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Best and worst fishing flies for salmon


1. The Cascade.

I know it’s used up and down the Scottish rivers. I know it’s all superstition. I know what the ghillie says about the fish having seen it so many times before. Yet it has still hooked more salmon for me than any other fly in the past two years.

2. Ally’s Shrimp.

Were it not for the Cascade, like this one also developed by Alistair Gowans, I would say the same for his shrimp pattern. Salmon love it when they’re in the mood.

3. Red Frances.

No Icelander would be without this fly. Another shrimp pattern named after the woman who used to take the telephone orders for its originator, the late Hampshire-based fisherman and fly tier, Peter Dean.

4. Waddington, made to the Willie Gunn pattern.

Always keep one in your box. This caught my first salmon on the fly.

5. Silver stoat’s tale.

Something to try when they don’t want the shrimp


1. Jock Scott

First made to please his lordship, Lord John Scott on the river Tweed. Beautiful fly. Makes a lovely broach. Designed to hook fishermen. Will catch the fish that takes anything.

2. Snaelda

Ugly Icelandic brute, catches fish but looks like one of Bassett’s Liquorice All Sorts. Who wants to fish with a sweetie?

3. Magus

With its pink hackle just a little bit too camp for me. One for the ladies, perhaps.

4. The Spin Doctor

This favourite Russian fish-like deer hair fly is studded with fins, just like a Devon minnow spinning lure. So is it a fly? Not in my opinion.

5. Mortgage fly

OK I made this one up but it just about describes a lot of the flies in shops today. Any fly that costs more than £2 is daylight robbery. Buy direct from the Kenyans who need our money.

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