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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Dry Fly Tactics for Trout


Nothing beats the excitement of watching a trout take your dry fly, whether that's a fish head and tailing, splashing or sipping off the surface. However, there is a lot of uncertainty as to how long you should let your fly sit on top of the water, without a take, before you re-cast your fly line?

Stillwater 50 Assorted Dry Flies
The answer to this question might depend on several things. Generally speaking, if trout are not rising, whether you're drifting in a boat, or wading the shoreline, it's important to continually cover the water by fan casting with your fly rod.



A common approach is to cast out to one place and leave your fly/flies there for no more than 10 seconds, before lifting off to re-present elsewhere. The idea is that you methodically search the water.

In contrast, if fish can be seen dimpling in calm conditions, then the chances are these trout will be cruising close to the surface. If you now adopt the continuous casting mentioned above, then you are likely to spook some of the fish with this continued disturbance. In this scenario, you're better off trying to plot the path of rising fish and place the fly a little way ahead of them. In such circumstances, your fly might be on the surface for 20 or more seconds. Equally, where lots of trout are seen rising, say to a fall of terrestrials, then it can be worth casting your dry fly out and leaving it to its own devices for 30 or 40 seconds.

Loon Floatant and Sinkant

If you observe trout patrolling a particular beat while rising, this requires that you set up an ambush.


Wait for the fish to be a safe distance away before placing a fly into the path where you judge the trout will pass. It might be some minutes before the fish comes ambling along on its circuit so your fly will remain at the surface for well over a minute. With this, be mindful of greasing most of the leader so it floats for a clean, swift lift if a trout takes the fly. Only the tippet section should be de-greased.

Rio Powerflex Tippet Material




With a bit of thought and careful consideration about where and when to cast your dry fly, you will get your fly/flies in the trout's window of vision more often. It is then up to you to get your timing right and to strike at the appropriate time to set the hook.

This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Tying a Copper Hare's Ear Nymph with Davie McPhail

The Hare's Ear Nymph's origin dates back to the 1880's and probably remains one of the most recognized flies out there. These flies are proven fish catchers even when there is no hatch on the go. They imitate almost any natural nymph and are ideally used on streams, rivers and stillwater venues. Davie Mcphail, instead of using thread to create the body of the Nymph, uses a fine Copper wire to give a more attractive profile.

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always, if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help. Time to tie the Copper Hare's Ear Nymph, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.




Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight size 14 Tying WireUTC X small Copper Wire Tail and Thorax: Pheasant Tail Fibres Rib: Copper Wire Body and Thorax: Dyed Yellow Hare's Ear and Mask Dubbing

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish, which he applied to the thread after completing the fly.

Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Tying a Small Grey Duster (Parachute Style) with Davie McPhail

The Grey Duster is a broad spectrum dry fly pattern that imitates a variety of insects such as small moths or midges. The Grey Duster is a favourite on streams and stillwaters, as well as reservoirs. Davie McPhail's style of Small Grey Duster features a Parachute CDC wing which not only assists with floating this fly and making it more lifelike, it's also added to allow you, the angler, to see the fly sitting on the surface.

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always, if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help. Time to tie the Small Grey Duster (Parachute Style) Fly, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.




Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Ultimate Dry Fly size 20 Thread: Uni-8/0 Black Tail: Dark Coq de Leon Body: Mole Fur Wing: Natural CDC Feather Hackle: Whiting Cock Badger

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish, which he applied to the thread after completing the fly.

Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Friday, 31 May 2019

Tying the Sedgehog Heather Fly with Davie McPhail

The Heather Fly is a common fly which is distributed across the UK, Europe and Northern Asia. It's associated with a variety of habitats including hedgerows, woodland edges, moorland, birch forests and wetlands, however, it is mostly found on heathland. Davie McPhail's variant on this fly, adds a segmented body using foam to give extra buoyancy as well as give a more life-like look.

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always, if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help. Time to tie the Sedgehog Heather Fly, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.




Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Short Shank Special size 12 Thread: Uni-8/0 Black Body: Wapsi Black HD Foam Legs: Pre-Knotted Pheasant Tail Fibres dyed Black Wing: Pearl Krystal Flash, and Dyed Hot Orange and Black Deer Hair Thorax: Dyed Black seals fur or Sub

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish, which he applied to the thread after completing the fly.

Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Master the Art of Buzzer Fishing


For all the little mysteries of fly fishing, there’s one that has prompted more questions down the years than any other. “How do I fish Buzzers?”

Fishing the humble Buzzer can be a leap of faith if all you know is pulling a Damsel or Cat’s Whisker. Suddenly, you’re going after trout with flies that are minuscule compared to the 'hulking brutes' that dominate your fly box. And they must be fished so much more slowly.

It is no wonder Buzzers often have to win the angler over before they start working their magic on trout. The key word is "confidence."  Once you understand the buzzer's lifecycle, and know how to adapt your leader rig appropriately, buzzer fishing becomes a pleasurable, and deadly, method for catching more fish.

What is a buzzer, exactly?
Its proper name is ‘chironomid’, which is a family of insects with more than 400 different species. They have an aquatic larval and pupal stage in their lives: the former represented by bloodworm, the latter emerging from the larval skin to ascend to the water’s surface, where it hatches as an ‘emerger,' from which the adult flying form materialises.

Bloodworm - Midge Larvae


Midge Pupae


When swimming to the surface, there are often dozens of 'buzzers,' as they’ve become known, which makes for some excited fish. When they reach the surface, the buzzers try to break through the surface film in order to ‘emerge,' but the density of the film will often prevent them from breaking through.  So you will observe trout swimming around, busily picking off buzzers trapped in the surface film - which is exactly where we should try to present our flies.

Midge Larvae Trapped in Surface Film
So when should I fish Buzzers?
Buzzers are in the water all year round. You will see lakes with a layer of ice stretching several feet out from the bank, yet in the clear water in the middle, buzzers can be seen hatching and fish rising. Having said that, there are a lot of winter days when you won’t catch a thing with Buzzers.

In spring, through until the first frosts, you can usually rely on trout feeding on buzzers at some time during the day. If you can see rising fish and little buzzing midges flying around, then buzzer fishing will be a viable bet. Don’t ignore such simple tell-tale signs.

A good tactic, if you have company, is for both of you to start with an intermediate line, pulling a lure and marrow-spoon the first fish caught to see what it has eaten. Often the predominant insect is buzzer and that’s a good enough sign!

Marrow Spoon - Trout Feeding on Buzzers
Another way of establishing how high on the menu buzzers might be at a given time is to check the margins for empty buzzer ‘shucks’ – the casing from which the pupa emerges before completing its journey to the surface, where the transformation into the winged adult occurs. Also look at any nearby spider webs for clues as to what's flying about.

Warm early mornings and evenings are when fish rise in earnest to the insects but watch out for the prevalence of other insects, which may result in what’s known as a ‘masking hatch.' This is when fish appear to be feeding on one thing but are actually focused on something else. So even if the conditions say ‘Buzzer,' don’t rule out trying something else if that slim pattern you’ve presented perfectly just beneath the surface is finding no takers.

Trout Caught on a Black Buzzer
Should I fish a floating line?
More often than not, a floating line will be all you need, because in the warmer months the cloud of buzzers will be quite high in the water. But that cloud will rise and fall through the depths, so put a Beadhead Buzzer on the point to see which one of your flies will catch. If fish come to the Beadhead Buzzer, then they’re likely to be mid water, so a sink-tip line might work. A short sink-tip line is often known as a ‘buzzer-tip’ line.
Fulling Mill Nugget Buzzer
Rio InTouch Sub-Surface Fly Line

Airflo 2019 Sixth Sense 

How long should my leader be?
How long a leader can you manage? If the wind is helping rather than hindering you, allowing your leader to land straight, then you might be able to fish an 18-foot leader with three flies. But if you’re on a small fishery and the wind direction is variable, then leader length should be whatever is manageable. If possible, try for 14 to 15 feet with a point fly and a dropper off a leader ring, four or five feet from the point fly. This is a good general-purpose leader length, especially when Buzzer fishing on a small water.

Fulling Mill Masterclass Fluorocarbon
What retrieve should I use?
A slow one. If lures are all you know, then breaking old habits and slamming the brakes on your customary retrieve may be your biggest challenge. Keep reminding yourself that small insects like buzzers do not swim very fast. In fact, no retrieve at all – your Buzzers simply taking fish ‘on the drop’ (as they fall through the water) – is often a prime tactic.

If you do employ a retrieve, then its speed determines how deep your Buzzers fish. A Buzzer tied with a UV coating or two, or three coats of something like Veniard’s Brush Coat, will sink fairly quickly. So let them free-fall.

When you retrieve with a ‘figure of eight’ with pauses, the flies will rise and fall in the water, but a continuous retrieve brings the flies quite close to the surface. So like a lot of fishing, the most important thing is to find the fish, then slowly retrieve and pause until, in your judgement, the flies are presented at the same level as the fish.

Should I use a strike indicator?
There are a lot of good anglers who consistently use a strike indicator when fishing Buzzers. Sometimes, a fish’s take of a Buzzer is so subtle that by the time the sensation reaches your fingers, it’s too late. There is a lingering stigma attached to indicator fishing, but if you’re just starting with Buzzers, don’t be frightened to use a strike indicator until you’ve caught a few fish and have grown some confidence in your ability to ‘feel’ the fish yourself.

What colour Buzzers?
In winter, black is good and remains so even as the season warms up. Depending on where you live, though, there’ll be regional variations, from green through light reddish-brown, to shades of grey during the summer, which confirms the importance of spooning the first few fish that you catch. Size is also a factor. During colder months, buzzers will be smaller and darker, whereas in mid-season some buzzers can be three quarters of an inch long.

Stillwater Assorted Buzzer Selection
What tackle for Buzzer fishing?
When fish are avidly feeding on buzzers it’s possible to catch quite successfully on a 10ft, 8wt rod, but this weight of outfit does not give the delicacy of feel and the sheer joy of something like a 9ft 6wt rod. Then when the summer comes and it becomes a choice between dry fly, nymph and Buzzer fishing, a 9ft 5wt rod is fantastic.

Greys GR60 Single Hand Fly Rod
Don’t strive for distance. Buzzer fishing requires the ability to put out a straight line at a reasonable distance, so that you’re fishing from the moment you see the flies splash down. A lighter fly rod allows the use of lighter leader: fluorocarbon of 4-6lb is a popular choice.

So if you have never tried buzzer fishing, you are missing out big time. Granted, it is a counterintuitive to think that a size 14 or 16 'skinny' fly that looks as if there is hardly any material tied on would garner any interest, but you'd be wrong.  If you have got the right colour, size and fishing at the right depth, you are in for a big surprise!

This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Tying an Olive Lite-Brite Buzzer with Davie McPhail

Buzzers trout flies are a midge pupa and are so called because of the buzzing noise they make in swarms. Buzzer Trout Flies start in life as a bloodworm and live in the mud usually in still waters. As they grow, the red colour fades and swim from the mud to the surface in a wriggling action. Once they reach the surface, they will wait before hatching and so quite often drop back down a few times, this is a great period for the trout to feed on buzzer flies. Davie McPhail's Olive buzzer makes use of bright colours and patterns that are sure to get any hungry Trout, feeding.

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always, if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help. Time to tie the Olive Lite-Brite Buzzer, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.




Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight size 10 Thread: UTC Black 70 Rib: Olive Super stretch Floss Body: Black Thread Wingbuds: Gold & Pearl Olive Lite-Brite

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish, which he applied to the thread after completing the fly.

Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Tying the Teal & Black Clyde Style Wet Fly with Davie McPhail

A Clyde-style fly is distinct from all other Trout flies. Designed to the exact anatomical proportions of the natural insect, it is slender in outline with delicate body markings and very slim wings set at an unusual angle. Patterns like this Teal & Black are equally successful on stream, river or lake for Trout and Grayling.

All of the materials needed to tie this fly are available from Glasgow Angling Centre as listed below, but as always, if you need any help finding materials or substitutes then we'll be happy to help. Time to tie the Teal & Black Clyde Style Wet Fly, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.




Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill All-Purpose size 14 Thread: Uni-8/0 Black Rib: Fine Silver Wire Body: Black Thread Wing: Small Teal Feather Hackle: Dyed Black Hen

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish, which he applied to the thread after completing the fly.

Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE!

Speaking of Clyde Style Wet Flies, Davie McPhail also brings to light a superb little handbook by Robert C. Sharp, called "Let's Fish the Clyde". This book has inspired Davie Mcphail to reproduce some of the iconic flies mentioned in this book. Below is a small showreel of the flies that Davie has tied himself and they are simply brilliant:

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