Deadly Salmon Flies
By Jock Monteith 16th April 2021
The problem today with Scottish salmon flies is that there are far too many choices! If your water coverage is good and you've worked out the optimal depth for the swim of your fly the most important component you can have tied into any salmon fly is faith!
The 'Copperass' Salmon Fly
This perfect little Ally's Shrimp 'Cascade' hybrid is what I personally fish with most of the time. My late mentor Willie 'the ghillie' Laird on the Tay always selected copper whenever consulted when he saw it on a lure or fly. A couple of long gold holographic tinsel strands tied in to the wing enhances the natural waggle of the Arctic fox wing & tail and you can rest assured it's going to get sub surface attention!
The Blue Charm Salmon Fly
This absolute killer salmon fly was historically the 'only choice' on the entire west coast of Scotland before the fish farms moved in and completely destroyed these once prolific wild salmon & sea trout Scottish assets. These days this pattern is seldom seen but you'll see it on my rod during early Summer when older more educated salmon are needing a more subtle approach. I recall the magnificence of the glory days on the River Fyne in the early 70's when a slow start to the day was 6 'charmed' salmon before lunchtime!
The Silver Stoat Salmon Fly
This wee beastie is another lethal pattern through the low water bright Summer light days and should be a member of any serious salmon angler's fly box. I've even seen this pattern even work when served with 4 or 5 fibres in the wing while fishing the alopecia version! This fly caught famous UK fisherman Keith Arthur his first ever salmon after 10 minutes with me following several years of trying with other guides. I also vividly recall landing my first ever salmon for a guest on the Tay's Newtyle Beat during the summer of 1976 which was hooked on this deadly pattern in exceptionally bright light conditions.
The Jock's Shrimp Salmon Fly
While working as a ghillie on the Tay I conjured up this pattern and tested in for 3 seasons before unleashing it in other salmon anglers fly boxes. It got to a point where even the very best salmon anglers like Paul Young were swearing it was the only fly to use and ordering them by the dozen. It's still as deadly now as it was back in 2005 and a dead cert for a salmon from late Summer to fishing down deep with the tube fly version during late Autumn. Others have changed it's name and ignored some of its vital dressing ingredients however in Scotland that can be the very 'endorsement' you're looking for!
Trust Your Ghillie's Judgement
Personally I've done it all when it comes to observing salmon behaviour from climbing up trees with my polaroid glasses and watching salmon coming to inspect & often 'shy away' from an angler's fly to crawling through thick undergrowth to stick my head through the riverside bracken to observe fish on their lies and how they respond to the nearby movement of a fly. In actual fact I was probably a salmon in a past life as I've been completely obsessed with the sport since my boyhood days. The above salmon fly patterns are all deadly serious players and if you're fishing with colleagues who may get upset when you consistently go 2 or 3 up then ease off on their use!
Properly Tied Salmon Flies
If you're struggling for time or the correct materials and don't want to be showing salmon the same old foreign mass production stuff then the chap I use when I need additional quality tied salmon flies is Danny McLaughlin who's become a great friend over the last 20 years since meeting him on the Tay. Danny not only ties magnificent salmon flies but teaches fly tying too. All the patterns in the above shots are his fine work and I always have complete faith when swimming his flies as do all of the salmon fishers who he supplies. If you want expertly tied & non mass produced salmon flies that catch fish Danny can be contacted directly on; email@example.com or by tel; on + 44 (0)7446 353058.