Items filtered by date: April 2020

A first for Graham

Club member Graham Ross has tied an Ally's Shrimp ss his contribution to the 'lockdown' series. The fly has a great record, just like the Cascade - also invented by Ally Gowans of Pitlochry. 

Graham developed his fly tying skills at the club fly tying group. But it is the first time he has tied this particular fly, following a step-by-step guide received during his visits to the class.

Ally's Shrimp
Tyer: Graham Ross

Thread: Red
Tail: Small bunch of hot orange buck tail
Rib: Oval silver tinsel
Body: Rear half red floss, front half black floss
Underwing: Natural grey squirrel tail
Overwing: Golden pheasant tippets
Beard hackle: Natural grey squirrel tail
Hackle: Long hot orange cock
Head: Red varnish

A good first tie

Historic fly

The Hairy Mary has taken a productive place in the fly boxes of most anglers, and continues to do so. Some reports claim it originated on the River Dee but most attribute its design to Inverness tackle dealer and IAC member Johnny Reidpath in the 1950s. 

It’s a significant fly, the first of the modern hair wing flies. In a real sense, it changed the face of fly tying, marking the move from complex flies of mainly feather construction. Material was more widely available and less expensive. Simpler techniques made it possible for more anglers to tie their own flies.

The late John Cathcart fell heir to a box of Hairy Mary’s tied by Reidpath in the early 1960s. After John died, his widow Anna passed them to your scribe. The picture below shows that the fly was still in development, some replacing the traditional brown wing with black and the blue hackle with orange. The dressing here is the traditional pattern.

The Hairy Mary
Tyer: Johnny Reidpath

Tag: Oval gold tinsel
Tail: Yellow hackle fibres or GP topping
Rib: Oval gold tinsel
Body: Black floss
Throat hackle: Mid blue cock
Wing: Barred brown squirrel or fine brown buck tail
Head: Black

The Reidpath heritage

The Frances

As one of the most experienced anglers in Inverness Angling Club, and with a background in professional fly tying, Mike Campbell knows a thing or two about flies and what works. His choice for the 'lockdown' series is the Frances which he describes as a great low water fly on the River Ness. His tip is to add a bit of weight, with lead or tungsten being his favourites.

The Frances
Tyer: Mike Campbell

Feelers: Four centre hackles (spines), two brown, two white
Tail: Brown calf tail or pheasant tail feathers
Rear body: Red wool
Centre hackle: Brown
Front body: Red wool
Rib: Medium gold oval tinsel
Head: Red

A trusty fly

The Chartreuse Cascade

Sandy Howie has been tying flies for many years, recently creating his own hobby business of ASH Handtied Flies. He has fished all over the North of Scotland, in the Western Isles and is currently vice chair of the River Spey Anglers Association. He enjoys passing on his skills to both experienced and new tyers at various events.

He submits, for our lockdown fly feature, the Chartreuse Cascade, explaining: “I was playing with colours one night and knew that chartreuse was a popular colour for salmon so replaced the orange on the standard Cascade with it. The fly can be fished in clear water but also when there is a touch of colour in it. The fly actually took a fish on its first outing, on the River Ewe. Just before lunch I had a few quick casts in the Lower Narrows. After three casts I hooked into a fresh summer salmon of 17lbs on the fly.“

The Chartreuse Cascade
Tyer: Sandy Howie

Hook: Patriot Silver any size
Thread: Optional. I use Semperfli Nano silk 12/0
Tag and Rib: Oval silver matching hook size
Tail: Mix of sunburst yellow and chartreuse bucktail tied long with three strands of pearl Krinkle Flash on top
Body: Mirage tinsel in two layers. Once body applied and rib secured apply a coat if clear varnish or superglue to strengthen
Wing: Black hair. I use squirrel
Hackle: Two turns of Chartreuse saddle with two turns of Sunburst yellow in front
Head: Black

Sandy's catcher

A legendary fly

This tying of the Black Shrimp is contributed by Ian Woolley, one of the patterns he tied during the course of the Cascade fly tying group. It is a fly which has gained legendary status on the River Ness - and further afield. 

It was developed by leading Inverness angler John Cathcart in memory of his friend Steve Fraser Jnr, who died in a tragic accident in September, 1965. It combines elements of the Sweep, fished by Steve, and the Shrimp, fished by John - both flies securing many salmon for the pair in more plentiful times.

And so the Black Shrimp was born, catching hundreds of fish for John. His best was 13 in a day on the Dochfour beat of the Ness and 51 in three weeks on the club water. John passed away in June 2007, aged 73. His achievements live on each time a Black Shrimp is tied.

The Black Shrimp
Tyer: Ian Wooley

Hook size: 12 to 2 double or treble
Tag: Five turns silver wire
Tail: Long fibres of black cock hackle or, for larger sizes, black squirrel tail
Body: Rear half yellow floss, ribbed silver oval tinsel
Middle hackle: Orange cock
Front half body: Black floss, ribbed silver oval tinsel
Cheeks: Jungle cock (half length of hook), one each side at top
Hackle: Long black cock hackle
Head: Black varnish

The stuff of legends

Blast from the past!

Here’s something different from top tyer David Mateer who describes it as a blast from the past - the Akroyd, a River Dee fly also known as the poor man's Jock Scott. 

“The Akroyd was also used on the Spey,” says David. “It's tying is very similar to Spey style flies, with low wings and long thin hackles. Another feature of Spey flies is that Jungle Cock cheeks are often tied in facing downwards. 

“More and more tyers are tying classic salmon flies these days. The Akroyd is mainly black and yellow, therefore should be a good early season salmon fly. Why not give it a go!”

The Akroyd

Tyer: David Mateer 

Hook: Large single

Thread: Black and yellow

Tag: Silver oval tinsel and yellow floss or silk

Tail: Two Golden Pheasant crests and orange tippet over

Body: Seals fur, rear half yellow, front half black. Yellow cock hackle palmered over the yellow seals fur

Rib: Medium flat silver

Hackles: Rear black Rhea or black pheasant rump, front teal 

Wing: Brown or cinnamon turkey slips. Jungle Cock cheeks slooping downwards

Head: Black

Tying tips: Use yellow thread for the rear half of the body and black thread for the rest


Charming variant

A variant of the traditional Blue Charm, similar to the Logie Charm, is one of Kenny Mackenzie’s favourite patterns to tie. “I often use variations in body colour and material just to give the standard pattern (ie black) a bit more glitz,” says Kenny. “I don’t know if it helps but it's more fun to tie. The colour and material combinations are endless. These flies have worked for me early in the morning, especially in the General’s Well.”

Blue Charm (Variant)

Tyer: Ken Mackenzie

Hook: Size 3 Salar single (as pictured), or 6 or 8 singles or doubles

Thread: Black

Butt: Medium oval silver tinsel

Tail: Two Golden Pheasant crest feathers with optional red dyed crest feather on top

Front Body: Yellow floss

Rear body: Red floss

Rib: Medium oval silver tinsel

Hackle: Blue Schlappen feather, wound (fairly long, adds mobility)

Under Wing: Natural squirrel

Wing: Doubled left and right bronze Mallard feathers (doubled adds strength and holds shape better)

Eyes: Jungle Cock

Head: Black

Colour and movement

The Cascally

Lawrence Deans shares a fly which has worked well for him over many years. He writes: “Based on the killer Cascade and Ally’s Shrimp salmon flies, I call it the Cascally - along similar lines to Davie McPhail’s tying of the Comally, a Comet and Ally’s Shrimp cross. I hope you like it.”

The Cascally

Tyer: Lawrence Deans

Tag: 3 turns oval silver

Tail: Fine hot orange bucktail with two strands Krystal Flash

Rear body: Flat silver tinsel

Front Body: Black floss

Rib: Oval tinsel

Underwing: Fine black bear with one strand Krystal Flash

Overwing: Hot orange dyed tippet feather

Hackle: Two turns fluo yellow cock and two turns hot orange cock on top

Head: Black

A cross of two famed flies

River remains closed

In line with efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Inverness Angling Club announced the closure of its fishings on the River Ness on March 26. At that time the club undertook to review the situation within three weeks.

President Alex Elliott confirmed today: ”In line with Government instructions, the river will remain closed until further notice. All of us are facing a unique situation in which the important instruction is:


The Ness fly

Club member George MacDonald sent in this fly which incorporates all the colours of the IAC logo, including the 2017 centenary logo. Said George: “This was the original Ness club fly tied by Graham MacKenzie after a brief discussion of the idea down at the Little Isle hut, and kindly presented to me.”

Ness IAC Salmon Fly

Tyer:  Graham MacKenzie

Thread: Black

Tag: Oval silver

Tail: (Layered) Black bucktail then 1/2 strands silver Krystal Flash, yellow bucktail then 1/2 strands gold Krystal Flash and blue bucktail over

Body: Rear half, flat holographic silver. Front half, black floss 

Rib: Oval silver

Under wing: Yellow Arctic Runner, 2 strands gold Krystal Flash

Top Wing: Black Arctic Runner, two strands silver Krystal Flash

Throat: Blue cock hackle

Head: Black varnish

A fly for a club

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