing sighters ranging from multicolor tippet material to pre-made sighters from various other materials; so why would you want to build your own? After trying various options, there are a few reason I prefer to build my own euro nymphing sighters; described in this section. With some trial and error you may (or may not) find hand building them is best for you.
By building your own sighter you can customize the sighter’s taper by using a thicker section of mono for the top section of the sighter and the thinner piece for the lower. This small taper in the sighter can make life easier when executing euro style casts. I’ll discuss how to choose the right thickness monofilament below in the materials section of this post.
While I’ve only tried a handful of prebuilt sighters and sighter material, I have found that Amnesia monofilament line is more durable and holds its color longer than most. Therefore by building sighters from Amnesia, the sighter has a longer lifespan. Not to mention Amnesia has very little memory once straightened.
Building your own sighters is also cost effective if you have the time and know-how to do it. You do have to spend a little money up front to purchase the materials to build the sighter(s), but a few 100M spools of Amnesia monofilament is enough line to build hundreds of sighters.
Euro Nymphing Sighter Materials
The following tools and materials are needed to build your own tapered euro nymphing sighters from Amnesia monofilament line:
- 1 spool of Amnesia florescent red monofilament line. Thickness is discussed below.
- 1 spool of Amnesia florescent green monofilament line. Thickness is discussed below.
- Tippet rings. Size is discussed below.
- Nippers or small scissors for cutting the line.
- A ruler or tape measure that goes up to at least 12″.
- (Optional) UV Knot Sense and UV curing light.
As the sighter’s stiffness impacts how the rig turns over for euro style casts, choosing the proper thicknesses of monofilament for the sighter is important. To select the thicknesses of monofilament line for your sighter, take a look at the thickness of your mono or specialized euro line used in the rig and then “taper down” 2 sizes.
For example, if I’m running a 15lb full mono rig I will choose 12lb and 10lb Amnesia for the sighter which gives the taper 15lb / 12lb / 10lb. If you were using a 20lb mono line, you might select 15lb and 12lb for the sighter giving the taper 20lb / 15lb / 12lb. The diagram below depicts the sighter taper described here with a 15lb full mono rig.
In terms of color for the Amnesia monofilament line used in the euro nymphing sighter, I like to use fluorescent red and green (looks almost yellow). However this selection is somewhat arbitrary so feel free to experiment with other colors to find what works best for you.
When selecting a tippet ring for the sighter construction, select a ring size that will fit both your sighter and tippet line material. I generally fish tippet in the 5x – 6x range for nymphing and a 1mm – 2mm tippet ring works fine when connecting that tippet with the 10lb Amnesia from the sighter. If you commonly fish tippet thicker than 4x or 5x, then you might consider a tippet ring in the 2mm – 3mm size.
Building A Tapered Euro Nymphing Sighter From Monofilament
This section covers the actual construction of the tapered euro nymphing sighter using Amnesia monofilament line.
For this construction “line to line” knots are used to attach monofilament sections together. I prefer to keep it simple and use the Surgeon’s Join Knot (aka Double Surgeons) for my line to line connections, but use whatever you feel comfortable with. I find the Surgeons knot does leave a slight angle in the line, but it’s not noticeable when fishing weighted rigs.
When tying the knots, make sure they are tight before clipping the tag line back to the knot. Sometimes this requires using gloves or tools to tightly pull the ends of the line in the knot to ensure its tight.
- Cut a 24 inch section from each of the Amnesia monofilament lines. While only 12 inches is used in the sighter, the extra is for tying knots.
- Using a line to line knot, tie in the upper thicker section of Amnesia to the end of the monofilament line from your rig. For this example the upper section of the sighter is the 12lb red Amnesia. Make sure the knot is tight and cut the tag end close.
- Using a line to line knot, tie in the lower thinner section of Amnesia to the end of the upper sighter section. For this example the lower section of the sighter is the 10lb green Amnesia. Try to tie in the lower section leaving 12 inches of the upper red section. Make sure the knot is tight and cut the tag end close.
- Using a line to hook knot, tie in the tippet ring leaving 12 inches of lower sighter section. Cut the tag end of the line close.
- (Optional, though recommended) Use UV Knot Sense or other product to thinly coat all your knots. Not only does this provide an extra sense of security, but it also allows the knots the more smoothly run through the guides on your fly rod.
At this point you should have a sighter attached to the mono line of your rig as shown below.
When building the euro nymphing sighter described here, I like to keep the 2 sections of the Amnesia as close to 12 inches as possible in the finished sighter. Knowing the length of these sections allows you to better gauge depth and drift when tight-line nymphing.
At this point the rig is ready to fish. To add tippet for flies, simply tie on the tippet below the tippet ring with your favorite line to hook knot; the length will depend on your target depth.
Portable Euro Nymphing Sighters
If you spend enough time euro nymphing, chances are you will run into a case where your mono line and/or sighter needs replacement on the water, so it’s best to be prepared. For example, your sighter or mono line may get wrapped around a rock while fighting a fish and snap or get damaged.
To carry extra euro nymphing sighters with you on the river there are a few options:
- Construct the sighter as described in this post, but use a tippet ring on both ends of the sighter making it “removable”. This allows the sighter to be tied onto the euro rig using a simple line to hook knot on the water.
- Construct the sighter as described in this post, but leave the upper section of Amnesia from the sighter long (say 18″ – 24″). This will allow you to use a line to line to knot to attach the sighter to your mono line on the river.
- Carry the spools of Amnesia line with you while fishing. In this case you can just rebuild the rig at will. If your mono line is damaged above the sighter, you can cut it back and build a new sighter as needed.
While you can purchase many types of prebuilt sighters today, building your own euro nymphing sighter from monofilament line is also an effective alternative. Building your own sighters is not only cheaper (in the long run), but it also allows you to customize the sighter to your line requirements and add a taper. Regardless if you build your own sighters or purchase them prebuilt, it’s a good idea to prepare for the worst and bring back-ups with you to the river.