Hit Counter  

The Highlander Way


" The Future's Bright, The Future's Wet Fly"

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty.

   Edward R. Hewitt

 Online sales page.   Direct from the U.S.A.  A range of  hand woven Furled Leaders.  

Book Review: Bruce Sandison  Rivers & Lochs of Scotland

See near bottom of page



Salmo Trutta Fario, The Brown Trout

                Blue Zulu

                          These, are my pages & my way of fly fishing. The Highlander Way                                                                                                                                                                     


The Highlander

Note: the cool calculating gaze

The devotion to duty

Some would say

Last of a dying breed?

In short "A Wet Fly man"

Shown here in "Casual Winter Mode"

The Gloaming

Night  falls over a Scottish lowland loch. The fly fishers have had a good day. Sedge & Moth appear & big Browns cruise the margins. Not for the faint hearted but for us night fly fishers who venture forth the cream of the sport beckons.

The Whitemoss Dam  Renfrewshire Scotland             

Fly Tying

Good light is essential to "good" tying. I use my kitchen in winter as I can get  natural light from the south coming in from behind & to my right. On winter nights there is adequate overhead light in the form of 5ft fluorescent fitting. An "angle-poise" type lamp with a halogen bulb of around 40watts gives extra light if needed. No need for expensive sight boards a simple sheet of white A4 & if you can get it laminated all the better. Adjust your seating & vice stem to suit. You will want to be able to have a line of sight through the hook  to a point around the middle of the card. Other than good light  good seating is a necessity, a high backed office chair or bar stool, with a cushion which is firm is about right (not shown in picture). A smooth wooden or Melamine top table of adequate dimensions completes the picture. Oh & one last point never tie if you are tired, sleep.


In summer I have "The Bothy" at the bottom of my garden I built from old packing cases. Although surrounded by fir trees gets good light from it's two windows but most of all peace  & quiet  from other family members, double glazing salesmen, chancers, dancers, romancers & all the other flotsam not versed in the "fair arte".


"tranquility in a sea of despair"  

Below I have the venerable Highlander's new bolt hole. A  winter project.  Converted an old cupboard into a Wee Tying Den.

 She who must be obeyed demanded her kitchen back. Still small price to pay for marital harmony I reckon & anyway the trees were blocking out the light in "The Bothy"

 Picture above right is one corner. The little ply boxes 10 for a set of two are from IKEA ideal for material storing. The vice  a Flymate from Snowbee is perfectly functional excellent value for money & replaces my old Veniard Salmo of many years standing.



In the next eight pages or so of this web site  it is my intention to show in text & pictures my way of fly fishing. A simple site from a simple man.  No "look how big a fish I can catch" No name dropping, no blonde bimbos hanging on my arm & no I don't do competitions sell cigars or fine wines. What I try to "sell" is a gentler time when fly fishers treated their quarry with respect. where fly fishers could sit & pass the time of day without talk of bag limits, boobies & blobs.

Traditional tactics & flies are my weapons of choice. If this is for you then scroll on.

Not?................well maybe you are not ready for this.

I will take you briefly through Wild Waters, fly  fishing on remote lochs where the only company you may have is the sound of the wind & wave, the call of the Curlew & Buzzard. Loch Flies will give an insight into traditional Scottish fly patterns that even by today's standard of creations will still catch fish. If a fly is good it is  good whatever the year or water.

Streams, will take us to Scottish rivers & burns it's tactics & flies. Here you will see spiders & the unusual  Clyde Style flies & Patterns

The  Sea Trout, its flies & tactics. Salar the Leaper will give you an insight  on Atlantic Salmon with an  emphasis on Scottish hair-wings & shrimp patterns.

Lochan Na H'Achlaise

This pretty little loch, lies close to the main A82 Glencoe -Tyndrum road & is the most southerly of the Rannoch Moor lochs & lochans

The lochs are shallow & access is good if somewhat difficult walking over peat bog. Trout are small   2/3 to the pound & rise well to standard loch flies. Black Pennell, Grouse & Claret & Soldier Palmer in size 12s, will do well here.

Summer morning dawns on the loch side & Brown Trout have started to rise around its reed fringed shores. Save for the lapping wave on the far shore only the plaintiff call of the Curlew  breaks the silence. The angler prepares for another "day at the office".

Where possible I will use only Scottish originated fly patterns & ones that have been accepted in my home country and are indeed better known here than in their country of origin. Good examples being Coch-y-bondhu, Silver Butcher & Invicta. I make no apology for that & I shall leave the other flies of which many are in general use here  to writers & web builders more competent than myself.         


Note the white paper "Sight Board. No need for expensive clip on ones. A4 paper laminated does the job every bit as well as the more expensive versions. A wipe with a damp cloth now and again helps to keep things clean & tidy. A tidy bench comes from having  a tidy mind.


"I can not emphasis the need for "good light" in fly tying. It is probably the single most important factor in my opinion."


A large male Brown Trout typical of those found in my highland lochs

The little picture below left is the other side of my den. A large bookcase holds my books about thirty at last count mainly reference & the wicker baskets ancillary kit. Rods are stored at the side & back  At the bottom is cupboard storage for my boxes of gear, reels etc. A second light at the end of the wide shelf allows for another tier to be accommodated. Out of sight is a light fitting with "Daylight" bulbs & this completes the overall picture. All in all a worthwhile winter project

 Below an old line drawing of a border style fly with gut attachment.


Note the different style of tying from the Clyde & Tummel patterns. Bodies are tied to a point opposite the barb. Wing's are either paired slips or folded but fuller than Clyde & Tummel. Hackles too tend to be wound more 2-3 turns being the norm & not the1-2 of the others. What I would call a typical Scottish wet fly all be it an old gut eyed one from the nineteenth century


Typical loch rod around 10ft,soft to middle action. Single action fly reel, 3. 1/2".will do. Coupled with a #6 floating line, adequate Dacron backing is all that is required  for summer Brown Trout fishing. Will handle Sea Trout or indeed a Salmon if one should happen on your Soldier Palmer  meant for the loch's smaller inhabitants. Be on your guard one can never tell.


The Wheatley box on the left is my Wild Water selection. Black, red, browns & clarets predominate. A touch of gold a hint of silver. These are the successful flies for loch fishing for Brown Trout. Many are palmers, these are flies for working the top layers flies for searching out our elusive top water Browns. Not the normal little wisps of the more delicate stream borne creations these flies are for "wild" fishing. The trout in these  wind lashed lochs are opportunists & a good meaty or flashy mouthful is what attracts them. The colours blend in well with our dark or somewhat peaty coloured waters. But find a sandy bottom a weedy bay, a burn or a rocky outcrop & you may well be surprised with the fish of a lifetime. Not fishing for the faint hearted but by far the most delightful way to spend a day with  Curlew or the plaintive mewing of the Buzzard for company along  wave lapped shores.


Check out Wild Waters for tactics, flies & their dressings.

Streams, takes us to the waters of my childhood beginnings where I learned my craft.  A disciple of Stewart, first with upstream worm & then "The Flee" as we say here.   A follower of  Tod Stoddart probably the greatest "wet fly" man of them all.  With Streams I will show you flies for burn & river.  From my boyhood rivers Gryffe & Calder where upstream spider works well, to the upper reaches of the River Clyde, from where a peculiar range of wets The Clyde Style, hails from. Here fly fishers used up to 6 flies on their casts. Three is the norm today but you have to stand in awe of their prowess  with a rod & their ability to take fish with yesteryears tackle. Cane, Kingfisher silk lines & gut casts were their chosen weapons of choice. Stream craft, something sadly lacking with many of today's modern anglers was all important even if  the end result was for the dinner table.  Modern anglers seem in part to rely on high end tackle rather than any learned skills & with the influx of Rainbow fisheries in the UK it is often the easy fix, the bag limit or the biggie that attracts people.  I have moved on, back to my roots & I now seek an altogether wilder climate. My choice & as it should be.                                                                

Iron Blue Dun

Medium Olive

Teal & Black (Clyde Style)

The Sea Trout  (Salmo Trutta) 

Fresh off the tide the sea run Brown is an exciting fish. Whether it be the heart stopping runs & leaps or just the heavy splash in the "gloaming". A soft Scottish loch or the tumbling stream she installs in all who are acquainted with her a beauty & mystique. Flies such as the ubiquitous Teal Blue & Silver or the Mallard & Claret will find her. Whether the small school fish of around a pound or the heavier fish of late summer she will test the finest. Well named "Child of the Tide"

Salmo Salar  (Salar the Leaper)              The Atlantic Salmon              

Thought by many to be the ultimate challenge The King Of Fish  wears it's mantle well. Off tumbling waters set in scenic beauty, a fresh Atlantic Salmon is more than a worthy challenge to us fly fishers. Flies are legendary from the gaudy flies of Victorian Britain to the modern hair-wings shrimp & Spey patterns of today.                                                                          


Munro Killer      A MODERN HAIR WING Old Salmon flies from 100yrs. ago.

Note the bottom fly has an early type loop eye whilst the top one retains the older gut eye.









Interesting Websites:


Remember Snipe & Purple site way back. This is Rob's new site. If you are after

North Country patterns & much more this is the place to go.

The Paisley Abercorn Angling Club


http://www.danica.com/flytier  See flies from tiers  around the world. Beautiful photography from Hans.  

       http://www.overmywaders.com  Bamboo, silk lines, old fly plates & much more.

www.flytyingworld.com   Ed Gallop's web site, Well worth a look.

www.blueskyfly.com  Furled Leaders from the USA

www.flyanglersonline.com  An  American  site, with plenty of content. Good Fly Tying Tips & a nice chat room.

         http://www.wetfly.co.uk   North Country Flies & online sales of genuine Seals Fur.

    The new Site from John Gray, Scottish Game fishing info. Well worth a visit.


Framed Scottish trout, salmon and sea trout flies, photos, knots & needle flies for Sea Trout & Salmon


Urban fishing at it's best. A nice site & blog from Alistair. Well worth a look.

http://www.flymph.com    The International Brotherhood of The Flymph

Brainchild of Jim Slattery (USA)


A Scottish site from a man with similar thoughts to myself.

A new site from Eric Austin, U.S.A. Traditional flies of Europe & the Americas

The Avon 

Angling Club (Finest Brown Trout & Grayling Fishing)


A Scottish river club, keeping to the traditional ways.

       You want a reel repaired? This is the place to go. First class service & price to suit.



Book Review: The long awaited revised edition from the respected writer 

describes over 5,000 fishing locations in Scotland

 with   contacts, access details, flies & tactics. A must have for any visitor or locals

contemplating unknown waters.............. Well recommended.

ISBN 978184502283-9    20 hardback from all good retailers.


Search WWW 

Click on link above to view other Scottish fly fishing sites

Back to top


All pages are subject to an upgrade on an ongoing basis. Thank you for taking the time to view my Highlander Way 


View My Guest Book

 Due to unsolicited comments/urls being left on my quest book I have no alternative but to suspend the message facility. These sad people feel the need to do such things but not on my site. I apologise for this but if you want to contact me about any of the site content feel free to E Mail. You can of course still read any of the proper comments that have been posted......thanking you all,  Alan the Highlander