Time for the Ladies

Written by: Paul Procter

Although grayling technically come into season on June 16th, for those wielding trout rods the dawn of October is when our thoughts switch to them proper. Whilst some would argue they only take the limelight because trout are off limits, many a seasoned hand will reliable inform you grayling come into their prime during autumn and throughout winter.

Known as a bottom dweller, often we’re far too keen to reach for heavy bugs and scour the streambed, especially if frosty mornings persist. Yet, balmy afternoons at the backend see large darks and blue winged olives having a last fling that in turn summon watchful grayling to the surface. Those who lean to dry fly will know this only too well and tend to time their visit to coincide with any hatch, which is likely to occur from late morning onwards.


Although known as the “spring olive”, a second brood of large dark olives occurs in Autumn to spur on grayling once more.
Photo by Paul Procter

Whilst grayling have a reputation for holding in the faster, more broken water those long glassy glides with a mirror like surface is where you’ll find the bulk of dimpling fish. For my money, a simple F Fly dressed on a size 16 hook often appeals to even the most discerning of fish. Be more mindful however of how your fly behaves, as grayling are notorious for snubbing any imitations that don’t conform to surface currents. For this reason I’m a fan of Superstrong copolymers rather than fluorocarbons as the former tend much more pliable for given diameter. In turn this allows those delicate flies a degree of movement so they appear more convincing to this fickle mistress.


Even more modest sized grayling are capable of singling out an impostor, making it imperative we strive for drag free drifts.
Photo by Paul Procter

Occasionally you’ll come across shoaling fish that appear to be rising to fresh air! Chances are these fish will be focused on tiny greenflies, or even midge. Known as “smutting” fish, your best chances now are with more diminutive patterns, often a size 20 or less. Of course, we should consider our tippet diameter more so than ever now, which ideally should be scaled down. I’m happiest using 5X with standard sized dressings though if a more miniscule fly is called for then 6X, or even 7X is more in keeping.


It’s vital to marry finer tippets to smaller flies when pursuing grayling.
Photo by Paul Procter

Newcomers in particular agonise over approaching fish too close though grayling hard on the feed are bewilderingly tolerate creatures. Whether this has something to do with their gregarious shoaling nature when a safety in numbers mentality occurs, I not quite sure, but there’s little need to worry about spooking feeding fish. Of course this doesn’t give us license to go crashing around and instead we should always adhere to the softly-softly approach. On occasions this might mean crouching low too and sneaking up on your quarry using Indian style stalking tactics. Something else worth considering is to frequently change flies, especially after a missed chance.

Admittedly, grayling are reputed for their free rising, but I’d recommend playing it safe, by showing them an alternative pattern!


Even where grayling are found hard on the feed, it pays to keep back and approach with care.
Photo by Paul Procter


About Paul: Life long Orvis supporter, AAPGAI Master Instructor, Orvis Endorsed Guide and Wild Trout Trust vice president, Paul Procter is a dedicated flyfisher with over 40 years experience under his belt. Aside from being a regular on the Orvis Blog, Paul is a leading contributor to Trout & Salmon, Trout Fishermen and the Fieldsports Magazine. Travelling extensively throughout the UK, Europe and Southern Hemisphere, Paul has gained extensive knowledge in both fresh and saltwater disciplines. His abiding love though is to target large wild brown trout using dry fly techniques.

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