Thursday, 30 December 2010

A Guid New Year tae Yin an aw.....

That's it folks this year is almost over . All our fishing trips of the year gone by will now become memories in the burning embers of camp fires of future fishing trips.For me the highlight of my angling year was my trip to the North West of Scotland in July to Loch Watten. Of course I have had many many enjoyable angling experiences this year but none can compare to my trip to Caithness. Great fishing and good company are the perfect mix for unforgettable fishing outings. This will be my last post of the year as tomorrow, Hogmanay I will be very busy in preparation for the Bells.For any overseas readers of my blog who do not understand the term "The Bells" this is the phrase we use here for bringing in the New Year at midnight on New Years Eve.All the family wait till the stroke of midnight toast the New Year usually with a fine Malt in hand then we get all sentimental and have a good greet as we remember the year just past and absent friends etc. I would like to end my year of blogging with a wee slide show of some flies I tied this year.Hope you continue to enjoy my blog in the future
A Guid New Year tae Yin an’ Aw an’ Mony may Ye see…

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas


A Very Merry Christmas to all my visitors. I trust each and everyone of you are having a great day. I will not bore you with all the usual stuff you read in angling magazines etc at this time of year about how great a time it is for the keen fly tyer as there will be a hell of an amount of tying materials lying about the house what with all the tinsel etc. Instead I thought I would celebrate by tying one my favourite style of flies.Rudolph the Red Nosed Dabbler!. It was about time I posted a pic of one of these style of flies.
I believe Dabblers first originated in Ireland and were originally dressed as bob flies but I reckon the Dabbler is a good all season pattern. It can be used from the first day of the season to the last.It can represent and be used in a variety of styles and conditions. It can represent small fry it can also be utilized as a sedge pattern as well as its original function as a top dropper pattern. To be honest I would be Happy to fish it on any position on my cast. A truly great all round pattern for wild brown trout and also the rainbow trout of Hillend Loch. It is also a very satisfying pattern to tye too.

Monday, 20 December 2010

One Year Old Today!


I can hardly believe it. My blog is one year old today.I know I'm only an infant in blogging terms and I have much to learn but when I set out one year ago and typed my first words on these pages I could never have never have imagined how many people would be interested in anything that I had to say about my fly tying and fishing exploits. I have had visitors to my blog from all over the world as well as all over the UK.How they found out about my blog is beyond me. I suppose the Internet makes the World a global Village.My blog might not be up there with the likes of Davie McPail's etc in numbers but over this last year I have watched with interest as my hit counter has been steadily recording a pleasing increase in viewers month by month. I am currently sitting at just over a thousand visitors a month now. I set out originally to publish photos and articles of my fishing trips and also somewhere to publish pictures of my fly patterns. I hoped at first that my blogging would attract the attention of my fellow Airdrie and District Club anglers and friends and didn't really think beyond that. During the course of the season it was such a buzz to meet anglers at the Hillend Loch side and then for them to ask if me if I was the bloke that did the Hillend Dabbler Thingy! I think I bored my mates rigid by telling them this and that and that I would be putting their pics on the blog etc.In the end I think they actually looked forward to seeing their pics and stories of our exploits together at Hillend and further afield on the blog. I have really enjoyed recording a year in the life of my favourite pastime. You may have noticed that over the course of the season I didn't catch huge numbers of fish but I can assure you that I have enjoyed every minute of my angling and blogging over this last year because for me angling encompasses a whole lot more than just catching fish and I hope you agree that I have tied to express and articulate the pleasure and enjoyment I gain from my pastime within the pages of my blog...The Hillend Dabbler.
I was wondering how I should mark the occasion of being one year old on here.In the end I decided just to post a simple photo of Hillend Loch as it looked this morning. It looks exactly as it did one year ago when I first started blogging. Anyone fancy ice fishing! Its hard to imagine that in 84 days time this place will be free of ice and snow and once again I will be afloat drifting along the north shore casting the flies that I have been tying all winter.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A Simple Fly!


Tonight I was listening to the Hearts v Motherwell match on Radio Scotland and while listening to the game I tied the above fly which is a variant of that well known Traditional wet fly , Black Pennel. I must have been subconsciously influenced by the colours of the Edinburgh club's team colours as on this occasion the variant I have tied has a maroon/claret theme. I think the colour combination will be one that works well as I have had quite a bit of success with claret coloured flies over the years. I am reliably informed by Stan Headley that claret coloured flies should be the anglers first choice in poor light eg, as darkness approaches. Not that I have ever met Stan . I got that bit of information from the Gospel according to Stan..... The Loch Fishers Bible. The pattern I have tied tonight incorporates black tying thread, Orange tippets for the tail, claret peacock herl body with a silver tinsel rib and of course that all important sweeping claret hen hackle.I look forward to fishing this fly in the coming season which is now 89 days away.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Magazine!


As I mentioned in a Blog post in November, this months edition of the excellent fly tying monthly has a page dedicated to this months Essential Challenge fly tying competition winners. I was one of the lucky winners to have my flies included in the article which I called the Hot Orange Grizzly. The above photo is taken from the magazine with a brief description of the fly from Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine contributor Magnus Angus. It was really pleasing to have my patterns photographed and have them included in such a well known national magazine. As if this was not enough I also have a picture of one of the flies I posted on the Magazine forum and there is a picture of this on page 12 which carries an article promoting their forum.
This months mag also carries a brilliant feature from fly tyer and mag contributor George Barron who I met at the British Fly Tying Fair at the end of October. in this feature Gorge Barron delves into Emrys Evans "Plu Stiniog" which has been translated from Welsh into English and ties four modern flies from this great treasure trove of fly patterns from the Principality.
If you haven't already purchased a copy of this months Fly Fishing and Flytying Monthly I would thoroughly recommend that you do so

Monday, 6 December 2010

Grounded but Flytying!



As the weather situation here in Airdrie appeared to be eventually getting better over the last couple of days I arranged to have a holiday from work today as I had some business to attend to in Motherwell and Glasgow.Last night I cleared the snow from my car in preparation for venturing onto the roads for the first time in over a week. Then when i awoke this morning and looked out my window I couldn't believe my eyes. The snow had came back with a vengeance and was still falling and piling up at an alarming rate. With the entire town of Airdrie in a gridlock situation my plans scuppered for the day there was only one thing for it. I made a big pot of Scotch Broth and then while that was cooking and simmering away in the kitchen I pulled up a chair at my tying desk and got to work in tying even more flies for the forthcoming season which is only 98 days away. I tied various flies, mainly Loch style flies, no change there then I hear you cry. Well its mostly loch fishing do. Caithness was on my mind as I sat at the desk for most of the day. I tied all the usual suspects and a few others which were a combination of standard patterns the above fly is one of those such flies. It is a bit Loch Ordie, green tail Kate and watten warrior.
As I sit and write this my wife has just returned from work and told me that the Carlisle road in Airdrie is still gridlocked with reports of cars been stuck there for 8 hours.All major roads such as the M8, M74 and A80 show no signs of letting up. If it carries on like this I wont be at work tomorrow which means that my new fly box will be full sooner than I thought.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Dirty Weeker


Tonight as I look out my tying room window the picture is of a winter wonderland well not quite as after all I'm from Airdrie. My car lies buried beneath quite an accumulation of snow and my thoughts have been drifting back to hot summer nights fishing wild Scottish Lochs so I thought I would share a fly I had success with at Loch Watten back in July, the very amusingly named Dirty Weeker.
I have wondered for some time about where the name comes from,Well it apparently is a corruption of a phrase the evolved during the town of Wick's Herring days. It was not as you might think a derogatory term which pokes fun at people who dinnae wash. The original word was "Dirdie" a Caithness word meaning busy. Over time it was corrupted to dirty and somehow adopted by locals endearingly referring to each other as "Dirty Wickers" meaning a real Wicker.
The Dirty Weeker is a fly that originates from Caithness in the extreme far North of Scotland.This pattern was devised by Hugo Ross from Wick who has an angling business in the Northern seaport. The fly is synonymous with the angling tradition of wet fly-fishing at Loch Watten, arguably Scotland’s finest venue for traditional loch style fishing. I have seen various different fly patterns which claim to be Dirty Weekers so I was not entirely sure about the exact dressing therefore I made a few enquiries on some angling forums and after searching through some angling books the overall collective opinion was that the original dressing was as the above pic shows. Hot orange tippets, claret seals fur body, oval gold rib, a cock hackle with an orange hen hackle in front and of course black tying thread on a size ten or twelve hook.
Stan Headley recommends this pattern in his excellent Loch Fishers Bible for fishing at Loch Watten which is as good a reason as any to have a supply of them in your fly box.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Essential Fly Tying Competition!


A couple of months ago I participated in a tying competition in the national magazine... Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine, called The Essential Challenge. The format of the competition was that the tyer had to send off to a fly tying company called Essential Fly UK for the Free! tying materials. Then obviously tye an original dressing with the materials provided.The comp is divided into monthly rounds where there was three winners for each round, then at the end of the comp all the round winners will enter into the Essential Fly Final, for want of a better phrase and then from the successful patterns an over all winner will be chosen and the winner will be given a £500 gift voucher to spend at Essential Fly and on top of that the winning pattern may go into mass production and the lucky winner will receive 5% in commission on sales.
Well then, much to my surprise a parcel arrived at my house yesterday and once I opened it I learned that I was one of the winners of round two of the comp and was pleased to see that I had received a very nice practical fly box along with an accompanying letter congratulating me on my success. A photograph of my fly along with a description and comments from Magnus Angus will be in next months fly fishing & Flytying magazine. Which is just as well as I have a vague recollection of my dressing but cant remember exactly what the dressing was , I do know that it incorporated straggle fritz. I remember giving my last example of the fly to my angling friend Scott while out on the boat Hillend but unfortunately he lost the fly in a fight with one of the Hillend's resident brown trout. So you can imagine how pleased I am and how much I am looking forward to seeing my fly in next months magazine. Once I see what the correct dressing was I will tye up a few and get a couple of pics published here on my blog.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Synthetic Hackle Material


I recently purchased an interesting synthetic hackle material with a brand name of Krystal Hackle. It comes in an assortment of colours. I wasn't sure how best to use the material I just got two bags of it in claret and golden olive colours.I wasn't happy with my first experiments with it and just resigned it to the rest of my kit which never gets utilized at the bottom of my tying trunk. Then one night when I was tying my mind turned to this stuff again as I really thought it could give a very subtle hint of flash if used in the correct manner in conjunction with natural feather fibres. When I fist experimented with it I didn't like the way it looked on the hook it just looked a complete mess but once I got the hang of it I realized that after every turn I had to sweep it in a backward motion, then after about four turns I then tyed on a natural partridge hackle all be it dyed in a dark olive colour. The result was the above fly. I am pleased with the results as it does give a very good hint of flash but very importantly not in an overpowering manner as some patterns tend to be. As ever the Hillend trout will be the best judges of it's effectiveness. Roll on March.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Loch Fishers Bible


Anyone who knows me will be aware of my love of angling books especially a publication with a Scottish flavour. In my possession I have many which I treasure from such angling luminaries as Sandison,Stewart,McEawan, Robertson, Bridget Reid, Sharp, Inglis Hall,Stoddart and Lawrie to name but a few but one man I have for some reason overlooked up until now is Headley, yes I do have his Flies of Scotland book but up until today when a parcel from a well known online book company landed through my letter box I didn't have .... The Loch Fishers Bible. Which has been folly on my part . Of course I have heard from others about this book but didn't realize until this afternoon what I had been missing.I have had a look through some of its pages this afternoon and this evening and I can tell already that this is a valuable reference source for my fishing library. It has a lifetimes worth of knowledge within its pages and I have grew very fond of this work already. I like his style. The following should give an insight into his style of thinking. I would like to quote a couple of paragraphs from the book which I am in total agreement with after hearing about the myth which I believe to be false about the stocking of Loch Watten with trout from Loch Leven.
1... Take trout from Leven put them into a black peat hag with no indigenous trout population and , lo and behold in no time at all we have typical highland tarn trout which are stunted, red spotted and as black as your boots.
2....Take stunted, red spotted black trout from an unproductive water anywhere in the Highlands, put them into a productive water such as Leven and Michty Me, in no time at all you've got fit silvery trout that would grace any basket.
Like I say have just started looking through this book and I like what I have read so far. My attention was drawn to the chapters concerning Scottish wet fly patterns and it has been like a whole new world of understanding has opened up before me. . These dark nights of the winter are not going to be so bleak, now that I am being enlightened by Stan.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Fishing For Poetry


Over the years I have become a fan of the poems of Norman McCaig. My first introduction to McCaig was by way of a book of his poems borrowed from the local library. Inside the book was a rather splendid CD of a collection of his poems recited by the great man himself which I like to listen to sometimes on my mp3 player especially when I'm fishing at a remote highland location.
You may have noticed a few months ago on my blog I did an article about Andrew Greig's deep and meaningful book The Loch of the Green Corrie. Well then such was the popularity of the book and the subject matter there in the BBC have got to be praised for producing a couple of excellent programmes for radio and TV. The subject of the programmes is of course, Norman McCaig arguably Scotland's finest post Burns poet. The radio programme was broadcast last Saturday morning and is still available on iplayer here. www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vrwvn/Out_of_Doors_06_11_2010
The TV production titled ,Fishing for Poetry is broadcast tonight on BBC2 Scotland at 9pm. I hope they release a DVD of this programme as it's going to be the most interesting thing I have seen on TV for some time and would like to watch it over and over at my leisure. There is no need for me wax lyrically about the content of the show as the BBC are good at that kind of thing as you can see for yourself here where there is also a short video clip on Billy Connolly.... http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vtxh2
Just thought I would give my readers and followers a heads up on these programmes as I am certain that anyone who enjoys poetry and fishes in wild places such as the Scottish Highlands will really enjoy the radio and TV shows. Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the show.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Golden Plover Spider


I have been busy at the bench tonight tying various patterns. I thought I would share this very simple to tie pattern incorporating a golden Plover Hackle. This style of fly lends itself to river fishing but I have had great success with these in varoius colours etc on various Lochs and hill lochs. Spider patterns or as the yanks are fond of calling them....soft hackle flies have a great tradition in fly fishing history dating back centuries.It has to be said if this style has stood the test of such vast time I see no reason why we should continue ti tie and fish these old dtyle dressings as they were originaly tied. Of course some tyers might add some modern synthetics or flash etc to sex them up but I believe the success of these flies is probably down to their simple and basic dressings. These are one style of fly that should perhaps not be tinkered with.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Mallard and Claret


Tied a few of these last night. My favourite style. I really do enjoy tying traditional Scottish and Irish style wet flies. This pattern is a variation on a theme. You may have noticed that when I'm tying I very rarely tie exact copies of tried and trusted patterns I like to tinker with the pattern a little,not too much though as that would render the fly a completely different pattern altogether. The above dressing is basically a Mallard and claret but I have incorporated SLF dubbing as a substitute for seals fur. Its not that I'm against using seals fur dubbing or the like it's just that I actually like the translucency of the synthetic material and dare I say it might even be better than the original natural fur. You will have to excuse the colours in the photo as they as they have taken on a form of their own and I cant quite get them to look like they do if you had to actually see the fly for yourself in your hand. I think I will have to invest in one of those wee portable mini studio set ups for taking photos of flies. There is plenty of advice and information on these mini studios on various fishing forums etc. They are not expensive to buy and can even be set up by oneself with a little bit of imagination and initiative. Anyway I hope you like the look of this pattern and have a go at tying it and fishing it, you might even want to make your own adjustments to it which would be the correct thing to do in the true spirit of fly tying.

Hook : Kamazan size 10
Thread : Red Uni 8/0
Tail : Pheasant Tippets
Body ; Claret SLF
Rib : Silver Lurex
Wing : Folded Bronze Mallard
Hackle : Black Hen

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Four Flies


I have been busy at the bench for the last couple of days using some of my newly acquired materials which I purchased at the Tying Fair at the weekend. Above are a few examples of my latest work inspired by some of the tyers at Stoke. Top left is a Blue Zulu. Top right is a Kate McLaren variant incorporating a new red game hen cape I purchased from Dun Fly at BFFI.Bottom left is a variant of a sea trout fly I came across being tied by Steffan Jones at the Tying theatre.Bottom right is a fly I tyed using some new thread I got from Lakeland tying materials called sheer and hen Pheasant wing acquired from Cookshill. Still got a bit of a wait to give them a soaking though as there are still 131 days to the start of the season. I am finally getting into my winter tying mode now and fully enjoying my time at the vice. Think I will be buying a new fox box this weekend which I will start to fill and hopefully fill by the start of the season.

Monday, 1 November 2010

BFFI Trentham Gardens 2010


I travelled down to Trentham Gardens for the biggest fly tying event of the year with Elvis Costello, Paul Weller and my brother as companions. Well not quite, “Wild Wood” and “My aim is True” were the cd's of choice for the in car entertainment while my brother was the driver as we motored down the M6 to the BFFI at Stoke.
We got there just after opening time. We paid our entry fee and were immediately accosted by a whole bunch of folk thrusting flyers, cd roms and all manner of leaflets and brochures into our hands.
No matter how much I tried I could not resist a browse round all the trade stands before spending some time in the Tyer’s Row Tent. The first stall I halted at was Coch - y- Bondhu Books. I could have spent a fortune at this stand but I resisted and anyway they didn’t have the book I was looking for which was Stan Headley's , Loch Fishers Bible.
As I wanderd among retailers such as Lakeland, Pearsalls, Cookshill etc etc I noticed a few well known faces such as Mike Harding, Oliver Edwards, and Dean Andrews who plays D.S Carling in the BBC drama, Life on Mars. They appeared to be enjoying themselves as I was too even though my money was dissapearing out my wallet faster than a hungry trout snatching at a Clan Chief in Hillend Loch, as I gave into temptation at the vast array of fur, thread and feather on offer.
Wallet emptied I made my way in among the flytyers and demonstartion theatre. It was a pleasure to mingle among the fly tyers from all across Europe and the USA. I have a great regard for traditional wet fly tying so I searched out Trevor Jones and George Barron for a one to one chat about tying my favourite style of flies. George was great, he talked about his next article in the FFFT mag and also spoke about his experience in the tying theatre last year. They passed on some usefull information to me too and also tyed a couple for flies for me too. I was really impressed by the tyers who were creating Classic salmon flies , they were real works of art. The huge pike flies I saw were amazing as were the realistic creations which you would have swore blind were the actual insects.
While my brother went of to join the Fltyers Guild I joined the public in the Tying Theatre where I watched demos from Paul Little, Steffan Jones and Oliver Edwards. Paul Little’s demo was interesting but was mainly concerning salmon fly techniques although he explained these tips and tricks could also be incorporated into wet fly tying too. The Welsh lad Steffan Jones tied sea trout flies. I really enjoyed his demo. He appeared to be a natural at instructing as he was as excellent at explaining etc as he was at tying. We later found out when we were talking to him in tyers row that this was the first that he had ever did such a tying demonstration. You would never have thought so as he came across very good indeed.
Olivers Ewdards closed the tying theatre with his demos. Very good as ever but I did get the feeling he was going through the motions as he came across a bit blazae , maybe it was just me. I suppose he is getting on a bit, He’s been there and done it kind of thing. He did say that this would probably be his last time at such an event.
I had one last jaunt round the retail stands before we departed and headed for home. Will I be back next year? I’m not sure. I did enjoy the experince but that’s two year on the trot and it’s a lomg way to go to watch blokes tying flies. Next year the event is being switched to a different location and it will be happening in the summer. I am of the opinion that this kind of event is best suited to the winter once the fishing season is over.
As I sit and finish off this article I can see , out of the corner of my eye a whole bunch of new tying materials sitting on my tying bench brought back from Stoke which I am looking forward to using and sharing the results with on my blog.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Claret & Partridge


I thought it would be best to get a blog post up before I leave later on today for the BFFI at Stoke and will be away for a couple of days. I got my monthly edition of Trout and Salmon magazine through my letter box a couple of days ago. An article by Stan Headley , he of Loch Fishers Bible and Trout and Salmon Flies of Scotland fame was drawn to my attention. It was an article about the middle fly on a traditional cast of three flies for Loch fishing. There is mention of a few flies in the piece but the fly I liked the look of was the Claret Partridge. It looks and has all the properties that I like in a fly.Nice and bushy and brilliant for retrieving through a good wave not only that but it is in a style That I find aesthetically pleasing to tie.Well that's all for now folks. I will be back early next week hopefully with new ideas and materials and look forward at getting busy at the vice next week and give my winter fly tying a much needed kick start.

Hook:Kamazan 10
Thread:Red Uni 8/0
Tail:Dyed Red Pheasant Tail
Rib:Fine gold Tinsel
Body:Claret seals fur
Body Hackle:Claret Hen
Collar Hackle:Grey Partridge

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

British Fly Fair International 2010


All being well I will be attending the British Fly tying fair 2010 this weekend at Trentham Gardens, Stoke on Trent. This event is organised by Steve Cooper from Cookshill Fly Tying Materials.Steve's company is in my opinion simply the best supplier of flytying materials in the country and it's safe to say that I will be purchasing something from his wide range of materials this weekend. Some of the best flytyers in the world will be at Stoke demonstrating their skills and passing on information to mere mortals like myself.
Last year I spent quite a considerable time in the Fly tying in Focus theatre watching and learning from such luminaries in the art of fly tying as Oliver Edwards and Hans Wilenmann. They were absolutely brilliant in demonstrating and communicating with the public.
Fly tyers row is fantastic where about fifty tyers are all lined up and you can get one to one information and instruction.
Last year I got to meet Mike Harding and got him to sign a copy of his book on North Country spiders.
My one regret is that one of my favourite tyers from last year will not be in attendance..... Irishman Peter Dunne. His instruction etc was worth the trip alone last year.
The event is held over two days on Saturday 30th October and Sunday 31st October. I will be there on the Sunday.
As well as the tying demos etc there is a fantastic trade stall area where all the very best tying material suppliers etc will trading their wares. The only problem being that you can end up spending an absolute fortune.
Anyone who knows me will know that I have a passion for angling books, it's inevitable that a good chunk of my budget and time will be spent in the book department.
Really looking forward to this and hope to come back with some new ideas and inspiration which I hope I can incorporate into my fly tying. If you go to the BFFI web side which can be accessed from my links side bar there is a short video from Sky TV taken from last years show which will give you a flavour of the event. The above pic is a collage of some of my images from last year

Programme of Events
Fly Tying in Focus Theatre - Saturday and Sunday
11:00-12:00 Paul Little (England) Using Difficult Materials in Classic Flies
12:00-13:00 Johan Klingberg (Sweden) CDC Flies
13:00-14:00 Tom Travis (USA) Saltwater Flies for Florida (and elsewhere)
14:00-15:00 Ulf Hagstrom (Sweden) Dry Flies for a Mayfly hatch
15:00-16:00 Oliver Edwards (Yorkshire) An Audience With
16:00 Charity Auction (Saturday only)

Fly Fair Forum - Saturday and Sunday
11:00-12:00 Geoff Hancock (B.A.S.S.) Saltwater Fly Fishing
12:00-13:00 Mike Brookes Silk Lines but not just for bamboo!
13:00:14:00 David Woolstoncroft-Dodds Pike! Big wild Fish from Big Wild Waters.
14:00-15:00 Malcolm Greenhalgh (Lancashire) Fishing in the Arctic Circle
15:00-16:00 Luca Castellani and Moreno Borriero (Italy) Fishing in Italy - The World Tuscany Open

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Patience is a Virtue


Thought I would share this pic I created the the other night in between tying flies.If there is something that I enjoy as much as flytying it's being creative with my photographs on my pc. I'm sure you are all aware of the importance of patience in fly fishing. Waiting in anticipation is one of the many pleasures connected to fishing. I do know of some anglers who are impatient. I wonder if they actually realize that they are missing out when they disregard one of the fundamental laws of angling. A patient angler can more readily appreciate the beauty and ambiance that one can experience from angling. Impatience leads to frustration which inevitably leads to lack of success and enjoyment. After all we anglers participate in our sport for the delight and the joy of pitting our wits against our quarry and which can only be truly savoured by exercising that virtue which we as devoted anglers profess to admire...... Patience!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Wet Loch Ordie


This is a fly my two friends Tam and Scott have been asking me to tie all season. The two of them have had great success with this pattern for a few seasons now. This is my first attempt at trying to copy the version they have now ran out of. It does appear a bit overdressed but that was the intention.
This variation of the Loch Ordie originates from The Orkney Isles where it has been used to great effect in a big wave.We have found it to be successful on Hillend Loch as well as Highland lochs too. It's surprising how tempting it is for the trout as it hangs in the surface film just as it is about to be lifted for another cast.
I know Tam will like this pattern and I know I will be getting pestered to tie more of these over these winter months.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Royal Hillend Dabbler


With my tongue firmly placed in my cheek. I had been thinking lately how I could try to promote my blog to a wider audience.I had thought and tried of all the conventional ways of advetising etc then in what is best decribed as uirekkkkkka moment I made a call to Charlie Windsor you might know his mother better,she's called Liz. After a few more phone calls they arranged for my Blog Logo to be beamed up on the frontage of Buck House. It wasn't cheap having that done but I hope you will agree that it's a worth while venture.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Loch Dochard


Although we are only a week into the close season I have been thinking of possible lochs to visit and also to make return visits to. One such loch is Loch Dochard near Bridge of Orchy which I last visited in 2007. It's in a wonderful location and is a pleasure to fish. Here are a few words I wrote about my trip there three years ago. I hope you get inspired enough to fish it one day. You won't be disappointed if you do.......
At long last I made my long awaited trip to Loch Dochard. My friend Jim and I set off from deepest Lanarkshire early on Friday morning at around 7am and arrived at Victoria Bridge a couple of hours later. On route we stopped at Mr. Brodie’s wee shop in Tyndrum where we had a coffee and a bite to eat before setting off again on the short trip to Viccy Bridge. We parked in the car park close by which is mostly used by the hill walkers who are probably bagging Stob Gahhahr and Stob a choire odhair.
We began our walk and followed the land rover track by the Forrest Lodge and then by the course of the Alhainne Shira which looked rather tempting for a cast or two but we resisted as there was a two hour walk and quite a few camera stops ahead before we could reach our desired fishing destination.
After a couple of kilometers we reached the the point with a choice of routes we opted for the track to the left that is the right of way to Glen Kinglass. This path follows the bank of the river which is boggy in places but not too bad and eventually leads you to the bridge over the Allt Ghabhar and then after a short distance through the forest the track leads to the suspension bridge over the Alhainne Shira which is a bit wobbly but perfectly safe then after a further kilometer and a wee bit of a climb we reached Loch Dochard. The view as one reaches the loch is breath taking and I can honestly say that I am not exaggerating when I say that its one of the most picturesque lochs I have ever visited.
Just to be nosey we had a wee peek in the shepherd’s hut that’s marked on the OS at the south shore of the loch. I assume its still in use as there was some sort-discarded instrument or other for injecting the sheep well that’s what my mate thought it was. The mind boggles at the thought of sheep on smack.
We approached the banks of the loch form here and set up base camp at the wee shingle arm on the south bank. I was just setting up my rod and line when Jim was into his first fish of the day, he caught it on his first cast but the wee bugger took him straight into a snag and inevitably he lost it.
He wasn’t too disheartened a there was plenty of willing takers of his flees for the rest of the day. At the end of our day we both caught well into double figures and not surprisingly there were no record breakers among them. The fish we caught were beautifully marked and I’m glad to report that every single one of them were returned safely from whence they came.
We fished all along the south shore and kept moving on after we had caught fish from the one area. The fish were caught on bibios, Kates, and most of mine were caught on a wee brown bushy palmered fly of my own tying.
I would have loved to explore the rest of the loch but was too lazy to do so. The next time I go there I will camp overnight as it’s a two-hour walk in and a two-hour walk out. The walk out is knackering especially after fishing all day. On the way back to Viccy Bridge I had an interesting find, a set of antlers which I am going to get mounted on my garden shed. We also saw plenty of deer in the area and managed to get a few photos of them but as they were a bit far a way the pics are not the best. As we retraced our steps we met an Englishman who was camping by the river, we got talking and told us that he was staying there that night as he was meeting up with a group the next day coming up from Glenkinglass they were doing a walk across Scotland from the west coast to the east.
A very interesting and satisfying day at Loch Dochard and it’s a place I will definitely be going back to but with an overnight stay in my newly purchased Argos tent. One place I will not be re visiting is the chip shop in Tyndrum. 5 quid for a white pudding supper and a can of coke, they are having a laugh.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mouth Watering Trout!

I have to admit I'm not very keen on eating trout, probably because I'm a crap cook. I have had a few disasterous attempts at cooking trout, although with the help of my father[he did the cooking and I caught the fish] we once did turn a Hillend rainbow trout into tastey fish cakes. I have to concede that I do like the look of this simple recipe though. I have heard it said that when cooking trout it is best to keep it simple. This wee vid proves that point . Who knows I might even give this method a try. Now then where am I gonna get a trout now that the season is finished? Well, that's as good an excuse as any for visiting a commercial fishery, at least it would be a much better option than buying a trout from the supermarket


Sunday, 10 October 2010

A couple of Jokes!



As close season blues are now starting to kick in and I'm at a loss right now with regards to blog content. I thought it was about time to share a couple of fishing related jokes with you. Don't worry I aim to get some articles etc prepared for the blog over the next day or two.
I think my fishing friends Tam and Scott will appreciate these cartoons.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Last Cast of the Season


Today I made my last cast of the season at Hillend. Alas I caught no fish today just like I did on my first cast on the Loch back in March. In seasons gone by the last day of the season have always been bleak cold affairs but not today it was rather mild and sunny and you would have been forgiven for thinking that it was just like August. I made a visit to the club house before going along the South shore and fishing all the wee bays and promontories. I was fishing a Black wooly bugger on the point and a wee brightly coloured fly incorporating a very tempting UV straggle fritz on the dropper that I had tied last night. The fish showed no interest in any of my flies so after an hour or so I packed up and headed back to the clubhouse a drink and a bite to eat where I met Sandy who I got to know through the Wild Fishing Forum.
The 2010 fishing season for me was very enjoyable and rewarding experience. It was also the first time I had shared my mixed bag of exploits on the Internet through the means of a blog and it is something I intend to continue into next season.
As ever the season passes ever so quickly and I never find enough time to fish all the places I intended going to at the start of the season.Once again that fishing trip to Loch Skeen that I have been promising myself for a few years didn't materialize. The highlight of the fishing season for me was my trip to Loch Watten in Caithness. I had a few good nights at Hillend too at the height of summer when the Big Sedge made its annual appearance at Hillend. Those outings on the boat at Hillend over the last month and a half when I caught a few wild Hillend brown trout were also great.
Before I sign off for the night I would just like to say that there are only 159 days and counting until the opening day of the 2011 trout season.
So until then you can expect to see a fair bit of my fly tying related pics and articles over the next few months. At the end of the month I will be travelling to Stoke to take in the British Flt Tying Fair. I hope to do a feature on that event and look forward to sharing it with you.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Last Wild Fish of the Season






Fly Fishing gear and sea fishing gear was packed. Tent and sleeping bags were on board as well as enough food and drink to see us through from Saturday to Monday.
Scott and I were off on our last wild fishing trip of the season. The destination was Loch Doilet and The Sound Of Mull.
Off we went in the early hours of Saturday morning to catch the first Corran ferry over to Ardgour then drive over to Strontian to meet Peter the secretary of the Strontian Angling association who had arranged a boat and outboard for us to fish Loch Doilet.
On arrival at Doilet conditions were terrible for fly fishing. Bright sunshine and a flat calm over the Loch.Regardless of the conditions we got afloat and got to work on attempting to catch brown trout and also in the hope of a sea trout or two. For most of the day a flat calm lay over the Loch but. The wind did get up a few times but we were forever maneuvering trying to get into the ripple. It was really frustrating continually moving from one drift to the next . I have never been on a loch where the wind direction was so changeable.
We did manage about a dozen brown trout between us which were caught on Silver March browns,zulus and bibios. Scott was lucky enough to get a couple of sea trout at just over the pound mark which were caught on a Teal ,Blue and silver. The fishing was tough and we called it a day in the late afternoon.The fishing wasn't as good as we had expected which was probably down to the conditions but Scott was well pleased with his sea trout.
Off we went in search of a wild camping spot at the Sound of Mull. We were lucky enough to find an idyllic shoreline location on the Lochaline to Drimmin Road.It was a stunning location as you can see from the pic above. After a bite to eat Saturday evening was spent talking fish football and music. Scott's taste in music leaves a lot to be dsired.We watched the sun go down then looked up in awe at a beautiful star filled sky whilst enjoying a beer or two. I saw a shooting star , made a wish but that huge monster of a fish didn't materialize the next day.
We were up early on Sunday morning and set about fishing for what ever fancied our bait and lures. It transpired that a few dog fish were captured as well as a small Pollack, codling and a couple of mackerel.
As much as I enjoyed the camping it had turned very cold overnight so instead of spending Sunday night beneath the stars we decided we would stay the night at the Lochaline Hotel where we could get a good scrub up, a couple of pints and a nice warm meal.
On Monday morning we reluctantly headed for home. On reflection the fishing didn't live up to our expectations but it was a very enjoyable experience all the same.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Winged Flies


Tonight I have been at the bench tying a style of fly I usually shy away from as I have always had trouble in the past trying to tie matched wing slips. I normally just use rolled fibres for wings but I do like the look of the slips. The above fly has woodcock wing slips in place . Its just a prototype and I will endevour to perfect this style of tying. I am actually quite pleased with this effort as I am usually never happy with my winged flies. Not quite perfect yet as one of the slips has slipped slightly. Will post another when I perfect the method.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Last Drift at Hillend




My last outing on the boat at Hillend this season turned out to be a very pleasing day of angling.
Scott and I went afloat together while Tam and Craig were on another boat.Before setting out we could see that lots of fish were getting caught from the bank across fom the clubhouse along the narrows.I would imagine that these fish, since they were so abundant in this area were the newly stocked fish this week. We like to try to get in among the natural head of fish at Hillend so we moved as far as possible from the over anxious anglers at the narrows and headed for the west end of the Loch.
We had a couple of drifts from the corner of the dam towards the Speirs Island two fish were caught a rainbow for Scott and a Broonie for me. We then moved to the other side of the island and drifted down towards the Shields Burn on this occassion I caught another broonie and a rainbow while Scott managed a perch.We both missed three or four fish each and I also had a fish on which eventually broke my leader ,I reckon it must have had a wind knot in it as it snapped above my top dropper.The other boat landed Perch, trout and a jack pike, numerous fish were missed and lost also. Before calling it a night we had a couple of drifts into the boathouse without even a bite. At 7.30 we headed back to the boat moorings and then onto the clubhouse for a coffee and a gab.Looking forward to getting out on the boat more often next season as I have really enjoyed myself afloat at Hillend these last couple of months.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Spiders for Lochs


I was recently asked if I would tie spider patterns for use on Lochs. It's well documented that black spiders work very well on lochs all over the country but the chap that contacted me was looking for something that little bit different. This request was right up my street because when I tie flies I like to come up with patterns in my own style so to speak. I do like tying tried and trusted patterns but do enjoy trying to come up with something subtlety different. Anyway this is the first of a number of flies I will be tying up over the next few days.I have no idea if this will be successful or otherwise. wht not tie one and let me know how you get on. I will be trying these out soon myself at Hillend.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Frustration at Hillend and Pottinshaw


Yesterday afternoon My friend Scott and I went up to Hillend to have a day out on the boat. Travelling past the south shore the conditions looked reasonable. but when we got to the clubhouse we were told that they weren't allowing anyone out on the boat because the wind was too high. To be fair at the narrows it did look quite wild.
After having a blether for half an hour or so in the car park with another couple of anglers who were also denied a boat, the wind appeared to have eased and much to my surprise as I looked up the loch I saw a couple of anglers out on a boat drifting down by the point of the woods.
I was quite annoyed with this but didn't bother questioning why this was the case instead we decided we would go to Pottinshaw Fishery as we didn't have our waders or appropriate footwear to fish Hillend. Off we went to West Lothian to fish the Whitburn venue. Pottinshaw is a catch and release only fishery and were warned that the fishing can be dour at times.As the afternoon progressed this proved to be the case.I did manage to land a fish..... a perch and I did hook a trout but failed to bring it to hand. I was pleasantly surprised how nice this wee place was. It is well looked after but the one drawback for me was the constant drone of the traffic on the nearby M8.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Jack Frost


I've been busy at the bench tonight. I tied a few this variation of the Jack Frost.When I first started out fly fishing about twenty years ago I used this pattern quite a lot. These days I don't use lures much and prefer to use traditional Scottish wets but sometimes there are occassions when a lure is required. I am going to give this a soaking in the next day or two at Hillend. The original is a great perch fry lure. The perch fry are in great abundance at Hillend at the moment so I thought it would be a good idea to tie some of these up. I believe this pattern is an improvement on the original as I have changed the body of the fly by using a pearly glister dubbing which adds translucency to the pattern.
My dressing is a follows.

Thread. Fire Orange uni 8/0
Hook. size 12 B175 Kamasan
Body. Pearly glister
Tail. Chinese Red uni floss: brushed out
Wing . White Marabou
Hackle. fluorescent red cock hackle

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Magpie Tail Fly


Tonight I have been mostly tying the Magpie Tail fly. The reason for this is that the subject of this fly came up in a fishing forum I regularly frequent. There was quite a discussion about this fly and the merit of this pattern on the River Clyde. A picture was requested of it so I had a look through my archived files and posted the pic of the pattern. I first tied the pattern up a few years ago and I have to admit it wasn't the best looking fly I have ever tied. Even if I do say so myself , I believe my flytying has improved over the last few years so I thought it would be good to tie up some new flies and do it some justice. Also I noticed yesterday that I had only one of these flies lefy in my box. I was first told about this fly by Hillend regular Bob Graham. He informed me that it is a great pattern to use from August to the end of the season. The first time I used this pattern at Hillend I got instant results. That was a few years ago and to be honest I had completely forgotten about this pattern,shame on me as it really is a great fly.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Clyde Style Fishing



If you associate the River Clyde with Glasgow and the shipyards you would be correct, but you would not be thinking like an angler. To the angler the River Clyde conjures up a very different picture. An angler will tell you of a river whose source is the rivulet of Crookburn which runs from Quennsberry Hill, which is then increased by the Daer Water, and then afterwards joined by the Clydeburn or as it is sometimes referred to as the Little Clyde. Thereafter its tributaries are the Elvan, Midloch, Camps, Glengonner, Duneaton, Garff, Culter, North and South Medwins, Douglas, Mouse, Nethan, Dalserf, Avon and the North and South Calders.
All the Clyde’s tributaries contain trout, but the tributaries of most interest to the fly fisher are the Duneaton, Elvan and the Glengonner as these waters contain trout in great abundance.
The finest fly-fishing to be had on the Clyde is in the Lammington, Thankerton, Abington and Crawford area. The fishing here has a tradition all of its own. The trout here are shy and don’t come to the net very easily but when they are in the mood they will come to the wet and the dry flee. In the clear waters of the upper Clyde, fine tackle and small lightly dressed flies are the order of the day. This is the river of the “ Single Hair” as our forefathers would have described it. Today the Clyde is still a river of fine and far off techniques. The tiny size 16 and size 18 flies tied locally are fished on leaders of breaking strains down to a pound and a half. The patterns at times are tied to imitate the local hatches – for instance the McLeod’s olive, the sand and cow dung fly and at other times they are imitative representations of local fly life tied from the plumage of the local bird life. The River Clyde is the river of the Lark and Grey, The Corncrake, The Hen Blackie, The Blue Hen, The Crow and Black, The Crow and Silver, The Stank Hen, The Duck Tip, The Magpie Tail, The Cran Swallow and The Hare Lug and Plover. These flies have come to be regarded as “Clyde Style Flies” due to their distinctive tying style. A Clyde Fly is tied with a short body; a fine light wing and a minimum turn of hackle. Some Clyde flies seem to have only as many strands of hackle as the real insect has legs. Clyde Style patterns fish well not only on the Clyde, but also throughout Scotland, wherever there is a call for small flies and great care in dealing with educated trout.
I compiled the above concise information from a book called The Fishing Waters of Scotland by Moray McLaren and William B. Currie.I hope it gives a bit of an insight into Clyde Style fishing.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The one that got away!




I had another enjoyable evening fishing from the boat tonight at Hillend.We set off from the Lodge about half past five this evening and fished until about nine o'clock. It turned really cold for the last half hour of the session
We went on over to the west end of the Loch near the dam. The wind direction was very changeable tonight and never really got any real good long drifts as we had to continually reposition the boat due to the wind being so varied. On the first drift we were moving from the North shore southwards to the Big Moss when Scott hooked an incredibly big fish.Such was the power of the fish we had to get the drogue in and use the outboard engine to catch up with the fish as it continually was taking line from the reel. The fish lead us a merry dance as we tried to keep up with it. Scott had been fighting this fish for twenty minutes and still it hadn't broke the surface. Then all of a sudden a fish splashed at the top dropper it was then that the fish which was attached to the point fly broke the line. Scott was shattered, he was gutted that we had lost this big fish. We reckon that he had hooked one of Hillend's famously large Pike but some huge rainbows were stocked last week up to 15pound. We will never know what was on the end of Scott's line the one thing we do know is that it was a very big fish indeed. By way of consolation the brownie that took his top fly was a beauty, as you can see from the pic. As the night progressed we caught numerous perch and eventually we both landed another brown trout each. It's quite interesting to see the variation in colouring and spots on the fish as my fish had quite a few red spots while Scott's were black.
It was two very happy but cold anglers that made it back to the Lodge for a hot drink and to tell anyone that would listen about the big one that got away.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Hillend News Flash!


This afternoon while I was passing Hillend Loch I noticed a bit of a commotion near the Hillend Lodge . I pulled in to see why the group of fishermen were all huddled together by the loch shore. On closer inspection I realized that a bloke was playing a huge rainbow trout and was having considerable trouble landing it. With the assistance of one of the Hillend Bailiffs after which was reported to be a good twenty minute heart stopping struggle he managed to eventually net the fish. The fish weighed 13 and a half pound which was probably a personal best for the very happy and lucky angler.
There is a big competition being held at the Loch tomorrow. This fish is believed to be one of a number of huge fish that were stocked this week I await with interest to hear if anymore get caught as I will be at the Loch on Sunday for an outing on the boat and wouldn't mind catching one of these brutes on the fly.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Mixed Bag at Hillend




Last night I had another outing on the boat at Hillend. I went out on my own while Tam and Scott went afloat together.
The two boats motored up to the west end close to the dam. I drifted from here down to Speirs Island. I just had started fishing when a trout rose right next to the boat I put my flies over him but nothing transpired. I got my first take near the Island but it didn't stick. I maneuvered round the island and then drifted down towards the Shields Burn. I had no success. Meanwhile my two friends who had been making various drifts at the dam end suddenly appeared behind me. They instructed me to follow them back to the west end of the Loch as trout were showing and they both had caught several brown trout and rainbows. Once back up near the dam, Tam and Scott continued to connect and land fish, soon I was into fish too, only difference was I was catching bloody perch.And so it went on , I caught four perch in total but no trout. I felt such a fool as my two mates had such a brilliant night while my night on Hillend was mediocre to say the least.Late on a flat calm fell over the Loch which ended play for the night . Back at the Fishing Lodge I was the butt of many jokes and good natured ridicule. That's fishing I suppose. One of these nights I will out fish these two. By the law of averages it's gotta happen , there again.........

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Fishy Story!


Just a wee reminder that this months issue of the Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine is carrying a tale in the Fish Story feature on page 86 of one of my short stories. I actually somehow managed to be chosen as story of the month for this months magazine and won a brilliant book called Bright Waters which is a collection of short angling stories from famous Irish angling luminaries.Take some time to read it and please leave a comment in the box provided.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Sound of Mull






Yesterday Scott and I set off in the early hours of the morning on a journey to the Sound of Mull for a spot of angling in the salt.
We needn't have set out so early because when we arrived at the Corran Ferry we found out that the first sailing departed at 8.45am. Once over at Ardgour we continued on the beautiful road trip down to Lochaline at the Sound of Mull.The weather on Sunday was absolutely stunning. On days like these you really have to wonder why some folk go on holiday abroad because when you see the Highlands of Scotland in such glorious conditions, nothing can compare.
On arrival at Lochaline we had the place to ourselves but soon after another three or folk blokes appeared two of whom had been camping on the shore nearby. We were informed that the water we were fishing in was 350 feet deep and was famous for huge Skate and Conger eel.
The information provided tuned out to be true as Scott broke his beach caster when he struck into what he reckoned to be a Conger eel. I didn't have any success on the beach caster so let Scott take charge of that rod after he destroyed his. I didn't do too well at the sea fishing yesterday I only caught a couple of Mackerel. I put it all down to inexperience and not being kitted out with the appropriate gear. Scott too had a few Mackerel but the boys along from us had a good catch of Conger eel, Ling and Dog Fish. Even though I didn't do too well at the sea fishing I had an absolutely brilliant day of relaxation in among some Beautiful scenery. I'm not gonna give up this sea fishing lark just yet,and would like a return trip there some time in the future.