Andy Ford is an England Rivers International fly angler and co-presenter of the BT Sport TV fishing show ‘On The Bank’. Here he tells us all about his love of fishing for winter grayling.
As the warmth of summer makes way for cooler weather and shorter days, anticipation starts to grow in me. Rain falls, the water rises and chills. The leaves transform from their summer livery to red and burnished gold. It’s when I step outside, take a huge, greedy gulp of fresh, cold air, and smile.
It’s Autumn. It’s a time of year precious to anglers like me who love to fish for grayling.
I love this time of year with a passion. The reason is simple. It’s the perfect time to hunt the most beautiful of our freshwater species. Grayling fishing on the fly has become an obsession of mine – one I’d like to try and share with you.
While trout fishing in the summer is filled with incredible challenges and huge rewards, it’s the Autumn when my fishing really starts to come to life. I think it’s got a lot to do with the places grayling live.
We’re blessed with some stunning locations across the UK to target this most enigmatic of wild creatures. From the tea-stained dark waters of the River Eden, the River Ure, the raging torrent that is the River Dee in Wales, the incredible River Frome in Dorset, the River Kennet, the Avon and the chalk streams of the South like the Nadder, the Anton, the hallowed River Test, and River Itchen. I’ve caught grayling from them all. Some huge, some tiny – but all worshipped equally.
Fishing for grayling using nymphs or dries can give you brilliant sport all Winter, long after the trout season ends and you thought your fly fishing season was over.
I’ve tried to put together a list of flies and tackle below to help you experience the joys of grayling fishing. I’ve tried to cover rods, reels, lines, indication, and flies for all the situations you might encounter in your winter fishing quest for the Lady of the Stream!
Perfect rods for fishing grayling
For Euro Nymph Tactics, length and sensitivity are everything. This is a technique that uses super-thin fly lines or tapered monofilament leaders to present one, two, or three heavy bugs. It’s perhaps THE most effective tactic for tempting grayling. Ideally, a 10’ rod with a soft tip action and a crisp midsection is what to go for. Length gives you extra reach and control. A softer tip section allows you to cushion lighter hook lengths and absorb surging runs from these most powerful of river fish. Here’s a list of rods for fishing grayling available at Orvis:
Nymphs for grayling
Here’s a selection of the nymphs for grayling I use. The key is small and heavy. Get those nymphs down below out of season trout sitting in mid-water to find the grayling. Flies:
Winter fishing tips and year-round gear
A cracking winter dry fly that grayling I can’t resist is the Little Olive.
For Duo and Dry Fly, you can use your trout gear with no problem. Dry fly or duo (a buoyant dry with a nymph suspended underneath) can be a fantastic tactic.
Reels to use for grayling
Lightweight and with a really good drag system is what you need when searching for reels to use for grayling. My first ever fly reel was a Battenkill. It’s been hammered for 11 years and is still going strong!
Lines and indicators to use when fishing for grayling
A floating line for dries and duo – but try the new style Euronymph lines for the perfect presentation in shallower water like riffles and glides. The takes are brilliant. Strike at the slightest movement and you might be surprised at the size of the fish on the end of your line on your winter fishing trip.
Indicators: If you can’t see the takes, you won’t catch the fish!!
I hope that’s helpful. Get out there and have a go. You might find you end up loving grayling fishing as much as I do.
If you want any help or advice on fishing for grayling, drop me a message on social media and I’ll do my best to help!