On the afternoon of 17th February I fished the upper River Test for Grayling with my fellow Go Fly Fishing UK guides Steve Skuce, Mick Siggery, Stephen Wright and Steve Harrison. Although I have guided on the River Test about 450 times and fished it for 20 years I am always up for learning about new ‘killer’ flies. Almost exactly twelve months ago the top fly on our equivalent guides day was a size 16 weighted olive coloured shrimp (although my best fly, surprisingly given that this was mid-February, was a size 16 dry parachute Black Gnat). So I asked my colleagues if they had any new top flies to tell me about. Steve Skuce (Chairman of the Grayling Society) piped up that he had invented a brilliant new Grayling fly he had named the Ginger Tom. He gave me one so I tied it on, fished duo/’klink & dink’ style. On fishing it I could immediately see that it was a little heavy for the spot I was fishing so I changed to my own invented ‘killer’ Grayling fly (see below) and it immediately started to produce fish – albeit small ones.
Steve himself did catch well on his Ginger Tom (see tying instructions below) and also on a size 16 Pearly Pheasant Tail Nymph. His best fish on the Ginger Tom being a 16”+ male which he said had the largest dorsal fin he’d ever seen on a Grayling.
Tied on shrimp hooks from size 16 to 12 (depending on the weight required), touching turns of electric motor copper wire along the hook shank are covered by fluorescent pink cotton and then the copper wire is wound back over the cotton in a segmented way – see picture. Don’t worry if some of the copper wire on the hook shank shows through the cotton as I think this may add to the effectiveness of the fly. Also some of the electric motor copper wire that I use is a reddish copper colour which again I feel adds to its attraction. Although designed for the River Test, where it is brilliant winter Grayling bug, last autumn it worked very well on my local River Wharfe at Ilkley.
Ginger Tom Grayling fly by Steve Skuce – Chairman of The Grayling Society
Developed on the River Wylye in Wiltshire. Heaven knows what the fish take it for but take it they do. In its first week on the Wylye it accounted for over 100 Grayling and about 30 Brownies! It has also now caught fish on the Dove in Staffordshire; Wharfe in Yorkshire; Wylye, Itchen, Test and Avon in the South; and on the Dordogne and Maronne in France.
Hook: Kamasan B100 or similar grub type hook. Size 18, 16, 14.
Silk: Brown or tan.
Bead: Copper coloured bead – either tungsten or brass dependent on the rate of sink you need – put on before you commence tying. I use one about 2mm for #18, 2.4mm for #16 and 2.8mm for #14.
Rib: Copper wire – thickness to match hook size.
Abdomen: Light Ginger dubbing. My favourite is some ginger from a dubbing box I acquired full of different coloured Rabbit. Other dubbing – Life Cycle Nymph Ginger, Flyrite #36 Ginger Cream etc. – will work but, whatever you use, make sure it is a light ginger in colour. The ‘ginger’ colour is key.
Thorax: Any suitable Dark Brown dubbing. I have used Life Cycle Nymph Dark Brown or Flyrite #6.
- Put bead on hook ensuring the countersunk side is to the back of the hook.
- Run silk down to outside of bend and catch in Cock Pheasant Tail fibres to form short tail.
- Tie in Copper Wire ribbing also.
- Run silk up to back of bead trapping Cock Pheasant Tail fibres and tag end of ribbing wire. Cut or break off waste.
- Run silk back to bend and dub with Ginger dubbing. Dub an abdomen leaving enough room to dub a thorax behind bead.
- Rib abdomen with wire turning it in the opposite direction to that of the silk so it doesn’t bed in. About 4 to 8 turns dependent on hook size. Tie off and remove waste.
- Dub on a short thorax with Dark Brown dubbing.
- Whip finish behind eye, tie off, cut off waste thread and varnish whipping. I always do 2 whip finishes as a precaution in case one is cut through by the fish’s teeth. That way I have one more to go before the fly falls to bits!!