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Season's Graylings

Yes I know, an awful pun, but I just wanted to say a few words about our lovely Grayling stock, as well as wishing you a Happy and Productive New Year.

The rain is once again threatening to raise the river level beyond fishable, as well as making the banks a bit treacherous. Nonetheless, there have been days over the past few weeks when Grayling have been seen rising down at Harpers Beat 3B in p[articular.

Some members take out a Winter Ticket to allow them to do some Coarse Fishing on the river, and although we don't want Catch Returns for these visits, I know that Chub have been plentiful, and hopefully not too many over-Wintering Trout have succumbed to the charms of maggot, worm or luncheon meat. We do still like to see Returns from anyone fly-fishing for Grayling however, and although the catches have been well down this year so far, despite the weather, there has been some success.

It's particularly satisfying when you can catch a Grayling on a dry fly, as you know you've been very lucky, very skilful, or both. The speed with which they'll shoot up from the river bottom, take the fly, reject or spit it out, and disappear again, is astounding. Even if you can't catch them, fishing for Grayling is a great way to improve your skills for the Trout season.

You'll need to use very light tackle - a 2 or 3 wt rod and ideally one of the very light fly lines such as a micro-thin floating fly line. I use a 1wt, (partly because it was half-price), and it does work very well on our small river as I seldom need to cast far. I also use a cotton (or silk) braided leader (not the nylon type) as they seem to make my casting appear better and have no memory, plus a very fine tippet. A delicate 2 wt line will be just as good, and a 6X or even 7X mono or copolymer leader or tippet will be necessary to avoid spooking them.

Of course the fly you choose is pretty important, and you could do a lot worse than the trusty Double Badger or similar (e.g. Griffiths Gnat etc) but other flies can work, e.g. I caught one on a small elk/deer-hair sedge recently. Your best chance is to use a very small fly however, 18 or 20, or even smaller if you can.

As if that isn't challenging enough, possibly the most important factor is getting the drift absolutely right. This will doubtless involve a lot of careful mending, ideally in the cast if you can manage those advanced techniques. If you introduce (or fail to prevent) any kind of drag or acceleration, you probably won't tempt that sudden lunge from below, as Grayling are nothing if not very suspicious. You might be very lucky and get a take just as the fly lands on the surface, which is always a great experience, if you're ready for it. Otherwise you'll need to be poised to strike immediately when you see that flash of silver, so gather the line (carefully) and make sure the rod is in position.

That's why this is such good practice for Trout season dry fly fishing, and even if you don't catch a Winter Grayling, you'll have fun trying.

Thanks to Neville for the tips, and Tight Lines if you give this a try. Comments and tips from others (who almost certainly know much more about it than I do) are always welcome and I'll happily add them to this blog.



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