My clients often note that my winter fly selection is small. A single box of around 100 grayling nymphs is the norm for my guiding sessions… I do this because I know that the patterns I have in my box are the right ones for where I guide. They are all proven catchers in different water types and conditions, and I know that if these flies aren’t working then very little else would. Below is my list of ten deadly grayling flies that should feature in every anglers fly box this winter – split nicely into three categories; top dropper, middle dropper, and point flies. You’ll find variations of all of these in my boxes, and I trust them all implicitly, and you should too!
Fly Selection: Top Droppers
The Dirty Pink Shrimp from the Tactical range is a dead cert for my top dropper. Lightly weighted, this guy needs some help getting down in deeper water but is total candy for big grayling in the winter!
My DuraShrimp is a shrimp pattern based on the colour scheme of Craig Mcdonald’s awesome Duracell Jig (see below). Tied in sizes 10 – 16, this fly can fit into a team almost anywhere, but it’s the lighter 14s and 16s which I use the most. Deadly in many different water situations, this fly almost always ends up tied on first. Since their introduction, I now tie these patterns on the Barbless Heavyweight Grub hook.
The classic Quill Jig is a great choice for the top dropper when the water is running clearer than normal. The size 16 has got me out of trouble so many times in low water conditions, and I’ve had many days where this little natural pattern has made the difference. It also often sorts out the specimens, larger fish who have seen all the big shrimps and pink tags have found this critter to be irresistible.
This one certainly isn’t one to fish in a team on a French leader! The duo or Klink-n-Dink can get forgotten about during the winter months as the fish leave the flats and tail outs for deeper water, but on those fine bright days, you’ll find grayling in the feeding lies again. The Duo Special is a super buoyant Klinkhammer with a built-in tippet ring, made especially for holding heavy weights up. At a push the larger size will manage a 3mm bead, meaning you get the chance to dredge the gravel – a must-have for those who don’t use the modern European styles.
Fly Selection: Middle Dropper
The Pink Tag needs no introduction, it’s a truly legendary fly which finds a place in EVERY grayling anglers armoury – a proven fish catcher and essential part of the Tactical range. Visibility, movement, profile, it’s got it all, grayling love these things!
The Hot Rib is a cracking fly when fishing clearer water. Buggy, natural, but with that hint of colour, this is a fly for those tough days when the tags and hot spots aren’t doing it for you.
My Baby Pink is a really simple fly, but one I’d be lost without. Essentially just a green Hares Ear with a pale pink bead and red rib, it’s my #1 fly in almost any situation and has caught fish from rivers all over Europe. I tie mine with possum fur and olive Ice Dub for a really buggy look. There’ something about that colour bead though, they can’t resist it. Again I tie these on the Barbless Heavyweight Grub hook, or in the case of the ones pictured, I crush down the barbs on the normal Heavyweight Grub.
The Duracell is one of those “Hall of Fame” fly patterns, a slice of genius from Craig Mcdonald. An unusual colour scheme but so effective. I can’t remember seeing many flies like these before this pattern, but if you check most grayling boxes this winter you’ll find the Duracell. Overall, a phenomenal fly pattern.
Fly Selection: Point Fly
A total grenade of a fly, the DP Grayling Bomb doesn’t mess around! The two beads on this fly get you down and dirty fast, but the flash and movement mean that this isn’t just a sacrificial fly, it’ a catcher in its own right
The Fuggithat: This is a real bruiser, one for getting down quickly and with no fuss. The name came about after tying these on for clients over the years; they’d feel how heavy it is and ask “what the fuggithat?!”. What we’ve got here is a Size 10 Jig Force barbless hook, a 4mm tungsten bead on the front with a 2.5mm tungsten bead for company. I use a thread on the body rather than dubbing as this creates a more slim and dense fly, and only a tiny pinch of dubbing at the collar – this thing is all about getting down there quickly!
So there you have it, a good portion of my guiding box, all on one page! There’s no magic fly selection when it comes to winter grayling, often conditions will dictate what we can use as much as the fish will, but I know that I can fish these ten flies with confidence and that you can too. Many of these flies can be found in the Tactical range, meaning they’re tied using the best materials available and with quality barbless hooks too.
There’s no excuse, get your thermals on, get out in the river and go catch the biggest grayling of your life!
As well as being a Fulling Mill ambassador, Andy is a full-time guide. Check out his website below for more information.