The Highlander Way
Scottish Loch Flies
It was a chance remark from an U.S.A. based fly fisher that got me thinking about this title. He had inquired about web sites that he could look at in order to see patterns & dressing for traditional Scottish flies. No problem! or so I first thought must be loads. Wrong, oh there are plenty that show Grouse & Claret & Soldier Palmer etc.& indeed a few give that give the dressings. But so often they go off on a tangent & introduce their "own" stuff & modern versions of the old timers. The obligatory photo of them holding some leviathan as if to justify the book or article or the usual pictures & articles of who they know, how brilliant a fly fisher they are type web site. This was not my intention in creating this site, it is my way of fishing, The Highlander Way. This is my attempt to redress the balance. Here you will see "the old stuff" flies that will fish day after day season after season. Not the one season wonders that proliferate today's catalogues or figments of the fly tier's imagination. So enjoy Dunkeld & Woodcock & Green's both in picture form & dressing. A few well known, one modern & one or two not so well known. Oh & a bit of historical content where possible thrown in for good measure.
The Attractor or Fancy Flies (Dressings)
Hook:12-8s std. wet fly Thread: black pre waxed Tail: G.P. topping Rib: fine gold wire Body: med. gold tinsel Hackle: dyed orange hen, tied collar style Wing: bronze Mallard Cheeks: Jungle Cock
NB body should be slim & smooth, hackle 2/3 turns. Overall impression is a "slim profile"
This trout pattern is a scaled down version of the famous Atlantic Salmon fly of the same name. From the lovely town of Dunkeld in Perthshire Scotland on the banks of the mighty River Tay it's creator is sadly lost in the annals of time. It is an outright attractor pattern & can be introduced to quicken the Trout's interest when the more conventional patterns fail. On such occasions it can be a true & deadly pattern. Fished on the tail of a two or three fly cast it bears more than a passing resemblance to a small bait fish & since trout can be predatory by nature takes can be at times quite bold. The Jungle cocks cheeks show off this patterns undoubted attraction & indeed enhance it's fish catching abilities as so many other flies do so adorned, if not to this fly, then certainly to the other flies on the cast.
Hook: 12-8s Thread: black Tail: Red Ibis, dyed swan or goose is fine Rib: fine gold oval Body: yellow or primrose floss Hackle: dark ginger Wing: Teal breast, folded.
Originally tied in Stoddart's day with a hackle running the full length of hook shank, it is more normally tied collar style & the trout do not seen to mind too much.
It is no slouch for Sea Trout at night in high summer & accounts for many of these fine fish every season for those that know off it's prowess.
Very similar to the tried & tested Teal & Yellow. This wet fly wrongly thought off as a North American wet pattern takes it's name from the originator
John Wilson of Edinburgh (1785-1854) a pseudonym of Christopher North the author a larger than life character if ever there was. Born in Paisley Scotland, was a prolific writer & sportsman who shot fished & walked. Studded at Glasgow University before enrolling as a "gentleman commoner" at Oxford University. Friends with Wordsworth & Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Thomas (Tod) Stoddart who I consider to be the "greatest ever wet fly man" & one of Scotland's farthest travelled fly fishers mentions this pattern in one of his books as being a good killing pattern in Loch Awe in Argyleshire. Yellow bodied flies are generally good early season flies & this one is no exception. It is especially useful as a top or "bob" fly & works best in rough weather when there is a "good wave" on the water.
Hook: 12-10 Tail: G.P. topping Rib: fine gold oval Body: front half black floss, rear yellow floss. Hackle: guinea fowl Wing: Mallard Blue, with white tip showing.
Unusual in the use of the white tip from the Mallard wing feather. The most notable being the Heckham series from William Murdoch of Aberdeen the originator of the Mallard & Claret the most finest of Brown Trout loch flies This & the White Tip, a Clyde Style evening pattern I know only one other, the relatively unknown Peveril of the North pattern.
When I first saw this fly it struck me as more than a passing resemblance to a Jock Scott salmon fly but in miniature. I guess that is where it got it's name from. This is a useful fly if a somewhat "unknown" pattern even here in Scotland it's place of birth. Few have heard of it never mind have it in their fly box it. Like the Dunkeld is a good attractor pattern & fishes well on waters as diverse as Loch Awe & Loch Leven in Kinross.
Seems to work well for Brown Trout in the evenings & can take Sea Trout as well. A tail fly generally but I had a good day some years ago on Loch Awe with this fished as a bob fly so its position on the cast is not written in stone like any other pattern for that matter. What the Trout took it for I never did find out but it took six out of eight on a nice summers evening.
Palmers & Buzz Flies
My favourites of which there are many but I will show just a small selection. Not just successful patterns, but a guide to style as well which is most important when tying this type of trout fly. Invariably top dropper or bob fly as we like to call them. No cast should be without them on our Highland lochs.
Hook: 14-8s Thread: black Body: olive green silk or floss Rib: fine gold wire Hackle: red game with slightly longer hackle in front.
|From the vice of the late Rodger Wooley. This
relatively unknown pattern was very popular in Scotland for those
few that knew it's worth as a Brown Trout fly. It works well in early
season & again late on or "The Back End" as we know it.
Paddy's Fancy is a simply dressed palmered pattern. Body was originally olive green silk but I prefer to use a smooth even floss body. Hackle is Furnace but hard to come bye a decent one nowadays so a med. red game hackle is utilised & the trout do not seem to mind too much
Hook: 12-10s Thread: black Tail: Teal breast fibres Body: grey fur Rib: oval silver tinsel Hackle: Badger with slightly darker in front
|In high summer on our northern highland lochs & lochans.
The Heather Moth can appear en masse & the trout will readily accept
this fully hackled pattern.
There are two variation of this fly which are worth a mention. The tail can also be a suitably dyed red feather or even a Golden Pheasant topping & each has its devotees. Body is uniformly grey with silver rib in all patterns. The original pattern had a Scots Grey hackle but as this is a rare find now a days a Badger will do admirably as a substitute. Over all impression is of a "Grey" fly
Hook: 12-10s Thread: black Body: bronze Peacock herl Rib: fine gold oval Hackle: medium red game
|Apart from the black version this fly takes more of our highland trout than any other pattern. More commonly tied with a red seal than the wool body, The one I am showing here has been one of my best pattern for many a year It varies from the Red Palmer by the simple addition of a red wool tail to become The Soldier Palmer. A first class fly for loch Trout & no slouch for Sea Trout & Salmon.|
Palmers are relative easy to tie. Their attraction lies in the fact that they are first class "Bob Fly" or top droppers as they are also known. Tripped through the waves trout probably take them as an insect struggling to break free of it's shuck or a windborne terrestrial. Moths & Sedge can be imitated with palmers. All in all a versatile tying & is worthwhile to master the few simple techniques. The drawing on the left shows it in its simplistic form. Main points to note is that the hackle should generally slope downwards from the eye. A lot of tiers will tie in the hackle by the tip at the rear of the hook but I have found it is far easier to tie in in the "normal " manner & use the rib to secure. Then if the hackle breaks it is easy to tie in another which is not the case in the first method. To beef up the fly an extra few turns or indeed a second hackle can be added. In it's smaller sizes palmers are excellent dries for spate (freestone) streams as their floating capabilities are excellent in rough water. Make sure you use a good quality cock hackle though. Do not overdress but enough to keep it buoyant.
First Dropper or intermediate flies
Hook: 14-12s Shown here on the Captain Hamilton hook by Partridge of Redditch (Singapore). (Capt. Hamilton was a Scot who lived in New Zealand & gave his name to this wet fly hook. By design, with it's round bend & wide gape has good hooking properties if a somewhat unusual profile.) Thread: black Tail: G.P.fibres Body: bronze Peacock herl Rib: red floss Hackle: partridge hackle Wing: Woodcock slips.
The original had a tail of Mallard brown fibres & a Brown Turkey wing but I prefer the Pheasant & the more subtle Woodcock wing feather It is the one more commonly used in my part of the country, so I have included it as such.
|English by birth but I make no apologies for including this
fly from the late J.J. Hardy of the famous Alnwick fishing tackle
manufacturers. It is more popular here in Scotland than its place of birth so for
that fact alone I include it as a Scottish pattern. By right of
conquest?.............. yes that will do.
Reminds me of a wee story. Years ago some absentee English Landlord was selling a vast track of land in my country. Asked how he originally came by it he replied" That it was handed down from generation to generation, but had originally been seeded to his family by the then there King at the time as a prize in battle." Now me I wrote to him I issued a challenge to him, to fight him for it, of which he impolitely declined. No sense of humour these English.
Any way I digress. A good early season pattern which does well on Loch Awe on a rough Spring day. This along with the other two in the series work well as first dropper on a "cast of three".
Hook: 14-8s Thread: black Tail: G.P.fibres Body: green Seal fur Rib: fine gold oval Hackle: brown hen, tied collar style Wing: Woodcock slips
|This nice little wet come from a long history. Part of the
Woodcock series of wet flies. Others in the same stable are the Yellow,
Red, Claret, Black & last but not least that fine Springtime pattern
The Mixed, which I have covered on another page, that finest of Springtime
patterns Some Scottish trout flies can easily be identified by the
materials used in their construction. In this case "The Woodcock Series" all use that most subtle
of winging feather from the upland game bird The Woodcock". Taking
this a stage further it is easy to work out the flies named after the
"Winging" as in the Teal series (wing of Teal breast) Grouse,
Pheasant, Mallard & so for The simple ways are best.
Hook:14-12 Thread: black Body: front half, pale yellow floss, Rear half pale green wool Rib: yellow thread Hackle: cinnamon hen hackle. Wing: Hen Pheasant.
|From the vice of Mr. Niall Campbell. This pattern along with
another The Ronald, created such a stir when they first appeared in an
article in Trout & Salmon, that it's creator was besieged for copies.
So much so that Mr. Tom Stewart in his popular series 50 Popular Flies included both. In my local Trout waters around Renfrewshire it is a good wet pattern for Browns in "The Gloaming" & indeed into the night when sedge & moth appear on the water. Fish will take this fly boldly & confirms my suspicions that they take it as a sedge/moth pattern, with that sometime "slashing rise" much beloved by us night time fly fishers.
That concludes my loch patterns. Not a comprehensive list by all means and a few that many will not know. It would take a whole book to do them all justice. Just a few examples to show "Style" Other that The Hardy Favourite of which I have explained why all are Scottish patterns. My boxes contains many Irish, English & a few Welsh patterns that do well up here, but these flies are more than amply covered by others more competent than me. I would feel naked without a Bibio, Claret Bumble or Wickham's Fancy in my "Wild Waters" box, but that was not the purpose of the exercise to include them here.
Thought you might like these late addition variations on modern dressings of my own design that has been useful for loch fishing.
The Doobry variant below is good when there is a bit of a wave & a glint of sun. Bob always the bob.
Picture courtesy of Hans Weilenmann http://www.danica.com/flytier
This Peter Ross variant with it's pearly flat tinsel rear third & an orange hackle & dubbed seal fur body is an attractive fly. Some fly fishers have a love hate regard to the standard P.Ross. Something I fail to see why that would be. Probably a confidence thing. For me it is one of the finest attractor flies for game fish not only on loch but a a river fly for Sea Trout & Salmon. A fly admittedly that works better with an erratic retrieve but a good fly it undoubted is & has accounted for many a fine Trout here in Scotland. Still we move on.
Hook: 12-8s Thread: black Tail: red floss Body: med gold tinsel ribbed fine gold oval Body hackle: badger Front hackle: orange hen with black in front
Peter Ross Variant
Hook: 12-8s Thread: black Tail: GP tippets Body: rear 1/3rd pearly tinsel, front 2/3rds orange Seal fur Rib: fine oval tinsel Hackle: orange hen Wing: Teal breast
|Salar the Leaper|