Autumn & Winter Grayling Fishing


By Alex Jardine – Guideline Power Team UK

From October to March most anglers put away their rods and reels and find something else to busy their time, but for a few mad souls there is still fishing to be had in the UK. I am one of those mad people, willing to stand in freezing conditions just to catch another fish.

My preferred target species through these months is the grayling, a fish that only has a small following with many anglers yet to see their appeal. This silvery ghost-like fish has many attributes that interest and excite me. A fish, like many, where it is possible to catch a few or a big one by chance but to really do it consistently requires a lot of hard work and hours of trial and error.

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Through the autumn and winter months it is possible to watch as the grayling change with the seasons. Unlike trout, they do not have territorial tendencies but seem more to be free roaming, moving from pools to runs depending on how they feel/weather conditions. As autumn descends into the colds of winter the grayling drop of the shallower and faster gravel runs in search of deeper and slower water, often with a mix of gravel and sediment build up.

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In autumn I love the prospect of sight fishing to large grayling as they sit in the shallower water, they are incredibly spooky at this time. It is like targeting bonefish, any incorrect fly placement will blow your chances. Fly choice is also vital as these big eyed fish scrutinise every thread turn and misplaced hackle. Learning to understand the fin movements and head turns is very important as this is how to tell when you have deceived the fish or it has refused your offering.

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As the weather cools and the fish move deeper in the water the tactics change, the fishing becomes less sight orientated and more a case of setting up a rig to detect the subtlest of takes. Light leaders, heavy flies and coloured line indicators combined with a lightweight rod and reel are key. The fish in the winter sit tight to the bottom, so flies need to get down and bounce over the rocks. Takes can be as simple as just a momentary pause, as if the fly is caught in the weed and before you know it a large grayling is sloping off across the pool.

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My chosen set up for the grayling is the Fario Classic 10 foot 3 weight combined with the Fario LW 24 reel and the Airflo Euro Nymph fly line. Tippets vary, but my preference is to use 6, 6.5 & 7X diameters.

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Alex offers fishing and guiding for grayling in the autumn and winter months in the south of England, contact him at: alex@aardvarkmcleod.com. You can also see a video of his grayling set up here: https://youtu.be/aVraEy0FYnM

By Alex Jardine – Guideline Power Team UK

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