The article will help you identify some of the best trout flies for Scotland.
Scotland offers a wealth of trout fishing, in rivers, lochs and trout fisheries. You can fish for wild brown trout, rainbow trout and sea trout. In fact, in Scotland, there are over 30,000 lochs to choose from. There are also thousands of rivers, including the big 4, the River Tay, River Tweed, River Dee and River Spey.
I confess to being a trout fiend, and obsessed with tackle and flies. I have too many flies, yet am constantly looking to acquire more. I’m also learning of new patterns from fellow anglers and fishing guides.
If I turn up to a river or loch feeling like I don’t have the right flies for the day. It makes me feel like a soldier sent into battle with a cap-gun!
Over the last 18 years of guiding though, I’ve come to realise, that I could probably condense my favourite flies into one small box. These are flies that consistently catch me fish. I’m sure everyone has their own selection and the choices would differ. I’ve fished for trout for 45 years, and the best patterns rarely change.
This article will reveal the my 3 best trout flies in Scotland and where and when you would use them.
Wild Brown Trout – Blue Olive Dun
It is very easy for me to think of the go-to pattern for wild browns. This is a fly I have used in the Highlands of Scotland, and the rivers, throughout. It has caught more fish for me than any other. My go-to fly pattern is an Olive Dun. You can see how to tie it here. Davie McPhails Olive Dun
This pattern is simple to tie and the common mistakes many people fall into, is over complicating the pattern and over dressing it. Most of the time, the fish will see the profile or silhouette of the fly, so size and profile is critical and this is where Davie McPhails experience comes to the fore. I commonly fish 12, 14 and 16’s. Size 14 is the most common.
The Olive Parachute Dun is another highly effective fly. The pink post helps this small fly to be seen. Here is an instruction on how to tie their fly, by our guide Cuillin Rae.
A trout fly that covers many insects
Davie McPhails Olive Dun is a good fly pattern, even when they are not hatching. Trout will take this fly, as it provokes a conditioned feeding response and confident take. We also the these flies in a variety of colours, as the natural olive varies in shades from orange to yellow and olive. In the winter in Scotland, olives are much smaller.
This pattern will also mimic an LDO and March Brown, therefore it pays to carry a wide range of sizes.
Effective nymphs and trout flies for river fishing in Scotland
If you are Euronymphing or fishing clink and dink, or dry dropper, then here are a few nymphs that are very effective in Scottish rivers.
It always amazes me how simple and small nymphs can be to catch trout. We prefer sparsely tied patterns with muted colours. One of our go to patterns on all waters is the classic pheasant tail nymph. We prefer them tied using a melanistic pheasant tail, which is dark and iridescent. If you are prospecting for trout and wondering what they are feeding on, this is a real confidence pattern.
Hares earn nymphs are highly effective in Scotland. These are best tied sparsely, and simply. The nymphs bought in shops tend to be bulky and over dressed.
The best trout flies for loch fishing
Scotland has over 30,000 lochs (lakes) that contain a good population of Brown Trout. The genetic origins of these fish, can date back to the ice age. Some lochs that didnt hold fish, were later stocked using Loch Leven strain brown trout.
The tactic for fishing a loch is universal in Scotland. We fish a team of 2 or 3 surface flies, tied in a paltered type body. These are fished with a floating line. When fishing lochs in Scotland, the shoreline is best. It’s best to keep on the move, and cover as much water as possible. Casting to the same spot several times is unproductive.
The loch trout are opportunistic and will grab at a terrestrial fly aggressively.
One of our favourite patterns is a classic, Kate McLaren.
The fly was tied by John Robertson in the 1930’s. He names the fly after the wife of John McLaren (Kate) who ran the Kinlochewe Hotel near Loch Maree. This is a highly effective fly fished on the top dropper, in a team of flies.