In my November 2016 Blog I gave details of some of my favourite grayling flies (Orange & Pink Gamarus, Orange & Pink Utah Killer Bugs, Red & Pink Squirmy Worms, Bead-head Partridge & Hare’s Ear Spiders & Small Bead-head Nymphs). Here are some more that I have had great success with during the Autumn, Winter & Early Spring.
Bill Eadie’s Grayling Slayer
Hook: Jig size 16 to 10
Thread: Tan 8/0 or 6/0
Bead-head: Copper tungsten 2mm to 5mm
Body: Dubbed squirrel guard hairs (use very sticky wax to hold the hairs onto the thread)
Rib: Pear mylar
Collar: Orange Ice Dub or similar
This pattern was first shown to me several years ago by Bill Eadie who catches large numbers of huge grayling from his local Scottish rivers on this fly. It has proved to be equally successful for me on a number of rivers.
Hook: Size 22 Daiichi 1200 Grub
Thread: Red 8/0
Bead-head: Red 1.5 or 2mm tungsten
Tail: Red or pink number 6 pole elastic or flexifloss
Body: Red holographic tinsel
Rib: red or pink 0.14mm diameter wire
This is a modified version of a fly shown to me by Grayling Society member Brian Clarke. It is particularly effective below sewage outfalls where there are large numbers of red Chironomid Midge larve in the bottom sediments.
Hook: Gamakatsu C12-BM size 26 to 30
Thread: 8/0 Tan well waxed
Wing & legs: A single CdC feather tip
This incredibly simple dry fly has proved to be devastatingly effective when grayling have been taking Aphids during Autumn leaf-fall & during the Winter when they have been taking tiny adult Midges.
Hook: Long-shank size 16 to 10
Thread: Tan 6/0
Weight: Split shot sizes number 10 to Swan on a loop of nylon monofilament
Body: Dubbed Hare’s mask in a split thread loop
Hackle: Brown partridge
Head: Yellow or green synthetic wool singed/burned at the tip
I have had many grayling, including fish close to 3lb on this Oliver Edwards’ pattern which was I believe based on Hans Van Klinken’s Leadhead fly
Catgut Caddis Pupa/Larva
Hook: Grub size 16 to 12
Thread: Tan 8/0
Head: Black or gold tungsten bead, 2mm to 3.5mm
Body: Yellow or green catgut (soak the gut before tying to soften)
Legs: Dubbed squirrel guard hairs (use very sticky wax to keep the hair on the thread)
Caddis larvae & pupae are a significant component of graylings’ diets & most have yellow or green bodies. The catgut goes soft & transparent when soaked, making it very realistic.
All of these flies have produced a good number of grayling for me. It is well worth sampling the invertebrates in your river in order to discover which of the more imitative patterns might be most appropriate on your water.
My favourite methods of fly fishing are dry-fly or sight-fished nymphs/bugs, but particularly during the winter, when fishing on spate rivers, the grayling are usually loath to rise to a dry fly and the water is too coloured, or the light too poor, to see the fish for sight-fishing. It is then that I resort to a range of nymphing techniques. Of which Euronymphing is my most used technique
Frank Sawyer and Oliver Kite showed nymph-fishers the value of the induced take when nymph-fishing and stillwater fly-fishers are aware of the importance of applying movement to lures. However, many of the dry fly anglers that I see appear to rarely apply movement to their surface offerings, believing that ‘dead drift’ is the most effective way of presenting surface flies.
In the early 1960s when I first started fishing split cane was still the most popular rod-making material and fiber glass was just starting to become popular. However my first ever coarse fishing rod was made of ash butt & middle sections with a greenheart wood tip. My first fly rod, bought in the early 1960s, was a second hand 9’ cane rod built by E. Kerry of Lockton, a small village near Pickering.
Presentation is another critical factor in achieving success & grayling are just as unpredictable with respect to this. Sometimes they want a fly ‘on the drop’ & often they will travel quite a distance to take a fly as it slowly sinks. So there are times that it doesn’t pay to fish a fast-sinking, heavily weighted fly.