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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:

Lure Fishing For Bass


Lure fishing for bass can quickly turn any self-respecting shore angler into a bass enthusiast. Why? The thrill of the smash-and-grab is second to none, as the bass rush out from their cover to attack a lure without warning.

Bass are such incredible creatures that deserve the ultimate respect. Their hunting prowess and fighting capabilities are just mind blowing, with many anglers reporting the bass rod almost being yanked out their hands.

Spinning For Bass
Regarding location, bass inhabit localised pockets early in the season. This all points towards the notion that if you can find where they are holding up, or feeding on a tide, then you have an excellent chance of experiencing that unmistakable smack on the rod.

Tide is the key to the best bass fishing, with the early tide generally the top time to avoid large expanses of beach and the headlands in the early season as the bass will be thin on the ground. Alternatively, look to target specific features such as large underwater rock pools, scours in the seabed carved into flat(ish) reef systems, patches of sand among rocks and gullies between large rocky outcrops. It is these areas where crustaceans and other prey items feel safest from predators, but where bass love to hunt.

Bass Love Boulders, Holes And Gullies
Weather and sea conditions permitting, start your session over the first two hours of the flood within a quiet, sheltered bay, before moving to fish the mid-tide period from the rocky extremity, adjacent to a beach, or even an estuary. You’ll have an increased chance of locating bass that are moving with the tide and using the rougher ground to navigate the coastline.

Soft Plastic Lures Work Well for Bass Too
Lure Fishing For Bass
'Plugging' is a method that is very popular as it allows you to 'grab and go' and suits the roaming angler. It permits bass to show their fighting capabilities, and it can be heart stopping to feel the take as a fish slams into your bass plug. Working surface poppers over the top of some rough ground popping just behind the incoming breakers can get superb results - it is super fun to see bass thrashing the water as they attack the plug.


Soft Plastic Lures for Bass
Savage Gear Saltwater Sandeel
Kiddy Sidewinder Holographic Sandeels


Sidewinder Crusader Shads 4in 23g
Fiish Black Minnow 90 Combo
Use a leader when using surface lures. This helps prevent overzealous actions, which regularly cause the front treble to tangle, damaging your braid or mainline. Simply tie around 12 inches of leader material to the braid, then tie a fast link to the leader to facilitate quick and easy lure changes.

Bass will also take sub-surface lures such as sandeel patterns, pencil lures, and dexter wedges. If using deeper diving or suspending lures you can also go through various different depth levels. The easiest way to do this is to count down until you hit the bottom and work back up from there. For instance, a 10-second countdown and work the lure back, then perhaps an 8-seconds fall and retrieve and so forth. Do not be shy of fishing shallow water, and also casting back along the shoreline among gullies and reef structure.

Top Water Lures
HTO Canine Surface Lure


Savage Gear Panic Prey V2
Rapala Skitter Pop Top Water Lure
One of the most popular techniques to use when using bass lures is 'Walking the Dog' where you change retrieve speeds. A very slow retrieve interspersed with lots of motionlessness and ‘dying’ twitches is very effective. You are mimicking a wounded fish, and if the bass are lazy, then they are more likely to hit a slow, erratic lure.

Diving Lures


Yo-Zuri Duel Hardcore Minnow
Savage Gear MAG Sandeel Jerk Minnow

HTO Abyss 15.6g
Bass tend to have defined times when they appear over certain marks and like ghosts, often disappearing almost as soon as they arrive. Some areas may experience as short as a 10-minute window of frantic bass activity before the fish have moved on. For this reason, it is essential to be mobile and try and keep an alert eye for a ‘sign’ that indicates moving bass. It could be boulders some 50 metres to the left have drawn the fish, or some other feature or naturally occurring giveaway. Ultimately though, when lure fishing for bass, time-served local knowledge and experience play a big part in any good bass angler’s ability to track their quarry across a particular mark or beat.

This article was brought to you in association with Sea Angler Magazine.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Tying a Dunkeld Sparkler Wet Fly with Davie McPhail

The Dunkeld Wet Fly is one of the top all-rounder flies when it comes to targeting Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. Davie McPhail's variant of this classic fly features a lot more flashy material which is bound to attract a hungry Brown Trout or Rainbow. The Classic pattern for Salmon is adapted for Trout as an attractor pattern that swims just below the surface of the water and this is where it's success sprouts from.

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 Dunkeld Sparkler Wet Fly, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.




Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill Competition Heavy Weight size 10 Thread: Uni-8/0 Fire Orange Tail: Glo-Brite No.10 Floss Flu-Yellow Rib: Small Gold Wire Body: Gold Tinsel/Mylar Body Hackle: Dyed Hot Orange Hen or Cock Throat: Blue Jay Fibres or Guinea Fowl dyed Blue Under-Wing: Gold Freckle and Pearl Flash Wing: Bronze Mallard Eyes: Jungle Cock

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, 2 May 2019

Tying a Rollover CDC Mayfly (Dry/Wet Fly) with Davie McPhail

Probably one of the most exciting times for any fly angler is when the Mayflies start to hatch. When the hatch begins, Trout aggressively feed on the larvae, winged and spent state of mayflies. There are in fact 46 different species of Mayfly in the UK and 2,500 in the world, but fly anglers need only know 2, the Large Yellow or Brown Mayfly. Davie McPhail's version of the Mayfly involves the use of CDC material which allows this fly to float, however, if the Trout are feeding just below the surface, the profile of this fly allows it to sink and become a wet fly.

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 Rollover CDC Mayfly, with the guidance of Davie McPhail.




Materials Used:
Hook: Fulling Mill All-purpose Medium size 12 Thread: Uni-8/0 Rusty Brown Tail: Cock Pheasant dyed Yellow Rib: Small Oval Gold Tinsel or Fine Gold Wire Body: Red and Golden Olive Seals Fur or SLF Dubbing Body: Golden Olive Cock Wing: CDC dyed Olive Hackle: French Partridge dyed Brown Olive

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!

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Injecting Life Into Your Sea Rig


Beach fishing is all about efficiency. For every single second that your sea bait is in the water, you want it to work to its maximum potential. Realistically, to be as efficient as possible, you would need to put a bait right on the nose of a fish time after time, but even if the fish were giving away their position you would be hard pressed to do it.

Let Your Rig Search The Sea Bed
So, you must be wondering, how do you maximise your time spent with a bait in the water? Well, by using the forces of nature, and by tweaking your sea rigs and equipment you can get your rigs working to their full potential.
Imax FR Competition Beach Shelter
One of the most important things while fishing is to search out every single nook and cranny of your peg – there may be a fish-filled hole just waiting to be found. This is made a whole lot easier with a bit of tide movement. But if there is no tide don’t worry. By twitching your rig back every minute or so you will find yourself covering far more ground than simply leaving your rig stationary, hopefully helping it to bump into more fish.

Fisheagle Hold Fast 1.8m Beach Tripod 
If there is some tide movement, you can simply let it do all the work for you. Cast your lead out into the tide and let it roll around. Casting uptide of your peg will allow you more fishing time before your lead weight has swung too far around.

It is crucial to find the right balance of weight to the strength of the tide. With a light, 2oz weight in a strong tide your rig may roll by far too quickly, yet a heavy lead weight in a weak tide probably won’t move at all.

There are no set rules about how much weight to use, it’s up to you to work it out for yourself, and you’ll know when you’ve got it right.

Penn Spinfisher VI Long Cast Reel
To cover more ground, it is recommended using plain leads, preferably torpedo or ball-shaped versions, due to the fact they don’t grip the sea bed.

Another hands-free way of moving your baits is by utilising the wave's action. By fishing a slightly slack line (not so slack that it bows on to the beach but not so tight that it’s like piano wire), you will be able to pick up this movement and transfer it to your rig.

Tronixpro Beach Seat Box
The constant crashing motion of the waves hitting your line will help dance your baits around, making them look extra enticing for the fish. Bites may be a bit hard to spot while doing this, though it’s normally noticeable once you’ve got used to the rhythm of the waves moving your rod tip.

Daiwa Crossflow 2pc Floatation Suit
Just when you thought you couldn’t get any more movement into your rig without physically shaking it up and down, guess what? You can. And shaking it up and down is exactly what you do.

Tronixpro Rig Float
The Tronixpro rig floats at the top of your rig are very effective for this purpose. They catch any passing wave movement and help you fish your rig at a slightly different angle in the water column. These floats can be absolutely deadly in the summer months.
Tronixpro Aphex Continental GT Rods
A weighted float at the top of your rig can have a very similar effect. This method is very good on shallower surf beaches where waves are constantly rolling the float around.
Live Ragworm
With the float being weighted, it also reduces the need for weight on the end of the rig.

There are loads more ways to get the most out of your rig while fishing, like extra-long snoods, or different diameter fishing lines… just far too many to mention in one article. These are some of the favoured ways to get your rigs working in the water but it’s always worth experimenting and trying new ideas, no matter how daft they may seem.

Top 5 Tips
  • Search all of the seabed.
  • Always use the tide to your advantage
  • Cast uptide and let the lead weight swing round
  • Use the right size sinker
  • Plain leads work best
  • Make sure you are using fresh bait at regular intervals 

This article was brought to you in association with Sea Angler Magazine
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