FEELING IT IN THE BONES
I admit that, compared to many others, I look back on a short fly fishing life. I‘ve only been into this kind of fishing for about 13 years, but if there‘s one thing I realised very early on, it‘s the fact that fly fishing – like almost everything in life – is often subject to trends or a certain hype. Examples? Until a few years ago, fly reels, for example, were allowed to have a few grams more because they performed a second job as an almost indispensable „counterweight“. Yet currently lightweight constructions for „fatigue-free“ casting all day long are all de rigueur. Or take glass rods for example – a few years ago they were the „hot shit“ that everyone needed in their locker. These days you very rarely see them in use. I don‘t want to deny their all of these things usefulness, but only a few things seem to last. Consumers are obviously always on the lookout for something new, or at least they strive for improvement – and I don‘t exclude myself from that. Nevertheless, every now and then there are products in fly fishing that can be called a real innovation. Sometimes it‘s little things, like the laser marking of line data on fly lines, such as those from Rio, sometimes it‘s never-before-seen creations, such as the Skagit shooting heads that have appeared out of nowhere. The Baskette line tray from Denmark, the UV glue from Raid-Zap, the unusual rod series from Arctic Silver – they all are examples of real innovation that have caught on and found their sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, fan base.
A new addition to the category of ‘real innovation’ is the new ESN fly reel (shown here in the colour Chipotle) from the noble company. The extremely pretty reel with a closed frame comes with an extra pouch containing three stainless steel weights of 14g, 29g and 43g each for the perfect balance. In view of the differences in weight, which seem small at first glance, I can already see question marks on the faces of our readers and of course some of them will ask: Do we really need it? The answer is a resounding yes!
But this requires a short excursion into the history of fly fishing. ENS stands for European-style nymphing – a type of fishing that is still unfairly ridiculed by many. Let’s get these history facts: Europe – and especially Eastern European – can be called the cradle of modern nymph fishing. This is where „fishing with a sunk fly“ was perfected and the various variants, some of which differ only minimally, were constantly developed. For a long time, Czech nymphing was considered the best-known and most successful technique – until it was replaced by French nymphing. In the end, both techniques became the European Nymphing/European-Style-Nymphing we know today. The techniques can not only be pretty exciting, they can also very successful. And another thing is certain: extremely demanding …
I made my first personal experiences with ESN a few years ago in Slovenia. There were four of us and while three of us couldn‘t even record a take, our guide caught fish after fish. One by one he handed us his set-up and each of us suddenly started catching too. Particularly striking was the line, which I initially thought was pure backing. But in fact it was a line imported from France that had nothing to do with a conventional fly line. With this thin, French braid in combination with a very sensitive rod and a very light reel, you could feel every tiny attempt of a fish to get hold of the nymph (it was a classic Prince) and immediately set the hook. This direct contact with the fish was decisive and all subsequent attempts to fish with the nymph using „regular“ techniques were mostly unsuccessful. Even last year, when I visited Slovenia again, I wished I had the right equipment with me and I could have slapped myself for still not being properly equipped for nymph fishing. Nymphing fish were plentiful, but I couldn‘t catch most of them because I had to rely on my sight and often set the hook too early or too late.
European-style nymphing is a fishing technique that simply depends on a lot of feeling. And this is exactly what the SAGE ESN ensures with its interchangeable counterweights, because this allows the reel to be adapted to your own individual requirements. The perfect interaction between line, rod and reel and the resulting sensitive handling of the equipment are the secret of successful nymph fishing.
The fact that the SAGE ESN comes equipped with the One Revolution brake button (one turn = full braking power), that makes it also suitable for „standard“ fly fishing – e.g. with a dry fly – with or without the additional weights is another plus point. The 2-in-1 solution saves you from having totake along another reel if it is not yet clear which technique you want to use or what conditions you will find on the water.
More details about the reel and everything else you need for fly fishing can be found at