Westcountry Angling Passport
Grayling - Fishing Information

If you fancy fishing for grayling, you’ll need to head to the River Tamar for the best of the fishing although the River Exe does have some productive areas. Grayling, unlike salmon and trout, spawn in early summer, and therefore August, September and October are the best months for the ‘lady of the stream’. Grayling can provide excellent back season sport and when caught, they use their large dorsal fin to great effect in the current.

The mouth shape of grayling shows a predilection for bottom feeding and bugs and nymphs do work very well. It is worthwhile using an indicator (e.g. polypropylene yarn) and fishing your weighted nymphs just off the bottom - look out as takes can be quick so strike at the slightest indication. You can also have some great sport on the dry fly, especially emerger patterns of stoneflies, small olives and small midges.

F flies can work well as can other cul de canard flies and black gnats but if in doubt with fly selection always try to ‘match the hatch’. Try the slightly slower pools and smooth runs to find the shoals of larger adults.

Tackle choice should be largely the same as that used for brown trout although some anglers prefer to use a longer rod (around 10ft) to fully exploit short line Czech nymphing when surface activity is sparse. This technique involves using little line other than the leader, making short casts upstream and trotting the nymphs along the river bed – the longer rod helping to reach out to cover lies and control the fly through the water. Czech nymphs and bugs, pheasant tail and hare’s ear gold/copperhead are particularly useful patterns if fishing this method.

Although the beats (Tamar catchment) that have grayling have them all year they only really appear in the catches from late June onwards. September and October are the best months for the lady of the stream. Although bugs and nymphs do work, some of the best sport comes to the dry fly, especially emerger pattern. Try the slightly slower pools and smooth runs to find the shoals of larger adults.

Tips for autumn sport - from David Pilkington

Grayling will rise freely in the autumn to stoneflies, small olives and tiny midges. F-flies and CDC patterns do well, along with black gnats, down to size 20. If nothing is rising try nymphing with an indicator - you will seldom sight-fish on the Tamar. I use about 2 cm of polypropylene yarn, looped into the leader, at a position that will fish the nymph close to the river bed.

Use weighted pheasant tails and hare’s ear, with gold or copper bead heads. Strike at any movement of the indicator, grayling take and eject nymphs very fast. Use barbless hooks to release unseasonal salmonids.

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