• Underwater grayling
  • Male Mayfly (Scambus) on the Sage reel
  • Gorgeous grayling in Switzerland

Retrospection on the Grayling Season 2016

Soon, the grayling season ends in Switzerland and therefore I resume my highlights in a retrospection on the grayling season 2016.

In most provinces in Switzerland the grayling season ends more or less around January or February. Thus, I have recapitulated my bygone grayling season to give you some advice. However, let’s first have a look at some images of the last year.

Admittingly, this year was the first season I targeted grayling and I did not expect it to be as great as it was. The reason why it is my first season is that in 2015 I was on travels in New Zealand. By the way, this travel was the reason why I began fly fishing.

However, I had already caught some grayling before. Yet, it was in an unexpected moment while fly fishing for trout with a hopper-dropper rig. You can read about this in this post here.


The grayling is a freshwater fish in the family of salmon, which can be easily distinguished by its adipose fin. The males have a huge colourful dorsal fin, which gives them the German name “Fahnenträger” (flag bearer). This dorsal fin gives them plenty of power while fighting in rapid water. They feed on small nymphs, larvae as well as on emerging insects and flies on the surface. Thus, grayling are a perfect target fish for fly fishing.  Nevertheless, I witnessed some time ago that a grayling viciously attacked even a spinner bait, which was very surprising. In particular, because of their tiny mouth. Their tiny mouth might assumably be the reason for many missed takes while fly fishing for grayling. The ratio of missed takes when fly fishing for grayling exceeds the ratio while targeting trout by far.

So what to look for if you want to catch grayling? It proofed to be crucial to fish various places under different conditions. Some fish prefer to stay in rather shallow water, others live in deep pools. Yet, a common feature for their habitat seems to be the velocity of the water. They prefer fast flowing stretches. Thus, it is highly recommended to begin looking for them there.

Foam is home.

Retrospection on the Grayling Season 2016
Typical spot for grayling: distinctive bubble line shows faster water

Thus, grayling are perfect target fish for fly fishing.

In the year 2016, tiny dry flies like an olive dun size 18 proofed to be very successful. Other fishing mates enjoyed great days by using rather flashy looking dries with pink CDC. Despite fishing only dry flies, I often fish a tandem rig with a tiny gold bead nymph. However, sometimes none of these work. This is the moment to start experimenting and playing against the common conventions. During one particular fishing session, the graylings were not interested in small tiny dries or nymphs, but slurped a huge jig nymph size 12. Moreover, I swung this jig nymph with high speed across the river. What a surprise!

As mentioned at the beginning, I expected the fishing to be rather unsuccessful and not very interesting but I proofed to be wrong. From the very first trip in early October the fishing was superb. Not only the rather dry weather helped, which kept the river level low and visibility good, but also the good advice of André. Continuous fishing trips until late November offered splendid times in the beautiful coloured surroundings. The fish rose eagerly to dries. Most of them were small, but some grayling had an admirable size though.

Retrospection on the Grayling Season 2016 (2)
A gorgeous grayling caught on an olive dun imitation with mallard wings

Summary of the retrospection on the grayling season 2016

Gorgeous surroundings, eagerly rising fish and splendid weather – this was the grayling season of 2016. Interestingly, at the beginning of December the catch rate declined dramatically, even though the conditions were quite stable. Thus, I suppose the big feeding feasts of the grayling ends at this time. I wonder how it will be next year and cannot wait.

What were your experience on grayling fishing?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.