Here we give advice on wild trout fishing in Scotland to anglers who are already trout fishers. For those who have never fished for trout before, please go to our New to Trout page. For advice on other types of fishing go to the Sea trout, Stocked trout and Grayling pages.
Those who fly-fish for wild trout on the rivers of England and Wales will be well equipped for Scottish rivers. The same techniques that are favoured in the lower reaches of for instance the rivers of south-west or northern England are applicable to the low lying sections of Scotland's rivers. Similarly anyone used to fishing for instance the rivers and streams of Dartmoor, the Pennines or upland Wales will feel entirely at home on the upper reaches of the Tweed, Tay and Spey systems, as well as the smaller Highland rivers and burns.
Those familiar with boat fishing on the larger lakes and reservoirs of England and Wales will soon adapt to Scottish lochs. All but the very smallest of lochs are better tackled from a boat. Loch-style fishing was originally developed in Scotland but in the last half century it has also become commonplace on the bigger stillwaters south of the border. The boat is held at an angle of 90 degrees to the wind and up to three anglers fish downwind of the boat. In a strong wind or wave someone on the oars is a great advantage in terms of holding the boat in position. Particularly on larger expanses of water anglers should be aware that very strong winds can develop in a matter of minutes.
Scottish loch anglers usually fish a team of three flies. False casting is avoided, as achieving great distance is rarely necessary. Anglers concentrate on presentation and covering the water methodically through a rhythm of single cast and retrieve. If possible the dropper fly should be allowed to skim along on the surface, creating a wake and bouncing enticingly from wave to wave; this will often induce a take as it approaches the boat.
'Reading' a loch
One of the most important skills is the ability to 'read' a Highland loch and this is easily done with a large-scale map or indeed by simple observation of the pattern of contours close to the loch. Although inevitably there are exceptions, generally speaking the shallower lochs contain far better trout. Such lochs provide a far more generous better food supply than those with deep cold water. Obviously some lochs contain both deep and shallow water, in which case angling effort should be concentrated on the shallower water or its margins.
Whilst it is legal to fish for brown trout on Sundays, in some areas it is frowned upon; do show sensitivity in these circumstances.