Fly Fishing for Arctic Grayling – Must Try Flies

When I recently heard about fishing for Arctic Grayling, the topic sparked my curiosity.

So, I did some research of my own to find out the best fly to use while trying to catch these unique fish.

What kind of fly should be used for catching the Arctic Grayling fish?

When fly fishing for Arctic grayling, experience has shown that hungry fish will bite at almost any fly. While it does not have to be perfect drift, blackflies, stoneflies, and nymphs have shown the most success.

You’ve decided on your ideal casting position, you’ve got the cooler and ice ready to be filled, but you’re not ready to cast yet! Make sure you’ve got the proper line and fly to reel in an abundance of Arctic grayling, the trademark Alaskan freshwater round fish.

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Best Flies For Arctic Grayling

As a fisher, it all depends on where you decide to cast.

Arctic grayling are in most Alaskan river systems, so there’s no need to be needlessly picky when searching for the perfect pool.

How to Catch Arctic Grayling with Flies:

  • Can use any fly/small spinner
  • Bait with something that moves/can fit in their mouth
  • Try blackflies, stoneflies, and nymphs

The ravenous appetite makes any fly or small spinner an ideal throw.

In the grayling’s eyes, if it moves and can fit in their mouth, it’s worth checking out.

This habit, obviously, works in your favor when you throw a line, as you can use just about any tackle or bait to lure them.

In spring, your luck will grow as the females come out of their hiding places to meet males in the more docile areas of current.

In summer, Arctic graylings are in their natural abundance in shallow waters, making for easy fishing, especially if you head upstream towards the top of the pool.

In the fall, you’ll find easy catches as grayling scour around salmon spawn to feast on eggs.

If legal in your fishing area, baiting with salmon eggs are a sure fire way to catch grayling in the fall.

As previously mentioned you travel upstream, you’ll find that larger and stronger fish are dominating the territory at the head of the pool.

This domain, of course, has first dibs at food, so your biggest catches will, therefore, be upstream.

Arctic graylings are in a survival of the fittest mentality, so if you’re looking to hedge your luck for population density, or you are showing the ropes to a child then you may consider casting a little closer to the bottom of the pool.

Wet Fly Vs. Dry Fly

Wet Fly:

  • Resemble insects
  • Beneath the water surface

Dry Fly:

  • Resemble insects
  • Above the water surface

There are two different types of fly bait that can be used while fishing for Arctic Grayling.

These flies are classified as “wet” and “dry”. While both artificial insects that are used for fishing, they serve different purposes when trying to make a catch.

A wet fly is bait that sinks below the surface of the water.

They can potentially go very low into the water, and are perfect for bottom-feeder fish.

A dry fly, on the other hand, stays toward the top of the water surface and floats along with the current. This is most similar to an insect that lands on top of the water in a typical scenario.

Dry flies are perfect for catching Arctic Grayling, because they often feed toward the surface of the water.

When artificial bait is in question, you will have the most luck with this kind of fly.

Arctic Grayling Favorite Foods

While attempting to catch an Arctic Grayling, it is important to understand not only their basic diet, but also their favorite foods. This will assist you in luring them to your line and eventually pulling them into your boat.

Basic Diet:

  • Flies
  • Fleas
  • Smaller fish
  • Other insects


  • Blackflies
  • Mayflies
  • Stoneflies
  • Nymphs
  • Drift
  • Salmon eggs (seasonal)

Arctic grayling have no problem eating smaller fish when they are hungry.

When insects lose populous in the winter, the graylings dive to the deeper waters of lakes and rivers in feed on crustaceans and larvae.

Favorites of the Arctic Grayling include specific types of flies, drift, as well as salmon eggs.

Salmon eggs, of course, are a seasonal treat for the fish, and make for highly effective bait is legal where you’re fishing.

Arctic grayling also eat plastics and waste in the water due to pollution.

If you do catch an Arctic grayling for food, make sure you clean it, and any fish you catch, thoroughly before prepping and cooking,

Arctic Grayling Are a Part of The Salmon Family

Arctic grayling, clearly indicating a frigid habitat, occupy the northern regions of our world in Alaska, the continental 48, Canada, and Russia.

The Arctic grayling have a default counterpart known as the “grayling” and is found throughout Europe.

While the grayling and arctic grayling share a plethora of biological similarities, fishing for Arctic grayling prominently outranks the popularity of the European graylings for fisherman worldwide.

Arctic grayling can be found in frigid, crystal clear water, and are easily found in the spring, summer, and fall when the salmon spawn. You’ll know when you catch one, they have a striking dorsal fin that stands like a sail and tend to fight you when you bring in your line.

Fishing For Arctic Grayling

The Arctic Grayling is on every fly fisherman’s to-catch list.

If you’re able to travel up the natural habitats of Alaska or Canada, you’ll have an unforgettable experience with some of the most profound scenery you will ever lay eyes on.

The Arctic is a well-traveled destination for those looking to catch the premiere fresh arctic grayling.

Best Places To Fish For Arctic Grayling:

  • Alaska
  • Canada

Graylings are surprisingly easy to bait and catch, making it a great fish for children and beginners to throw a line at.

Even as an entry-level fish, the worldwide love for the Arctic grayling attract fishermen and fisher ladies from all corners of the globe.

For those of us, fishing enthusiasts which desire a true Alaskan memory, a trip to the great North for an opportunity to spend some quality time with fresh air, foliage, and a trademark grayling are highly sought and anticipated.

Graylings are keen to munch on bait due to their short window of summer feeding, but they sometimes elect to take a frequent nibble in place of a brave bite.

Fortunately, grayling swim in clear shallow water, so chances are you may be lucky enough to have a line of sight on your lure.

Catching Arctic Grayling

  • Use your choice of bait
  • Aim for the head of the pool
  • Be careful not to lose it while reeling it in

The larger graylings will be found at the head of a pool for the best feeding opportunities, while the smaller, younger, and less formidable peers live farther down the current where leftovers can be found.

Often times, if there are any trees or vegetation submerged under the water, you can find shy female grayling taking cover away from the territorial males.

If fishing, females under vegetation can be easily coaxed out some of the shy with an attractive spinner.

As fall comes to a close, the Arctic graylings migrate in return towards the deeper depths of rivers and lakes to live passively through the long winter months winter.

Arctic graylings are some of the only aquatic animals that can survive the low oxygen levels in the depths of the freezing arctic lakes.

The evolutionary feature makes them unique, and well equipped for their habitat.

Graylings like to eat, and they aren’t known for being particularly picky.

Almost 90 percent of an Arctic grayling’s growth happens during the fleeting summer season.

This is why the eating habits of graylings are wolfish and somewhat aggressive, due to their territorial nature.

Graylings feast upon insects, larvae, crustacean plankton, and salmon eggs during the fall, when salmon spawn.

When large enough, arctic grayling show no remorse in eating smaller fish.

When catching grayling, they do tend to go down with a bit of a fight. They often try to negotiate with the hook, but they are usually unsuccessful if you can capitalize on a good bite.

Related Questions to Arctic Grayling

Do spinners work well when fishing Arctic Grayling?

Spinners are great for Arctic grayling, as the graylings nibble at anything underwater which moves. You’ll have your best luck with 1-1.5″ spinners. It’s been said that graylings are responsive to black. white, and earth-toned jigs.

What time of year is best for catching Arctic Grayling?

Summer, hands down, is going to prove to be the most prolific season to catch Arctic grayling. Graylings have a short summer window for feeding to grow as much as possible and they head to shallow water with the warmer weather, making them easy to locate, bait, and catch.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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