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Tackle advice

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.

Reels and 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.

Flies to bring

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. 

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.

While everyone has their own favourites, we have listed a small selection of flies for the Dee on this page.





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.

Local Tackle suppliers

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.

TwinPeakes FlyFishing, Banchory.


Definitely not your ‘run of the mill’ fly shop!  You can try before you buy at our tackle testing facility next to the river – in fact, we encourage you to do so.   

We’ve used our vast knowledge and experience to carefully select our favourite and most utilised tackle and clothing that we wouldn't be without on the river.  You won't find 20 options of the same thing, just a curated selection of products that we know and trust from the very best suppliers.  

We can advise on the most suitable tackle and gear to make your time on the water not only more productive but as enjoyable as possible. 

Will: +44 (0) 7766548708 or email [email protected]


The Dee has produced many famous flies over the years and names such as the Mar Lodge and Blue Charm are etched into the history of the river. In more recent times modern flies such as the Stoat’s Tail, Dee Monkey, Park Shrimp and Franc N Snaelda have also emerged from the Dee and have gone onto enjoy success throughout the salmon fishing world.

DID YOU KNOW? The Stoat’s Tail, one of the most famous salmon fly patterns in the world, was created by Park ghillie, the late George Cooper.

Tosh / Black and Yellow

The Tosh, or Black and Yellow as many anglers call it, is a very simple fly and one which has stood the test of time as a spring fly on the Dee. It accounts for a large part of the catch in February and March. The fly is all about contrast and fishes best deep and slow. Dress it on aluminium or copper tubes in a range of sizes from 1"-2" and be confident of success.

Willie Gunn

This north Highland pattern is an all-time classic, which has a strong following on Deeside. The Gold bodied Willie Gunn is arguably the most popular spring fly in Scotland at this time of year. It is a brighter alternative to the Black and Yellow and can work wonders if there is a bit of colour in the water.

Dee Monkey

The Dee Monkey was created in the 'noughties' by Danish angler Jimmi Lauridsen. It has gone to almost universal acclaim, not only on the Dee, but throughout Scotland. It combines the favourite colour combination of black and yellow with a deadly long wing. It is not just a fly for springers and will take fish throughout the season. Don’t leave home without one.

Franc N Snaelda

The Franc N Snaelda is a very popular pattern from Sean Stanton, Head Ghillie at Ballogie. It is a twist on Icelandic legends, the Frances and the Snaelda, and combines elements of both these hugely successful patterns. Sean has experimented and finely tuned his way of tying and fishing the FnS. The action of the fly in the water and the method of presentation have combined regularly to take fish from pools which have yielded nothing to the conventionally fished fly.


Sunray Shadow

A simple yet deadly fly on the Dee, especially as the water begins to warm in April. These are fished 'on the swing' when water temperatures remain cold and are also stripped across pools stimulating the Salmon’s aggression, making for what can often be spectacular takes.

Crathie Fly

The Crathie has been a popular choice for Dee anglers for over forty years and remains an important fly in the late spring and summer months when it is fished on the full floater with a long leader. It was created by Dee veteran Tommy Saville, who named it after the beat he loves. A correctly tied Crathie should have a beard hackle dressed the same length as the wing, with both hugging the shank of the hook.

Stoat's Tail

The Stoat, or 'the wee black flee as it is described on Deeside, really comes into its own when the water warms up and the fish are more apt to come up for a small fly. Created by the late George Cooper, who was the ghillie at Park, it is the quintessential floating line fly. In May and June this classic pattern is at its best while anglers fish on warm evenings looking for late running springers and the first of the grilse and sea trout. The Silver Stoat is equally, if not more popular and with a couple of jungle cock cheeks, it is also a favourite for sea trout.

Park Shrimp

The Park Shrimp is named after the famous beat on the lower Dee and was created by Ross Macdonald in 2007. It works well throughout the season on tubes, coneheads and small doubles. It is particularly effective when there is a touch of colour in the water. The highly mobile tail gives the fly a lifelike quality, which is irresistible to fresh salmon and grilse.

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