Winter Pike on the fly, what you will need, and my recommendations. 

Having the correct clothing when fly fishing in winter will definitely prolong your fishing hours. This includes headwear as you can lose up to 40% of your body heat through your head. 

A good pair of socks can also give you that little extra comfort.  

For me personally, I can highly recommend the Loop Onka Jacket, I have worn just about every brand over the last 30 years but this is one of the best and I would not change to anything else.

Onka Jacket

A waterproof wading jacket is a must as the Scottish Winter can be harsh and unforgiving. there are many good jackets out there but I would advise buying the best you can afford at that time.

Having the correct and best winter clothing is just as important as the tackle its self as this will allow the time out in harsh conditions while others pack up and go home.

Glasses, I will always wear glasses when fly fishing, this is not to look cool but to avoid getting the pike fly in my eye. It just takes the slightest mistake and hey ho, you have just lost an eye. 

It is always better to play safe and prevent any unwanted injuries to yourself or others fishing around you.

Rod and Line, Again I would buy the best that you can afford at the time of purchasing.  There are lots of pike flyfishing gear available to buy but some are better than others. I would read as many reviews as 

possible and get advice from guys or girls that have been fly fishing for pike for some time as they will have excellent knowledge of the equipment and their pitfalls. Some rods are more than capable of casting a nice line but 

will struggle to cast larger flies with wiggle tails so seek advice on your rod type before purchase. Some rod manufactures will have field centers around the UK where you will be able to try before you buy, this is always a great option for both beginner and experienced fly fishers.

I use the Loop Cross SW #9 and #10 weight 9ft fly rods as when they are matched with the right lines they will throw just about any fly with ease. There are of course other excellent brands available and this would be down to your personnel preference of rod manufacture and warranty offered by them. Be careful of lifetime warranty when buying curtain rods as when they state lifetime warranty it is not always as it seems. Loop does offer an excellent service and the aftercare is great. 

I would advise learning how to double haul when fly fishing for Pike as this will help with casting, for me it would be better to learn how to double haul on a trout rod first and then progress to the Pike rod as it will not so heavy on your arm. 

Once you have mastered the art of double hauling you will find casting pike flies so much easier and you will spend more time in the water and less time in the air.

Fly lines, these again are open to personal preference but I love the Sniper Lines as they are just so easy to get out with minimal effort and you can get a lot of distance with them. Combine the rod and line with double hauling and you will be throwing long lines with minimal effort and covering more water with the fly, hence a better chance of catching a Pike.

Tools, as long as you have a good pair of long nose pliers and a set of wire cutters you will be good to go. I use the pistol disgorger as it is easy to use quickly and the jaws will easily grab the fly and take the hook out. Again this is down to personal preference with tools etc but as long you are able to use them correctly without damaging the fish you will be fine.

The net, I use the Savage Gear large rubber net as I find it easy to transport as it folds up and it is easy to use. The rubber prevents damage to fish and if your hook gets caught it is easy to get out.

Leader, I will use a minimum of 30-pound Flouro about 3 to 4 ft with Rio pike wire again 30 pounds with a Rio size 2 fly clip for ease of changing flies. 

Flies, All my flies are from Stuart Smith Pike flies, he has tied all my flies for 10 plus years now and I have never had an issue with them. Again there are lots of good pike fly tiers out there so preference will take over on your choice of fly tier. Do not buy pike flies from Kenya as they are simply just rubbish and poorly tied. I know as to start with I thought I was getting a good deal but soon found out that they are just absolute rubbish. 

You will need a bag to put all this gear into and I would recommend a roll-top bag as this will stay dry even in the most severe weather. 

Landing matt is always a good idea as if you have to get the pike into the boat or the shoreline this will prevent any damage to the fish, I always have a carp keep net handy in case I need to rest the fish before a return as Pike can be hard fighting and I want to make sure it is fully rested before return.  As I am guiding every day there are a lot of fishers that would wish to have their picture taken with a large Pike so when I unhook the fish it goes straight into the keep net, when the guest is ready I will then lift out the pike and get a picture, this way the pike is not out of the water any more than absolutely necessary. 

Line tray is a must when out in the boat or shoreline as this will prevent tangles and standing your expensive line. It is also great for a windy day. Again they range in price from £20 to £55 pounds depending on the brand. I use the Snowbee line tray as it is right and hard-wearing. 

If you have any questions or would love to give Pike on the fly a go just give us a call and we can definitely get you out on the water. 


Adele and Donovan arrived in Scotland from England to achieve their ultimate goal of catching an Atlantic Salmon.

The week previous had been hard fishing due to limited water in the Rivers around Inverness, however, four days prior to their arrival we had rain and this allowed the rivers to rise thus allowing the Atlantic Salmon to make way up the Rivers to their spawning grounds.

I had a look at the River levels and luckily for us the river Findhorn had a good supply of water and was dropping again, we decided to look at several pools in the morning and watched the water for any sign of moving fish. The first pool we had checked showed no activity at all and had dropped in water level while we were there by a couple of inches.

We made our way further down the beat to the next pool and it was very active as we spotted three Salmon in the first few minutes of being there. We then decided to set up our Loop rods (14ft #9 Evotec Medium to Fast action) with floating lines and tied on two size 12 cascade flies tied by Sandy Howie. All our Salmon flies are hand-tied by professional fly tyers giving us a better presentation in the water.

I set Donovan up with his rod and he started to fish the tail of the pool as the flow of water looked good and we had seen one or two fish moving in the flow, Adele moved approx 40ft to his left and she started to cast over to and above a rock that we had seen fish sitting behind. 

It didn't take long for Adele as she hooked into her first Atlantic Salmon on the fly. A beautiful take and she lifted the rod asking what do I do next, I got her to keep the rod up and wind in the slackline keeping a firm line on the fish. The salmon took line and headed upriver towards Donovan, Adele could not believe the power of the Salmon as she stated that she was struggling holding onto the rod. Once she got to grips with allowing the rod and reel to do the work she finally started to bring the fish closer to the bank. The Atlantic Salmon decided to turn and go down the river so with Adele now on the bank we followed the fish and slowly gained ground. Now with Adele firmly in control, I walked below the Salmon and tailed it. The Hook was taken out and the fish stayed in the water, Donovan helped Adele secure the Salmon rod and she came down to inspect her catch, lovely colored Cock Salmon. A quick photo was taken and we returned the fish into the water. 

Next cast another Cock fish and Adele this time found it easier as she knew what to expect, again another quick picture and released.

Donovan had stood fast throughout the morning and perseverance had paid off as he hooked into an Atlantic Salmon within the next twenty minutes. Donovan a more experienced fisher but new to the fly had the Salmon on the bank in a few minutes. 

A great day had by all and a day that I will never forget as not just to catch one but three Atlantic Salmon in one day for my Guests was a remarkable achievement. 

While we promote Catch and Release or (C&R) in abbreviation, we also have to promote safe unhooking handling and other measures to ensure the best possible outcome for a stressed fish.

When fly fishing for Trout, Pike and Perch we will do our utmost to ensure fish welfare, on the odd occasion this can prove to be testing for both the fisher and the fish as not all techniques will run according to the "Rule Book". There are no such rules when practising catch and release as every fisher will have his own tested methods that suit him or her. Some fishers will go the absolute mile to make sure their fish is as safe as it can be but others feel that just unhooking a fish and putting it back without any care is just called catch and release. 

Because you have released the fish doesn't mean it will survive and the chances are that it will not. Water temperature has a high casualty rate and some fisheries will not allow catch and release when water is above a certain temperature as the lack of oxygen in the water will seriously reflect on the fishes health once released as the fish will have exerted as much energy as it can try to escape the recovery rate will be lower due to the fish not receiving the proper amount of oxygen. 

Handling fish incorrectly with dry hands and without a landing matt for Pike will again have severe effects ob the welfare of the fish. 

Barbed and barbless hooks can make a difference, bringing a fish onto a rocky surface by sliding it through the stones, crabbing and throwing it up the bank, putting pressure on its organs, ripping hooks out without due care and attention will all seriously have a dramatic effect on the welfare of fish. 

Catch and Release is a skill that has to be learnt over many years, having the correct equipment, such as long-nose pliers, snips, wire cutters, landing mats, antiseptic spray, keep nets and knotless rubber landing nets will certainly help fish with a great recovery rate. 

Bringing fish from depths can damage bladders, not giving the fish line but again giving it to much line again will have effects on the fish recovery time and potential problems for the fish.

Handling fish with dry hands for that shot of a lifetime is a death warrant for a fish, actually, any amphibian will have a protective layer over its body to stop any potential disease entering its system.

If you look around there are plenty of websites promoting all of the above to include Sean at who has recently written an article that covers all of above to include saltwater species.

His link is here:

The start of the Atlantic Salmon fishing season had its difficulties with travel restrictions, weather, and the severe loss of international fly fishers. 

The weather never really improved for most rivers and the lack of rain and constant high temperatures proved to be hard not only on the fishers but also on the Atlantic Salmon.

When the rain did come, it lasted two days at the best and caused unfishable high colored waters, so again, no great help for both fisher and fish. I think climate change is 

showing itself and giving us all a warning that we should take notice of.

Certain rivers have done better than others, with some producing high Salmon numbers and others very low compared to previous years. I have been lucky enough to have been invited to fish some amazing rivers with great Ghillies giving the very best of their knowledge and covered Salmon with every cast but they would not take it at all. So this season has been somewhat a bit of hit and miss depending on where you were actually fishing.

However, it wasn't all dome and glome as some of Atlantic Salmon guests have achieved the ultimate catch on the fly. Every single person who caught a Salmon this year with us was female and it was their first-ever fish of any species on the fly. They just arrived on the river and with some tuition and guidance from our guides, they had a fish on in less than an hour. I have always said that Females make better fishers than males but when it comes to Salmon there is definitely something about the lady fly fishers that attract the Cock Salmon.  

It is the best part of the day when you see one of your guests holding on to a 14ft Loop Salmon rod and talking them through the doe's and don'ts when they get over-excited, you tend to hold your breath while they fight the fish and breath again when you have it netted. 

It is a truly awe-inspiring moment when you see some land their very first Salmon.





Since the outbreak of Covid-19, we are looking into the future of fly fishing for 2020. 
Although we would imagine that the current situation will eventually ease off we expect that there will be reoccurring problems in the future. 
This devastating Virus has already killed thousands of people and will eventually destroy many small, medium and large businesses. This Virus is not limited to an individual or country, it has no rules of engagement or laws to abide and does not require a visa or passport to enter any country. 
How will this affect fly fishing Guides, Ghillies and Privately owned fishing beats?
In a very simple and concise answer, it will create unemployment, collapse of Businesses, a massive downturn in revenue for local villages, cities and towns. 
Fly fishing brings tourism, cash, temporary and fulltime employment. 
Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, Hire Cars, Fuel Stations, Cafe's, Castles and much more. So, as you see it's not just fly fishing, it is everything associated with the sport and the effect on local businesses. 
Ghillies are an important part of Salmon fishing and will make the difference between catching a fish and not catching a fish. Most Ghillies have been the Riverkeeper for many year's and depend on the tips from their daily fishing Guests. Their knowledge of their beats are second to none and will often share their knowledge and fly choice to give the fisher every opportunity to catch that elusive Atlantic Salmon. Every Atlantic Salmon caught will have a value to each beat as most beats are valued mainly on the average numbers of Salmon caught. This season will lower the average numbers and thus lower the value of the beats. 
The prospects for 2020 are still uncertain but eventually, we will all see light at the end of the tunnel and get back out on the water. 
I for one have never missed anything so much. the thought of getting back into waders and wading the rivers, lochs and streams in search of that mighty fish is warming to the heart. 
We are living a moment in history that will be recorded in the future. 
Stay indoors and clean your fly lines, tidy your fly box's and look forward to getting back out onto the water.
Tight Lines