Grayling Nymphs - 🇬🇧 v 🇺🇸

Grayling Nymphs - UK v USA

Before I begin, this email is not suggesting that one of these flies is better than the other - they are both fantastic at catching Grayling - but in different types of water - read on McDuff to find out more ...

Whilst the Grayling is not as prolific in the lower 48 states of the USA as it is in Alaska, there is still a healthy number of anglers who target the species. The flies they use are quite different - due to the types of rivers and environments the fish live in.

I've picked out one of the best nymphs from each side of the Atlantic to concentrate on, and then attempted to write a conclusion - which you can find at the end of this email:

In the UK Corner:

Frank Sawyer (the famed keeper on the River Avon in Wiltshire) developed the Killer Bug as a means of controlling grayling numbers - where at the time it was considered vermin.

The Killer Bug is a slim weighted nymph designed to imitate the freshwater shrimp, so needs the weight to be fished on the bottom of the river - it also looks similar to a hatching sedge.

It was named by Sawyer's friend Lee Wulff - yes, he was the husband of Joan. It is tied with large amounts of copper wire with a covering of light beige wool. Isn't it odd that nymph patterns that use lots of copper wire are really successful - Copper John etc. I firmly believe that this has something to do with magnetic fields - but I'm no scientist!

From Frank's book 'Man of the Riverside' here's an excerpt regarding the Killer Bug:

If you would like to tie one yourself, here are the original instructions from Frank:

Our Sawyer's Killer Bugs are available individually in sizes from 12 down to a minute size 20, priced at only £1.23 each - including free delivery.

In the USA Corner:

The Pink Squirrel Nymph was designed by John Bethke and is probably one of the most popular Trout and Arctic Grayling nymph patterns available in the USA today.

At the suggestion of Wisconsin-based Driftless area guide - Mike Warren from - we have taken the original Pink Squirrel and put the 'Barbless Flies' spin on it to slim it down and tie it on a jig hook. This is now both his and his clients go-to nymph for fishing throughout the season.

Here's a photo of the original Pink Squirrel tied by John Bethke (image courtesy of

And here's our version - The Pink Squirrel 2.0:

Our Pink Squirrels are only available individually, in sizes 14, 16 and 18, priced at only £1.50 each - including free delivery.

Please Note: these flies are all tied on jig hooks,. Jig hooks are slightly bigger than regular hooks - i.e. a size 18 jig hook is a similar physical size to a regular size 16 hook, but the gape - the distance between the hook point and the hook shaft - is the same as a size 18.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that both of the nymphs are fantastic at catching Grayling, but did you know that they should be used on completely different types of water?

In Autumn

The fish will be spread across all of the river, their favoured conditions being the same as for trout - so think of where the trout will be, and you will find Grayling. In these conditions, the Pink Squirrel is the favoured nymph, it's heaver and is excellent in the faster water - getting to the bottom quicker.

In Winter

As soon as the frosts arrive, the Grayling will start to shoal up and head for the slower water - you will have to spend your time actually looking for them! Grayling do not seem to like any form of structure in the water and prefer the longer slower glides. This is where the Killer Bug comes to the fore - as it is a lighter-weight nymph with the weight spread out across the length of the hook, allowing the nymph to fall through the water on a flatter plane - it's effectively fishing as soon as it enters the water.

Look What We're Launching Next Week ...

We'll tell you all about it on Tuesday ...


Until then, tight lines & have fun.