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Czech Nymphing for Grayling

Czech Nymphing for Grayling
Posted in: Trout Fishing

Czech nymphing for grayling in winter can be an incredibly fun and highly successful method for pursuing ‘the lady of the stream’.

Nymphs can imitate a wide variety of different aquatic insects that fish eat, they come in all shapes and sizes and can be fished in a number of ways. In recent years, Czech nymphing and other nymphing techniques from the continent have grown in popularity here in the UK and have revolutionised the way fly anglers target them. This is mainly because they give you the ability to:

  • Help detect finicky bites as you’re keeping a semi-tight line
  • Allow heavy nymphs to cut through fast currents and sink closer to the bottom quicker where grayling often lie
  • Present the flies stealthily with no excess line touching the water
Grayling fishing releaseGrayling fishing release
Releasing a beautiful 'lady of the stream'

Czech Nymphing Techniques

Here’s a guide on how to get started setting up for this effective style of fishing:

Rods for Grayling Fishing

The main objective with Czech nymphing is that instead of allowing the fly line to lie on the water, you’re directly in contact with the flies, as you’ll be holding the rod at about a 10 o’clock angle, keeping a semi-tight line, and holding the fly line above the water. To detect bites, you watch the leader as well as the fly line for any unusual movements that may indicate a take.

To aid the presentation of the flies, longer, lighter rods with softer actions have been developed. A 9ft rod (probably the most common length of river fly rod in the UK) would be OK, especially on small rivers, although a longer rod of 9ft 6in - 10ft 6in would be more suited.

Most of the time you’ll be roll casting rather than making an overhead cast so, although a 9ft rod would be suited where casting room is restricted, if you’re thinking about purchasing a dedicated nymphing rod, then a longer rod would be better suited for presentation purposes. They are typically between a 2wt and a 5wt, although a 3wt - 4wt are probably the best all round sizes.

Here are some of the models from our range, covering different budgets:



Reels for Grayling Fishing

The reel should be light to match the light rod and should have a balancing point towards the front of the cork handle. A click drag will be more than adequate, and you don’t need to have a ton of capacity - with Czech nymphing the fly line has very little use, if at all. A large/wide arbour reel helps reduce coiling in the line and leader when winding back on to the fly reel.

Here are a few ideas for reel choice:



Sam's personal best graylingSam's personal best grayling
My personal best grayling, 2lb 70z, caught nymphing on the River Taff in November a few years ago

Fly Lines for Grayling Fishing

Because of the style in which you are presenting the flies, by keeping the rod tip high and watching the end of the fly line and leader for bites, the fly line is hardly ever used for casting the flies. Only the first couple of feet of the fly line may be outside the tip ring of the rod at any one time (or sometimes not at all, which I’ll explain in the leader section).

A standard fly line can be used, although make sure it has a long front taper which will have a finer diameter than a fly line with a short front taper, to help bite detection. Fine diameter fly lines with low stretch, such as RIO’s Technical Euro Nymph line have been designed to aid sensitivity for European style nymphing techniques.

If you’re unsure about purchasing a new dedicated nymphing line, RIO have also designed the Euro Nymph Shorty – an ultra-thin, super sensitive fly line designed to be looped to the front end of a regular fly line to make it quick and easy to change from more mainstream/traditional fly techniques to a nymphing set-up.

Take a look at our full range of recommended grayling fishing tackle.

Leaders and Flies for Grayling Fishing

There are many leader variations when it comes to Czech nymphing, and seasoned nymph fishermen will have personal preference for leader length and breaking strains. Some anglers like to add on a length of heavier tapered leader before the indicator tippet to stop the weight of the fly line pulling the leader back through the rod guides.

The indicator consists of a short length (normally of between 18 inches to a couple of feet) of hi-vis monofilament, such as RIO’s Euro Nymph leader/tippet. When fishing, this is held above the water, which you then watch for any unusual movements which may indicate a take.

After the indicator is tied on, you tie on the tippet via a tippet ring, or knot for joining two lines, such as a double Uni Knot. Fluorocarbon works best for the tippet for a few reasons - it’s normally a finer diameter than monofilament, it sinks and has less stretch. This can also be tapered – I like to tie my own tapered leaders (for example, four feet of 8lb – four feet of 4lb). The breaking strain of the last length of tippet can be anything between 2lb and 5lb depending on the size of the fish you’re targeting. You should vary the length depending on what depth you’re fishing in – for example, if you’re fishing in approximately three feet of water, your tippet should be a similar length.

Often fishing a team of two or three flies can be successful, as you can experiment with different patterns and present them at different depths to find out what colours/patterns the fish are taking and depths they are feeding. The droppers should be spaced out by no more than about 60cm. If you’re not confident tying up your own leaders, RIO and Snowbee have made it quick and easy to loop to loop a nymphing leader on with their European tapered leader ranges.

Grayling Fishing Flies

Generally, I like to use the heaviest fly as my point fly – this helps take the flies down quicker, but it’s worth experimenting and fishing the heaviest fly on the top or middle dropper to achieve a different presentation. Many of the flies that are designed to be the point fly are tied on jig hooks where the eye sits on top and the hook point faces upwards, reducing the amount of weed and snags you hook.

Here are a few of the most successful grayling nymphs suited for Czech nymphing:



Hopefully this guide gives you an idea of what to look for when kitting yourself out for Czech nymphing. The next step from there is to put it in to practice! 

2022-10-04 17:26:00
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Scott McKee
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Thank you for sharing the video of Sam and Charles grayling fishing…that was one of the nicest fly fishing videos I’ve ever watched. I really appreciated their thoughtful and low-key approach to sharing their knowledge and particularly appreciated Charles' observation about shared time on the water being special. My family and I are visiting my wife’s family over the holidays and we’ll be in London for a day or two - I’ll make it a point to stop in your shop when we’re there! Cheers!
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