11 grayling bugs and jigs for winter grayling

Grayling bugs and jigs are some of the most widely used flies for nymphing for grayling on UK rivers. Here are 11 patterns to try.

11 grayling bugs and jigs for winter grayling
© AP Fly Fishing
11 grayling bugs and jigs for winter grayling
Picture copyright © AP Fly Fishing
11 grayling bugs and jigs for winter grayling
Estimated reading time 7 - 11 minutes

What are grayling bugs?

Grayling bugs, or grayling jigs, are heavily weighted nymph patterns tied on jig hooks. They often use a large and heavy tungsten slotted bead to allow you to reach the deeper water in which grayling often feed as quickly as possible and are designed to be fished using the French or Czech nymphing techniques.

Why are they tied on jig hooks?

Grayling bugs are generally tied on jig hooks because they allow the fly to sit horizontally in the flow with the point facing upwards. A conventional hook would get snagged on the bottom, but it's less likely to happen when you're fishing patterns tied on jig hooks.

Are grayling bugs hard to tie?

No. Grayling bugs and grayling jigs are generally very easy patterns to tie, even if you're a newcomer to fly tying. It helps that a lot of them are also supposed to look scruffy or buggy, so if your tying isn't the neatest nobody will notice.

Grayling bugs and grayling jigs are one of the best winter patterns, but do work all year round.

What grayling bug patterns are most effective?

It very much depends on the conditions and the mood of the fish. I'd recommend a mixture of very natural looking patterns tied using scruffy dubbings, such as hare's ear or mask, plus patterns with a pink or red tag, and maybe some to imitate cased caddis, with their characteristic peeding green parts. Some brighter pink ones also won't go amiss.

What sizes should I tie?

I generally use size 14 hooks, but it pays to have them in a range of weights and sizes, some with small hooks (down to about size 16) and some on larger hooks (up to 10) and with a mixture of bead sizes and weights. Tungsten beads are much heavier than brass ones, so make sure you've got some of these in case the water is faster or you need to get down deeper.

Which size bead goes with which size jig hook?

It's important to use the right sized slotted tungsten bead on your jig hook. Too small and it won't add sufficient weight, too large and it could affect your ability to hook up. Here's a rough guide based on Fulling Mill's Jig Force hooks.

Hook size Bead size
Size 18 2mm
Size 16 2.5mm
Size 14 2.8mm
Size 12 3.2mm
Size 10 3.8mm

What grayling bug patterns do you recommend?

Here are a selection of 11 great grayling bug patterns all tied on jig hooks by pro fly tier Andy "Pandy" Saunders. He's been fly fishing since he was seven and tying since he was 10, so has had plenty of practice!

Andy's YouTube channel, AP Fly Tying, is one of the best around and he publishes some great quality videos every week, often using very modern techniques and materials. It's well worth subscribing. He's the next Davie McPhail, I reckon, and his channel is one of the first places I go when I need inspiration for something to tie.

1. Olive grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Size 16, Hanak jig hook 
Tag: Orange Veevus Power Thread
Bead: Slotted tungsten bead
Rib: Deer Creek Pearl Body Quill
Thorax: Natural hare's mask
Collar: Picric hare's mask
Thread: 12/0 Semperfli Nano Silk


2. Black Red Tag grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Partridge Patriot Jig hook
Tag: Red Veevus Power Thread 240 denier
Bead: 3mm black slotted tungsten bead
Rib: Deer Creek Pearl Body Quill in red
Thorax: Deer Creek Northern Lights dubbing
Thread: Black 10/0 Veevus thread


3. Pink Tag grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Troutline size 16 jig hook
Tag: Veevus Power Thread pink 140 denier
Bead: 3mm slotted rainbow tungsten bead
Rib: Deer Creek Pearl Body Quill in pink
Thorax: Troutline Squirrel Dubbing
Thread: Brown Semperfli Nano Silk


4. Quill CDC grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Size 16 Troutline Competition Demon jig hook
Tail: Coq de leon
Bead: 3mm black tungsten slotted bead
Collar: CDC dubbing in a loop
Thorax: Natural polish quill coated in UV resin
Thread: Veevus 10/0 in black


5. Pink grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Size 12 Dohiku jig hook
Tag: Veevus Iris thread
Bead: 3mm slotted tungsten bead
Rib: Pink wire
Underbody: Veniard's lead foil
Thorax: Hareline UV ice dub in pink and lavender
Thread: Veevus 10/0 thread in pink


6. Glister Quill grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Hanak size 12 jig hook
Tail: Coq de Leon
Bead: 3.5mm slotted gold tungsten bead
Collar: Veniard's pink glister dubbing
Thorax: Polish stripped quill coated in UV resin
Thread: Danville's 70 denier 6/0 black thread


7. Walt's Worm variant grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Size 14 Partridge Patriot jig hook
Collar: Hareline Hot Pink and Lavender UV ice dubbing
Bead: 3mm slotted tungsten disco bead
Underbody: Veniard's lead foil
Thorax: Hare's mask dubbing
Thread: Brown Veevus thread


8. CDC Collar PTN grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Hanak size 12 jig hook
Collar: CDC feathers
Tail: Pheasant tail fibres
Bead: 3mm gold slotted tungsten bead
Rib: Fine copper wire
Thorax: Pheasant tail fibres 6-8
Thread: Claret Veevus thread 10/0


9. Chewing Gum Caddis grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Size 10 Partridge Patriot jig hook
Tail: FNF Chewing Gum in lime green
Bead: 4mm tungsten slotted disco bead
Thorax: Hare's ear, deer hair and seal's fur dubbing
Thread: Veevus black thread in 10/0


10. Pearl Collar Quill Jig grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Partridge Jig Hook size 14
Collar: Peacock flash dubbing
Tail: Coq de Leon
Bead: 3mm slotted tungsten bead
Thorax: Quill coated with UV resin
Thread: Veevus 16/0 black thread


11. Simple Cased Caddis Jig grayling bug

AP Fly Tying / YouTube.

Hook: Size 10 Partridge Patriot jig hook
Bead: 3.2mm lack slotted tungsten bead
Rib: Medium gold wire
Thorax: Hare's mask dubbing
Thread: Veevus 10/0 green thread


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