Tag Archives: salmon

So much to master “Every Day is a school day”!

I have during the past few months thrown myself into trying to understand the basics of fly tying. On the one hand this has proven to be a great way to pass the long dark evenings when fishing is not an option. One the other hand whilst really enjoyable, not to say addictive, it has been with mixed success and only heightened my absolute respect for those wonderful fly tyers who craft their beautiful, amazing and consistent ‘works of art‘. Aside from pure admiration, I often smile when I see facebook posts that are annotated with innocent comments such as “a small order created from the vice this evening….” illustrated with images of a 40-50 amazing creations! Aside from the quality of the flies shown I chuckle to myself thinking “assuming I could tie such beauties, 40 or 50 flies would take me the best part of 4-6 weeks!”.

Anyway what have I learned so far as an infant fly tier?

One – it’s not as easy as it looks but I am really enjoying the learning and the challenge!

Two – it’s compulsive, addictive and expensive to get started with constant orders for more materials!

Three – Listen to others – Including “Less is more” as so many of you have advised, thanks the message finally starting to sink in. Pay heed to advice so freely offered i.e. less material., less turns and to use the “false head principle‘ to avoid those clumsy big heads and keep head size to a minimum.

Four – Thank goodness for YouTube and Davie McPhail, Ryan Houston and others without whom I would be completely lost.

Five – Reduce time spent searching the table for things by starting with only what you need in the first place for the pattern that you are tying.

Six – Finally persistence and practice pays off eventually. Sometimes frustration takes over when things seem out of reach, including early attempts to master the whip finishing tool which often ended up across the other side of the room in the early days!

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So much to learn but enjoying the ride and cannot wait to try to tempt a fish or two on these first self tied creations – even if they are not the Miss World of fly tying. I fully expect that the vice may take second place once the season gets into full swing. Thank you to everyone for all of the the advice and encouragement.


Shiny New Pin

All of the countless hours of scraping, sanding and preparation are now finally behind me.  Despite my moans and groans it’s true to say that “it’s all in the preparation” as I am really please with the results.

Following several coats of preservative, primer, bilge paint and four coats of varnish I am at last now able to look towards the start of the new season with excitement. A few jobs still to do, including fitting of a new floor, wiring and some smaller jobs but can’t wait to get out on the water. Acknowledgement and sincere thanks to Thomas McBride for his help and advice in getting the painting and varnishing progressed and completed.

Looks too good to get wet, just hope I’ve not made surfaces too slippy for landing all those fish!


A personal favourite pattern

Willie Gun Copper Tube Fly, December 2019

Continuing to practice basic tying techniques I opted for a Willie Gun variant courtesy of Davy McPhail. This is one of my favourite patterns and a fairly basic fly but a great choice for Spring and later in season.

Plan is to tie a few of these in different weights and sizes and tube materials (copper and plastic) in order to provide maximum flexibility on the water in terms of conditions.

Starting with 1′ copper tubes  I immediately was aware of just how small the 1/2′ versions were in terms of tying areaWhilst far from perfect I was quietly pleased with the first results. The 1/2″ version may not be so straightforward. Thank you once more to Davie McPhail.


Long way to go but starting to really enjoy this fly tying malarkey although still trying to come to terms with the basics.wnaGYfDLQcqJkDB3ePkUSA_thumb_bfc

Fly-Tying trials and tribulations

27th November 2019

On these long cold , dark nights what else is there to do but try to learn something new and prepare for the season ahead. Gradually feel I am starting to get the hang of some of the basics, with some cursing and swearing at thread breaks which thankfully are becoming less, I am very slowly able to produce something recognisable. They ‘mystery’ that was the whip finish tool has finally been overcome after many attempts and expletives.

1″ copper White Willie Gun (Davy McPhail)
1″ plastic Green Highlander spey tube (Davy McPhail)

Probably not the easiest patterns to start learning to to tie but enjoyed the challenge and Davie McPhail’s videos are invaluable. A special thanks to Dave McPhail for sending me some of the heavy duty tubing which I struggled to source, thank you Davy for your kindness. An enormous thank you also to everyone far and wide for all the helpful advice and support on Facebook without which I would probably have quit!

McKenzie Cascade on Gold Patriot (Davy McPhail)

Now I plan to concentrate on some doubles including cascades largely as a result of such advice in order to try to practice ‘the basics’. Observations thus far is the amount of ‘waste’ materials – where there seems to be more on the carpet than the vice! Other factors is the constant on-line orders for yet more materials when you start to tie something new!fullsizeoutput_78a

River Endrick and the end of the Season approaches

Saturday 19th October 2019

As the end of the Season fast approaches Saturday found me exploring some new pools and runs on the River Endrick thanks once more to knowledge and advice freely shared once more by fellow angler Lee Taylor.

Upon arrival on this upper part of the Endrick and after a chat with the farmer whose land I would cross I headed for the river across fields and burns. My plan was to explore and fish two new sections of the river for the first time. It was immediately apparent that the river had risen by around a foot or so since the previous day when I had fished further downstream. I immediately regretted not bringing my wading stick as the heavily peaty coloured water made judging the depth impossible. With shady wooded banks and some great looking runs and pools beneath the overhanging trees this was a truly tranquil section of the river.

After adapting my setup to conditions – a floating line with a 10ft fast sink tip, short leader and a small red frances copper tube I was ready. The advice had been to cross the river here and fish from opposite bank towards bank I was currently standing. However without the wading stick and being a ‘chicken’ I made the executive decision that crossing the river at this height was not a good idea. I therefore started heading down to the next mark fishing wherever water and access permitted. After checking several times (with some phone calls and mr google’s assistance) I arrived at the next intended section – a long tree lined bend in the river with some lovely looking runs and pools beneath the branches on opposite bank. Thankfully this area was wadable allowing some casting clearance from trees behind me. I saw and heard several decent fish above and below me only added to the anticipation.

Gradually working down this run I soon came across a fellow angler and owner of the other vehicle parked when I arrived. He was grinning from ear to ear and just stowing the net after landing a wee grilse and his first salmon on the fly. Having congratulating him I continued to fish down behind him until he eventually disappeared after opting to move downstream.

Despite my best efforts I said goodbye to at least four flies, and leader in some cases, donating them to the overhanging trees on the far bank. Joy and a silent thank you came occasionally when the fly sometimes hit a branch or leaf opposite before sliding off and into the target water and landed exactly in the area intended! I noted some of branches were already adorned with flies from some similarly unfortunate casts like a Tibetan prayer offering of flags or cloth. Pink flies seemed to be particularly in evidence. There were certainly fish in residence here as they made their presence evident showing above and below me several times just to keep me engaged.

Stopping for a break after one strong ‘pull’ but no connections I reflected again on the beauty and solitude of this part of the river with the Campsies rising behind me tree lined banks and abundant wildlife of this wee river as it meanders across the fields of the flood plain.

Continuing I carefully resumed fishing slowly down this section to where it ends in some fast running shallow water before deciding to head back to the car and some lunch.

Given the extremely muddy swampy conditions at the car park I opted to drive down to another ‘drier’ section downstream and have lunch there. Upon arrival several other fellow anglers and friends were already setting up or breaking for lunch. During lunch experiences, successes and failures and flies were exchanged including the hooking of a small grilse and a wee sea trout landed.

Following lunch, coffee and a re-charge I opted to give this section an hour or so and after replacing the ‘missing fly’ from the ‘diminishing’ contents of my fly box with a size 10 red and yellow flamethrower gold double I headed off.

I slowly and carefully made my way down this now deeper run and pool than it had been the day before. With the target once more being the opposite overhanging bank I had now developed a technique to dislodge the fly when hangups occurred which they of course did. It worked to some degree and involved pulling and quickly releasing the slack line to try to dislodge or ‘ping’ the fly loose from the branch opposite before resorting to the normal pull and 50/50 hope. I had thought about tackling up to heavier leader just because of this issue but opted against this as I prefer to fish as light as possible for several reasons.

After about a further hour or so fish were showing but no takers I exited the end of the pool and with my back now complaining about the cold water I decided to call it a day. It had been a good day as despite any fish.  I had found (eventually) and explored some new areas of this beautiful wee river and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the day. Heading back to the car I was already scheming as to how I could squeeze in one last outing before the end of the Season.


Autumn Splendour and my first Endrick Salmon


12th October, 2019

Having spent the previous morning on the River Fruin without seeing a fish I decided to explore the upper Endrick for the first time. Being a creature of habit had it not been for the generous and helpful advice of friend and fellow angler Lee Taylor I would probably have stuck to lower more familiar beats. I am therefore indebted to Lee for his kindness in so freely sharing his knowledge of the section and water with me.

Arriving around 9.30am I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with another angler Pat as we were setting up. After exchanging best wishes he set off towards the river as I opted for a coffee before heading down to the water.

I was filled with more than the usual buzz of anticipation that we so often have at the start of an outing as there had been good reports all week of decent fish being landed or lost on this upper section of the river. Arriving at the top of the run I had planned to fish (“Coolie’s Lynn) there was plenty of water as I began fishing down the run (‘”Lynn”) – intermediate with fast sink poly and a wee copper tube. A fairly narrow part of the river so plan was to get down quick and maximise short swing of the fly. I had been forewarned about the trees on both banks and soon fell foul of them losing around two or three flies in short succession until I improved my range a little. The temptation to edit out the hang ups in the trees was there but hey this is an honest account of my morning and was part of the challenge.

The water and in particular the far bank beneath the overhanging branches just looked fishy. As I worked my way down the run a fish rolled mid current around 30 yards below me. Senses heightened and having just replaced the fly once more for a small willie gun orange hothead copper tube I slowly and carefully covered the rise several times without success.

With thoughts of the rising fish now forgotten I continued down the run and carefully wading around trees behind me, just below a small burn. Now roll casting due to trees behind me casting beneath branches opposite was a real test. Suddenly the magic happened as I landed the fly in what looked like a perfect spot and mended the line! A very gentle take which I initially mistook for a small trout suddenly transformed into a take followed by a violent bend in the single hander which began to bounce as the fish started to run. Initially resisted lifting for what seemed an age as I allowed the fish to take and turn pulling some line and fighting every voice in my head and instinct to lift immediately!

Following a series of prayers that it would stay on and a series of runs including one into the bank beside me and the trees the fish eventually slipped over the net. The gye net I have carried all season was however an “unfamiliar” piece of equipment to me caused some problems as I tried to release the buckle just adding to the anxiety of dropping the fish.

Happy days – my first Endrick salmon a coloured fish of around 8-9lbs a little thin perhaps but a first from the Endrick nevertheless. The fish was carefully unhooked in the net using forceps before being revived and gently released.

Now having spent many trips and hours capturing video of views, landscapes, casting and not too many salmon (none) some of you will be wondering where the video of the fish being landed is. During the adrenalin and excitement then I have to confess that I failed to note that the camera was actually running and this numpty then ordered it to “start recording” which actually had the opposite effect of turning the camera off! I know all the technology in the world and it comes down to the stupidity of the operator. Hence the short footage of the hookup.

Once both the fish and I had recovered from all of the excitement and my pulse returned to almost normal I fished on for another hour or so without further action. By around mid day I decided to call it quits and head for the car and some lunch before heading home. Not a bar of fresh run silver but to me just as prized as a first salmon on this amazing wee river.

A great day and thoroughly enjoyable – not a monster nor fresh run but still a first and a good few hours to savour. Body, mind and soul refreshed I made my way to the car reflecting on a great couple of hours. It was great to meet Pat and Max and once more I wish to acknowledge and thank Lee for freely providing invaluable advice and tips on this new stretch.

We are truly blessed to have such a range of beautiful water to choose from in our system.

September Lomond Splendour

Saturday 21st September 2019  “The Loch Lomond Fly Fishing Competition”

Saturday morning and having firstly registered for this years Loch Lomond Fly Fishing Competition I was soon heading up river. Other commitments had looked like I would not be in a position to get out so I was really over the moon when the planets aligned at the last minute. On the other hand the weather forecast was not just as pleasing with bright sunny skies and little to no wind. At Balloch Bridge I was reminded of the sad scene of a boat fire the previous evening where unfortunately the well known boat “Aurora” was destroyed.

Having checked the forecast yet again for the umpteenth time then with a ‘gentle’ wind from the south east forecast I elected to head for north shore of Inchfad in the hope of a decent drift along this shoreline to start with.  As I crossed over to and along Inchmurrin my hopes rose as the wind and wave strengthened, so much for the weather forecast I thought as the spray came over the bow.

Arriving at the north east end of Inchfad I was heartened to see that wind direction was right and a good wee wave promised a decent drift. I had opted for an 11 foot 7wt setup, Sage X switch rod, with 8 ft polyleader and a 15 foot leader with two droppers and a wee double to anchor things.  Second (spare) rod was more of an experiment and a chance to at least try out a recent acquisition a shorter 9 foot Sage Igniter 9wt with an intermediate sink tip and similar three fly setup. Yes too short and over powered compared to a ‘traditional’ loch setup but was keen to give it a cast for the first time.

I spent a good few hours fishing this drift hard a couple of times with not a hint of a rise! The temperature was rising steadily and by noon the sun was splitting the clear blue cloudless sky as I opted for a break for lunch. Following lunch I decided to give the Igniter a throw and was not disappointed.  This rod rated as “Ultra Fast” weighing in at just over 3oz in weight should require a licence. The line left the rod like a bullet even into the wind which was now in my face at times.  However even this newly acquired weapon could not produce a rise nevertheless.

With the sun blazing and the wind now moderate I decided to give the south shoreline of Inchfad a try passing a boat of fellow anglers en route who signalled their own lack of fish as we passed.

Fishing along the south western tip of Inchfad  I found what looked like an ideal drift between the tip of the main island and the wee island of Ellanderroch. Despite the bright sunshine and lack of cloud there was a good stiff breeze and a decent wave which lifted my spirits and hopes of connecting with something at least.

By mid afternoon the relentless sunshine and heat had not abated and I decided to call it a day. The weather may have not been ideal for fishing but what it did serve to do was to showcase the stunning beauty of the big loch in all its glory.

‘Screaming Reels’ – Lomond 13th July

Saturday 13th July

Saturday at last and heading out up the river I am brimming with the normal anticipation and excitement that has been growing during the preceding week further fuelled by reports of Grilse now being landed on the Loch.

See video highlights below! (Best played with Volume UP)

The day already warm with plenty of cloud and a good wee breeze things looked promising as I headed out of the river. I had hardly set the fourth rod when the inside ‘poker’ let rip with at least one other rod also joining in! I had connected with at least one fish and plenty of weed in the shallow water off Balloch Park. Sadly after a few minutes grunting and groaning I realised it was a lively pike of 10-12lb which was duly landed and safely released.

Continuing north along Boturich things had barely settled down when the inside rod buckled with the reel singing as I gathered in the other rods. A good bend in the rod signalled a good fish………alas another pike and not silver! Following some ariel acrobatics a healthy beautifully marked pike again of around 12lb was netted and released returning to the deep once more.

I had barely reset the rods just off the Hydro Station and thoughts of a coffee were dashed when once more the inside ‘poker’ let go. Thinking surely this time I tightened into what proved to be ….yes another pike would you believe it! Fortunately no need to bring it on board as it slipped the hook just beside the boat.

Rods out and reset once more I headed on past Ross Priory with thoughts returning to that cup of coffee. Not a chance as the inside ‘poker’ once again announced a take and I thought ‘fourth time lucky surely!’ . With the boat pitching in the rollers as can be seen I struggled to stand and almost joined the fish at one point before deciding being seated was better option. After a short fight with the fish and the rolling boat another beautifully marked healthy pike of around 12lbs which had fallen once more for the orange Tomic was safely landed and released.

Heading across the Endrick Bank towards Balmaha I finally got that coffee thinking what a busy morning but please please make the next take silver!

The cloud lifted and the sun appeared as I made my way past Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay before turning west toward the secret lost Isle of Buccinch for lunch and a stretch of the legs. Sitting on Buccinch in the now baking heat I reflected upon the events of the morning and admiring the shear beauty and solitude around me.

A change of lure here and there and I was off again heading south towards Inchfad in glorious sunshine and blue skies. After skirting the south shore of Inchmurrin I headed back across to Boturich shore and home past Balloch Park once more. No further contact but all in all another great day on Lomond and another week to plan and eagerly look forward to my next outing.

A cold day in May on Lomond

Saturday 25th May

A cold windy day in May heading out once more in pursuit of that, so far elusive, first Lomond Salmon. Despite the low water conditions news of several fish being landed on the River Leven in recent days this only added to the tingle of anticipation that just maybe today I would get off the mark. Buffeted by the wind as I entered the I headed upon the eastern shore past Boturich carefully trying to fish as ‘tight’ to the shoreline as possible. Identifying the usual landmarks and troll lanes proved challenging given the extremely low water levels with huge rock formations now exposed along the shoreline and ‘normal’ depths and distances from shore now changed and unfamiliar.

Crossing Endrick Bank the reel on the inside poker announced a take as the rod bent over and I struggled to stow the other rods quickly. No small feat given the ‘roll’ of the waves that had gradually increased. Turned out to be a beautiful small sea trout of approximately just over a pound. Impressed by just how much of a tusssle these wee fish put up for their size and after several acrobatic leaps it was safely in the net.

Onwards and past Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay before turning westwards to Buccinch for lunch, a stretch of the legs and a change of lures. Leaving Buccinch the wind was now blowing as I headed to over and along the north side of Inchfad before heading around and running between Inchcailloch and Creinch a couple of times.

From there I headed back across Endrick Bank with wind and swell now blowing hard and glad to get a little shelter on the far shoreline. With rain now starting in earnest I headed back down past Ross Priory and Boturich with no further offers. Despite the conditions and the lack of fish a very enjoyable day made all the better for the appearance of a single beautiful wee silver sea trout.