Skinny Jeans – Selecting your first Euro rod.

Skinny Jeans – Selecting your first Euro rod.

Skinny Jeans – Selecting your first Euro rod.

By Chris Opfer

 

So, you’ve decided you like wearing tight pants, flat-billed hats, and you have an odd, inexplicable desire to go find a disco hall somewhere. Your first euro rod is in your very near future.

There are so many great rod manufacturers on the market today that it’s hard to choose. There are also so many price points that knowing where to start may almost be worse than your standard rods. Euro nymphing has become a big thing over the last few years. So many people thought it would be a fad. Sorry to say, the skinny jeans are here to stay.

I’m not going to go through each rod manufacturer and discuss the pros and cons of each as there are some good YouTube videos out there that cover that. It is also so user specific and we all have the brands that we like more than others whether that reason is logical or emotional. Let’s just be honest, sometimes our favorite rod company is the one who gave us our favorite sticker at our local fly fishing show.

I feel like there are a handful of things you need to consider in selecting your first euro rod. The first thing you need to ask yourself is what type of fish you are going to be harassing. In the U.S., most of us target trout while euro nymphing. There’s more to it than that, though. The size of the fish matters and therefore the weight of the rod.

As I’m sure you know by now, rods come in “weights” ranging from 1 to 15. A 1 weight (I’ve only ever held one once), is good for those trout so small that you wonder if they’re even in that tiny little neighborhood creek. A 15 weight are for your salt guys who wish to bring in a naval warship. The most common trout rod weights (I’m not talking to you steelhead folk) are 4, 5, and 6 in an 8-9′ length. “But wait,” you ask, “Why are we talking about common trout rods? You’re supposed to be telling me how I can up my cool factor by purchasing the ultimate in trout hunting fashion?” I’m getting there.

You have to know what “regular” rod you would use before you go charging into picking out a euro rod. The general rule of thumb for euro rods is that you subtract 2 from the line weight for that type, and really size, of the fish you’re traipsing through the stream after. So, if you would normally use a 4 weight, go for a 2 weight euro rod. If you would normally go for a 5 weight, pick out a 3 weight euro rod. Thus, a 2, 3, or 4 weight are the most common euro rod weights. Yes, there are exceptions and, no, I don’t really feel the need to discuss those with you.

Pretty simple right? Just subtract 2 and there you go, right? Well, there is a little more to it than that. The next thing you must consider is the length. (Insert sexual innuendo here). The most common length is 10’. I’m going to break here and say that you can technically euro nymph with any length or weight rod, however, rods that are designed to be used in this way will allow you to have more fun and give you more bragging rights when you sit in the craft beer garden with your friends. There are euro nymphing rods that range from 9’ to 11.5’.

I’m just going to say it plainly, I think that 9’ is too short and 11.5’ is just too long. There was somebody much better with math than me who told me that a 1’ increase in rod length will equate to 3’ more in reach on the water. Although I may not understand the geometry behind that statement, it does seem to be true on the water.

I’ve euro nymphed with 9’ rods when I had no choice, and I just didn’t have the reach I wanted. That’s saying a lot because I’m 6’5”. I’ve also fished with everything up to 11’ and that felt ungainly to me. I felt like my control was worse even though my reach was better. Plus, the longer 10.5”+ rods have a tendency to get a little “noodley” in my opinion.

This is why, as your first rod, I would really shoot for that 10’ length. Almost all the 10’ rods I’ve fished have a relatively firm butt section with the last 12-18” being pretty soft. This allows for reasonable reach, great tippet protection, and also a good backbone to lean into that “monster native cutty, bro!” Seriously, the soft tip and firm butt sections are nice. (Insert second sexual innuendo here).

I told you I wouldn’t get brand-specific, but I do want to mention a few other things that I found mattered to me when finding the euro rods that I liked the best. If you can find a rod with a down-locking reel seat (one where the reel locks down towards the butt), these help in “balancing” the rod in your hand and are less fatiguing throughout the day. You can also find reels and rods that will allow you to add or subtract weights to help with that balance.

Be cautious of overly heavy rods, especially in the swing weight. There are a few manufacturers out there that make really heavy euro rods for some reason. These are quite tiring to fish for a whole day. You’ll know when you pick one up in your hand. Do yourself a favor, put it right back down.

There are also several manufacturers that make rods you can add and subtract pieces to in order to make them longer and shorter. Really cool idea, but they don’t function well on the river. In addition to you having to pull the line all the way back through for some of them, I just noticed that in any of these rods out there (yes, I’ve actually cast all the rods on the market today that do this), it adds a ton of swing weight to the rod, while simultaneously decreasing sensitivity. The 1.5’ to 3’ you gain on the water is not worth the loss in those other two areas.

BONUS!

Can you use a “normal” fly fishing reel or fly line? Absolutely, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll want a full cage reel and a dedicated euro line. The full cage will make it so the euro or mono line doesn’t slip through the frame and spool. A euro line won’t sag the way a weighted fly line will while also allowing you to feel takes more readily. Plus, you won’t be “pulling” on your flies as much.

THE LAST DRIFT

So, there you have it! There is a lot more to euro nymphing rods, but this will hopefully give you a good starting point. Also, as I’m sure you know by now, you won’t ever buy just one rod and your first euro rod definitely won’t be your last. Skinny jeans unite!

If you want to get into Euro nymphing but don’t know where to start, stop into one of our shops or give us a call. One of our expert guides would be happy to show you how to use your new Euro setup as well!

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

About the Author

Chris Opfer

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