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Secimen Grayling
January 22, 2022

Specimen Grayling

There is something magical about watching the red dorsal fin of a large grayling break the rivers surface on a sunny winter’s day. Fortunately for most those who are guided by myself recently they have experienced this due to continued high pressure. I will be continuing guiding for specimen grayling throughout January and February so if you are interested please get in touch. The cost is £125 for the day for a single person or £75 per person for 2.

Trout and Salmon contributor Cressida Tomlinson

What does fishing for specimen grayling involve and what makes it different from fishing for regular grayling? A specimen fly caught grayling would be anything 2lb and above. Most Pennine rivers do not contain many or any grayling in this size range so location is one part of the equation. To grow big grayling need a plentiful food source. Fast flowing steep gradient rivers with plentiful gravel filled pools, supply an abundance of cased caddis the predominant food of grayling. It is in these rain fed rivers like the Annan, Nith and Teviot that beasts are encountered. The chalk streams where they may also occur are too distant from me.

Even when the criteria of fishing a river that contains specimen grayling is met, success is far from guaranteed. Wild fish in rivers are not distributed like currants in a bun and for specimen grayling this is especially the case. There can be literally miles of river that are devoid of fish and other well known areas that suffer from excessive angling pressure. So specimen grayling fishing for the naive and or hopeful is usually fruitless. In fact in the spirit of honesty even for those with good experience blanking can be a real possibility, even when fly fishing at International standard in areas that do contain specimen fish. In 2003 I published an article in Trout and Salmon in conjunction with Simon Kidd (now CEO of Snowbee) titled “Giants of the Teviot”. Prior to this I had been fly fishing this system for more than 10 years specifically targeting specimen grayling. I introduced John Tyzack, Simon Kidd, Simon Robinson, Fred Bainbridge and other renown fly fishers to this water. I have won the Fly section of the Jedburgh Rotary Grayling competition. Can I guarantee you fish with this knowledge and experience? No, but like many will testify I will give you the best chance at a personal best grayling.

In short fishing for specimen grayling is not for the faint hearted. It can involve treacherous hardcore wading (felt soles please) to reach holding areas, fishing waist deep in near freezing water with air temperatures close to freezing. And for this self immolation you can be rewarded with absolutely nothing. However although the acceptance of failure is a must even for the best anglers, the rewards can justify the effort. Pristine large and specimen grayling when viewed in the flesh are genuinely beautiful and worth admiring even if we only take them out of their habitat for a few seconds.

The top scoring fly thus far for the large ladies this season has been this size 14, picric dyed copperhead PTN on a size 14 Hends 120 with a 3mm copper faceted bead. This is not available on the website but is available to you subscribers at £1.50 per fly if you’d like to try them. Simply e-mail me and I’ll send an invoice.

A couple of fly boxes are on offer pictured. The ultimate duo box! A dozen lifejacket Caddis comprising half a dozen standard and half a dozen light on one side and on the other 2 dozen classic catching duo nymphs. High quality Natures Spirit Elk Hair has been non existent since the start of the pandemic but I managed to find a patch big enough for 60 flies. So if you need lifejacket caddis for your box I suggest ordering now when available. Some have already been reserved. The duo is a great method for small streams. I have several examples of how to fish this on You Tube. Put Jonathan Barnes Fly fishing in You tube to view the videos. All the flies are tied by my own hand. There are only two of these. £55 per box plus £2.50 P and P. E-mail me with Duo Box in the heading. This is on a first come first serve basis.

If any of you are brave enough to attempt for a personal best grayling please get in touch. I will do my utmost to put you in touch with a large lady of the stream.



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