Fly fishing for Grayling
- the Lady of the stream

Fishing instructor, fly fishing tuition and fishing trips based in Scotland. Salmon and trout fishing advice, flies and articles.

Habits of European Grayling (Thymallus thymallus) for fly fishers

grayling fishing season on the river eden
Grayling season

This page concerns the species of grayling commonly found in Europe. There are other species of grayling in North America and Asia. They are a valuable food and sport fish throughout their range and highly prized by many people. Fly fishing for grayling is a challenging sport and the grayling “lady of the stream” is a beautiful and interesting fish. Its body is herring shaped sleek and slivery but it boasts an unmistakable large and colourful dorsal fin. Despite the fact that it often shares the same habitat as the trout its habits are somewhat different since particularly when it is at its best in winter it is shoaling fish whereas the trout is more of a solitary creature. October and November are perhaps the best months for grayling fishing in the UK, the fish are well recovered from their springtime spawning exertions and are fit and strong. Grayling are bottom dwelling fish, they feed mainly on nymphs, shrimps, worms and larvae and other river borne foods but they do rise keenly to the surface for hatching flies and often take them with a delicacy that belies the fish’s size.

european grayling
A fine Scottish grayling

Grayling may be indigenous in some parts of the UK but they has been introduced to many other areas by humans for either food or sport. Its range extends northwards to the Tay system in the UK and no further at present although the threat of them being introduced into other areas is forever present. It demands clean water and a healthy population of insect life in order to survive and so presence of this fish in quantity is a sure sign of a good environment, a complement to the river. European grayling are also found in still water, especially in Scandinavia. Perhaps because it has coarse scales or maybe because it breeds between the months of March and May at the same time as coarse fish the grayling is regarded in some quarters as a coarse fish, suggesting that it is a lesser mortal than its close relative the trout. This is unfortunate since the grayling is truly a salmonid and its adipose fin confirms that.

artic grayling
Graying from arctic Norway

Fortunately in recent times its reputation as a worthy quarry for the fly angler has gained in status, thanks to the work of The Grayling Society in the UK and influence from the continent of Europe where it is highly respected for its sporting qualities. A large grayling would be in excess of 1kg and a huge grayling might be bigger than 2kg but such specimens are very rare. For information about grayling fly fishing follow this link.

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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.