Archive for the ‘Tackle review’ Category

Willie Gunn

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

In the late 80,s I think it was when I first met Willie Gunn on the banks of the Brora I can even remember it was on the Ford pool.  I remember him as being a small weathered man getting on in years, Willie had been a ghillie on the Brora.  He talked about “backing up in the spring”. Some of these Brora pools are long and flat and the early spring fish would collect in the slower deeper water and the only way then to fish them was slow and deep was to “back up”. The pools in question were the likes of Rallan and Bengie and also probably the tail of the Madman.  Winters prior to the 80’s were much with sharp frosts which would keep the river low and slow the fish downand keep them in the lower river.

Rob Wilson  of  Brora  kept the tackle shop at the time he I believe first dressed the Willie Gunn and they sold them tied on Waddington shanks and even thick copper wire for the heavier ones formed as Waddingtons.  I bought some and then over the years made some, it was without a doubt a successful fly in fact I caught one of my better fish with one on the River Teith at 21lb, it worked a treat.  Over the years I had lost may way with Cascades and variants and have not used a Willie Gunn for some time, although even my cascades kept the basic colour concept of orange, black and yellow.

Now some of you may know that I help run the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, bagpipes if you are confused.  Well one of young stars happens to have a girl friend whose father just happens to run The Helmsdale Tackle Company.  How lucky is he attractive girl friend whose family run a tackle business in a fantastic part of the world.  Knowing that he had plans to visit them over Christmas I jokingly said (joking but always hoping he might want to oblige his boss) “bring me back a fly or two”.  Imagine my delight when he returned in the New Year with two beautifully tied Posh Willie Gunns Coneheads nicely boxed with treble included.

Posh Willie Gunn

Posh they certainly are with posh tosh opel mirage tinsel on the body.  The season opens again next week in my part of Scotland and I am planning to resurrect my interest in Willie Gunns especially the Posh version if you want to try one and do not tie then may advice is contact the Helmsdale Tackle Company with the link above.

New River, New Rod and Line

Friday, September 21st, 2012

I had an invite a couple of months ago to go and fish the Findhorn we booked and agreed the 13th September.  The day before arrived and I began to  doubt the sense of driving 3 hours there and back.  Nevertheless my host had taken the time and trouble to book the fishing and invite me so off I went leaving home at 5.30am.

My host Ian met me at Dulsie Bridge the gorge section of the river, turns out we were going to fish at the top of this section on the Cawdor Castle, Banchor beat.  This gorge on the Findhorn stretches from here down almost to Forres some 20 miles.

Looking upstream to the top of the beat. Suspension bridge that links to the east bank.

I new that the river would not be very wide so I was delighted to have taken my new Bob Meiser 13 ft which I had bought primarily for skagit casting from their Highlander Classic series.   Whilst I have no great opportunity to fish skagit  as a game angling instructor I needed to know about it and have the kit.  It does however give me the opportunity to have a set up which will enable me to fish in tight locations.  Instead of a skagit I have been linking this rod with a Rio, Scandi Short Versi Tip shooting head.  The rod is rate #6/7/8 with a grain window of 450 to 750 and this is a #8 weight line what can I say the versatility this outfit gives is amazing.

The rod itself is 4 piece with a through action it bends right down into the butt when using skagit lines.  It is not as light as some but extremely well put together and finished off.  At first I was not keen on the look of the part cork/composite handle but with time have grown accustomed to this finish.  The very distinctive jungle cock feather varnished into the butt section makes the rod easily recognisable as a Meiser.

Meiser Jungle Cock

Now for the scandi short line, it weighs in at 485 grains and is a #8 and it does exactly what it says in the packed and more.  Developed by Rio as a shooting head for smaller rivers and tight casting situations.  To be used with shorter double handed rods It comes as a kit and includes 4 interchangeable 10ft tips (Floating, Clear Intermediate, Type 3 Sink, Type 6 Sink).  The more, to me is that I have since used it on the Tay a big river and did not feel under gunned.  Ok you have to strip in a lot of running line but it works a treat.  I have tended to use the skagit where I have had clients who need to get spey casting in quick time.  This line is even better for this and I used it recently with a client planning a weeks fishing  and he asked to keep it for the week, so I hope to get it back!

Black and white pools

Now back to the fishing.  The river was running off after a little rain and looked as though it could maybe have done with a little more water.  Ian was quickly into a fish in the Buck pool which was quickly on and off.  He later told me that he has never managed to land a fish on this beat!  We fished on down the entire beat hoping from rock to rock.  If you are infirm in anyway this is not the beat for you.  Lunch was taken in the splendid hut available on the water and my host had made  a superb lunch including wine which I resisted as I knew I had a long drive home.

My host Ian in the Cow Pool

The afternoon was time for a fly change and I put a red francis tied on a size 10 long shank treble.  I had never used this fly before everyone said it was good but for some reason I resisted it, the limited colour I think put me off, being all red.

Red Francis

I could not understand why though as I had in the distant passed used natural dyed shrimps and GP’s.  As you might imagine it worked as I entered the big rock pool not the biggest fish in the world I would guess about 7lb but a nice clean fish for this time of year.

So there it is my first fish on this fly, on this river , on the line and on this rod always a joy.











As  a post script I was on the Tay a couple of days later and the red francis worked again this time on a fish that was approximately 17lb coloured as you can see,  on my Scott MacKenzie 15 ft partnered with another great line from Rio the AFS.

Tay Salmon approximately 17lb


I am told that the black francis will also work a treat but that might well be a step to far.

Thinkfish Automatic Reel

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Many years ago probably more than I care to remember when I started my game fishing career I used a French automatic reel.  It was good at the time I fished in Dorset on a lake and chalk stream.  I found the automatic reel to be great in that when I hooked a fish it very quickly got the line back on the spool and I was less likely to get snagged.  The downside to this particular reel was its weight, very heavy and occasionally it ran out of steam and you had to rewind it whilst trying to control a fish.

However despite the disadvantages I enjoyed using it and often hankered over owning another.  I can now confirm that I have one its called a Thinkfish Bold . Now this reel is very different beautifully made with aerospace aluminium which makes it incredibly light a great improvement on my earlier model, take a look below, this photo was courtesy of Jim Williams.

Thinkfish Bold Reel

Its a modern and very stylish piece of kit with a very contemporary design. This is a large arbour reel so has bags of capacity #6 with 60 metres of backing.  I have used it both from a boat and on a river and found it to be equally at home on either.  The absolute benefit is the way that you can retrieve line instantly no messing.  Here is some of the technical stuff that you might like to be aware of:

Construction: Aluminuim frame, spool & assembly, S/Steel gearing

Weight: 6.51 ounces

Diameter: 8.97cm

Retrieve Capacity: 1.2 meters by pull, ratio 1:5.5

Drag: Conic Multi disc

Line rating: up to #7

Backing Capacity: #5 = 100 mtrs, #6 = 60 mtrs, #7 = 30 mtrs

Spools are large arbor and easily changed with the press of a button.  The reel  comes with a  full replacement  guarantee in the event of failure in the first two years after purchase and unlimited free repairs (except for carriage costs) of any genuine defect from there on.

The reel lever distance from the rod handle can be adjusted with a simple saw tooth design on the reel seat allowing for different sized hands.  Generally whilst fishing though you are not aware of the reel lever until you catch a fish it is then that the rapid retrieve becomes apparent.