*Sharper Hooks*
*Tighter Lines*
Arctic Grayling




Information & facts

Arctic Grayling

Arctic Grayling

Latin Name
Thymallus arcticus

Common Names
Grayling, American Grayling, Bluefish, Back's Grayling, Sailfin Arctic Grayling, Arctic Trout, Tittimeg, Poison Bleu

Description - This species has an average length of 12-15 inches and weighs in at 1-3 pounds. A strikingly coloured fish, the back is purple to blue-black or blue-grey with sides of a pinkish iridescence having a number of V-shaped or diamond shaped spots. The head is olive-green with a mauve iridescence. During spawning the colors darken and the male becomes more brilliant than the female.

Distribution - The Arctic grayling occurs in northern B.C. from the Peace and Stikine rivers north and in the south in the flathead river. The general habitat is the clear waters of large, cold rivers, rocky creeks and lakes.

Biology - Grayling begin their spawn during the time that the ice is first breaking up in smaller streams. No actual nest is prepared and the female lays 4000-7000 eggs. The maximum age is 11-12 years. Food consists of a very broad range of invertebrates.

Relation to man - This fish has been taken by Eskimos and Indians as food for their dogs and, less often, for themselves. They are an attractive sport fish due to their tendency to leap when hooked. Fly fishermen fly into northern Canada to catch this beautiful fish.

How to fish for Grayling

For those who’ve yet to fish for grayling, the recipe to success is relatively straightforward. For anglers with spinning gear, a light or ultralight rod spooled with six-pound test is ideal, although you have to be prepared to lose the occasional lure. You may even lose occasional grayling, when one of the lake trout that often share their waters decides it likes what you’re offering. Small spinners, including those by Mepps or Panther Martin are favourite lures, though small spoons and jigs have taken more than their fare share of grayling over the years. I can’t recommend a specific colour or two as being any better than the rest, though I’ve tended to enjoy great success with spinner blades in gold, yellow and black.

Another alternative for the hardware fisherman is to use a casting bubble above a fly. This allows the non-fly caster to enjoy the same visual thrill of a fish smashing a bait on the surface that fly anglers live for.

Feeding primarily on insects, the Arctic Grayling offers one of the finest dry fly fishing opportunities with its decidedly opportunistic feeding style. Fly fishing for Arctic Grayling is especially popular because of their willingness to rise to a dry fly. 
Fly patterns for Arctic Grayling include the Adams, elk hair caddis in olive, green or red humpy, Royal coachmen, Royal wulff , blue upright, red tail black gnat, Salcha Pinkie, Delektable CDC Olive Prince, Bead Head Thin Mint and the black Gnat. These flies work well but any flies that imitate the different life stages of mayflies, caddis flies, midges, and mosquitoes will instigate a strike from a Grayling. For Grayling flies in the smaller sizes should be used.
For Arctic Grayling a 3, 4, or 5 weight fly rod with a comparable lightweight reel is suitable. The most common fly line choice for Grayling is a weight forward floating line with a tapered 9 foot leader terminating with 4X-5X tippet are generally sufficient

In rivers, look for grayling at the heads or tails of pools, in eddies, riffles or through slicks. It’s not unusual in the gin-clear waters they prefer to have the opportunity to watch them rise from their lie on the streambed or from behind a rock and take your offering. What is difficult, however, is resisting the urge to set your hook before a fish has actually taken your fly. When fishing lakes, search around rocky shorelines, where grayling will congregate in water that is typically less than 12 feet deep. Remember, arctic grayling forage naturally on a predominantly insect-based forage, so microhabitats productive for invertebrates will usually attract these fish.

Grayling are a gregarious species by nature, so where and when you catch one fish, it’s unusual to not find more. I’ve taken as many as a dozen grayling from a single pool on more than one occasion.

Though not big, grayling are scrappy fighters, and tussles usually feature modest aerial acrobatics as they attempt to shake your hook. They are a rather delicate fish where handling is concerned however, bleeding easily, so make every effort to be gentle when removing your hook. This can be a considerable challenge at times, as few fish wriggle and squirm in the hand as profusely as do grayling.