by Guide Blog


Euro Nymphing for Grayling – A Better Understanding

I, like many anglers have become hooked on Euro Nymphing for Grayling. The fight that these fish put up in fast-flowing water, once they get that immense dorsal up, is truly spectacular. In fact, some of my larger grayling, from the Tweed system, have spent as much time out of the water as trout! No wonder fly anglers love them.

Grayling will feed at the surface, but the most successful way to catch them is by fishing deep, Euro Nymphing. They are often to be found close to the riverbed and it’s there where your flies need to be.

They are also very nomadic, you can cover a bit of water and cast into many pools before finding fish. At other times they are well spread, seemingly feeding in every area of water you care to throw a fly. As a ‘shoal’ fish, it’s common to catch big numbers from the same area, but don’t get greedy. If you catch too many the fish in that shoal may not feed again properly for several days, so a little restraint is often best when you encounter a large shoal of grayling.

Euro Nymphing for Grayling – Big Fish

Big Grayling are like big Brown Trout, often the larger grayling are to be found on their own. Look for any obstruction, like a tree in the water, large boulders that offer shelter from the main current, or a small depression in an otherwise even riverbed and the big fish won’t be far away. All grayling are often happiest with a decent amount of water above their heads, water from 2ft to 5ft is ideally what you’re looking at.

Especially during the winter months look for the slower deeper pools, with a decent push of water flowing in at the head. When you’re Euro Nymphing for Grayling, the colder it gets, the deeper they’ll go, so be aware of that.

Euro Nymphing for Grayling – Rod Choice

When it comes to Euro Nymphing for Grayling, Czech Nymphing, Bugging, Rolled Nymph – call it what you will, they’re all much of a muchness – then I much prefer a longer rod. Most anglers that know they’re stuff also do and there’s a good reason.

My preferred outfit is a 10ft 3-wt with a nymph-specific action. I use the 10ft #3 Vision Nymphmaniac as I feel like this is what I need to do pretty much everything when it comes to nymphing. It’s very lightweight and easy to handle, perfect for a long day on the water. The action of this rod dampens after casting and allows me to keep in contact with my nymphs all the way through the drift, is perfect for everyday and technical fishing situations and an ideal rod to learn Euro Nymphing for Grayling.

Recently, I have also been playing with the 11ft #2 Vision Nymphmaniac and I love it for the real technical stuff. These longer rods allow you to get right on top of the fish and the softer action allows the angler to pull the hook home at close quarters without fear of putting undue strain on fine tippets. They also allow you to get so much more out of the fish when it comes to the fight. The action cushions any powerful runs that they can often make in fast, powerful water. Things get exciting once they get that huge dorsal fin up and kite to the side in a strong current!

Euro Nymphing for Grayling – Fly Reels

Now, many anglers believe that a fly reel is only there to store your line on. Not the case! If you are Euro Nymphing for Grayling you need a fly reel that is up to the job, one which marries up to the rod and balances the whole outfit. It also requires a drag system that is both light and sensitive which, I feel, is crucial for playing big fish in fast currents.

I use the #4/5 Vision XLV Nymph Fly Reel with a 10ft #3 as it has a large arbor which reduces line memory, a must, a superb disc-brake drag, and also a comfortable EVA handle, which allows for great grip in all weather conditions. The bigger #5/6 XLV Nymph & Dry Fly Reel is designed to balance nymphing rods over 10ft.

These rod and reel combinations are the ultimate ‘balanced packages’ when out on the water.

A anglers hand holding a fly reel that's used for Euro Nymphing For Grayling

Euro Nymphing for Grayling – Euro Nymph Lines

Although most of our fishing will be done with the leader only, when Euro Nymphing for Grayling there are occasions when the fly line will come into play. For that reason, there are lines designed for this style of fishing. Nymph-style fly lines are super thin, most are well below 0.60mm.  Less mass means less friction, and this will let you fish your flies in a far more natural manner.

Thicker fly lines will just get pushed and pulled by the current, which means that the flies will not behave as they should. The fish are not stupid, if your fly is moving far too fast for the surrounding environment, the fish will take one look, at best, and will refuse your offering.

The other benefit of these lighter, thinner lines is the fact that they are so delicate, they will land on the water gently, allowing you to approach fish with confidence, no matter how soft the water is. They are double-tapered also, so should one end be ruined, the line can be flipped so that the other end comes into play. These types of lines are ideal for slow water and crucial when targeting fish on chalk streams where very often you can’t even get within 20ft of fish without spooking them.

Euro Nymphing for Grayling – Technical Leaders

Leaders are a simple affair, there are some awesome ‘off the shelf’ solutions that will save you an awful lot of time and effort. The Rio Euro Nymph Leaders are the perfect solution for anyone looking to take an easy route into this style of fishing. The leader length is 11ft and it features unique taper, tapering from 15lb down to 8.5lb. This allows great energy transfer so anglers can put their flies where they need to be and in most fishing conditions. I’d also highlight the colour, they are a milky white, making them highly visible against most back grounds. This can make such a big difference, visually.

At the business end of the taper is a two-tone indicator, 22-inches of it. You can choose either pink and yellow or black & white, colour changes are at 8-inch intervals. (Find out more about the Indicator colours here) These are nail knotted to the leader, giving you an overall length of nearly 13ft of tapered leader. The indicators also feature a micro ring, so you can chop and change your tippet at speed depending on the situation you’re faced with.

Euro Nymphing for Grayling – Tippet

It appears that in the UK, there is still a prevalent focus on the “what pound tippet are you using” mentality. This is a hangover from the amount of Stillwater fishing that we do. Yes, it’s relevant, but for me it’s more about tippet diameter when it comes to river fishing. The thinner the tippet, the quicker the flies sink but more importantly the connection is far superior. Which, in turn, WILL lead to more fish landed.

When Euro Nymphing for Grayling I will reach for fluorocarbons, but ones with low diameters. Anything from 0.16, for big and monster fish, down to 0.10mm for more technical fishing.

Mostly I’ll use a supple tippet, this helps with grayling believe me. I use Rio Suppleflex as it offers me everything I need when it comes to knot strength and fly presentation.

But tippet is a personal thing and you will catch grayling using other tippet materials like fluorocarbon, no worries there. Personally, I like soft tippet. Whatever tippet you choose, you can fish one, two or three flies, it depends on the river conditions. I tend to fish three flies for grayling  and I like to keep my flies spaced 50 centimetres apart. This spacing will allow me to fish my nymphs throughout the water column, covering fish more effectively.

For me the heaviest fly goes on the point, with the lighter flies working back. An example would be:

  • Point: Heaviest
  • Middle Dropper: Heavy
  • Top Dropper: Lightest

Euro Nymphing for Grayling – Fly Patterns

In part two we’ll look more closely at fly patterns, but you won’t go far wrong with the basics. Hare’s Ear and Pheasant Tails are as effective now as they’ve ever been.

Incorporating beads, specifically tungsten beads, in various sizes and colours are the best choice for enhancing the tying process. You need this additional weight to get the flies down to the grayling. The colour of the bead can work wonders, so it pays to have flies with various colours and weights. Again, referring back to basics, a gold tungsten bead on the above flies takes some beating.

Grayling fly fisherman holding a box of Nymphs
Tacky Nymph fly box held by and angler fishing for Grayling

In Euro Nymphing for Grayling: Part 2 I’ll talk more about:

  • Fly selection
  • Fish location
  • Techniques
  • Playing and landing

And why the grayling has become so highly-prized by those who fish for them.

Steve Cullen Fly Fishing

Steve Cullen YouTube Channel

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