Flies For The Dee

Please remember that all flies should be barbless or crimped when fishing the River Dee.
Click on the images to view a larger version.

SPRING FLY SELECTION
Black & Yellow (Traditional)
Spring
Black & Yellow (Modern) The Black & Yellow tube is probably the deadliest colour combination for spring salmon fly fishing - it is certainly the most popular colour combination fished in Feb/March on the Dee and on most other early scottish rivers. The sharp contrast in colours with additional Jungle cock gives this tube a real presence in the icy deep waters when sunk line fishing. A close relative of the classic Tweed tube the Eternal Optimist fly the Black & Yellow is a must have spring fly for the Dee.
Maggie's Shrimp (Modern)
Spring
Maggie's Shrimp (Modern) Maggie's Shrimp is a black, yellow and silver variant of the Park Shrimp. It is at home in clear water and is equally potent for springers and grilse. It has proven very successful with anglers reporting some fast and furious action on Lower Dee beats in the Spring and Russian Kola rivers during the start of the season.
Park Shrimp Cone Head (Modern)
Spring
Park Shrimp Cone Head (Modern) The Park Shrimp is named after the famous beat on the lower Dee. Designed by Dee angler Ross Macdonald in 2007, it has made a major impact on the Dee in particular and has quickly gained fame abroad as well as all over the UK. Ross has used a superb mix of modern materials to create this masterpiece. The fly is as popular tied on tubes as doubles and has huge versatility. Mobile Arctic runner is the main ingredient for the tail merged with a hint of tantalizing angel hair throughout. More angel hair & black seals fur dubbed on the body lay the base for luxurious jungle cock eyes topped off with striking dyed yellow & orange badger cock hackles. A beautifully balanced fly for all seasons which works equally well in coloured or clear water.
Willie Gunn Special (Modern)
Spring
Willie Gunn Special (Modern) The Willie Gunn Special was designed by Ron Sutherland from Helmsdale as a modern improvement to the legendary Willie Gunn and it has become a big favourite for spring salmon fishing on the Dee. A palmered hackle juices up this eye-catching tube body and additional modern mirror & krystal flash topped off with jungle cock eyes creates a tube to rival them all. Fish this tube deep and in the larger sizes on the lower Dee in early spring and you are sure to score.
Smith's Shrimp Tube (Modern)
Spring
Willie Dog Cone Head (Modern) Originally tied by Fraser Smith, Ghillie on the Brahan Beats of the River Conon, this fly has proved deadly in the time we have used it on the Dee. This lightly dressed fly has a winning combination of black and yellow - one to watch for the future!
Bertie Dastard Tube (Modern)
Spring
Bertie Dastard Tube (Modern) This is a variation on the original fly tied by Sean Stanton. It was named after his patterdale terrier 'Bert', whose fur was the original wing in this fly. Had to stop using this though - he was feeling it cold in the winter! This shrimp style pattern is a definite winner in the spring time and has caught fish all over Scotland.
Snaelda (Modern)
Spring
Snaelda (Modern) Another imported fly from Iceland which is equally at home on the Dee. A distant cousin of the Frances fly. This fly tends to be a last resort when everything else has failed, but is now fast becoming the fly to use.
SPRING/SUMMER FLY SELECTION
Ally's Shrimp (Modern)
Spring & Summer
Ally's Shrimp (Modern) The Ally's shrimp series of flies have become a worldwide phenomenon and a great favourite on the river Dee. Invented by expert salmon angler Ally Gowans this simple fly profile has transformed salmon fly fishing & tying by its sheer success in hooking salmon throughout the season. Its versatility also helps with its popularity and you can fish it with confidence in conehead, tube or double mode - they all work well on the Dee.
Calvin's Shrimp Cone Head (Modern)
Spring & Summer
Calvin Shrimp Cone Head (Modern) Calvin's Shrimp has a back end feel to it and makes great use of red, orange and a wee touch of pink. Calvin's Shrimp fished very well in 2009 and was featured in the second series of BBC Alba's Turus A Bhradain. It combines the mobility of the Park Shrimp materials with the autumn colours that tend to provoke aggressive reactions from Autumn fish.
Dee Monkey (Modern)
Spring & Summer
Dee Monkey (Modern) The Monkey fly has exploded onto the scene like no other in recent times and on the river Dee it has fast become a huge favourite with many anglers. In essence it is a Scandinavian Sunray Shadow type fly but with a lot more attitude! It suits the Dee perfectly with its ideal mix of fabulous glides and streams where you can work the fly on a big tantalizing swing. The extra long wing on these flies suits a fairly square cast where you want to let the fly swing across the current on a big searching arc. Tied on copper and tungsten tubes the Monkey is a catcher in the big flows of the lower Dee right from opening day in February. Fish them on sinking lines and dont mend the line unless you have to and preferably towards your own bank to speed them up! The Dee Monkey is equally as deadly when the water warms up fished on aluminium and plastic tubes near the surface.
Green Highlander Shrimp (Modern)
Spring & Summer
Green Highlander Shrimp (Modern) The Green Highlander Shrimp is a modern variant of a traditional pattern utilising the colours of the hugely successful traditional and marrying these to the current modern shrimp design utilising the finest materials like arctic runner, badger hackle, angel hair and lite-brite dubbing. This is a fly that will do well on the Dee and other rivers where some anglers will only fish flies with a rub of the green-just for luck of course.
Mairi's Shrimp (Modern)
Spring & Summer
Mairi's Shrimp (Modern) A favourite of Ross MacDonald, it is also the forerunner to the Park Shrimp. Originally tied for the dark waters of the Thurso, Mairi's Shrimp has a small but loyal band of followers. It has caught many fish on the lower Dee in August and September.It is a popular fly to use when the water is peat stained.
Park Shrimp (Modern)
Spring & Summer
Jeannie (Traditional) The Park Shrimp 'double's' reputation has spread far beyond its home river. It was first tied in its present form in 2007 and has since proved its worth for fresh and running fish all over Scotland, Ireland, Northern Europe and the Kola Peninsula. It is a bold fly and marries a strong profile with a life-like movement that is beyond compare.
Sunray Shadow (Modern)
Spring & Summer
Ally's Shrimp (Modern) A simple yet deadly fly on the Dee, the Sunray is fished 'on the swing' while water temperatures remain cold and slowly retrieved with the 'figure of 8' method. When the water begins to warm in April they are stripped faster across pools triggering the Salmon's aggression, making for what can often be spectacular takes. Ideal fished by casting square and immediately throwing a downstream mend to provide pace of swing.
The Crathie (Traditional)
Spring & Summer
The Crathie (Modern) This simple but relatively unknown salmon fly has had great success over the years on the Crathie beat of the Dee. Inventor Mr Tom Saville has fished it since the 60s and has kept it a bit of a secret until recently when due to failing eyesight the pattern was passed on for fly-tying purposes to Crathie ghillie Archie Hay. This version is tied on a silver salar hook which suits the fly very nicely. It can also be tied with a red head.
Willie Dog Cone Head (Modern)
Spring & Summer
Willie Dog Cone Head (Modern) The Willie Dog cone head is another superb fly for all seasons on the Dee. Fished in clear or coloured water, this fly works beautifully. The slick Arctic fox profile and double hook are balanced perfectly by a bright gold cone keeping the tube on a smooth even keel. This fly is another modern great and is well worth its place in any Dee anglers fly box.
SUMMER FLY SELECTION
Blue Charm (Traditional)
Summer
Blue Charm (Traditional) The Blue Charm has strong links with the river Dee. Greased line fishing pioneer AHE Wood of Cairnton hailed this fly as his most successful Dee pattern in the summer months fished off a floating line, great praise indeed for a fly so simple. Lightweight low water doubles and singles are ideally suited for tying this traditional favourite. Keep the dressing sparse for best results.
Cascade Shrimp (Modern)
Summer
Cascade Shrimp (Modern) A Cascade Shrimp resides in almost every salmon anglers fly box in one form or another and there is very good reason for this. Since this relatively new fly design rolled off Mr Ally Gowan's vice it has witnessed a meteoric jump to fame wherever Atlantic salmon swim. Tied in favoured orange yellow and black it was always going to be a winner and it has firmly taken over from the Allys shrimp of the same creator. So where does the Dee come in to this? Well like on most other rivers the Cascade has accounted for many salmon on the river Dee and thankfully many of them have been returned.
Dee Sheep (Modern)
Summer
Dee Sheep (Modern) This Temple Dog pattern is a big favourite in Iceland but it is fished heavily by the large groups of Scandinavians who fish them successfully on Deeside every year. This predominantly blue black and silver fly is favoured when fresh salmon are running throughout spring and summer. The Micro Dee sheep has been popularized in recent years by angling and fly-tying expert Mikael Frodin, fished on tiny plastic tubes this fly can prove deadly in the clear Dee waters. An excellent clear water pattern.
Flamethrower (Modern)
Summer
Flamethrower (Modern) The stunning Flamethrower series of flies designed by regular Dee visitor Duncan Egan from the Glasgow Angling Centre, have exploded onto the international salmon scene in recent times. This vibrant orange version is simply superb in coloured or clear water and is now firmly established as one of the modern Dee favourites. The Flamethrower is usually tied on modern doubles but tube flies also work very well right through the season.
Jeannie (Traditional)
Summer
Jeannie (Traditional) The Jeannie is another superb Dee low water salmon fly, whose popularity, like that of the Logie and Blue Charm has spread far beyond where it originated. It was fished extensively in the summer months and initially tied up with a feather wing, now like most traditionals still in use, feather has been replaced with a sparse and more durable hairwing.
Logie (Traditional)
Summer
The Logie is another very successful and traditional Dee salmon fly. It fishes best tied as a low water summer pattern dressed sparsely but it can also prove deadly in bigger sizes in the Spring. Originally Tied with a feather wing it has now evolved into a very appealing hairwing of squirrel or Arctic fox. It has been said that from the beginning of April onwards, the Logie used to be one of the most deadly flies on the River Dee.
Pot Bellied Pig (Modern)
Summer
Pot Bellied Pig (Modern) The Pot Bellied Pig fly has amassed a huge angling following in modern times. The Dee is classic water for this menacing fly design hence its popularity here. Tantalizing quivering boar bristles in the tail of this fly are its signature appeal and salmon fishing has never been quite the same since its arrival. Fish the PBP sub surface for best results with a twitch in your retrieve and watch your line tighten! A super fly for all seasons fished on tubes or doubles.
 
Puppy Dog (Modern)
Summer
Puppy Dog (Modern) In essence a little lively fly that is fished quite deep where you want this little lively fly aptly called the Puppy Dog to trigger a lively response form an agitated salmon. This fly can do very well in late summer when the fish are lying doggo in the pools and tails and will not rise to take a fly near the surface. This could also be fished as a 'riffled' lure by adding a hole in the side of the tube to insert the leader to attach to the hook. Riffled plastic tubes do extremely well in the well oxygenated fast flowing River Dee streams and can trigger an explosive take with lively action as the fish has taken the lure at pace.
Red Frances (Modern)
Summer
Red Frances (Modern) The Red Frances fly has crept into many Dee fly boxes since its conception in 1964. Designed and popularized by Englishman Peter Deane this odd looking creation has had meteoric success in Iceland and it is now a “Go to” fly for many Dee anglers. It was named after his fly tying assistant Miss Frances Hoydon and has been a success story ever since. Red Frances and Black Frances are the most popular patterns and they are equally as deadly tied on weighted tubes, coneheads or doubles.
 
Silver Shrimp (Modern)
Summer
Jeannie (Modern) The Silver Shrimp is a Ness pattern which has Dee written all over it. Graham McKenzie's marrying of the Silver Stoat and the shrimp fly style is perfect for the low clear water we experience during the summer months. Dressed in smaller sizes this fly will produce many fish and has several thousand salmon on its conscience.
Stoat's Tail (Traditional)
Summer
Stoat's Tail (Traditional) The Stoat's Tail is great favourite on the Dee and one of the all time greats. John Ashley Cooper in his bestselling book the Great Salmon Rivers of Scotland wrote of flies on the Dee in clear water there is nothing to beat black and who would argue with such a great angler! The pattern is simplicity in itself whatever the form. Low clear water in summertime is when this fly excels like no other, especially when fished as a tiny plastic tube off a floating line. A wisp of black hair is all that is required and you have one of the deadliest flies for salmon. Its close cousin the Silver Stoats Tail is also a legendary summer killer and its fabulous versatility lends itself to catching many sea-trout also. This fly only differs on the addition of a silver body and optional eye catching jungle cock cheeks. There are few better flies for fishing at dawn or dusk on the river Dee when sea-trout and grilse are at their most active.
Smith's Shrimp Double (Modern)
Summer
Smith's Shrimp Double (Modern) Originally tied by Fraser Smith, ghillie on the Brahan Beats of the River Conon, this is the original version of this fly. It has fast become one of the top five flies used on my beats. A very simple yet very effective fly, especially in low water/summer levels.
Bertie Dastard Double (Modern)
Summer
Bertie Dastard Double (Modern) The original fly tied by Sean Stanton. This low water version is fast becoming a classic. The black and yellow dressing ideally suits all conditions throughout the year on the Dee.

Acknowledgements

All descriptions and images of these flies were kindly supplied by FishDee's sponsor The Helmsdale Tackle Company where all these flies are available to purchase.

Ross Macdonald who invented the Park Shrimp fly and other innovative designs has these available for sale direct by emailing Ross at rj_macd@yahoo.co.uk or via his website.

Sean Stanton who originally tied the Bertie Dastard has an online fly shop called www.theghilliesflybox.co.uk. He can be contacted by email: info@theghilliesflybox.co.uk

Click here to access the excellent website created by Colin Innes with information and images about many traditional Dee flies.

Please feel free to write to me with other suggestions for this page to ken@riverdee.org