Fresh from a productive trip to a small river not far from his home, Berkshire specialist Jack Pells reveals his simple three-point plan to help you tempt a big late-season grayling
- Find them
Grayling are usually found in chalk streams that offer the clear and fast running water in which the species thrives. You need to look out for areas where there is cover for the fish. Overhanging trees, bridges and wooden structures are good places to start.
The streamer weed will shelter fish too, so a nice clear run past some weed or down the edge of a hole is a good place to target.
By using polarising glasses you can spot fish in the shallow water with ease, and in the deeper water you need to look out for little flashes as the grayling dart around. Grayling can be easily spooked at times, so make sure you keep low and blend into the background, treading carefully. Otherwise, the chance of a quick fish will be jeopardised.
2) Bait and feed
All fish love maggots, and grayling are no exception. However, sometimes you need a Plan B and I will always take a bit of corn with me, as this can single out the bigger fish. Some people think that corn looks like large fish eggs (especially when dyed orange) and this entices the grayling into feeding.
Personally, I use it if bites are slow on maggots or I am struggling to get through the tiddlers.
Don’t be in a rush to wet a line.
I will flick out four or five red maggots ‘little and often’ for five to 10 minutes before casting. You want the grayling to discard their caution and wolf down anything that comes their way!
3) Rigs and tactics
For me, it’s all about the float, and depending on the conditions of the river I tend to trot a top-and-bottom float taking the equivalent of 3BB-5AAA shot. There are no fancy shotting patterns – I simply pinch the bulk of the shot 12ins from the hook and then add two No6s or No4s (depending on the weight of the float) 3ins-5ins above the hook. Shotting like this gets the bait down fast, right in front of the fish.
Grayling will most often be found on or just off the bottom, so it makes sense to present your bait right in front of their noses. Unfortunately, grayling have bony mouths and this can often result in a poor hook hold and a lost fish.
Using a fine-wire hook can help overcome this, and since changing to a Drennan Red Maggot hook in size 14 or 16 I have bumped far fewer fish.
Tackle needs to be balanced – I use a 13ft float rod, a centrepin reel loaded with 4lb line and 3lb-4lb hooklinks. This helps absorb every headshake grayling will make, and will keep the fish hooked for the duration of the fight.