All you have to do is simply purchase the right to fish for the relevant number of rods and days on the beat of your choice. A 'rod' is a Scottish term used to describe an angler, so taking two rods for a day entitles two individuals to fish. There are no other fishery licences required in Scotland, so all you have to do is to ring the ghillie a few days before you are due to fish (details are given on your booking confirmation), find out what tackle you will need to take with you, and then turn up at the appointed time and place.
What does a ghillie do?
Most beats employ a ghillie of some sort. He may be part- or full-time and on larger beats there may be more than one (with one designated as the head ghillie). On the larger Tweed beats, a ghillie is often referred to as a 'boatman'. The ghillie's job is to show you the water when you arrive, advise you on likely spots where fish may lie and the best tackle to use. He will then visit you from time to time during the day to see how you are getting on.
On some beats, the ghillie may stay with you for some or all of the day and if boats are available he may row you if it will increase your chances of catching a fish. Gillies are also responsible for making sure that you fish within the law and in compliance with relevant conservation agreements. Most can also assist with some casting tuition, but if this is required, please make sure you have spoken to the ghillie in advance.
It is normally expected that you should tip your ghillie at the end of your fishing.
What is involved in a day's fishing?
When you arrive at the beat, the ghillie will meet you, usually at the main hut at around 9am and help you set up your tackle and select a suitable fly. He will then show you where to start fishing and where to go for the rest of the morning. You will be expected to stop fishing for an hour at lunchtime, usually about 1pm, so please remember to take your own lunch!. He will then organise your afternoon session, often on a different part of the beat. At the end of the day, usually about 5pm, you meet again to tell him about any fish you may have caught and to find out how any other rods have got on.
I don't have any fishing tackle - what should I do?
Sometimes beats can lend you some items of tackle, however, you should not always rely on this. The best thing is to hire the appropriate equipment from a local tackle shop - these are listed on each river's 'Tackle advice' page. Tell the shop's proprietor where and when you are fishing and they will provide suitable equipment for you. The main problem will be how to pick up and return things before and after your fishing. Some shops may be able to deliver to your hotel for an extra charge.
What happens if the river floods or I have to cancel my fishing?
In line with general Scottish fishing practice, there are no refunds if the river floods. You still have the right to fish, although your ghillie may advise you that it is not worthwhile exercising this right. If he considers that it is not safe, he is entitled to refuse to take you out in a boat or to wade with you. Otherwise he is available to help as needed and will do his best to help get round the adverse conditions.
If you have to cancel your fishing, you do not get a refund, but FishScotland can attempt to relet the fishings for you and, given sufficient time, can often achieve results. Please note that there is a charge for this. Alternatively, you can get a friend to fish for you.
In the most unlikely event of the beat having to cancel your fishing, you will receive a full refund.