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Willie Gunn 03-19-2003 03:04 PM

Ok I'm halfway through my spring week on the Spey. Conditions are taxing to put it mildly. There is a high centered over the UK.
The water is low +6" on summer level I expected 2 feet. The water temperature is 38 F The air temperature starts at 27F and goes up tp 70. The weather is bright and sunny.

Water temperature suggests a fast sinking line/tip with a big fly but there is not enough depth. Overhead conditions suggest a floating line and a small fly.

As you might have guessed neither works neither does the middle route. I have tried the sensible big fly in the morning /evening floater and small fly mid day nothing. I have a severe case of sun burn.

I know it is called fishing not catching BUT I'm running out of ideas. The scenery is spectacular as is the wildlife but I need a fish.


pmflyfisher 03-19-2003 03:35 PM


Whats the water clarity ?

If clear, small dark weighted nymph (what ever is the preferred one for Spey) fished on long leader deep and slow.

Fish the shaded pools and structure.



PM Out

Otherwise put one of those big streamers I sent you, you may wake them up and get a big surprise.

Willie Gunn 03-19-2003 04:34 PM

Water Clarity, like gin.

Tried the Collie Dog (wake fly) trick this afternoon, I'm glad we are thinking along the same lines. Bear in mind there might not be fish in all or any of the pools. There has only been 90 or so fish taken off the whole system.


pmflyfisher 03-19-2003 04:39 PM


I thought you might have one of the hip mounted side scan fish finder radars, like some affluent anglers (not me) are purported to have.

This way you only fish the pools which have fish, a novel idea !

Good luck, just don't give up, think of all the great exercise and fresh air you are getting flinging the spey equipment. Good upper body work out. Might want to try the scottish mouth wash for luck also during the day.



PM Out

P.S. Dark nymphs drifted deep and slow

removed_by_request 03-19-2003 07:39 PM

It's not traditional, but some small rock worm like fly is killer on steel in cold clear H2O.

Perhaps something tied in a smaller size like a 7 or possibly smaller hook. My only exposure to them proved the fish to be fussy. Saw a guy hit one on a smelt pattern while fishing the St. Marys river, this was in cold clear water.

Whatever happens time in the water sure as hell beats time 6' under the soil.

Topher Browne 03-19-2003 10:34 PM

Greetings Willie Gunn,

Some words from Frederick Hill on the Dee, yet, perhaps, equally applicable to the Spey:

"The greased line can be very profitable in March when conditions permit as I can remember in 1932 when six of us were fishing the Dee twelve miles above Carlogie. There had been severe frost at night and grue kept coming down the river till midday, when it usually cleared off. But on the 10th, a strong sun helped to clear the grue away a little earlier. The top pool of this beat was short and rocky with a quiet deep hole on our side of the stream. A fish had been showing here for the last few days and everyone of us had tried him wih large flies and baits, but he ignored them all. When my turn came, the water temperature was 37 degrees, the air 42 degrees and the sun was shining strongly. I put on a No. 1 Blue Charm but nothing happened. When I was changing to a No. 4 Jeannie, the two gillies on the other side came up and shouted across with a laugh 'You are trying the fine art far too early for up here!' But I hooked and killed the fish, a nice one of 16 and 1/2 lb. and had the laugh on them!"

Best regards,


flytyer 03-20-2003 12:46 AM


I give an Ally's Shrimp is about size 6 or 8 a try on a long leader with a floating line. And I would use it in black or purple is the original range/red/black did not work. Also, I would tie it on a standard weight hook instead of a low-water hook to get it to sink between 4 inches and a foot below the surface.

Another possiblity is to use a dark colored Irish Shrimp style fly tied on a heavy size 6 or 8 hook. Again with a floating line and long leader. This should get you down, but not on the stones.

The third possiblity is to use an intermediate sink tip, short leader, and either of the above flies or a dark spey fly of about size 4 or 5. something like the Lady Caroline or Black King.

These just might work since the water is summer low' but the temperature is normal winter low. Seems like you need to get down, just not on the stones. And since the water is low and clear, a small darkish fly seems to be in order.

Smolt 03-20-2003 09:28 AM

Try the Green Widow at about 9:30-10:00am when the sun is bright. Since nothing else has worked, you have nothing to lose.


Willie Gunn 03-20-2003 02:26 PM

Today conditions were slightly less testing there was at least cloud cover. The water temperature crept up tp 42 during the afternoon.

I gave the floating line with a short sunk tip a go, still no success but at least it was a change.

I tried the Ali Shrmp route again nothing, so tommorrow the Green Widow will get a swim.

Topher Browne, I wish there was the same number of fish about in 2003 as there was in 1932, oh to be on the banks of the Dee or Spey in 1932 with a 16ft carbon rod and a weight foward line a pair of neoprene waders. I could do some damage.

Whatever happens it sure as h*ll beats working.


Per Stadigh 03-21-2003 08:40 AM

Dear Malcolm,
Too bad you have such slow going. Now with some cloud cover you might fare better. If the sun gets back I suggest what has worked well for me when the Dee has been low and the sun really nasty (of course it works in Norway and Russia, too).

I use an ordinary Hardy sinktip (slow!) and lengten my leader to 20', making sure that the tip section is at least 8' of 10-12 pound test fluorocarbon (0.27-0.30mm). This long and slighly submerged leader in combination with a small and sparsly tied flie (a plain #10 Silver Stoat or my own Pale Rat) fished much slower than usual often has done me good. This even when the water temp would call for a larger fly.

The slow speed is interesting as I normally like to fish square and fast, and rather mend down than up. But with the sun blazing badly it seems like it pays to give the fish time to see the fly well in all the reflections that the sun creates.

As always there are no golden rules. This stunt has saved my neck more than once, though.

Earlier today I spoke to a Scottish friend whose family sits on the Western Elchies and Upper Arndilly beats. He said the going was much better than in the previous years. Arndilly proper had about a dozen last week. Our beat on the Dee had 13 to 3 rods last week, so it all sounds alarmingly promising....!!

Hope you get them during the Saturday!!


Willie Gunn 03-21-2003 03:00 PM

Arndilly is doing OK Wester Elerchies is worse than last year with only 6 for the season. I'm fishing Wester Elerchies this week. Only one for the whole week.
I had two good pulls in successive casts but no hook up. Later I had a well mended kelt. Things are getting better.

I'll try the long leader tommorrow.


Smolt 03-21-2003 03:14 PM


What fly did you have on when you got the pulls?



Willie Gunn 03-21-2003 03:26 PM

I gave the Green Widow a swim but nothing. I then reverted to a Willie Gunn old habits die hard, when fishing the Spey in the spring the question is usualy which Willie Gunn.


Willie Gunn 03-22-2003 01:02 PM

thank you all
and for you that were worried I eventually caught and released a springer this morning at 10ish. The water temperature was up to 42 which probably made all the difference.

Set up.
16 ft B&W, Xlt with 10 ft fast sinking tip 3 ft 15lb nylon and 2" Willie Gunn basically what I began the week with. if it was too easy no one would bother. All the experimenting made the week fun, but it would be nicer to get the first fish in a bit sooner.


pmflyfisher 03-22-2003 10:28 PM


Glen Deveron and I saluted your success on the Spey while I was tying some new flies tonight !



PM Out

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