Up she rises
Paul Procter selects a handful of dry-flies proven to raise back-end grayling
Grayling dry-flies. Paul Procter selects a handful of his favourite autumn patterns
Hook Size 18-22 TMC 2488 Body Black 8/0 Nano silk Wings Pearl Semperfli Micro Glint Thorax Hare’s ear dubbing Wingpost Natural CDC I know experienced fishers who have long relied on small flies to fool winter grayling, which often seem to rise to fresh air. The truth is that, due to increased siltation, midges have become more widespread. Thirty years ago, few streams had a hatch. Today, chironomids emerge throughout spring and autumn. They’ll come to the dry-fly even on chilly days. A shuttlecock dressing has taken pride of place in recent years. It not only passes as a bedraggled adult midge, but also a swamped tiny terrestrial, a bibio. Varnish the silk body to make it last. Add a wispy CDC wing to keep it afloat and to act as a sighter to help you time your strike.
2. WINGED GRIFFITH’S GNAT
Hook Size 14-20 Partridge SLD2 Thread Black 8/0 Nano silk Body Peacock Ice-dub Hackle Grizzle cock Wing Natural CDC A favourite for smutting grayling or trout. The original Griffith’s Gnat is hard to beat, but adding a tuft of CDC makes a more conspicuous fly on dull autumn afternoons. Principally a midge pattern, this tiny, bushy creation will also work its magic on fish feeding on olives and stoneflies, which I’m sure is due to its “busy” appearance. In swifter runs, I favour a size 14-16, which I think mimics the olives or stoneflies. Where the flow is slow, I tend to score better with an 18 or 20. Dressing the fly couldn’t be simpler. For a bombproof pattern, run your tightened (twisted clockwise) thread through the palmered hackle before a whip finish. Grayling occasionally rise but miss this fly. In which case, trim the fly’s underside flush to the body to create a pattern that sits in, rather than on the surface.
3. THE APT (ALL-PURPOSE TERRESTRIAL)
Hook Size 14-18 TMC 2487 Thread Black 8/0 Nano silk Body Peacock herl Wing Natural CDC Hackle Black cock Thorax Peacock Ice-dub It’s a mistake to dismiss terrestrials on cooler days. Many members of the bibio family (black gnats and fever flies) remain active in November. When these landborn flies fall on the water they soon become swamped and this therefore calls for a low-riding dressing rather than one sat pertly on its hackle tips. With its clipped-out hackle and downward-curving profile, the APT is a dead ringer for all manner of terrestrials that have fallen foul of flowing water. One dressed with peacock herl is a good all-rounder but I also have a soft spot for melanistic cock pheasant tail fibres. To make it more durable, be sure to twist any herl around your tying thread prior to winding. Natural CDC stands out well on glassy glides and wherever light is reflecting brightly off the river's surface. If you’re working the edge of a treeline, paler shades, such as beige or white, are much more obvious. Lightly dousing floatant on the hackle is all that’s required for a buoyant fly.
4. CDC OLIVE EMERGER
Hook Size 14-16 Partridge Caddis Emerger Thread Yellow 8/0 Nano silk Tail Yellow Semperfli Micro Glint Body Olive Superfine dubbing Wing Natural CDC (two plumes) Thorax Hare/squirrel dubbing The looped CDC wing of this emerger not only appears authentic, but the fibres help to trap air, giving an illusion of transparency, which is helped by a flashy trailing shuck. The shuck is formed by taking two strands of Nymph Glint and twisting them in the same direction until they begin to double. Make sure the tips of the CDC point backwards and then secure. Having formed a leggy-looking thorax, the CDC plumes are brought forward over a dubbing needle to the hook eye. With a loose turn of thread holding them softly in place, you can tweak the needle to achieve a desirable wing. Don’t make the loop too tight or the essence of the fly will be lost and you’ll compromise its floatability. Ideally, this is a pattern reserved for the slower parts of a river; for example, a pool tail where heavy surface tension traps emerging naturals.
5. CUL STONEFLY
Hook Size 16-18 Partridge SLD2 Thread Claret 14/0 sheer Tail CDC fibres Body Stripped peacock quill Wing Natural CDC This flimsy fly by Bosnian Renato Opancar first appeared in T&S a few years ago and I make no apology for including it again. On many outings at home and abroad, this stonefly imitation has come up trumps. It is designed to mimic egg-laying females returning to the water, rather than emergers, which crawl up the bank before morphing into winged adults. Although highly realistic, wound stripped peacock herl is delicate at best. For this reason, add a coating of fine varnish. Smaller species of stoneflies do not have tails, but egg-laying females constantly flutter at the surface and a wee tuft of CDC helps the fly’s illusion of movement.
6. KLINKHAMER SPECIAL
Hook Size 8-12 Partridge Klinkhamer Thread Tan 8/0 Nano silk Body Tan Superfine dubbing Thorax Peacock Ice-dub Post White TMC Aero Dry Wing Hackle Red game cock John Roberts brought the Klinkhamer Special to my attention during the early 1980s through his writing in T&S. Oliver Edwards was an advocate, too, of what was then an outlandish grayling fly. Two Yorkshiremen with a track record for grayling, they were quick to realise this large-hackled dressing was a killing fly. Yet some viewed Hans van Klinken’s pattern with scepticism. After all, we were used to targeting grayling with more refined flies. But where currents were fast, or little stirred, this huge fly gained a reputation for enticing the stubbornest fish to the surface. The business end of a Klinkhamer hangs beneath the surface, making it an easy target for grayling. While I’ve provided the original recipe here, there are many variants that are equally lethal. For example, in high water when foam lanes stripe the surface, a Klink with a pink wing is conspicuous. I tend to stick to big Klinkhamers that show up well in the rough and tumble of a stream.
7. TREACLE PARKIN
Hook Size 12-16 Partridge Dry Fly Supreme Thread Black 8/0 Nano silk Tag Yellow wool or floss Body Peacock herl Hackle Red game cock As evocative of grayling fishing as the Red Tag, this pattern has stood the test of time. In many respects, the Treacle Parkin is an alternative to the standard Red Tag. In smaller sizes, with its soft tail, it is a useful imitation of small beetles or black gnats. For a robust fly, add a layer of varnish to the hook shank, then twist three or four strands of peacock herl around your thread before forming a compact body. I dress my Treacle Parkins with a full shoulder hackle. But I’m no stranger to clipping the hackle underneath when natural flies are on the water, especially as grayling tend to sip down insects in the surface film.
8. KLINKHAMER RED TAG
Hook Size 12-14 Partridge Klinkhamer Thread Black 8/0 Nano silk Tag Red wool or floss Body Peacock herl Thorax Peacock Ice-dub Post White TMC Aero Dry Wing Hackle Red game cock A twist to a time-honoured grayling fly, which on its day is lethal. It illustrates how old and new can work in harmony and that fly patterns are not set in stone. Numerous other dressings can be given this treatment, including the Treacle Parkin (above). More of an attractor pattern than an out-and-out imitation, the Red Tag is worth trying on days when few fish stir at the surface. My usual tactic is to concentrate on medium to fast water, no more than thigh deep. Grayling holding in deep pools might see the fly, but will be reluctant to make the long journey to the surface.