The Dee is a wonderful fly fishing river. It is almost as if the river was designed for the purpose. The quality of fly fishing on offer throughout the Dee is excellent. The runs, glides and pool tails for which the river is famous provide the visiting angler with an exciting challenge. Fly fishing is much more user-friendly than it was 30 years ago. Modern tackle means that fishing with sunk lines and larger flies has never been easier.
The most commonly used on the river are double-handed fly rods. Rod lengths have got shorter in recent years and while the 15' rod remains the workhorse, particularly in spring, many anglers prefer to fish shorter rods early in the season. It is a matter of preference.
Once we get into the warmer months, rods in the 12'-14'range are most common. In low water, some anglers prefer the smaller switch style rods, which are around 11'. Stepping down a size from that, anglers often enjoy sport with sea trout and grilse with single handed fly rods of 9'-11' in length rated for 7-8 weight fly lines.
Large arbour type reels are popular. These should be loaded with at least 150 metres of backing line.
There is a tremendous choice of fly lines on the market. The most common ones seen on the Dee are short belly speylines - around 55'; shooting heads of varying lengths and skagits for fishing deep with big flies.
To keep things simple a floating line with a variety of tips and an intermediate line, also with tips, will cover most eventualities. More experienced anglers will fine tune their set ups to their own specifications.
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In the early season flies dressed on 1 1/4"- 2 " inch tubes of different weights are popular. The Willie Gunn and Black & Yellow are the most popular. Monkeys, Sunrays and Frances style flies such as the Franc N Snaelda are also early season favourites. As the water warms, the size of flies get smaller and these lightly dressed flies are fished close to the surface. A full page of flies for the Dee can be found here
New 'deadly' fly patterns emerge each year but there are some established flies which seem to work well year-in and year-out. The popular patterns are Silver Stoat's Tail, Park Shrimp, Gold Willie Gunn, Crathie fly, Tosh, Ally's Shrimp and Flamethrower to name but a few. Variants such as cone heads, nymphs and microtubes can be utilised to good effect depending on the conditions.
Always listen to your ghillie's advice. Dee ghillies are experts; they know the river, the best lies and how to fish each pool to best effect.
If you don't have your own tackle, it can be hired from
Somers Fishing Tackle
Aberdeen’s premier tackle shop, and first port of call when fishing the Dee, Don or Ythan. Our expert staff, anglers themselves will help you in every aspect of your day's enjoyment. We stock all major brands in fishing tackle. We also offer a “River delivery service” for anglers fishing the Dee or the Don for those emergency requirements.
Tel (44) 1224 210008
Strachan's of Deeside is a licensed grocery business offering a superb range of freshly made sandwiches and refreshments for visiting angler. Anglers in the middle and upper beats of the Dee are served by both the Aboyne and Ballater stores. There is a good range of fishing equipment including locally tied flies, waders and other fishing equipment in their Aboyne store.
Tel: (+44) 1339 886121
Some beats offer tackle hire, but you should not rely on this and it is always worth enquiring about in advance of coming to the river.