Pros and Cons of Euro Nymphing Lines and Mono Rigs

Forward

Anglers just getting started with euro nymphing are often confused if they should use a specialized euro nymphing line or go with a mono rig in place of their traditional floating fly line. While the answer to this question is mainly driven by preference, there are some pros and cons to using a specialized euro nymphing line vs. a mono rig (or some hybrid version thereof). In this post I’ll share some of my experiences with both approaches and provide the pros and cons I have run into with each.

To clarify what line we are talking about here, the diagram below shows a simple mono rig from reel to hook. For sake of discussion in this post, we are talking about the green section of line below that’s labeled “Mono”; it sits between your fly line backing and the sighter of your euro rig.

There are 3 main options for your line section when setting up a euro rig:

  • A specialized euro nymphing line that’s much like a floating fly line, but is much more supple to easily pass through your fly rod guides and also transmit strikes up the line to your fingers.
  • A straight (or full) mono rig that contains a longer section of monofilament line between your fly line backing and your euro rig sighter. Here the mono line is acting as the specialized euro nymphing line in the previous bullet.
  • Your traditional floating fly line that contains a section on monofilament line tied to it between the floating line and the sighter. Here you’re effectively creating a small mono rig right off your floating and for sake of argument I’ll just lump this into the specialized euro nymphing line rig from the first bullet.

A simple mono rig for euro nymphing

Specialized Euro Nymphing Lines

Euro nymphing lines are designed to replace your traditional floating line for a euro nymphing setup; they are tied to the backing from your fly reel. There are a number of brands offering euro lines these days including Cortland, Airflo, RIO and others (just google “euro nymphing fly line”). While euro nymphing lines may look like a standard floating line, they are often much thinner and more supple to aid in strike detection and easy movement through fly rod guides (eyes). Many euro nymphing lines come with loops on both ends (similar to floating lines) and some include brighter colors (yellow, red, etc.) at the forward section of the line to aid in strike detection (like a sighter).

While it’s possible to run a specialized euro nymphing line all the way down to your sighter, most euro nymphing line manufacturers I’ve spoken to recommend running a section of monofilament (10′ – 20′ depending on application) from the euro line down to the sighter of the rig. In this configuration the euro line is generally “in the guides” of your fly rod, but will need to pass through the guide eyes on the rod when pulling/retrieving line (fighting fish).

When I first started euro nymphing I used a specialized nymphing line for about 12 months and have then switched over to a full mono rig like that shown in the diagram above. Based on my experience with euro nymphing lines, I do think these specialized lines have pros and cons.

Euro nymphing line PROs

  • Euro nymphing lines do not need to be straightened. Just like a dry fly line they don’t (or at least they shouldn’t) have any memory retention. You will however, need to straighten a mono section it added to the end of the euro nymphing line.
  • Euro nymphing lines are thick enough to not slip through your reel such as that mentioned in the mono pull through article. Believe it or not, this is a real (and reel) problem that you will encounter with full mono rigs that have the mono line running out of the reel itself.
  • Euro nymphing lines can be run all the way down to sighter of the rig. While this approach isn’t what most euro nymphing line manufacturers have recommended, it certainly is an option.
  • Nymphing lines are easy to see due to their color and thickness. This can make life easier when you have a bunch of line out of the reel; either from a fish or if you’re rigging up and need to see your line.
  • Due to the thickness of euro nymphing lines, they are less susceptible to line sag that can occur between the bottom stripping guide of your rod and the reel. This makes life a little easier when managing line during drifts.

Euro nymphing line CONs

  • Just like floating fly lines, euro nymphing lines do require some maintenance or they can crack and deteriorate. In my experience a euro line will need to be replaced each season when used throughout the year.
  • Euro nymphing lines are more expensive they just purchasing monofilament line for a straight mono setup.
  • If you still use a section of mono off the end of the euro line, you will still have a knot riding in your fly rod guides while fishing.
  • While you can cut back the specialized euro nymphing line if it gets damaged, some lines have a taper and hence will be impacted by shortening the line.

Euro Nymphing Mono Rigs

Rather than using a specialized euro nymphing line between the backing and the sighter, a full mono rig uses a longer section of monofilament in place of the euro line. The full mono rig is illustrated in the diagram of the “Forward” section of this post.

The selection of monofilament (thickness, stiffness, brand, etc.) to use is actually quite important in this setup since these factors play into how the rig turns over, retains memory, sags, etc.. Luckily TroutBitten has already done a good bit of research for you in this department.

After a lot of trial + error and some (too late) input from the TroutBitten article; I’ve personally settled on 15lb Maxima Chameleon. This 15lb is about as thin as you can go without affecting the turn over of a euro style cast and yet is stiff enough to maintain tight contact with the offerings at the end of the rig during a drift.

Maxima Chameleon 15lb is my goto for mono rigs

While I have settled on a full mono rig after trying different setups; a full mono rig introduces its own set of pros and cons.

Mono Rig PROs

  • Monofilament line is fairly cheap.
  • It’s easy to replace sections of monofilament line. For example if the end section of mono gets damaged, you can easily just cut it back or tie in a new section as needed (ideally the former since it doesn’t introduce another knot).
  • With a full mono rig, the mono runs right down to the sighter of the rig. This means you do not have any knots riding in the guide eyes of your fly rod.

Mono Rig CONs

  • In most cases your mono line will be thin and will pull through your reel. This is a real problem and can even occur inhibiting the drag system of your reel. The good news is that it’s easy to fix.
  • Most monofilament has some amount of memory retention. This means you need to take the time to straighten your mono prior to use. It only takes a minute.
  • You will have to rig up your own reel if you choose a full mono setup since the fly shop generally won’t “spool” this for you.
  • Monofilament line does have a lifespan, especially after being exposed to the sun for many hours. The good news is mono is cheap and you can just cut it back to get a fresh section.
  • Most monofilaments are thinner/limper than euro nymphing lines and are more susceptible to line sag between the fly reel and bottom stripping guide of the fly rod.

Summary

When it comes to euro nymphing lines, both specialized euro nymphing fly lines and full mono rigs have their pros and cons. The choice of which to use will likely depend on preference as well as experience with tight-line techniques. While a mono rig is a more cost effective and runs with no knots in the guides of the fly rod, it introduces complications such as line pull-through. One the other hand, specialized euro nymphing lines are a bit more pricey and still run with knots in the guides, but are less complicated.

For those just getting started with euro nymphing, my suggestion would be to first consider a specialized euro nymphing line due to their ease of use. This will allow you to more quickly focus on your euro nymphing tools and techniques without the additional complications of the mono setup. Once your tight-line skills become more honed, experimenting with a full mono setup will be easy and allow you to better gauge which is right for you.