River Master - Grayling - Part 4


We hope you are enjoying the series of articles so far, in this article we are going to look at the basic setup and methods used to target Grayling. Before I start this, i'm no expert (more of an enthusiastic amateur!) and what follows below is just what I have learnt over the years and have found works.

A Bit of Background Information

Before the winter frosts Grayling will not be shoaled up, therefore it’s important to fish where the grayling are (I know it sounds obvious!). Therefore the likely spots are exactly where you would find trout:

  • Gravel bottoms
  • In the seam of two currents
  • In the foam line – Remember “foam is your home”
  • Just off and around weed beds

Grayling have an under-slung mouth, they are bottom feeders. If you cannot see them rising, you need to present your flies on the river bed. Remember, if you’re not catching the bottom with your flies, your not fishing deep enough (try using a heavier point fly).

Here’s the ideal places to target:

  • Look for deeper, slower water - Grayling do not like structure, so look for uniform flows
  • Look for creases, especially slow water which is just off a faster current
  • Grayling are a long, thin delicate fish, they do not like to sit in the river flow, due to the amount of energy they need to expend just to stay still. They have a thin wrist, which means they do not have lots of power in their tail to fight against the flow

Grayling are very tolerant of anglers - they don’t spook as easily as trout. I’ve even had grayling take insects off my waders whilst stood in the river fishing!

REMEMBER: Grayling are a shoal fish in the main. Once you’ve caught one - stand still and cast again – you’re more than likely to catch another.

Terminal Tackle Selection

I know it’s a minefield, but when it comes down to terminal tackle it’s a very personal choice, here’s what I use:

Tippet Material

Tippet choice is very personal, in essence, it’s always better to go with what you have confidence in, especially when tying your own dropper rigs. In general, there are only two options Fluorocarbon and Mono. I generally make my tippet decision as follows:

  • Coloured Water – When the water I am fishing is coloured (or stained - like here in North Yorkshire) I use Maxima Chameleon monofilament in 3lb all the way through. I find this has a great knot strength is very durable (as you will be snagging up quite a bit) and is quite cost-effective (at around £8 for 230 meters – more than enough for the whole Grayling season).

  • Clear Water – When I am fishing a river which is very clear and has a high angling pressure (like the chalk streams of Hampshire & Wiltshire), then I opt for Fluorocarbon, and go as thin as I can possibly get away with, something like TroutHunter Fluoro 6.5X (3.0lb which is 0.11mm in diameter). If however, there has not been that many anglers on the water, then I will always go with Preston Innovations Reflo Power (which is incredibly strong for its diameter 2lb 10oz is only 0.10mm) and its great value for money at around £6 for 100 meters.


Generally when Grayling fishing, your flies will get heavier the colder the weather! Our next article will concentrate on the flies and their different properties. For this article, just keep in mind the following:

  • The faster and deeper the river, the heavier the fly
  • Don’t be without small dry flies in October and November – Grayling love feeding on Aphids during these months and can often be seen rising. Try a size 24 IOBO Humpy if all other dry flies fail to tempt them.
  • Where allowed, it’s better to fish a team of flies in autumn, heaviest fly on the point.


There are loads of indicators around (and we sell quite a selection of them). All have their uses and are great in specific conditions.  Here’s the best of the bunch (in my opinion):

  • Coloured Mono – My ‘go to’ indicator is a short piece of bi-coloured mono. These are fantastic when short-line nymphing, as you can easily see them against the water and against bank-side vegetation.

  • Spiral Indicators – These are the most sensitive (and visual) indications I have ever used. They are great when nymphing at short to medium range and the river is a fairly level depth. They can easily sink if the river bed varies in depth substantially. Great on the chalk streams.

  • Yarn Indicator – These are a godsend when fishing on a river with a ‘single fly’ rule and you want to have a visual indication of a take (we’re not all gods when it comes to nymphing and sensing takes – these make it much easier, especially when your hands are cold!). The beauty of this type of indicator is the ability to cast them and trim the indicator to the size you require.

  • Wax Colouring – Pretty new to the market and a cross over from Tenkara fishing, these wax ‘lipstick’ indicators are applied directly to either your tippet (or even to your fly line – take a look at our Brilliant White nymphing lines). They come in a number of colours and can be combined to make an indicator you can see in all light levels. The beauty about these is the wax rubs off very easily.

    • Putty – One of the most versatile putty style indicators on the market is Loon Biostrike  - A putty indicator that makes adjusting the depth and size of indicator simple. it's reusable, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly. BioStrike can be rolled in a ball with wet fingers and applied anywhere on a leader, then removed and placed back in the container.


Fly Lines

Really you can use any fly line you wish (as generally you are not using the weight of the fly line to cast), but it does make significantly easier to nymph with a specialist thin fly line (or a French Leader). These type of lines are generally really thin (0.55mm) and are very easy to manage, they also don't fall down the rod rings every time you lift up the rod (which can be very annoying when using a standard fly line).

Not to blow our own trumpet, so to speak, but we do TWO fantastic nymphing fly line, which are really effective when nymphing for Grayling:

Specialist Nymph Fly Line:



We decided to dip our toes into the world of specialist fly lines after trialling out a few nymph lines over the past 8 months. We loved the way the lines fished:

  • Very thin lines cut through the air easily and can be fished (without tangles) on even the windiest of days. We love the way they are much easier to manage than either mono or braid.
  • Ultra-sensitive meaning you can feel the flies on the river-bed

However, the one thing we did not like, was the take detection. In most cases you have to feel the takes through your fingers, we wanted something which was much more visual. Enter the Brilliant White Specialist Nymph Line. You can find it here.

Soldarini Competition Nymphing Line:


Thanks to the reduced weight and level profile (uniform diameter over the entire length), this Soldarini competition legal fly line is ideal for all modern Euro nymphing techniques. With alternating Orange & Yellow bands every 20 inches over the head of the line, this makes take detection very visual. These fly lines are very difficult to obtain (as we believe they are not made any more), we have a small supply of them (only 15), so you will have to be pretty quick if you would like one, as when they are gone we will not have any more! These competition fly lines are available from us for only £35.

This Competition Nymph Fly Line has the following properties:

  • Very Thin - 0.55mm level line
  • It Floats - for when you need to change styles and nymph at longer ranges
  • Total Length - 27m (90ft)
  • Low-Stretch Core
  • Bi-Colour (Orange/Yellow) for easier take detection. Reduces the need for a sighter/indicator, just attach your tippet directly to the ultra-thin fly line