When fishing the fly from the bank on lochs, it is desirable to keep moving in order to cover as much water as possible. A boat is really an aid to achieving this. Traditional loch-style fishing from a boat, casting and retrieving a team of two or three wet flies on a steady drift (if necessary slowed down by the use of a drogue), is the most popular method.
Other tactics also have their merits. One of the most visually exciting is dapping- bouncing a large bushy fly on the surface by means of a section of very light silk-floss line fished on a long rod. In addition dry fly and nymph fishing (the latter fished on an intermediate line) have their place.
EARLY SEASON - MAY AND JUNE
This is when see the main run of MSW salmon. Weather and water can vary from warm and low to higher and colder so be prepared for both.The MSW salmon travel through the main beats relatively quickly at this time of year so I’d be inclined to fish something that will instantly attract them.
- Shrimp style flies or similar, sizes 6-10 or tube fly/conehead variants or small Templedog styles. Vary presentation.
- Sunray Shadow – 4-6inch wing. Fish is square and fast close to surface or deeper and slower in cold temps or very bright days.
With long daylight hours, pay attention to tides and overhead conditions. If you have hot sunny weather and morning and evening tides, then fishing during the middle of the day could be counterproductive. Also, if you have night-time tides, take great care on your first run through your selected pool in the morning.
MID SEASON – JULY AND AUGUST
At this point of the season we should be starting to see the grilse run appear with the peak of the run happening in August. July can still provide a few big MSW fish so always be prepared for this.
Grilse fishing is usually associated with small flies and fine leaders. This can be true, but as mentioned above, conditions will dictate what size of fly, not the fish itself.
In low warm water, which can happen at this time of year, come prepared to use small and very small flies. Riffle hitch or dibbling can also be effective under these conditions.
Recommendations here are :
- Shrimp style patterns – sizes 8-14
- Tubes and/or micro tubes/coneheads 0.25-0.5inch
- Sunray Shadow – 3-6inch wings – normally fished Square and Fast
As above, always pay close attention to overhead conditions and tides.
LATE SEASON - SEPT AND OCTOBER
This period of the season usually sees the pools starting to hold residents as well as some fresh fish continuing to enter the river. It can be quite frustrating to see fish in a pool and not get an offer. Resident fish can often switch off, especially in stable water and weather conditions. Sometimes a change of temp or barometric pressure, a rise in water or a change in light conditions can change their mood. Always look for these signs at any time of year! However if you see a pod of fresh fish enter your pool immediately start fishing. Not only will you have a chance of picking up a fresh fish but the residents will be disturbed and often react to a well presented fly.
September is a change-over month. It can be warm and sunny one year and cold and wet the next. October is typically colder and wetter. Come prepared for all conditions.
Recommendations for these months would be:
- Shrimp style patterns, maybe with orange as a more predominant colour – sizes 8-12s. Fish these mainly for fresher fish.
- Tubes/Coneheads – Templedog style, typically with a black wing – tube sizes 0.5-1inch with various wing lengths depending on water flow and colour.
- Sunray Shadow – as above. If you strip a sunray through a pool full of resident fish and it gets ignored, don’t try it again and again. Change fly. In my experience this fly is at its best when fresh fish are in your pool.
- Red Francis – 0.25in-1inch tubes or 8-10 doubles/trebles. Try fishing it deeper and slower….even cast upstream and dead drift with a lifting/jerking action.
- Stoats tail – micro tubes or 10-14 doubles/trebles. Can be fished in the glassier water near the surface. Again a J-curve presentation can be effective.