In the UK, fly fishing for grayling is mostly done during late Autumn and Winter but on the Continent, the Summer and early Autumn months are more favourable – with many only dry fly fishing for grayling. If you travel to Continental Europe you will find big magnificent rivers that host Grayling in abundance. The Traun in Austria, Soca in Slovenia, San in Poland, Ribnik in Bosnia and the Vitava in South Bohemia (European championship 2018 was held there) are top of the list of any fly anglers in search of the “Lady of the Stream”. But some rivers in Germany and the Belgian Ardennes can be very successful as well. Nymph fishing for Grayling is very popular at the moment and very rewarding but the most beautiful sport you can have is without doubt dry fly fishing for grayling. When tackled the right way, this style of fishing offers the ultimate dry fly fishing experience.
The first thing to say about successfully dry fly fishing is that you need to be adaptable. If you insist on only fishing upstream dry fly through the trout season then you need to break out of that mindset and approach your grayling fishing more openly. That’s not to say you will not have some good days fishing that method, but you will limit yourself quite severely especially once the grayling became shy and selective concerning flies. When I am grayling fishing I like to pick my days, picking the right time of the day is a good idea too. A nice warm late Summer or a chilly but dry Autumn day is perfect. Then I like to be out during the warmest part of the day – around midday when the low sun reaches its highest point in the sky. The extra degree of warmth can be enough to trigger a few flies to hatch and the grayling can reveal themselves with a rise.
Terrestrials falling out of the trees along the river can really get the grayling to rise. An upstream presentation to sighted or rising fish is the classic way of dry fly fishing for grayling. You can try bringing a fish up when nothing is rising but if nothing is happening, try to fish your dries downstream! It seems odd but if you present a dry fly (or an emerger) downstream with a parachute cast the grayling do not see the leader first and is less suspicious! You should also try to fish as ‘thin’ as possible when it comes to your tippet, especially with tiny dry flies. If you are dealing with big, fussy Grayling in skinny water, make sure you’re using 7x or below. Here are a few tips to help accomplish a better dry fly downstream drift.
- Try to position yourself upstream at about forty-five degrees, or less, to one side or the other of your target. Keep false casts to a minimum and drop the fly about halfway to the rising fish, keeping your rod tip high and let your dry fly drift downstream at the speed of the running water tending your rod slowly downwards.
- During this movement you can shake out the remaining length of line by thumping the tip of the rod up and down so the fly slides into the strike zone. This is accomplished by subtly flicking your wrist up and down so as to influence the tip of the rod to allow the line to feed out evenly and appropriately.
- Be careful not to impart too much energy or you’ll move the fly and foul up the drag free drift. When you the see the fish ‘eating’ your fly from the surface simply raise the rod and come tight to the leader. Don’t strike too quickly or you’ll take the fly away.
Here are my most favorite dry flies and emerger when dry fly fishing for Grayling. The Tactical fly range from Fulling Mill offers a wide selection of patterns that cover any hatch be it waterbourne or terrestrial insects.
Emerger Olive (16, 18)
A classic pattern when Grayling are feeding on any strain of Olive mayflies. Fish this pattern when the fish are just sipping from the surface and not breaking to surface film. The Olive Emerger is also available in Barbless.
The inevitable, Adams Klinkhammer (12, 14, 16)
A truly great dry fly for both trout and grayling, it represents almost every emerging type of insect and sits perfectly in the film. Ensure to apply dry fly floatant to the post for maximum buoyancy and visibility.
Black Ant Fly Pattern (16, 18)
Ant’s can be present at almost any time of the year and can be extremely difficult to pick out on the water. If the Grayling are rising freely and not responding to anything you offer them, try this ant fly pattern! It’s also effective when the flying ant storm hits.
Balloonhammer Caddis (16)
Grayling absolutely LOVE caddis and this pattern is rarely off my cast during the summer and autumn months. It’s a very versatile fly which can be used as a standard dry fly or part of a Duo set up with a nymph suspended below. When dry fly fishing for grayling this really is a must have fly pattern.