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Picky winter grayling

By Gordon Mackie

Gordon Mackie explains why a wide selection of fly patterns and styles is a good tactic for picky winter grayling.

Winter's fly box
While leaded Shrimps are often the best medicine when grayling lie deep, many anglers elect to fish dry fly and upstream nymph or are required to do so by the regulations. This makes life more challenging, yet given bright skies and clear water our rewards can be equally satisfying. The main difficulty is overcoming the graylings' extreme 'pickyness' during the mid-winter period. Unlike trout, for which a dozen or so patterns may cover an entire season, we sometimes need to use twice that number in a single outing.

Grayling become increasingly wary as the same fly comes into view, and as a gregarious species alarm can quickly spread through the shoal. It is therefore advisable to carry a wide selection, which should include numerous variations while not straying too far from the imitative. Outright lures usually heighten that sense of unease. If feeding fish ignore our standard Duns, Nymphs, Black Gnats and Palmers, first go down two or three hook sizes. You may be amazed at the result, but failing that employ a few turns of brightly coloured silk, a mini tuft, or a twist of tinsel. Try ultra slim dressings with a mere pinch of hackle, and others composed of little more than loose dubbing material to suggest movement and translucency.

Keep offering something new, for our demanding quarry has one serious chink in her armour - boundless curiosity.

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