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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Mull of Galloway Sea Angling Festival 2018

The inaugural Mull of Galloway Sea Angling Festival, supported by Glasgow Angling Centre, took place over the weekend of the 25th and 26th August.

Unfortunately the weather forecast was not good for the Sunday so the event was extended on Saturday, increasing fishing time to 10 hours. 34 boats participated with 81 anglers catching 36 species, with the winning boat "Mako Wish" from Coatbridge landing 24 species.

Selection of Prizes
Tim Macpherson the publisher and editor of Salt Water Boat Angling also took part in the event and there is a 4 page article planned for the next edition.

The festival was a great success with excellent feedback, and booking enquiries for next year are already on the increase.

Supported by Glasgow Angling Centre
Les Weller of Mull of Galloway Sea Angling Festival Committee was very grateful to Glasgow Angling for going the extra mile by providing prizes, gift vouchers, and a varied selection of sea fishing tackle, including rods, reels, line and various other items of fishing tackle.

We would like to congratulate Les and the team, as well as all the anglers who participated and look forward to next year's event.

Friday, 24 August 2018

How To Tie The Hare's Body Diawl Bach with Davie McPhail

Autumn is a great time of year for the fly fisherman. Stillwater trout become aggressive and start to hit protein-rich fry, packing on weight in anticipation of the winter ahead.

When you see a large 'bow-wave' and dozens of pin fry jumping out of the water, these are tell-tale signs that fish are chasing fry. To get involved in the action, it's worth having a few fry imitations in your fly box and a really effective pattern to use is a Hare's Body Dial Bach.  It not only imitates fry exceptionally well, but also Buzzers and Corixa. It's a pattern worth learning to tie, and Davie McPhail shows you how.

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. But now it's time to learn from Davie McPhail. Time to learn how to tie the Hare's Body Diawl Bach.

Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight Size 12
Thread: Uni Thread 8/0 - Red
Tail: Hare's Body Fibres
Rib Silver Wire
Sides UTC Opal Mirage Tinsel Medium
Body: Hare's Body Fur & UV Lite-Brite Mixed
Thorax Hare's Body Fibres
Eyes:  Jungle Cock
Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of some Varnish to finish the fly using a dubbing needle for a more accurate application.

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

Friday, 17 August 2018

Time For Change In Salmon Management In Scotland

Ian Gordon is regarded as one of the world's leading salmon fishing guides, and casting instructors.  He runs one the country's top fishing/casting schools each spring on the Tulchan and Macallan beats of the River Spey.  Ian's view is that Salmon Management in Scotland is failing, and after 20 years there is nothing positive to show.  With the salmon population in our major rivers declining, this is a view shared by many ghillies, estate owners and salmon anglers.  In his article below, Ian contends that experts are pulling the wool over people's eyes and concealing the extent of their failings.  So he is looking for divers to gather information about what is actually happening in the river, and to get stakeholders increasingly vocal and engaged in this vital issue.


The 1980s saw the first fishery Biologists make an appearance on the big rivers of Scotland. Their remit or goal was to understand more and ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery. As someone with a deep interest, personally, at the time, I thought this could and would be a good thing for the future of salmon fishing.

A.  What has happened in the meantime:
  • The species has depleted to levels never seen before.
  • After more than 30 years of scientific input, our/their overall understanding of stock levels are based around pure guesswork using catch stats as a base.
  • Biologists feel Juvenile numbers are generally in good health on most rivers. However, most living and working on the river say the opposite.
  • Numbers of Predators such as Seals, Dolphins, Goosanders and Cormorants have increased to levels never seen before.
  • The scientific community offers nothing but more of the same as they have over the past 20 years. Something which obviously has made no difference to the overall decline.
  • Catch and release. Unfortunately, this was only ever going to buy time. Rational/logical thinking would let anyone come to this conclusion. From the early 1960s and onward, we have continuously banned every effective method (drift nets, net and cobble, prawning, shrimping, spinning, worming etc, etc) for catching salmon, so how can anyone think that catch & release will do anything but slow the decline?  We’ll, just think about it?
  • The Scientific community base their stock assessment on a rod catch of between 10% and 15%. This is seriously dangerous, given that rivers in Canada and Iceland regularly catch 50% - 70% of all fish entering them with rod and line.
  • Whether Einstein said it or not, “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting the same result”. 20 years or more of the same on all our rivers with nothing positive to show must mean time for a change! Especially given that the business of Salmon Fishing appears to be in free fall!!


Firstly, we must accept the problem! Unfortunately, this is something our managers are not willing to do. However, change has to come and the following will be a good starting point:
  • Accepting that we have been catching nearer 50% of what’s there will bring us much closer to the number of fish actually in the river, particularly in the last 10 years where the average catch will be nearer 8k than 10k. So, a year with 6k caught will be nearer a total of 12k in the river, well below Dr Butler’s critical figure of 20k. (see point v below).
  • Accept that C&R has distorted catch stats, and with this, our understanding of how many adults are actually present.. We know that a great many fish are recaptured suggesting the problem may be even worse than even the worst case scenario!
  • Use divers to count the fish in our rivers physically. This method is accepted by both the Norwegian and Canadian Government to evaluate the stock in a river system.
  • Once this is done and we finally have an accurate figure, compare this with what our experts have told us.
  • Take this “revised” figure and work back to find out whether we have enough juveniles or not. With regard to the Spey, former Director, Dr James Butler, maintained that juvenile output would be compromised should adult numbers dip below 20,000. My own belief is we have not seen 20,000 in the Spey since the nets were taken off in 1993. Possibly with the exception of the years 1995-6.
  • If we take this figure (The one we find via the divers) as worst case scenario then we will “know” both juvenile and adult fish are in trouble and we are way below the point Dr Butler and many others felt would be “critical” for the fishery.

Having established a major problem for the fishery, what options do we have?
    1. A restocking programme is an absolute must. For years now the run of adult fish to salmon rivers of Scotland, the Spey included, have declined to the extent they no longer produce sufficient juveniles to sustain a viable fishery.
    2. Like the river Jokla in Iceland, this gives the river a boost and will see the river once again producing, not just enough, but an abundance of juveniles. Only this will be enough to counter what may be going on at sea.
    3. Lobby government using historical data and video evidence to have predators, particularly fish eating birds, dealt with properly. Goosanders onto general licence for a period of time and have scientists monitor.
    4. Use the power of the media to bring the plight of the Salmon to the hearts and minds of more of the greater public.
    5. Video is a great tool here. Also, the “story” of the decline itself. As an emotive campaign, it must be led by passionate people, those involved day to day and whose lives are affected by the decline. The historical stereotype of salmon fishing being only for the wealthy and well-spoken is not only inaccurate, but divisive. Now, more than ever, we need salmon fishing to be seen for what it is, a sport enjoyed by people from every social background. Stereotyping it as "elitist” makes it too easy for the Scottish government to ignore the current problems, issues and local concerns. We must challenge this with facts. Interview local business owners, Ghillies and fishing clients to build a more realistic picture of what salmon fishing means and perhaps more importantly, what it could mean to 21st century Scotland.

The Spey Fishery Board recently declined the offer by a new Beat owner to help fund a restocking programme. The reason given was “on the Best scientific advice available”. The bottom line is, every one of those scientists giving advice is terrified to:

    1. Even try to properly count the fish in our river.
    2. Use the funds offered by the new owner to “prove” to everyone, myself and the millions of doubters, that in fact their theory is correct.
    3. Be proved wrong!

If Dr David Summers and Brian Shaw are so confident, the return of hatchery fish will be so small it won’t impact in the least on wild fish. I’d ask them this, put your reputation where your mouth is and use the money to “properly” answer the questions above. Resolve this once and for all, with a national case study funded by the new owner at Tulchan, other Spey proprietors, anglers and business owners.  They are willing to fund the project and have “wanted” in the past, but now are “demanding” those questions are properly answered.

The project would be overseen by independent experts with a track record in this field as our scientists focus on every negative they possibly can when dealing with the subject, painting as bleak a picture possible to the uneducated. It would seem our own scientists simply don’t want the questions properly answered. But why should this be? Well, in the first instance, it’s because they worry more about that old chestnut, genetic integrity because they know the return from the “properly run and managed hatchery” will be greater than the figures they feed the uneducated. They simply don’t want to know how many fish are in the river as it will prove the figure of 10-15% rod caught fish is total nonsense, again damaging their professional reputation. Personally, I’d love to be “proved” wrong in all of this, but, other than number 3, I know for a fact I wont be.

The Solution

The answer is to get the divers into the river ASAP. We desperately need this information.  It’s up to fishery owners, Ghillies and those with an interest to make this happen. Already I’ve had information back from a fishery owner who snorkelled his Beat and was flabbergasted at what he saw, or didn’t as the case may be. Given the water height right now (low water at the right time of year) we have never had a better chance to actually find out what’s there and have the information to set the ball of change rolling. Stop talking and get in there and gather the information. If anyone knows any Divers who would be willing to do this please get in touch with me here or simply get into your Beat and count.

Ian Gordon

If you are a diver, and would like to offer your support to this important study, please contact Ian Gordon:

Ian Gordon
11 Conval Street Dufftown,
Keith Banffshire

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

When To Strike When Fly Fishing

The sight of a fish taking your dry fly is what fly fishing is all about. However, there are days when you seem to hook everything and others, feel the hook point has disappeared. Success depends on the strike.

The term “strike” suggests a movement that is too vicious for hooking a rising trout, yet there are times when it is possible to react with a strike. For example, when too much slack has formed in your fly line as you scan the surface for a rising fish. For most rise forms, try to think that you are simply lifting into a fish that has your fly in its mouth.

For beginners, it is hard to reign in your instincts.  Consistently hooking fish depends on being able to identify the various rise forms, and by recognising their characteristics, you will be able to react with a controlled, methodical lift of the fly rod and floating fly line.
Airflo Super Dri Xceed Floating Fly Line
A splash at the fly
This usually happens when the fish is not totally convinced that your fly is what it thought it was, especially if it has risen from the depths.

The Splash
With the splash, the automatic response to “strike” is only natural but successful hooking is down to chance. If you do not hook the fish, immediately lifting off and re-casting to the same spot can sometimes result in a more confident and often unmissable take. On the other hand, the fish may have shot straight back down to the depths again. In this instance, try a smaller version of the same fly pattern and hopefully, the fish will take it with more confidence.

Of course, it may have been the size of the fly that brought up the fish in the first place – a splashy rise is often to a large Daddy Long-Legs or Sedge. If you are consistently lifting into nothing, pause for a few seconds, then figure-of-eight or take one long pull away from the rise. Trout often try to drown these big flies before turning around and mopping them up beneath the surface. It isn't uncommon to hook a feeding fish in the tail as it slaps down on your dry fly - particularly sedges.

The head-and-tail rise
If you are fully concentrating, you should not miss this fish. It has been totally fooled by your offering and a simple lift, rather than a strike, should set the hook. Your immediate thought process should be, “Yes, that’s mine”, and then lift into it.

Head And Tail Rise
The Sip
Again, the trout has taken your fly with confidence. These are often better fish that have learned to feed with minimum effort. Unfortunately, these are the rise forms where hooking success varies most. The most successful tactic is to think, “That was to me,” then gently feel for the fish with a draw of the line or slow lift of the rod.

The Sip
If the line shows signs of tightening, continue the lift to set the hook fully. If the fish has missed the fly or the sip was so gentle that your lift has drawn the fly out of its mouth, the draw away often results in a faster second rise – usually leading to a hooking. The smaller the fly, the more time you need to leave before lifting. A small hook simply needs longer to find a hook-hold.

So as highlighted, by recognising and understanding the various rise forms, you can react appropriately instead of 'striking' out of pure impulsivity. A methodical, controlled strike is what you are looking for, and with practice, it will result in more hook-ups. However, the key is to always be in contact with your flies!

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

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Hardy Rocket Series Shooting Heads and Tips Review

For the Salmon angler, today’s vast choice of sinking fly lines can be bewildering. Some offer better sink rate, and others claim to increase distance; however, Hardy has developed a line system that can be configured to cover all water conditions.

Hardy’s new Rocket Head Series is described as a “Modular Density Head System”. It comprises of a Rocket Head (from single-density floating to dual-density S3/S4) sold with a matching 12ft Spey Tip (dual-density Float/Hover to S4/S5). The density at the end of the head matches that at the end of the tip. The heads are sold in five weights: 6/7+ up to 11+.

Hardy Rocket Head Series
The tips are interchangeable, and extra tips are very reasonably priced.  For example you can get a Standard Scandi Spey Tip or a Light Scandi Spey Tip.  Alternatively, you can get a set of six tips in a pocket-sized wallet. Fully equipped, the angler has a comprehensive range of density configurations to cover all water conditions. Potentially, you could carry a selection of different heads to fish on large rivers where long casts with big flies are required. Alternatively, if you encounter low water or smaller rivers, there is a configuration to suit.

Scandal Spey Tips
After extensive testing in early Spring, Trout & Salmon magazine's first impressions were excellent. They found the loops, sleeved and welded at both ends of bodies and tips, "are as neat as you'll see." The colour-coded lines are smooth and supple. Weight, sink rate and length are laser-printed on the bodies and tips, so there is no confusion. The combination of colour coding and printed information "makes setting up pretty straightforward."

How Do They Perform
Trout Fisherman Magazine tested the Hardy Rocket Series on the river Tummel in late April. The water was reportedly running high, and they evaluated the Int/S2/S2/S3 and S3/S4/S4/S5 lines. Using a spring set-up, 15ft rod, 6ft heavy leader and conehead or tube, "casts up to 30 yards went out satisfactorily with excellent loop formation." Any attempt to push for greater distance had a slight effect on the turnover, however, once the lines were out, they fished well, biting down into the current. Thanks to the phased densities, "rolling to the surface before recasting was easy."

In late May, with low water in the Tummel, T&S also tested the Rocket 8/9 full floating head with its Flt/Hov tip. With a working length of 37ft and weighing 36g, the set-up comprised of a 12ft 6in Guideline LPXe 8/9 rod with a long, tapered leader and a small double. The line lived up to its name and flew out to 30 yards-plus. As with most short Scandi lines, these results are achieved using a compact casting stroke with lots of bottom hand.

Hardy Floating Running Line
T&S also test two new Hardy floating running lines (Standard, and Tapered). The Standard is bright yellow, 0.37in diameter. Quality was reportedly excellent with a nice 6in loop at the line end. "It was supple, easy to handle and shot out well." The Tapered running line had the same yellow 0.37in material but with a tapered 10ft blue section towards the mainline end. Again, it "performed well."

Wallet of Tips
Overall, Trout & Salmon say that the Rocket Heads are excellent value. They did find them a little short, but if you are into Scandi casting in tight spots with shorter rods, they are well worth considering. The wallet of dual-density tips is especially good value.

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