Best Jig Nymphs For Trout

At the Missoulian Angler, the jig nymph has positively changed fly fishing success rates to such a point they outsell standard nymphs a pace of 3:1. They are considered to be some of the best trout nymphs by many. Unless a very specific hatch matcher is needed, it’s rare for anyone in the fly shop to recommend a standard nymph. Why has the jig nymph so quickly and completely changed the way we fish? For all the same reasons the jig nymph will change the way you fish whenever you decide to catch some fish and go deep!

It starts with a slotted tungsten bead. The fishhook is a product of 1000’s of years of design, and it’s designed so it aligns itself in the water shank up, hook point down. By definition, a jig rides hook point up, shank down. It’s the tungsten bead, with its high density and excellent weight to size ratio that changes the hook from riding point down to point up. Of course, enough weight to offset the balance of the hook also means the jig fly sinks faster than a classic nymph tied with a standard bead.

We all want our trout nymphs close to the bottom, and the tungsten bead helps in that aspect. But as every angler knows, the bottom is also an excellent place to snag. This often starts the process of re-rigging, which often gives us a chance to closely examine the cost benefits of being close to the bottom. The jig style nymph shines in this aspect as well.

Riding hook point up, the jig nymph is significantly less prone to snagging on the bottom. You can do it, but with the hook point up, there’s less chance of snagging to a point you can’t get your fly back. When you see the jig nymph is less prone to snags, you’ll regain the confidence that every fourth cast won’t be so costly. You’ll start to work closer to the bottom, where the fish are looking for food. The tungsten jig s get you closer to the bottom, and snag less. You fish longer, rig less, and stop worrying about cost benefits!

Many jig nymphs are the flies you’re already using, tied on an inverted hook. The Pat’s Rubberlegs, Pheasant Tail Nymph and Hare’s Ear Nymph immediately come to mind. These flies produce everywhere a line gets wet. Now they’re available as jig nymphs, and these top producers just got more effective. If you’re looking to ease your way into jig nymphing, going with a classic fly, inverted as a jig, to jumpstart your entrance into this fly style.

The jig style has also spawned its own style of fly. Loosely known as the Perdigon, this jig nymph is sparse and has a coated body. It’s designed to sink rapidly, getting where the fish are faster than any other nymph we sell. Make sure to vary your sizes, to match your local insects. Be ready to be closer to the bottom, and then be ready to start taking more and bigger fish! It’s what the jig nymph is all about!

Here is a list of some of the best nymph patterns tied with the Jig style hook that work across the country.

Top 9 Tungsten Jig Nymphs

PT Hot Spot Jig Orange Fly

PT Hot Spot – Orange

SR Bullet Olive Fly

Bullet Quill

TH Duracell Jig

TH Duracell

Hare's Ear Jig

Hare’s Ear Jig

Yellow Spot Jig Fly

Yellowspot Jig

Pheasant Tail Jig

Pheasant Tail Jig

TJ Hooker Black/Brown

TJ Hooker

Natural Jig Zirdle

Zirdle Jig

Pink Jig Squirmie Wormie

Squirmie Wormy Jig

Click here to view a complete list of our top Jig nymphs

Fly Fishing Jig Nymphs

Perdigon. Perdigone. Doesn’t matter how you spell it, Perdigons are sweeping the fly fishing world. With euro-nymphing as the buzzword, and effectiveness proven, the Perdigon jig nymph is now the hottest style fly we sell for trout at our Missoula fly shop and work anywhere in the world that trout are found. But where did this design come from? It’s a bit of a journey to get from the bottom of the ocean to the shores of the Blackfoot River, Bitterroot River, Clark Fork River and Rock Creek, but the journey was well worth it!

The jig, and jigging, has been popular in saltwater for many years, and then brought to it’s modern fruition in bass fishing. Using a molded lead head, the hook rides inverted (hook point up) and uses an up and down action to attract fish. The advantages of the jig slowly dawned on fly fishermen, and in the late ’80’s Bob Clouser tied the first Clouser Minnow, using Wapsi lead eyes instead of a molded lead head. The Clouser Minnow may have taken as many species as the Woolly Bugger- it’s that effective.

It took a while for the jig hook to catch on amongst fly fishers, but it’s here to stay now. When bouncing a jig nymph along the bottom, the inverted hook point snags less, saving the angler flies and time on the water. Additionally, in order to invert the hook point, the jig style nymph requires a tungsten bead. The tungsten is heavy enough to turn the hook point “over”, if you will. Tungsten is much heavier than the brass beads that were popularized by Theo Bakelaar back in the ’80’s. Theo is from Holland, and was the first to use gold beads in his flies. The slotted tungsten bead is a direct offshoot of Theo’s original gold bead.

Closely intertwined with the emergence of jig nymphs and Perdigons is Euro-nymphing, or Czech nymphing as it was originally called. Euro-nymphing is a highly sophisticated version of high stick nymphing, and without doubt the most effective method of fly fishing. Most of the World Championships of Fly Fishing have been won by people using Euro-nymph techniques. On hard fished waters these bottom bumping tactics move fish that have seen every fly and lure available. In Montana, Euro-nymphing takes so many fish because of the comparative lack of pressure found here. In the summer of 2019, a euro-nymphing guest who competed for a position on the Italian National Fly Fishing Team had two 100+ fish days with one of our Missoula fly fishing guides. Euro nymphing works!

Because Euro-nymphing relies on getting flies deep quickly, the jig nymph is perfect for the application. While not snagless, they certainly hook the bottom with less frequency. The tungsten bead gets the fly to the bottom faster than other materials used in construction. At the Missoulian Angler, we carry over 75 jig nymph patterns and many of them can be found on our online store, but not all of them are Perdigons. Any nymph can be tied on a jig hook- we carry Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails and Princes that are tied inverted on a jig hook. Not going to say they aren’t a bit different, but they’re quite recognizable. Many of our jig nymphs use a CDC collar. (More on that later!) The Perdigon is a style of fly that has specific construction techniques.

Perdigons are specialized jig nymphs, and while they vary in color and size, Perdigons are defined by their construction style. They are tied sparsely, usually with a Coq De Leon fiber tail, and the bodies are coated with either UV resin or epoxy. The coating is critical to the Perdigon, as it allows the fly to sink faster. Not due to additional weight, but because the coating is glass smooth, and almost frictionless in the water. The coating dramatically improves sink rate. Some Perdigons are tied with hot spots, or a bright, contrasting band or collar. The hot spot is used to attract fish to the fly, though they’re not found in all Perdigons.

The first time you look at a Perdigon, you wonder why they work. There doesn’t seem to be much there. There isn’t, and that’s the beauty of this style. Because the Perdigons don’t really imitate anything specific, they pretty much imitate most things. The color and shape could be a caddis pupa, a small stonefly or mayfly nymph. Because it’s a universal shape, the Perdigon is never really the wrong fly to tie on. It’s why it’s so effective. The non-denominational nature of the Perdigon makes it universally accepted by fish. Add that to the rapid sink rate, and you have the perfect storm for a nymph.

While Perdigons are very uniform in their shape, size and color are very important. Think of the dominant colors prevalent in insect life in the river at any given time, and match the color and size. In Spring, the G Kes and SR Olive Bullet are both effective, one imitating the Western March Brown and the other the BWO. As run-off ends, again the G Kes is a winner, imitating a small Golden Stone or a PMD nymph. The SR Bullet Quill is also effective for WMB’s and  BWO’s. The Black SR Bullet is perfect for Nemoura nymphs as well as trico nymphs. As you can see, there’s a Perdigon out there for every hatch, and we carry them!

Here’s a heads up. When you go hopper/dropper with a Perdigon, especially in slower water, be ready for a “bump” when the fly hits the nadir of the drop. They sink so quickly that when the Perdigon gets to depth, it might pull on the back of the dry and make you think you had a strike. Just be ready for that. Additionally, you may want to shorten your dropper length just a bit, as the angle from the dry fly with a Perdigon is much steeper than a standard brass bead nymph. It’s why they work.

The CDC collar can be a very effective nymphing weapon if you choose to utilize it. CDC comes from the preen gland of waterfowl, and is very resistant to matting. It’s so effective with dry flies because it holds air bubbles, which refract light and look very realistic as wings on a dry fly. When you first cast a Jig Nymph collared with CDC collar, it’s dry, and retains air bubbles. Those air bubbles refract as well underwater they do on the surface, and really attract the fish. But after 3-4 dunkings, the feathers will mat and lose their ability to hold air bubbles. If the fish are fussy, you may want to take a little Frog’s Fanny or Shimizaki desiccant and dress the collar again. If you’re using a jig with dubbing, try to keep the desiccant away from the body. With a dressed collar, your jig nymph will become a more effective fly. Just a thought!

Jig nymphs have changed the way we nymph for trout. They sink faster, getting them to “the zone” faster. That alone makes them more effective! Add the inverted hook which snags less, and now you’re more willing to get to the zone! You become a better nympher when you use a jig nymph. The best fly fishing guides in Missoula have been using tungsten bead join nymphs for at least 6 years. We think they will change the way you approach your nymphing, and make you a more successful angler.

Some Of Our Favorites

The Euro Nymph Game

Trout eat constantly. If they’re not surface feeding, they’re sub-surface feeding. It’s a well-known fact that nymphs live in the rocks. It’s a more well-known fact that rocks live on the river bottom! So if you want to get your fly to where the fish are, you need to get your nymph on the bottom. Which is why Euro Nymphing is so effective.

Euro nymphing has been around for 100’s of years. Historic records have anglers fishing deep flies on tight lines in central Europe in the 1600’s. Fast forward to the 60’s, and you find anglers across the United States high stick nymphing, which is also Euro Nymphing. And of course, the competitive anglers across the world have dominated the river portion of the World Fly Fishing Championships with Euro nymphing techniques.

Euro nymphing traditionally uses a long rod (10-11.5 ft.), a FIPS (Fédération Internationale de Peche Sportive Mouche) Euro Nymphing line and a long, monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. The variations from that are endless, but that is the basic setup. The long rod allows for better line control on the water, while the line and leader are chosen for their ability to sink rapidly. You can definitely use a Euro nymph set-up on your 9 ft rod, however the shorter rod will not give you the coverage a longer rod provides, nor will you get the length of drift. But tightliners have been nymphing with 9 ft rods for years with great success.

Perdigon Fly Pattern is one of our most effective Euro Nymphs we carry. Also a very popular dropper off of a dry fly.

The flies are also different than many of the traditional nymphs used in Missoula. The Euro nymphs, like the Perdigon, are designed to sink rapidly. Many feature Tungsten beads on jig style hooks. The jig style hook rides point up, so they hang up less on the bottom of the river. The Missoulian Angler has the largest jig nymph selection in Missoula, and it’s expanding on a yearly basis. These nymphs sink rapidly, snag less and take trout.

The Euro nymph fisherman is running a relatively a relatively short line (10-25 ft) with 1-2 flies and maybe some weight, depending on depth. The FIPS line is quite thin, and not utilized as a classic fly casting line. The cast is accomplished using the weight of the flies and the flexibility of the long rod to cast the nymphs. The design of the Euro nymphs takes them to the bottom quickly, and the long rod allows the angler to control their depth and speed with incredible precision. The graphite rod translates every bump and tick back to the angler’s hand. As the flies ride close to the bottom, where the fish are, the tight line instantaneously allows the angler to set the hook upon take.

Working at such a close distance, euro nymphing is more suited to faster moving water. You can definitely Euro nymph in slower water, but your wading game had better be in top form! Euro nymphing does not work well from a boat. You need to have a bit more control over your flies depth than is achievable from a boat. Additionally, it often takes a couple of passes through a viable lie before the proper depth and speed is achieved, which is quite difficult from a boat.

Euro nymphing is all about getting the fly where the fish live, allowing the fish to expend minimum energy to feed. There is no method of fishing that is more effective. The relative water currents are slowest at the bottom of a river. The nymphs in the rocks are at the bottom of the river. The fish get a maximum return for a minimum effort when feeding, so they spend the majority of their time hugging the bottom. When you get your fly where the fish are feeding, you take more fish. Simple as that. So if you’re all about catching a lot of fish, call and ask the Missoulian Angler Fly Shop about Euro nymphing opportunities in Missoula. Once you get the technique figured out, your catch rate will jump exponentially.

Happy fly fishing!