Fall season - Grayling season. When temperatures begin to drop at night and the water clears up, Grayling start to become very active. With these 10 fly patterns in your box, you will be well-prepared for a rendezvous with "Thymallus thymallus" or the "Lady of the Stream" - as Grayling are affectionately called in Great Britain.
However, the presentation is equally as important as the fly, so we’ve provided two valuable tips for chasing Grayling during the Fall season.
Tip 1: Long Drifts with Dry Flies
On the surface, Grayling regularly show themselves in the early Fall season throughout the entire day. Later, as temperatures drop, they rise less often, and at some point, their delicate rings on the water can only be observed during the warmest hours of the day. Often, small Mayflies are the prime surface pattern for these slow-rising fish. For us fly fishermen, this slow rise means we must achieve a long, clean drift with our dry flies. While Brown Trout rise quickly and steeply to the surface, Grayling use their large dorsal fin to leisurely lift themselves from the current. With their small, slightly down-pointed mouth, they gently slurp flies from the surface in an almost upright position. This causes the small rings on the water’s surface, which gives little indication of the size of the fish.
To convincingly present the required small patterns (hook sizes 14 - 20) we recommend long leaders (12 ft.) and thin tippets (0.12mm or 0.10mm). But don’t worry: the fight is not a problem with a fine class 3 or 4 rod with a progressive action and a sensitive tip, because Grayling are not known for explosive runs. Rather, they turn, roll, and lie in the current with their large, flag-like dorsal fin.
Tip 2: Deep and Slow Drifting with the Nymph
While fly fishing for Grayling, nymphing is often the most effective tactic. Since nymphs are typically found near the river bottom, Grayling can easily feed without wasting their energy. As the current speeds reduce, there are very effective techniques such as "French Nymphing" or "Euro Nymphing" which can be successfully used to catch Grayling while they feed on nymphs.
For these methods, we recommend long rods (10ft - 11ft.) in low line classes (# 3) in combination with special nymphing leaders (EX. Soldarini). The nymphs, which are often weighted with tungsten beads, can therefore be offered very accurately and careful bites can be easily detected thanks to the special rigging. A very exciting fishery! More info can be found in our video about French Nymphing: Nymph Fishing Tips & Tricks. Part 1: Euro Nymphing.
Our Top 10 Flies for Grayling:
- Fulling Mill Dry Fly - BWO Split Wing Dun Barbless (#17) - Baetis flies hatch in almost all waters. This variant is tied on a thin-wire, barbless hook, and due to its slim body and the fine CDC wings is especially effective in even currents. The quill body and the Coq de Leon tail give the mayfly imitation a very natural character. Treat with CDC oil.
- Fulling Mill Dry Fly - Infallible (#14) - The biggest pattern of our selection. Due to the parachute tie, this imitation of a mayfly sits deep in the surface film. The red hot spot is an additional trigger for Grayling. Treat with CDC oil.
- Fulling Mill Dry Fly - Parachute Black Gnat (#16) - Black Gnats are a small, black pattern that imitates a variety of black insects. A pattern that works well into the winter! With the design of this fly, only the white sighting aid should be treated with floatant.
- Fulling Mill Dry Fly - JL Mole Barbless (#17) - A sparsely tied pattern that floats flat. Because of the fine CDC wing, this fly is not a permanent swimmer, primarily intended for evenly flowing waters. However, it is almost unbeatable in these scenarios! It imitates a whole palette of small Ephemera and Sedges.
- Soldarini Fly Tackle Nymph - Red Tag CDC (#14) - A modern interpretation of a classic. The Red Tag has a magical attraction to Grayling and the fine CDC hackle creates a nice action in the current. Tied with a tungsten bead.
- Guideline Nymph - Pheasant Killer (#16) - The Pheasant Killer is a great pattern for many scenarios and works particularly well in waters with small Ephemera. The highlight is a red tag tied from Glo Brite and a matching hotspot in the thorax area. Tied with a tungsten bead.
- Fulling Mill Nymph - SR Grayling Special (#16) - A lighter nymph with awesome Grayling colors that you can use at slower speeds or fish in combination with a heavier nymph. Of course, tied on a barbless hook.
- Guideline Nymph - French Nymph (#14) - The French Nymph is a dark pattern for many scenarios that works particularly well in waters with small ephemera. The highlight is a small hotspot made of red holographic tinsel and a thorax made of UV dubbing. Works very well in fast flows. Tied with a tungsten bead.
- Guideline Nymph - Funky Shrimp (#14) - A super fishy pattern for murky or cold water. The very slim nymph is tied with synthetic dubbing on a thin-wire, barbless shrimp hook. A layer of lead provides the necessary weight to sink the patten. Works great in combination with a heavy nymph.
- Fulling Mill Nymph - Tungsten Squirminator Hot Head Jig Pink Barbless (#16) - This minimalist Squirmy Worm (also called 'Wiggly Worm') is tied with thin strips of elastic silicone and fitted with a 3.8mm tungsten bead on a jig hook. Just right for high, murky water and deep holes with strong currents. If the Grayling are holding in deep water, this is a great choice!