A Deep Dive into Nymph Fishing with Lance Egan, the Competitive Angler | Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

in Fly Fishing Insider Podcast Blog

A Deep Dive into Nymph Fishing with Lance, the Competitive Angler

The Journey of a Passionate Angler

The Fly Fishing Insider Podcast recently featured an engaging conversation with Lance, a seasoned nymph angler and former member of Team USA. For Lance, fly fishing was not a family tradition; he started because he simply loved fishing. His teenage years presented him with the opportunity to dive into fly fishing, and he hasn't looked back since. Nearly three decades of fishing experience have sharpened his skills, especially in the niche of nymph fishing.

From Local Competitions to Team USA

Lance's journey into competitive fishing began in the mid to late '90s. He initially took part in casting competitions and later progressed to more complex challenges. Over the years, Lance found himself on Fly Fishing Team USA, a feat he has maintained to this day. Despite the global pandemic interrupting many activities in 2020, Lance competed in the World Championships in Tasmania last fall and is contemplating how much longer he wants to stay in the competition circuit.

Beyond Competitions: A Life Rich in Angling

For Lance, competitive fishing only occupies a small part of his year. He also relishes the opportunity to fish recreationally, always in search of new locations and techniques to refine his skills. His passion for fly fishing goes beyond just doing it; he wants to improve continuously.

The Teacher in the Angler

Lance extends his knowledge to others through teaching. Alongside his friend and teammate Devin Olsen, Lance has released various videos on Vimeo, focusing mainly on nymph fishing. These videos aim to teach fishing techniques to enthusiasts looking for guidance.

The Rising Trend of European Nymphing

Lance also addressed the increasing popularity of European or "Euro" nymphing. He credits its rising fame to its effectiveness in covering various water types that conventional methods fall short of. Most anglers are familiar with indicator fishing, which is efficient in deeper waters but not as versatile as Euro nymphing. Euro nymphing allows the angler to cover everything from deep pools to shallow, fast-moving waters, which is likely why this method has been attracting attention.

Want to learn about the effects of rod length?  See this matrix.


Gear Up for Euro Nymphing

When it comes to Euro nymphing, gear matters. One needs a long, light rod, preferably 10 to 10.5 feet in length and 2 to 4 weights, with 3 being the most common. Lance also stressed the importance of a well-balanced reel, which may not always correspond directly to the rod’s weight. For example, a 10.5-foot, 3-weight rod may best be balanced by a reel designed for a 5 or 6-weight line.

Nymphing Specific Rods - I'd suggest a 3 weight or 4 weight rod - 10.5 -11.5 foot lenght.

In addition, Lance recommends specialized Euro lines that are significantly thinner than regular fly lines. This minimizes 'sag' both in the guides and beyond the rod tip, offering better control. Materials like Maxima Chameleon or Sunset Amnesia are great for leader building. A colored line called a 'sighter' is also essential for strike detection.

Thinking of selecting a rod for European nymphing styles?  You should read the affects of rod length in this article.

Accessibility and Affordability

Euro nymphing is relatively accessible for newcomers, as gear can range from high-end to more budget-friendly options. Most of the rods Lance sells fall below the $500 mark, and reels and lines typically cost around $99 and $50, respectively.

The Essence of the Conversation

For Lance, fly fishing, and particularly nymph fishing, is more than just a hobby or a competitive sport. It's a continuous journey of learning, teaching, and enjoying the intricate relationship between the angler and the water. His decades of experience serve as a testament to the depth and richness that this form of angling can offer to those willing to dive in. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice, there's always room to learn and grow in the world of fly fishing.

Mastering the Art of Euro Nymphing: Key Insights from the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

Euro nymphing has become a buzzword in the fly fishing community, a technique characterized by its effectiveness in catching fish and the nuances that make it unique. Recently, an expert shared invaluable insights on the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast about what makes this method effective, common mistakes, and best practices. Whether you're a seasoned angler or new to fly fishing, here's a detailed summary to enhance your Euro nymphing skills.

The Importance of Fly Selection

The first cornerstone of successful Euro nymphing is having a versatile selection of flies. Traditional fly fishing often involves adding weight to the leader through split shots, but Euro nymphing relies solely on the weight of the flies. The key is to have a variety of weighted flies suitable for different water conditions. 

- Shallow or Slow Waters: Go for lightweight flies, which still have some weight but not too much to suit the shallowness of the water.  

- Fast or Deep Waters: Opt for heavy flies that can sink quickly to the desired depth.

The Challenge of Casting

Casting stands out as one of the most common hurdles in mastering Euro nymphing. According to the expert, this issue is not confined to Euro nymphing but is a general obstacle across different forms of fly fishing. He noticed that many new learners spend hours trying to master the basic Euro nymphing cast.

The Technique:

  1. Backcast: Take the flies under the rod.
  2. Forward Cast: Bring them over the rod tip.

It might sound straightforward, but it's not as easy as it looks. The cast has to follow a 180-degree rule to change the direction of the fly precisely. This rule means that your backcast should be 180 degrees away from your intended target, allowing for a more accurate forward cast.

Importance of Fly Line Management

Traditional fly casting relies heavily on the action of the fly line, but in Euro nymphing, only a small portion of the fly line is used. The focus here is on the rod action, rather than the line. Most of the time, you might have only a foot to five feet of fly line out of the rod tip. The expert prefers fly line for its ease in slack management, setting the hook, and fighting the fish, but emphasized that it doesn't add much to the casting action in Euro nymphing.

Unlearning Muscle Memory

For those accustomed to traditional fly casting techniques, Euro nymphing presents a shift. Standard techniques like roll casting and water loading won't work here due to the long Euro leader not having the same sticking property as fly line. It means you have to abandon some of your go-to maneuvers and learn a new set of skills suited for Euro nymphing.

Keep the 'Sighter' Off The Water

One of the most overlooked yet crucial aspects of Euro nymphing is keeping the 'Sighter'—a highly visible piece of monofilament built into the leader—off the water surface. This visual indicator is what you watch to detect a fish's strike.

Why it's Crucial:

- Immediate Descent: Keeping the sighter off the water allows your flies to sink immediately, putting you in direct contact with them.

- Strike Detection: The sighter serves as a strike indicator, and keeping it off the water ensures you're ready to detect and set the hook as needed.

Common Mistakes and Fixes

Often, beginners let the sighter and leader touch the water, which causes the flies to lift in the water column, making them appear unnatural to the fish and missing potential strikes. The fix is simple yet counterintuitive: end your cast with the rod at a higher angle, keeping the sighter off the water.

The podcast not only highlighted the dos but also showed common mistakes, invaluable for visual learners. Mastering Euro nymphing requires a shift in mindset, especially for those used to traditional fly fishing methods. From fly selection to casting techniques and even to unlearning some muscle memory, the path to becoming proficient in Euro nymphing is laden with nuance and intricacy. But the reward, as many would attest, is a more effective and gratifying fly fishing experience.

The Evolution of Leader Design

One of the most critical topics discussed in the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast was the evolution of leader design in modern fly fishing. Initially, the hosts spoke about traditional tapered leaders that fly fishermen have been using for years. These leaders have thicker sections at the butt end, and the leader formula shared was a triad of 20 pounds, 15 pounds, and 12 pounds, with each section measuring 42 inches. This leader is an excellent starting point for beginners, providing better casting accuracy.

Then the discussion moved to 'center' leaders, which are slightly thinner and are designed to help people transition to more advanced forms of fly fishing. The latest in leader innovation is the micro leader. This ultra-thin leader, whose diameter can range from 4X to 1X, requires more skill to control. The thinner the leader, the more challenging it is to maintain directional control during casting.

European Style Leaders


The Pros and Cons of Micro Leaders

Micro leaders offer advantages and drawbacks. They can cover a lot more distance because of their lighter weight and lower drag. However, they are challenging to control, especially for beginners or even seasoned anglers who are new to the technique. Therefore, the hosts recommend that new anglers shouldn't jump straight into micro leaders. Instead, they should start with the versatile 20-15-12 leader, which can handle different types of flies and provides a good balance between power and control.

The Art of Casting and Reading Water

Another vital topic was the art of casting. The hosts emphasized the importance of keeping the rod tips high for better control. They also discussed 'reading water,' or understanding water conditions and fish behavior. Fly fishermen often have their favorite spots, but the hosts advised against fishing in the same place using the same techniques. They talked about the Euro system, a tactic that allows anglers to fish in shallower waters and achieve more accurate casts.

Versatility is Key

Nymphing, the technique discussed in depth during the podcast, is valued for its effectiveness in catching more fish and its versatility in handling different water conditions. However, nymphing is just one tool in an angler's toolbox. For those who have mastered it, the next frontier may be dry fly fishing or streamer fishing. The hosts touched upon the endless learning curve in fly fishing, noting that the fun lies in this constant evolution.

Stillwater Fly Fishing

The conversation shifted towards Stillwater fly fishing, another fascinating aspect of the sport. Here the technique is completely different, with most local anglers preferring to troll flies behind their boats. However, there are more engaging methods like 'Loch-style' fishing, where anglers cast and retrieve flies while drifting. The hosts also discussed the use of modern technology like GPS locks on boats to help in still water fishing.

Navigating the Seasons

Regarding seasonality, the hosts mentioned that higher-altitude lakes start to freeze by early to mid-December, while larger, lower-altitude reservoirs usually remain open until mid-December.

The Intimidation Factor

Finally, the podcast touched upon the intimidation many anglers feel towards lake fishing, often resorting to trolling as the easiest entry point. But as anglers grow in skill and knowledge, they discover the joy of more advanced methods.

The Fly Fishing Insider Podcast offered a treasure trove of information, emphasizing the need for versatility, continuous learning, and understanding both the art and science behind fly fishing techniques. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner, there's always something new to learn, a technique to master, or a new water type to conquer.

Fly Fishing in the Time of Change: A Candid Talk with Lance on the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

When we think about fly fishing, it's not just the thrill of the catch that drives us; it's the entire experience. Recently, Lance, a seasoned fly fishing guide and video instructor, had an insightful conversation on the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast. He gave listeners a look into what he's been up to lately and where he sees himself in the near future. Here's what you should know.

Focusing on Local Waters

Lance noted that his immediate plans don't involve any extravagant travels for fly fishing. With things yet to return to normal, especially in terms of travel, he's content with exploring local waters. This isn't a compromise for him. On the contrary, he emphasized that the areas around him offer a plethora of great fishing spots. According to Lance, there are so many fantastic local places to explore that there's "never enough space in a week" to try them all. 

Lance's perspective sheds light on an often-overlooked aspect of the sport. While international trips to exotic locations can be mesmerizing, the essence of fly fishing can equally be found in local waters. Not to mention, fishing locally has its own sets of advantages; it allows for more time with loved ones and a closer connection to one's immediate environment. 

Balancing Family, Work, and Fly Fishing

When asked about his plans, Lance also stressed the importance of balancing work and family with his passion for fly fishing. He plans to spend quality time with his wife and kids, work in the shop, guide, and of course, get some personal fishing time. This balanced approach towards life and fishing is both realistic and inspiring. He treats each aspect—family, work, and fishing—as crucial components that contribute to his overall well-being.

Missed Opportunities: The Case of Tasmania and Norway

The conversation took a nostalgic turn when Lance was asked about his thwarted travel plans. He was supposed to visit Tasmania last year and Norway this year for fly fishing expeditions. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond his control, those plans had to be postponed. Lance sounded optimistic, stating that these trips have been rescheduled for next year, but he's also prepared to continue enjoying local waters if international travel remains a challenge.

Staying Connected and Informed

Lastly, Lance made it known that he's always available for anyone who wishes to connect with him or learn more about what he does. He’s active on social media and works for a fly fishing shop in Orem, Utah. Beyond that, Lance contributes to instructional videos and has a YouTube channel filled with free videos for those interested in picking up some tips and tricks. 

Final Thoughts

In a world where plans can change at the drop of a hat, Lance's discussion on the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast comes as a refreshing view of how one can adapt and still find joy in their passions. Whether it's exploring local fishing spots or balancing family life, his grounded approach offers valuable insights for anyone interested in fly fishing. And while exotic locations like Tasmania and Norway will always allure, it's important to remember that sometimes, the best experiences can be found just around the corner.

So, for anyone looking to connect with Lance, you can find him on social media or reach out to him through the fly fishing shop where he works. He's an open book and more than willing to share his extensive knowledge. With that, Lance shows us that whether near or far, fly fishing is more than just a sport; it's a way of life.

 If you like this article you'll enjoy htis one from Devin Olsen of the US Fly Fishing Team.

***Do you want to get deals on equipment, fly fishing trips, and lots of information? Become a member of the Loyalty Club on the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

 Christian Bacasa, Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

By Christian Bacasa
Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast
Fly Fishing Insider Podcast Official Website
Instagram Fly Fishing Insider Podcast
Instagram Dupeafish

Watch on YouTube