Grayling fly fishing, dry fly, wet fly and nymph
- tactics explained

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

Fishing for grayling

grayling fly fishing
A hooked grayling

The presence of grayling in a river used to be considered a nuisance however nowadays lots of anglers derive a great deal of pleasure fly fishing for grayling during the trout close season and catching grayling whilst trout angling during the summer months. This page is about autumn and winter fly fishing for grayling when the fish are in their prime and excellent sport can be enjoyed. River fly fishermen who really need to escape the "cabin fever" during the short days of winter cab put away the fly tying vice for a while and go fishing. Follow this link if you want to know more about grayling habits.

Grayling fishing is best and most enjoyable during fine, clear days when the water is not high and dirty. Indeed spate conditions are the worst imaginable for grayling fly fishing and high winds during the autumn can make conditions difficult due to leaves and other debris floating downstream.

orange klinkhammer white klinkhammer
Klinkhammers orange and white

Fly fishing tackle for grayling need not be overly heavy because the fish themselves are seldom over two kilos, therefore a #5 outfit is usually perfectly sufficient, except for those who prefer to throw a team of heavy weight Czech nymphs and use something stronger in case of breakages. A #5 outfit will allow the use of fine leaders and permit the delicate presentation of dry flies which is often necessary to fool the fish in slower reaches of rivers. Stalking a single trout with one pair of eyes is difficult enough, stalking a shoal of grayling lying in shallow water with numerous pairs of observant eyes on the lookout for danger is much more demanding of the skills of concealment. Do not underestimate the challenge of this fish for they can be as shy and nervous as any trout and you should be just as proud of your successes.

hares ear nymph partridge and orange wet fly
Hares Ear Partridge & Orange
waterhen bloa wet fly red tag wet fly
Waterhen Bloa Red Tag
greenwells wet fly greenwells spider wet fly
Greenwell Greenwell Spider
invincable wet fly olive nymph
Invincible Olive Nymph

Dry fly fishing for grayling is my personal favourite method but its chances of success are completely dictated by the availability of insects and the attitude of the fish towards surface feeding. In other words if they are not rising and I do not expect them to come to the surface I do not fish a dry fly for them. Choosing a dry fly is not difficult if there are naturals simply “match the hatch”. There are however a couple of flies worth mentioning that are especially good for grayling, the Red Tag and the Klinkhammer type in all its various colours to match the hatching insects. This fly represents an emerging insect rather than a dun and it is amazingly successful for both grayling and trout. Wet fly fishing with a team of three traditional flies, patterns such as Greenwell, Blue Dun, Red Tag, Hares Ear, Waterhen Bloa, Snipe and Purple, Partridge and Orange or Wickhams Fancy, worked across and downstream is often a fruitful method of searching the water. Those patterns are of course mainly suitable for use in the autumn when grayling fly fishing is at its best.

Fly fishing for arctic grayling
Fly fishing for grayling in arctic Norway
green czech nymph red and green bug
Green Czech Red and green bug
gold head bug hot spot bug
Gold head bug Hot spot bug
pink bug egg bug
Pink bug Egg bug

Once the weather turns colder and the fish seek out the deeper holding areas, the flies must get down to their depth and it is then that the “bugs” as the heavy nymphs are affectionately called are needed. These are usually fished in teams of three and there are several methods that can be used to present them. The Czech nymph method involves fishing with very little line other than the leader, short casting upstream and tripping the tail fly along the river bed. Effectively it is bait fishing with an artificial “fly” that represents a nymph, larva, shrimp or fish egg. Close contact with the flies ensures that any bite can be reacted to quickly and the method is especially good in fast water. If you need to cast further to reach the fish the team of nymphs can be suspended beneath a small float or a strike indicator and in effect the method becomes float fishing but it is still a very effective way to catch grayling or trout. Finally you can keep the float or indicator and dispense with the tail fly altogether and use some split shot, selecting sufficient weight to ensure that the shot just tickles along the bottom and as it does so the leader will be jerked by each contact with the river bed, giving the flies a very lifelike presentation making this an excellent means of catching fish. Fly fishing for grayling is cheap and available so don;t miss a date with the "lady of the stream".

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