The elegant grayling is sought by anglers for their picturesque dorsal fins and eagerness to to eat flies. They can be fished for in lakes, streams and rivers across their native ranges. This variety of habitats provides opportunities to target them with differing tactics from Czech-nymphing to dry fly fishing. Our selection of flies for grayling takes this all into consideration!
Regardless of conditions, trying a dry fly first when fly fishing for grayling usually provides results. If not, try subsurface flies like nymphs or small streamers. Some of our favorite patterns are Adams flys, Caddis, Chernobyl Ants, San Juan Worms, Pheasant Tails, Woolly Buggers, and even small Morrish Mouse patterns.
Grayling Dry Flies
For such a sleek and handsome fish, grayling become reckless for dry flies. Our favorite grayling dry flies are variations of mayfly patterns, caddis patterns and terrestrials. We like patterns like Chernobyl Ant’s and foam-bodied caddis because they require little up-keep to stay afloat.
Aside from that, we think there is no better fun than dry fly fishing. When it comes to grayling you can get away with light tackle setups that make it even more fun. You can see our recommended grayling rig here! Bamboo and fiberglass go with fishing dry flies like feathers on a bird.
Top 5 Grayling Flies
Our selection for the top 5 grayling flies takes into consideration patterns that you should already have in your fly box. We love the classic dry flies, flies that are durable, and nymph patterns that will not fail if you can’t catch them on dry flies! We think a fly should hold up to multiple fish so we select our favorite flies for grayling based upon this principle. Flies that unravel after a couple fish are not worth a space in your box! All that said, you should not be surprised that our favorite flies for arctic grayling are the following:
- Adam’s Fly
- Chernobyl Ant
- Pheasant Tail
- San Juan Worm
The Adams fly is likely one of the first dry flies you began fishing with. While newer dry flies keep getting more and more complex, the simplicity behind this pattern is hard not to trust. And it’s durable enough to catch multiple fish.
Variations of the pattern, including parachute Adams, should be in your box. Still, for grayling, it is hard to argue with a size 14 or 16 tied in classic colors. From the subsurface view the fish has, this pattern represents many bugs from mayflies to mosquitos – all common in grayling territory.
Caddis flies, what’s not to love? Grayling sure do love them! These patterns fish well floating on the surface of lakes or drifting on a meandering alpine stream. Our favorite way to fish them is by skating them across riffles and watching grayling launch themselves into the air after them.
Variations of this pattern all work well, with a favorite as a darker colored elk hair caddis. Again, we find that size 14 or 16 work best, but don’t be afraid to try a size 12.
The Chernobyl Ant came to be on Utah’s green river in the 1990’s and has since become the most popular terrestrial trout pattern on the market. We love this pattern for grayling too because its durable as can be, and it floats great with it’s foam body! Since grayling are so opportunistic, we even fish this pattern like a mouse on some of our favorite Alaska grayling fisheries!
Grayling will chase this pattern in most sizes and color variations, but we find highest hook-up rates are lead by the smallest Chernobyl sizes on the market – size 12 to be exact! We usually start with tan colors and work into yellows and reds as we go.
One of the most prolific aquatic insect families that co-exist in grayling habitats are mayflies. Like the Adams Fly, Pheasant Tail (PT’s) patterns cover the basis of most mayfly nymphs. Flashback PT’s, beadhead PT’s and soft hackle PT’s all work wonders for grayling!
We like tungsten beadhead PT’s when we have to go subsurface. In classic hopper-dropper fashion, deadheads fish great under dry flies, especially the buoyant Chernobyl Ant!
San Juan Worm
The “dirty worm”, aka the San Juan Worm is a last stop pattern for those rare, finicky grayling or for when dirty water conditions are present. What fish can resist a colorful and easy to spot fly like a worm?
San Juan’s work great in red, orange and pink variations. When tied with a weighted bead, they fish even better!