Items filtered by date: April 2020

Fenion’s fancy

Mick Fenion is known as a trout fly specialist when it comes to tying, so we asked him what he liked to fish. “Wickham’s Fancy is my definite favourite fly,” he said, “on river, loch or stillwater - especially when olives are about.”

Wickham’s Fancy
Tyer: Mick Fenion

Tail: Red cock
Rib: Gold wire
Body: Flat gold, pearl or lure flash (“I try then all”)
Body hackle: Red cock
Head hackle: Red cock
Wing: Mallard duck wing quills

One for the trout angler's box

A good bunch of flies

Here is something different from well-known Inverness angler and fly tyer, Graham MacKenzie - a Bunch of Bananas. It is Graham’s take on the Swedish pattern developed by Mikael Andersson. The fly has featured in the Trout & Salmon column of Ross Macdonald, another well known tyer who hails from Inverness.
The fly in the foreground of the picture is the actual fly that accounted for two springers for Graham before the Covid-19 lockdown.

A Bunch of Bananas
Tyer: Graham MacKenzie

Dressing: Hook or tube
Body: Globrite No 9 fluo yellow floss, cover with large flat mirage opal tinsel, tie off with the floss.
Rib: Gold wire or a coat of Hard As Nails varnish leaving room for wings and hackles. When dry catch in yellow tying thread. Wing One: Yellow Arctic Fox about the length of body with four strands of flash over
First hackle: Three turns ‘soft’ yellow cock feather wound on
Wing Two: Burnt or dirty yellow Racoon hair or yellow buck tail (the darker stuff from the front of the tail). Tie in longer than wing one with two strands of flash over
Second hackle: Three turns golden olive "soft" cock feather wound on
Eyes: Jungle cock if you wish
Head: Clear varnish over yellow tying thread. Add a gold cone if tying a tube for spring and high water fishing.

A tasty bunch!

Pigs that fly!

The development of the Pot Belly Pig is attributed to Peter Whittingham when he worked as a ghillie on the Ness Castle Beat of the River Ness. And it has proved itself over many years. Peter gave Mick Fenion a couple of the flies at the Little Isle one night and this is Mick's version of the fly.

Pot Belly Pig
Tyer: Mick Fenion

Tube: Half inch brass
Thread: Brown
Tag: Oval silver
Tail: Boar bristle feelers, polar bear underfur and two strips gold Krystal Flash
Cloaking: Red cock at rear
Body: Mix of orange and brown dubbing with a bit of glister
Rib: Oval silver
Hackle: Red cock


The pig performs

Takes two to tango!

Another tying of the Kinermony Killer has come in from Jamie Urquhart, a committed salmon angler and enthusiastic member of the fly tying fraternity. His development of his tying skills at the close season Cascade Fly Tying group is exemplified by this tying of Jock Royan’s invention.

A superb tying of a challenging fly

A challenging pattern

Accomplished fly tyer Jimmy Stewart continues the ‘lockdown’ series of patterns with the Kinermony Killer - a colourful pattern designed by Jock Royan, a ghillie on the Kinermony beat of the River Spey. It’s a challenging fly to tie but it has a solid reputation for catching fish on many rivers.

Kinermony Killer
Tyer: Jimmy Stewart

Hook: Salar double
Thread: Red
Tag: Small oval silver
Tail: Orange and yellow buck tail mixed
Rib: Oval silver
Body: Holographic silver half way
Mid hackle: Yellow cock hackle
Body: Black floss with silver rib
Head hackle: Hot orange with two strands of pearl crystal hair
Wing: Black with blue hackle over
Cheeks: Jungle cock
Head: Two or three turns of crystal hair tied in with red tying silk

A colourful challenge

Salmon catch statistics released

Statistics released by the Scottish Government show that the rod catch of wild salmon (retained and released) in 2019 totalled 47,515. This was 97 per cent of the previous five-year average and the fourth lowest since records began in 1952. The proportion of the rod catch accounted for by catch and release is among the highest recorded. In 2019, 98 per cent of rod caught spring multi sea-winter fish (taken before 1 May) were released, as were 92 per cent of the annual rod catch.

Although there is some indication that the spring catch has stabilised in recent years, it remains at a low level. Overall, the rod catch in later months generally increased up to 2010. It fell sharply over the next four years, before recovering slightly in 2015 and 2016. It fell again in 2017 and 2018, but increased slightly in 2019.

Information on rod effort, recorded for the first time in 2019, provided data on 84 per cent of returned catch forms and represented a total effort of 194,050 rod days. The government is to determine the best way to include effort into methods used to estimate the conservation status of salmon stocks.

Memorable: Maz Stephen with his mighty frish from July, 2019

A fly is born

In normal circumstances, Chris Bruce puts in the time on the club water and gets his fair share of fish. His development of the Paintbrush Fly has brought considerable success, including a Findhorn springer of 42 inches in April of 2014.
Chris named the fly with the help of Mike Campbell. After showing him the fly, which had just caught two fish, Mike said: “I’m off to B&Q to buy some paint brushes.” And so the Paintbrush Fly was born.

The Paintbrush Fly
Tyer: Chris Bruce

Tube: Plastic 1- 1.1/2 inch 
Body: Large opal mirage tinsel (varnish for longevity)
Wing: Orange and black Arctic fox tail (strip out short hair) and add some crystal flash
Hackle: Fluorescent orange Chinese cock neck
Head: Orange conehead (suggest brass but weight to tyer’s preference Tubing: Black silicon
Tying tip: Best tied as big as possible

The Paintbrush

Magazine offer

Many anglers are filling in ‘lockdown’ time by sorting out their gear - stripping old flies to re-use hooks and tackling essential rod and reel maintenance. In doing so, Inverness Angling Club secretary Steve Black has come across some two years worth of Trout and Salmon magazines which he is willing to pass on to anyone interested. It’s on a first come, first served basis by message to the club web site This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A fly for every box

Most anglers have favourite flies which have been tried and tested over many years, and delivered fish at different times of the season. The Fiery Ally is one of Mike Campbell’s favourites for grilse, using materials in fluorescent red colourings he has developed and dyed over the years. The fly, says Mike, has brought him many grilse over many seasons.

The Fiery Ally
Tyer: Mike Campbell

Tag: Silver wire
Tail: Fiery red racoon hair
Body: Flat silver tinsel
Rib: Medium silver oval tinsel
Wing: Small amount grey squirrel top and bottom with fiery red GP tippet over
Hackle: Fiery red badger
Tying tip: Keep this fly very lightly dressed

A Campbell special

Covid19 - A fly for life

John Sutherland, son of famed Helmsdale ghillie Johnny ‘Hardy’ Sutherland, is a regular visitor to the Sutherland village from work, home and family in Asia. But on this occasion he was caught out by the cancellation of travel and could not make the return flight. To fill in the time he has been tying salmon flies, passing the 400 mark which, he says, should see him through a few seasons.

Like many he had thought about the tragic consequences Covid19 is having on people in all walks of life and asked: “What small part could I, or we, play in funding the NHS or any other worthwhile charitable organisation which is currently struggling?” That’s where the idea of the Covid19 fund raising fly came from.

The pattern is associated with nature’s colouring - yellow for hope, orange for enthusiasm, red for blood, green for growth and new beginnings after Covid19, pink for femininity and mother earth, purple for ambition for the future, black for death, gold for prosperity and wealth (good health being wealth) and silver for creativity.

John explains: “Ideally, I'll initially tie these flies to cater for any local demand. Thereafter, it would be good if angling shops have their suppliers tie these in bulk and have flies sitting at check out areas of their shops, clearly visible as promoting a good cause, and in online shopping sites. Cost per fly would be decided by each business. For those supplied by me I'd suggest a donation of £5 per fly. The most popularly requested charity would to be funded through this initiative.”

John can be contacted by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Support for those in need

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