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Showing posts from 2020

Connemara Variations!

The Connemara Black fly pattern maybe of Irish origins but it is well known and used here in Scotland too. Its known as a great trout, Seatrout and Salmon pattern.  It's a pattern Ive used many times at Hillend and up North too in pursuit of Brown Trout. I suppose I could say that its one of my favourites. Whenever I'm by the loch side or when out afloat on the boat and I'm a bit stuck for inspiration and I'm wondering what pattern to try next! There is always a Connemara Black or a few of its variants to choose from among the contents of my fly box! I will often choose a Connemara Black when I'm undecided what to try next! However its not that it's a pattern guaranteed to catch you trout, no fly pattern can give you that assurance but it is a fly that gives me confidence! And that is a very important factor in flyfishing for trout! A flyfisherman has got to feel confident in the fly pattern he is fishing, not to mention his rod ree

The North Calder Water

The true source of the North Calder is the Black Loch just south of the village of High Limerigg which is approximately 700ft above sea level on the Slamannan Plateau, at the centre of the Forth/Clyde isthmus and on the watershed between the east and west coasts of Scotland.  It is a very short river, a distance of approximately 12 miles from source to the River Clyde. This gives an average drop of over 50ft for each mile of its length which is considerable for a lowland river.  All water courses in this area flow eastwards towards the Forth with the exception of the North Calder which takes that direction too but for a short distance before defying nature and turning south west. Like all rivers she starts as but a wee burn as she meanders through the peat of the plateau and it takes her many twisted and contorted miles before she resembles what we know to be a proper river. The North Calder enters the east end of the 345 acre Hillend Reservoir at Forestfield which stretche

Eleven years of the Hillend Dabbler

Today my Hillend Dabbler flyfishing & Flytying Blog is eleven years old!  I never thought when I created this blog spot that all these years later I would still be sharing my observations, fishing reports and flytying! Back in 2009 Gordon Brown was the British Prime Minister and Barac Obama was the President of the United States. We even endured a pandemic back then too when Swine flu spread all over the world!. It's been a real joy to look back over the past eleven years at my fishing trips and days out and remember them as if it was only recently. It's also very pleasing to notice that my flytying skills have Improved and developed over the years too. This year the emphasis on my my blog has been mostly flytying due of course to travel restrictions and various forms of lockdown. Any fishing I have managed to do has only been to local venues. Ive really missed getting away to the highlands but hopefully if the covid situation improves I will get up North and over to the He

The Kinship of the Vice!

 As I've often said and many others have stated, trying to devise something new and original in flytying is a very difficult task indeed. However every now and again something will fire a flytyer's imagination and get him reaching for his vice! Recently I've been researching  fly patterns and the history behind them. Whilst looking through my bookcase of flytying books and fly boxes  a few names that sparked my imagination were the Soldier Palmer, Clan Chief, The Brigadeer,  Zulus in all their guises, The Bloody Butcher, The Watten Warrior, The Jacobite, The Culloden,.The Marauder, The Pretender, The Heillan Man, Harray Horror, The Cutthroat, Imposters, Extractors and many more. For me these flies conjure up images of famous and infamous battles and Clan Warfare! Therefore as I sat at my vice wondering what to tie next I was inspired to tie some Highland Clan related trout patterns and came up with idea of tying some flies in the colours of Scottish family Clan tartans The

The Jacobite

I was recently made aware of an interesting looking flee that I had never heard of or seen before, called "The Jacobite." I know of a water out on the Outer Hebrides which is known as Flora's Loch and was thinking that this pattern may be useful on a cast along with The Pretender!  However history tells us this combination  may prove futile!  Seriously though I do like the look of this pattern and look forward to giving it a cast on the Machar Lochs of South Uist. Heres my variation of The Jacobite!  Size 10 barbless hook. Claret  14/0 sheer thread. Red holo butt (varnished) Rear body dark claret seals fur. Oval silver rib. Front body sunburst fritz. Rear red cock hackle. Claret hen head hackle.

Hebridean Flytying Nights!

Its official I'm heading to the Outer Hebrides in August. This last week or so it's been a real pleasure pouring over the maps, books and guides of this far north west archipelago. Most of all however it's been a joy to sit at my vice and tie fly patterns for the numerous lochs I have on my "to fish" list. Some I've fished and some I havent. I've already filled one box with Loch style wets and a few hogs, and will probably fill more! There is something aesthetically pleasing about tying Loch style patterns especially for the outer Hebrides. I wish I could explain what it was in words but I find that very difficult.  They just seem to suit and fit in with the wild remote beauty of the lochs and waters on these Islands. Here are just a few of the patterns I've tied recently.

The Clan Goat

 @ the vice tonight! I tied this. I'm quite pleased with it and I think even Stan himself might approve! However....... The Clan Goat devised by "Stan the Man" There's a Helluva lot of materials in this one and it took me ages to get it right! Dont see me tying many of these. Theres probably a lot easier flees to tie that will be just as effective as this. Apparently it's a cross between a Clan Chief and a Stone Goat! Dressing as follows. Size 10 hook. Black Uni thread 8/0. Pheasant crest and glo-brite #5 tails. Black rabbit dubbed body. Flat silver tinsel rib. Red and black cock body hackle wound together. Red Guinea Fowl collar hackle. Blue Guinea Fowl head hackle.

A Gathering of Clan Chiefs

it would appear there is more than a good chance that I will be going to the Outer Hebrides in August next year, Covid permitting! For a week of flyfishing! This has inspired me to start filling  a new Highlands and Islands box for that trip. So tonight I thought  I would start with a big favourite flee of mine The Clan Chief. A pattern of South Uist origins according to the following information that was sent to me a while back. Capt John Kennedy OBE (Military) was originally from Ayrshire and after his army service ran the South Uist Estates fisheries, including (at that time) The Lochboisdale hotel. The fly was first tied one evening after JK had met, under unusual circumstances, a local clan chief in the hotel. A good Uist cast for me on Lower Kildonan would be a Goats Toe on the point, a Clan Chief in the middle, and another of JK's flies - in my opinion his very best - a Brigadier on the bob, tied for Brigadeer Gregor MacGregor of Clan Gregor.

Tackling The Tassie Troot

Was out making the most of some recreational sport today before the travel restrictions kick in later. So I was off to Drumtassie this morning and was pleased to note that there wasnt any signs of border control at the North Lanarkshire, West Lothian boundary!  I had a great four hours with a Trio of Tassie Troot to the net. I also frustratingly lost another three too. All my troot were fooled by the wee cormorant pattern I tie. Size 12 black marabou wing, black rabbit fur body with a blue-ish holographic tinsel rib! Hope it's no too long before we can all leave our respective Cooncil areas and I can get back up to Tasssie to tackle the troot!

Tough day @ Polmont

The title of this latest blog post may be a bit missleading as my friend and I "got oot on Saturday!" It might have you thinking I've been in the once notorious prison  However I was very much free in the great outdoors at nearby Millhall Reservoir. It was my first visit to this well established naturalised reservoir which is surrounded by a golf course and is very well manage and looked after. It can be a bit puzzling however  when you hear a splash as it has you wondering if it was a trout or a wayward  golf ball landing in the water  My friend Iain and I had a good but tough day with just one fish to the net for each of us! Both our fish were fooled by a black marabou nomad lure. The reservoir wasnt very busy which suited us as there was plenty room to switch location if required. All in all it was a very pleasant place to spend a few hours and a venue I will definitely revisit in the warmer months.


Tying your own flies enables you to replicate your standard favourite fly patterns but it also let's you use your imagination and make changes and and make adjustments which may or may not make the pattern more attractive to trout. Flytying, especially on dark winter nights is very satisfying and can be very rewarding especially if you can come up with something new and original that turns out to be a successful trout catcher. However it is said that nothing is new in flytying. I tend to go along with that point of view and think that so called new patterns are just variations  of something that has gone before. This doesn't stop me from trying to come up with something original though. However most times I tie variations which I find very enjoyable to do. Tying your own flies gives you an edge when the standards are not catching it also opens up your mind to try something new away from the mainstream But most of all its just a lot of fun. Here are a few flies that Ive

The Take!

People ask, what is the one single thing that you enjoy most about the actual practical process of fishing? Well there are a wide range of processes and experiences that collectively come together to make a good days fishing such as the flytying the night before,  the company, the weather, the anticipation, the surroundings and the landing and netting of the fish but above all for me its the Take! Take today for instance I had to take a holiday from work to go fishing as I still have a heep to use before the end of the year! I was keen to get out today as last weekend I was out and I blanked! That day was all about the mistakes!  as I had plenty interest but nothing would stick So off I went to Avonhead today to get my fishing confidence back, in much the same way of back in the day when Airdrieonians FC would go to Cliftonhill to collect and take away the routine three points. Nah not really!  Fishing isnt that  easy. I was up early and started on the north side getting the odd

Octopus Style

I really enjoy tying Irish style fly patterns. Generally they look overdressed and are very colourful. One such style I enjoy tying is the Octopus style patterns  however although they may be thought of as Irish it was actually Scottish fly Fisher and flytyer Stan Headley who first devised these style of flies. Stan came up with this style in a pattern called the Melvin Octupus to represent hatching mayfly on Lough Melvin. As is always the case in flytying, numerous variations have since followed. It's obvious I know, that variations such as these I have tied below and others will not be used in the same manner as the original Octopus was intended to do be used, however I believe these are just simply fantastic attractor patterns which will do well when pulled through a big wave regardless of where you fish on these Isles. Be it Loch Lake or Lough.

A Hat-trick at Tassie

My winter flyfishing odyssey around the local basheries continued today when my fishing buddy Iain and I made the short trip to Drumtassie, situated between Blackridge and Slamannan.  My weather app was telling me to expect rain all day accompanied by strong winds. So we went fully prepared to battle the elrments. However much to our surprise it stayed dry all day but the wind was cold and strong as expected and had me chittering as it battered in between my shoulder blades. Iain was first into a fish on his 2nd or 3rd cast caught on a cormorant with red holo body and black marabou wing with a short tail of three strands of red holo tinsel. It was my turn a short time later with my first to the net on the same fly. I had tied these patterns last weekend with the intention of using them on our next outing so it was very pleasing to know they were successful. I was soon into another this time the fish took the cormorant on my dropper a wee size 12 with a black body ribbed with blue-ish h

Quality Matters

For years Ive been acquiring my flytying materials from a certain large angling store located in  the North of Glasgow. I must say there is absolutely nothing wrong with that as they have a fantastic range of flytying  products from all the established brands. I love nothing better than visit there on a Sunday  afternoon when I'm at a loose end to wander down the aisles to have a browse among the thread tinsel, fur, feather and sythetics which culminates in me spending far more than I ever should on materials for my ever expanding collection! However Irish  Flytying Supllies run by Sam McGowan from Newtonards in Northern Ireland was recently brought to my attention. I've recently bought some amazing hen capes from Sam which he dyes himself. The service, quality and value for money is first class. Sam specialises in Irish fly supplies. His capes come in a wide variety of true Irish flytying colours. Irish and Scottish Loch patterns are my favourite style to tie so it's been