The grayling is not an indigenous species to Tweed but was introduced in the late 1800s, and they now flourish on the main stem of the system and many of the tributaries. However, until recently grayling fishing on Tweed and its tributaries was a well kept secret, known only to the local trout anglers who wanted to extend their fishing season through the winter months.
Thanks to an enlightened view taken by many of the riparian owners and good coverage in a number of game angling magazines in recent years, there has been a marked increase in anglers fishing for 'The Lady of the Stream' and the grayling has now become a valued sporting game fish after the trout season has ended.
When to fish for grayling
Despite being a salmonid the grayling does not share the same spawning time as other species within this group. Whereas salmon and trout spawn in the winter months, the grayling does not spawn until mid to late April. The grayling season starts around mid June but considering that the fish may still be recovering from spawning any that are caught whilst the angler is trout fishing should be carefully returned. By the summer the fish will have returned to full fitness and shoals of small fish at around the 1lb mark can be found in many areas of the system. Once a shoal is located the fish will rise to the dry fly but most are taken on a weighted nymph fished upstream.
Although many grayling are caught during the summer months using traditional methods, a different approach has gained popularity over the last few years and grayling anglers now predominantly use the Czech nymph style of fishing with extremely good results.
As the season progresses the grayling reaches peak fitness during the colder months of November through to January and at this time they tend to form tight shoals and a fair amount of searching will be required to locate them, however, once found, anglers can expect sport to be fast and furious as catches of a dozen or more are not uncommon.
At this time anglers should adhere to the Tweed Angling Code for Grayling in respect of other species that will be in the process of spawning.
Availability of permits
Anglers are advised to use the grayling option on the find fishing page to see the rods and areas available. At present There is a number of trout fishing associations that do not avail themselves of the service that FishTweed provides, however, details of all the associations in the Tweed valley can be found on the club waters page.
Most angling associations allow grayling fishing on their trout permit and some associations and proprietors also allow grayling fishing on their beats in the winter, however, there are rules/regulations set out by the River Tweed Commissioners.
Briefly the rules state that written permission must be obtained before commencing to fish and must be carried by the fisher. Precedence must be given to salmon fishers when there is an overlap of seasons. Care must be taken not to wade, or fish, in obvious salmon spawning areas (the practice of 'shuffling' is strictly prohibited). Only one single handed hand held fly rod is permitted using a line with a maximum breaking strain of no more than 4lbs. There is a size limit of 10" and a bag limit of two fish is recommended.
Briefly, and this is for the angler that is not conversant with the method, a rod of 9 to 10 feet long with a fairly soft, or through action rated for a 5/6 line is the tool for the job. The profile of the fly line is not too important because with this method only short casts are made but the leader set-up is crucial. Generally a leader should be about 10 feet long with two droppers, the first which should be 18 to 20 inches above the point fly and the second one/ top dropper spaced at about the same distance.
Czech nymph tactics will work on most types of water but it comes into its own when it is fished at the head/neck of a pool just where the turbulent water flow begins to fade into the deeper slower run of the pool. Experienced nymph fishers will easily recognise the crease between the faster and slower water and cast accordingly. Normally only a couple of feet of the flyline will be outside the rod tip and the aim is to cast or roll the nymphs a few yards upstream and slightly across into the stream, and then to track them close under the rod tip, which should be held high, to a point a few yards downstream of the angler watching for any line movement that indicates a take. In most cases the angler has to wade, sometimes deep, to reach the best position to present the cast, and it is worth remembering that this method loses its effectiveness when longer casts or the distance between the rod tip and the nymphs is increased.
Czech nymphs were created for this style of fishing but almost any pattern of nymph providing that it carries some weight ie, brass/tungsten bead at the head or weight incorporated in the body dressing should be satisfactory. Hook sizes depends on the time of year and the type of water being fished but a range nymphs sized between 10 to 14 should suffice.
For more advice please find a list of contacts for instructors and fishing schools on the Instruction page.