Scandinavia in the summer is beautiful. Everything is green; the scent of summer flowers, pinewoods, meadows and the crispy air on the ‘Fjell’ lets your heart leap in silence. You feel deeply connected to nature and the meaning of life and just one thing flows through your mind – peace. In the distance you hear the sound of water; bubbling, rushing, and swirling its way through rough and smooth terrain. It flows in even and uneven currents, through rapids and into deep holes.The water has a clear vision of where it is heading and so do I – to the nearest fishing hole. As I walk the bank, my attention is snatched by the sound of a little ‘slurp’ from the river, and my previous deep connection to nature and the meaning of life evaporates instantly, to be replaced by just one thought – Fish!
Everybody wants to catch a ‘Blue Man’ here in Denmark. And that makes for a very good reason to head up into the deepest parts of Scandinavia to catch one of these marvelous creatures. If lucky, the take is fantastic and the fight is frantic and exciting. As soon as the Blue Man has taken your fly it folds out its huge, sail-like dorsal fin and turns itself across to the current. One can experience marvelous fights and put a serious bend in a lightweight fly rod – it is truly addictive. When the Danes talk about the ‘Blue Man’ they are actually talking about the European Grayling, and a big grayling, at that.
The grayling (Thymallus Thymallus) is part of the Salmonidae family, and when it has reached a certain size (aprox.50cm, or 20 inches) it takes on an unforgettable appearance, with a black/blue taint throughout its whole body (hence the name). Locals say this only comes about with wisdom and age, so catching a “Blue Man’ proves you to be a smart and competent fly fisher!
The ‘Blue Man’, henceforth called the grayling, prefers cold oxygenated water and hovers deep down in mid current waiting for its food to come flowing and tumbling down the river: stoneflies, nymphs, little worms and even crustaceans. But as soon as the first hatches on the rivers start, and the vivid dances of Danica (Mayflies) begin, the grayling cannot resist, and takes the chance to feed on the surface like the royalist of trout.
As with any fish there are hundreds of different fly patterns to choose from when pursuing these European Grayling, and when you add their own peculiar blend of local knowledge and selectiveness, it can often be very hard to know what to put on to the far end of your 4x Powerflex leader. A generic fly like a black parachute something-or-other in size 12, 14 or even smaller will usually do the trick, and is always a good starter. Observe the water and its food offerings when you are down at the river and try and fish a similar size and color fly to the naturals floating down. Grayling are not as picky with the presentation of a fly as, for example trout are, and often take dry flies more passionately. However a gentle presentation will be to your advantage. Choose a WF line with a long, delicate front taper like the Trout LT line. It is beautiful line for single spey and presentation casts and in combination with presenting it in harmony with the water current it will lead you to a heavenly take of the ‘Blue Man’.