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Arctic Grayling Fly-in Fishing In Canada

At Munroe Lake Lodge, we offer some of the best Arctic Grayling fishing Canada has to offer. These spectacular fish feature stunning colouration; they also put up a fairly good fight, and they’re a bit of an unconventional catch. Fly fishing near the surface is the best way to catch these beauties most of the year—we’ll show you how.

Arctic Grayling Seasonal Patterns

Arctic Grayling are migratory spawners; that means they move around a lot between the spring, summer, and fall seasons.


In the spring, Grayling can generally be found in shallow streams and rivers with rocky bottoms, where they spawn. The spawning season is between April and June—male Arctic Graylings are brightly coloured, and they display these colours for females during this season. These colours make Graylings some of the most beautiful fish you can catch.


In the summertime, you’ll find Grayling in lakes, streams, and rivers; they’re surface feeders that go after everything from zooplankton to various kinds of flies. Their activity peaks in the early morning and late afternoon. In the summer, they’ll hang out in both slow-moving currents and fast currents. Catching an Arctic Grayling is a new experience every time. 


In the fall, you’ll find that most Arctic Graylings are a little less active; they also prefer bigger fare. They tend to dwell deeper in the water at this time of the year, and they’re more likely to hang out around lakes. Use slightly bigger (but still fly-sized) lures to catch a trophy Arctic Grayling in the fall.

Catching Arctic Grayling


Fishing for Arctic Grayling is tricky; there are so many other fish in the water that you need a very specific rig to catch these smaller fish. You’ll fish for Graylings without the leader you’d use when fishing for Lake Trout or Northern Pike, so if one of them bites your line, you’ve lost both some of your line and your lure.


That’s why we highly recommend fly fishing for Graylings. Big fish almost never go for small flies. 



While we do most of our fly fishing without a wire leader, you can certainly use a transparent leader if you prefer. We recommend using light to medium action rods to catch Grayling; these can be 1.4 - 2.8 kg (3 - 6-pound) test rods and around 213 - 274 cm (7 - 9 feet) in length. This combo gives you the ability to cast precisely, with the sensitivity to notice bites from these small fish.


Spinning rods and reels work particularly well; we highly recommend spin casting using flies with a clear plastic bobber to maximize your chances of catching the largest Grayling you can. 



There are plenty of different options when it comes to fly fishing for Graylings:


  • Dry flies: When Graylings are hunting insects on the water’s surface, you’re going to want to use a dry fly. These flies float on the surface of the water. Elk Hair Caddis flies are a particularly good option! 

  • Nymphs: Nymphs are an excellent bait for Graylings; they float just below the water’s surface, imitating subaquatic insects. 

  • Wet flies: These are excellent transitional flies—you’ll use them if fish aren’t biting on your dry flies (or nymphs, depending on how you started). Basically, move from dry fly to nymph or nymph to dry fly, using wet flies in between! They imitate insects emerging below the water and moving to the surface. 



Anything from a foam bobber to yarn indicators will work well. You’ll want to match your bobber’s size to the size of fly you’re using—smaller bobbers for smaller flies.


Plan Your Arctic Grayling Trip Today


Fly out to Munroe Lake Lodge, and experience our fishing trips. You can catch Arctic Grayling one day, then Lake Trout the next! We offer a fly-in fishing experience you won’t forget—book with us today!

Arctic Grayling Gallery

Best Tackle for Arctic Grayling

Don’t bring a ton of lures.

Don’t bring musky-sized lures. They will work, but are too heavy for related casting, but the 2½ to 3 inch spoons noted above will do the job better. 

All hooks on your fishing line must have all of the barbs pinched down. Best to pinch down the barbs of all the lures you bring prior to leaving home. Manitoba law says that the lure on your rod has to have pinched barbs, but not the ones in your tackle box. This means, you don’t have to pinch all your lures prior to arrival, in case you plan to take them somewhere else that may allow barbs.

Arctic Grayling


Some people have wondered about fishing for Grayling with a small #0 or #1 Mepps spinner, and that will also work for the larger Grayling, but you will miss out on the smaller fish which can make up a great day when the big ones are not around. The one down-side to using the #0 or #1 Mepps spinners is that every small Pike in the water will hit that little spinner, including even some larger Pike and Lake trout. Since we fish for Grayling with no wire leader, and tie straight onto the line, any Pike will cut your lure off, taking a nice $6 lure with him. So… we recommend fishing with flies. The Pike will almost never hit a fly. 


The best technique for catching the Grayling with a fly is to suspend a nymph (a weighted, or sinking bug-like fly) under a bobber. If you are a fly fisherman, you don’t use bobbers, of course, and you will call your bobber an “indicator”. Spin-fishermen can cast flies with a clear plastic casting bobber, and then be able to use the same flies as the fly fishermen. In fact, the spin-fishermen will have the advantage of being able to make longer casts than the fly folks, and get their flies into more spots, and probably get more fish too. I suggest you take a look at this YouTube video for an example of using this technique… “How to catch grayling - Fishing for arctic grayling - fly fishing and spinning”. At the 3:00 point he shows how he sets up a spinning rod for Grayling. The video “Fly and a Bubble Fishing Technique” by Utah Wildlife Resources shows more in detail how to set up the bobber and fly. Also, “Catch Fish with a Fly on a Bubble” by New Mexico Game & Fish shows how it can be done. 


Flies in size 8 or 10 suggested for stonefly patterns (see the table below), and size 12 bead head Prince. These underwater presentations will have the highest catch rate, giving you a chance even on the slow days. Over-all Grayling are not very picky at all, and will hit almost any small lure in the water. They will also take surface flies of a variety of types, including Royal Wulff, mosquito and mayflies, and foam ants & hoppers (although there are no grass hoppers in this northern range!). 


Kaufmann’s Stonefly (sinking), size 8, 10, or 12 (maybe get two 8’s and two 12’s)


Prince Nymph (sinking), size


Elk wing caddis (floating).

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Royal Humpy (floating), size 12.


Bead Head Golden Stonefly (sinking), size 8 (get two)

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Royal Wulff (floating), size of your choice. If you are fishing dry flies, you should know what sizes to pick. Bigger ones would be okay (smaller number of hook means bigger fly).


Indicator Klinkhammer (floating), size 12.


If using the casting bobber technique, for the leader section that is tied to the fly, light fluorocarbon or monofilament 6-10 lb test should be fine. The eyelets on the fly hooks can be quite small, and that will dictate the size of line you will use for the fly section of the arrangement. 

A casting bobber is hollow, so this will allow you to add a some water to them by loosening the centre peg a little. This way you can have as much casting weight as required to get the distance you wish. For spin fishermen, an ultralight, or light rod matches up against the Grayling optimally. A light spinning reel with 8-10 lb monofilament would be fine. However, using a newer braid of this strength will allow for longer casts and longer drifts (which is advised). 


South Bend Slip Cast Spin Float, 2 ½ inch preferred. The larger size float will be more visible in the water at a distance than the 1 ½ inch size.

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3-Pack Casting Bubbles 1 ⅛” X 1 ¾”

To use the fly bobbers optimally, make sure the fly is hanging about 12-18 inches below the bobber. Grayling tend to sit on the bottom of a river or stream, and will hide between rocks so the Pike and Lake trout can’t get them. At Munroe Lake the river has rocks that will vary between grapefruit to watermelon size, and the fish will easily slip right between them. Our strategy then, is to have a fly cruise over their heads, and be visible against the surface of the water. A dark fly will be easily visible against the bright sky, and therefore darker patterns are more logical. The black stonefly patterns with a brass bead head have produced the most fish because of this. The trout fishing rule of “match the hatch” where you replicate the typical bug found in the stream at any given moment will only loosely apply to Grayling, if at all. Matching the size and colour would be the only main concerns, but black works almost every time… just like in Musky fishing… so I recommend that. 

Be mindful that once you hook onto a Grayling, and you have to pull her in for a longer distance, you are essentially fishing for Pike with a Grayling as a lure. The more that Grayling is thrashing around in the water, the more likely she will get bitten by a predator. So, bring her in as quickly as you can.

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