Sunday, 28 February 2010

Two Weeks To Go!

This was the scene at Hillend Loch today with two weeks to go to until the start of the 2010 trout fishing season. I hope we get some wind to break up the ice and warmer temperatures to melt it. The Western side of the Loch appeared to be covered in a layer of ice. I also noticed today that the new footbridge over the new railway line at the Hillend Lodge is now complete. Before going up to the Loch today I was at the tying bench messing around with Church window hackles. These feathers are beautifully marked. If I recall correctly I acquired these lovely hackles from a Pheasant I found at the side of a landrover track somewhere between Loch Rannoch and the South end of Loch Ericht a couple of years ago. Above is an example of what I was tying. I reckon this pattern will do very well at Hillend as a fry imitation and as a wet sedge pattern too.
The tying recipe is as follows......
Hook size 10
Thread Fire Orange Uni
Tail Claret pheasant
Body Golden stone possum with red holographic tinsel
Rib Copper wire
Body Hackle Fiery Brown
Collar Hackle church window Hackle

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Lily Loch

This being the eve of the opening day of the fishing season at the Lily Loch. I thought it would be appropriate to mention my other local loch. There is not much point in me telling you the history of the Lily loch etc as the Lily Loch have their own very well put together web site which you can access through a link on my side bar.Everything you need to know can be found there.
The Lily loch is not very far from Hillend Loch in fact in simple terms it's just across the road from Hillend and over the Hill. The Lily comes under the auspices of Clarkston Angling Club which was founded in 1982 after a split away from another local angling club.
As I write this piece it appears that Winter is refusing to go away so it would appear that the Lily is going to have a White opening day. I am led to believe that half of the Loch is actually covered in ice just now but I would wager that the winter weather won't be putting of the Lily regulars for if they are anything like me I would imagine they have been looking forward to the opening day since the last day of last season. I normally have a visit to the Lily at least half a dozen times during the coarse of the season and occassionally have a walk up there as it's quite scenic and offers great views of my own Loch Hillend on the walk up.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dabbling with Dabblers

At the bench tonight I have been messing around with dabblers.I really enjoy tying this style of fly.I once got lots of advice about tying this style of fly from Davie McPhail at a Fly tying demo in a well known Glasgow angling shop. One of the important factors about tying in this style is that the finished fly when wet should be a teardrop shape much like little fry etc.
The dressing for this particular example is as follows.
Hook: size 10 Kamazan B175
Thread : Hot Orange uni 8/0
Body : burnt orange possum and red holographic tinsel
Rib : Thin green wire
Tail : burnt orange pheasant tail
Body Hackle : Fiery brown cock
Head Hackle : Church window hackle
Wing : Bronze Mallard.
I am no expert and I know this is not tied to the original dressing of a dabbler as the bronze mallard should actually be wound around the collar. Just practicing these tonight and as the night goes on I will hopefully get proficient enough to tie them in that manner.
Don't be shy please leave a comment or a reaction in the boxes provided. I haven't had much in the way of feedback lately . Any I receive would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

March Brown Spider

Here is my version of a March Brown Spider. Looking through my collection of fly pattern books there appears to be all sort of variations of this popular fly. There are some patterns with a wing of hen pheasant, some with hares ear fur some with rabbit, gold ribs, yellow thread ribs and copper ribs and so on and on. I have decided to go with a pattern close to one of Roger Wooley's patterns.
size 12 hook, Orange pearsalls silk, rabbit fur body, gold thread rib, brown partridge fibres for a tail and a brown partridge hackle at the collar.
By all accounts this is a good early season pattern so I will be tying up some more of these tonight and filling my new box. I had better tie some for tam and Scott as I 'm sure they too wouldn't want to be without this fly when we go fishing early in the new season.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Green Tailed Kate McLaren.

Due to technical problems since Wednesday I have been unable to access my blog until now. I have not been idle though as I have been busy at the bench tying for friends and acquaintances and of course, the odd flee for myself. Here is another variation of a Kate McLaren that has been successful for me over the years. I know of a lot of people at Hillend who use this green tailed variation. The first time I used this variation was at the Big Moss at Hillend many years ago when I used to wade right out up to my chest.I'm much more sensible and safety conscious now. I recall trying to wade back to the bank side and falling and tripping into and over the ditches and obstacles that are located in that area. The fish I caught that day was nothing special just a rainbow around the 2lb mark, for some reason I always remember that day as it was the first time I had used the Green Tailed Kate, probably because I was a bit of a novice at the fly tying at the time and was chuffed because one of my versions had worked.
This Green Tailed Kate McLaren has a Furnace hen cape at the collar and Florescent green antron wool for the tail. Comments appreciated.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Kate McLaren Variant

Browsing the Internet as I do on a regular basis I came across a very good fly mail order outlet called Caithness Quality flies. You will find a link to it on my side bar. Not that I purchase flies any more as you may have gathered by visiting my blog.What I liked about this site was the very good quality photographs they have on display of their flies. What struck me about these flies was the very vivid colours on most of these patterns. I was very impressed with them that I just had to pull up a chair at my bench and try to tie something similar to these wonderful looking flies.
Where to start ? I thought. To cut a long story short I decided to tie a Kate McLaren Variant, variant indeed I hear you cry as the colours used in my pattern are a tad psychedelic, well that 's what my brother told me. Unfortunately my picture quality is not good enough to display the true colours of my pattern.The materials I used are as follows.
Size 12 Kamazan Hook,
Fire Orange Uni Thread 8/0
Purple David Rice supernatural dubbing blend body
Red Wire Rib
Orange Crest Tail
Chinese Cock Claret body hackle
Mets Hen Neck Dun Collar Hackle
I called it Psychedelickate.
I tied this for nothing other than a bit of fun. Hope you like it.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Blood Red Straggler

I'm still on a UV Micro straggle theme today. Tied this latest pattern after acquiring yet more of this material in what they market as Blood Red. I have only started using this material in the last week and as such have never incorporated it any of my patterns up until this week. I was wondering if any of my blog readers have any experience of using this material and if so have they noticed if it has been more successful that the likes of the more conventional body materials such as hare and seals fur and the like. Only 29 days now until the start of the season.Not long now until I find out for myself if it's gonna make a difference to my catch rate at Hillend.

Friday, 12 February 2010


I mentioned in my profile page that I started this blog as a means to share my passion for the outdoors with a particular leaning towards Flyfishing and Flytying. I also mentioned that I would include articles about my other passion which up until now I have not really covered much. The reason for that is that I haven't been doing any hillwalking recently . This is something I intend to remedy in the coming weeks. I have been a serious hillwalker for over twenty years now which has led me to the summits and tops of over 150 munros, but dodgy knees have curtailed my tramps up the mountains of Scotland a bit and now only manage the occasional trek.In my archives I have a plethora of photographs and a few diary accounts of my mountain days.
Here are some words I wrote a few years ago about my favourite mountain area,Glencoe.I adore this area no matter the weather. I have felt every human emotion possible while walking in among the peaks, ridges,secret valley amd passes of this historic and beautiful area of the Highlands. I hope in some way to catch the atmosphere of the place in the following words.


Proud and rapturous are my family of mountains,
Always inspiring.
Their sun kissed,boulder strewn slopes entice me
and invite me,
from the Lochs and the Rivers on the Moors and glens below.
They lure me, they entrap me, they delight me.

Dark and brooding are my family of mountains,
many are haunted
Their wind swept,thunder clapped peaks float upon a sea
of swirling mist
that smothers the sombre weeping glen below.
They wail, They scream, They kill
They sometimes scare me.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Golden Olive Straggler

At the bench tonight I have been playing around with some micro straggle fritz. I actually quite like the look of this.
I've only got thirty two days to wait and see if it will fool the troot. Not too sure what category it falls into as it has a bit of a spider about it also perhaps a touch snatcher too. No matter what it is just add water and we have a fishing flee that will be getting a good soaking at Hillend.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Airdrie & District Angling Club. News!

Just a wee update for any Hillend Loch members or future members and associates out there in cyber space that the dates have been set for the renewal of all memberships etc. All enquiries and membership collections will be available at the Hillend Fishing Lodge on the following dates………

Friday 26th Feb 7pm – 9pm
Saturday 27th Feb 10am – 2pm
Sunday 28th Feb 10am – 2pm

Friday 5th March 7pm – 9pm
Saturday 6th March 10am – 2pm
Sunday 7th March 10am – 2pm

Friday 12th March 7pm – 9pm
Saturday 13th March 10am – 2pm
Sunday 14th March 10am – 2 pm

Season 2010 subscriptions are as follows…

Adult Full Member £75
Sen Citz Full Member £60
Junior Full Member £55

Adult Assoc Member £85
Sen Citz Assoc Member £65
Junior Assoc Member £60

Please note; Any New Full Member is charged a £5 registration fee.

Lochside Day Tickets remain at £10 for Adults & £8 for juniors
Day Membership Tickets can be purchased for £8 for Adults & £6 for Juniors

Day Memberships are available from the following outlets…
Hillend Fishing Lodge
Sunny Convenience Stores, Caldercruix
Airdrie Angling Centre
Lochside Tackle, Armadale

Boat Charges remain the same as 2009. Electric Outboards are available at £8 per session including 1 Battery.

Best wishes for the forthcoming season to all our Members, Associates and Day Ticket visitors. Tight Lines!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Spice up your Flies

Old fashioned as I am with regards to fishing Hillend. I mostly use traditional wet style patterns such as Zulus, Kates and Pennels etc,etc.I kinda go against the grain a little at Hillend as lures are becoming ever more popular at my local Loch. Black Fritz,olive damsels and Yellow Dancers being the lures of choice for many.
These appear to to be successful patterns but I still prefer to use the trads.You may find me up at the Three Trees flogging away at the water with my wets and on some occasions , well lets be honest here, Quite often, I won't be doing at all well while others along the shore will be more successful using their fancy colourful lures. I am in no way a snob when it comes to fishing if these people are happy using modern flies that is entirely their choice I still will persevere with my own trad wets. why?You may ask do I persevere when the modern patterns are more successful.It's all down to that old adage that there is more to Fishing that catching fish. Don't get me wrong I do get envious sometimes , I'm only human, when I see my friend Alex out in the water with a bend in his rod and crying out to anyone who can see him , A yellow Dancer, I got it on a Yellow Dancer. It's at times like that when I think to my self "How could I spice up my flies" without abandoning my old fashioned flies altogether? I may have found the answer yesterday.While watching the Ayrshire flytyer tying a well known Scottish Wet he replaced the traditional dubbed seals fur body with a material called UV micro straggle fritz ,I know it's quite a mouthful,but I reckon the addition of this material adds life to the pattern. This piece of flash might just be the difference between blanking and being successful.I had always shied away from using this stuff as it just screamed "Lure" at me, but if it's used subtly it can be incorporated into traditional patterns without them losing that traditional touch.
The photo above is a Spiced Up Pennel I tied last night using the UV in the body. I also have this material in a golden olive colour which I look forward to using. Let me know what you think of my glammed up flee. As ever the Fish will be the true judges.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Davie McPhail At GAC

As I mentioned earlier the other day there. Davie McPhail was in attendance at the Glasgow Angling Centre today giving out free advice and fly tying demonstrations.I went along this afternoon firstly just to watch Davie and secondly to buy yet even more fly tying materials.
When I pulled up my chair Davie had just finished tying his raffia mayfly which is featured on his You Tube Channel.A very nice fly indeed.
I sat for quite a wee while watching him tying and could have sat there all day but would have felt embarrassed if I had sat all afternoon as I might have come across as some sort of mad stalker or the like.
I particularly liked a fly Daivie tied but the name escapes me. It had a sunburst tippet, claret uv micro straggle fritz, a jungle cock wing and a red game collar hackle.He said it was a great fly for wild broonies.
He then went onto tie salmon flies. I have no experience of tying them but after watching Davie I might have a go at some. They were beautiful to say the least.In fact the bloke sitting next to me said that it would be a shame to put them into the water.But Hey! that's what they are for.I do agree with him though.
I asked Davie if I could take his picture for my Blog.He knew right away which blog as he had read my post about him attending the GAC. If you are reading this Jim [from Colorado] I didn't need to tell him he had a admirer from across the Pond as he had already read your comments. He said Thanks!
I really enjoyed my visit today and as always took away with me helpful hints and tips courtesy of the Ayrshire Flyter.Anyway I've been inspired I'm off now to tie some flies with some of that UV micro straggle fritz I purchased today.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Tinsel, Thread and Wine

What has a bottle of fine South African wine got to do with fly tying I hear you say. To be brutally frank ,Nothing! other than that I enjoy a few glasses while idling the night away with tinsel and thread. As in all cases it is best to enjoy it in moderation because if you don't heed caution you might end up something like one of Hillend Loch's elderly gentleman. I don't think Old Bob Graham will mind me sharing his wee prose,titled "My Flies"The message here is Don't Drink and Tie. But that wouldn't be as much fun would it?

My Flies

My fly tying ability and the quality of my flies may, I feel, be affected by my drinking habits. But then, as long as I catch the odd fish and get a good night's sleep I'm not too worried.

So I set up a hook in the vice and ran on some thread and poured out a good half of whisky. I caught in some silver ribbing and a tippet then added some dubbing and went back up to the head where I tied in a black hackle, wound it down the hook and secured it with the rib before tying in a natural game hackle. As Kate Maclarens go it was only fair.

I poured another half, ran on some thread and followed up with the ribbing, tippet, dubbing, black hackle and game hackle procedure and considered another slightly better Kate Maclaren. After another half the third one looked much better.

I poured another tippet, threaded a dub, hackled a rib and blacked a game and soon had another Mackled Karen that looked perfect. Thus encouraged I whisked another dub, halfed a game, kated a rib and tippexed a hackle to produce a lovely Cackled Man.

I ribbed another pour and stopped to check. I had fifteen mankled kans and a natural hen was rising in a table that was floating in the garden. Just to be sure I checked again and saw a table rising in a dub to twenty six rankled macks.

Then I went to bed and dreamed of rising hackles

Friday, 5 February 2010

Watten Warrior?

Tonight I have been spending some time at the bench tying up some Watten Warriors. Why the question mark you may ask. Well After a bit of research[I looked up google]I came across the definitive dressing for the famous Caithness fly ,The Watten Warrior.but and it's a big but.The version I tied up uses a synthetic material called frizz fibre instead of Glo Brite No 4 floss for the tail and instead of gold wire for the ribbing I used copper wire. The question is, Is it really a Watten warrior as I did not use the correct materials as in the original dressing by local Caithness tackle dealer Hugo Ross? Does a fly have to be tied to the exact detail as the original in order to be worthy of the name invented by it's creator? No matter what I will be handing over a few of my versions to my fishing friend Tam as we prepare and look forward to our summer fishing trip to the far North. I'm sure he will recognize them as Watten Warriors. Anyway I don't think the local residents who inhabit the Loch will be too fussed if there is copper wire replaced instead of gold etc. There again maybe the fish are smarter than we think.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Davie McPhail Flytying Demo

Just a wee reminder folks that Davie McPhail will be appearing at the Glasgow Angling Centre this Sunday February the 7th. His flytying demos at GAC are fantastic and always well attended . I have had the pleasure of watching the Ayrshire Fly tyer on a few occasion now and always learn something new from him. Davie is a really nice bloke and very approachable. So get yersel along to GAC if you can . Pull up a seat and enjoy. Don't forget all you need to do is ask the man to tie anything you want and ask him for any advice if you so wish. I will be popping along on Sunday. So watch this space on Sunday night as I am hoping to get a report and pics up on the blog of the man who in my opinion is the best Fly Dresser in the country.