Frequently asked questions

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When is the best time to fish for salmon?

The best times for salmon fishing in Scotland are May/June and September/October. Though you can catch outside of these times we tend to do best during those months.

We catch good numbers of salmon in mid- to late January on the Tay. However the vast majority of the fish caught at this time are not fresh-run salmon (called ‘springers’), they are post-spawn salmon (known as ‘kelts’). There is a chance of a fresh run spring salmon at this time, but it’s a slim one.

The best chance of very good quality salmon is during May on most of the rivers we fish, with the exception of the Secret River in Argyllshire which has its first run in early August.

October is the other great time to fish. There are usually good numbers of salmon in all the rivers by then. In October 2017 a Fishinguide guest who had never cast a fly before caught six salmon in one day.
In Argyll October is also good for sea trout. Which, while you’re hunting for that trophy salmon, can give you a good deal of fun.

What's the best month for big trout?

This varies from year to year. Usually April is the best month on the rivers and May is better on the lochs with June being the best month on the highland lochs.

Things can then go quiet through July and August but in September both the rivers and the lochs are good again.

July is probably the best month for sea trout in the Argyll rivers. Every year double figure sea trout are caught in Argyll and the isles.

Can we pay half now and half later?

We used to offer our guests the option of paying a deposit at the time of booking, and then a second payment nearer the date of the trip. However chasing up second payments became time consuming and tiresome, with some awkward situations where people hadn’t made the second payment by the time of the trip. This led to having to take guests to the bank before going to the fishing venue, and then ensuing problems with the bank etc.

It’s not the start to the day that anyone wants.

Nowadays it’s an all or nothing approach. The only way to book a date is to pay 100% in advance. If this makes you nervous check our TripAdvisor reviews – if we had ever stood anyone up it would show in our reviews. Currently 83 5-star reviews (as of January 2020) and counting…

How do permits in Scotland work?

Trout and pike fishing is cheaper per person than salmon fishing as a result of permit prices.

Unlike in many countries where you can buy a state permit that allows you to fish any public water, in Scotland you have to make an arrangement with the private owner of the fishing rights. It is an offence to fish for trout or salmon without permission.

Generally speaking trout permits cost less than £40 per person per day, however salmon permits are often in excess of £100 for the day.

Do I need a rod license?

Unlike England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is no requirement for a rod license in Scotland. All you need is a permit.

Does Fishinguide provide lunch?

No. Lunch is an option, but it’s an added extra, it doesn’t come as standard. 

Where will I be fishing?

Depending on your pick-up location, time of year and conditions on the day we will choose the best venue for you. We don’t usually tell people where they’re going in advance of the day for several reasons.

Those reasons include our desire to keep our venues quiet to avoid overcrowding. Also we sometimes change the location we’re heading to at the last minute due to high water levels, wind direction or the latest fishing reports. We will always endeavour to take you to where the fishing is best.

What are the best fishing options for children?

Trout fishing in the lochs near Edinburgh is fairly consistent and makes a good introduction to fly fishing for junior anglers. Other good options are perch and pike fishing between May and October in Argyll and pike fishing in Perthshire in July.

Should I bring my own kit?

We can provide all the necessary equipment. When it comes to rods, lines, reels, flies and lures, the ones we have will probably do the job better than what you might bring. The reason being we have had many decades of refining our equipment and techniques to be the most effective for Scottish fish.

We have rods and set-ups for all species, situations and conditions. It’s not uncommon for us to bring four completely different set-ups for your potential use – we will decide which one to use based on the conditions we find on arrival.

For example when trout fishing in a river we will have a nymphing set-up, usually a 10ft 3wt rod with euro-leader. We’ll also have a 9ft 5wt for dry fly fishing, a 7wt loaded with an aggressive tapered line for chucking big streamers, and maybe a 10ft 4wt for swinging spiders (aka soft hackles). If the trout are rising on arrival then we’ll go straight for the dry fly rod, but we don’t know what we’ll use until we get there.

The same things go for salmon and pike fishing. Water height, water clarity, fish activity, air pressure and even moon phase can play a role in helping us decide what to use and when.

We do provide waders and wading boots, but when it comes to waders it can be a good idea to bring your own. We have waders in a wide range of body and shoe sizes, but they’re rather generic. Our waders may not be as comfortable as your own.

What's included/provided?

Included in the price is the permit to fish, transport from your accommodation to the fishing venue, attentive guidance, casting instruction (as required), photos of your trip, and all the necessary fishing equipment including waders if river fishing. All that you need to bring is your lunch, warm, waterproof clothing and a hat or cap.

For salmon fishing we use anything from 11ft 6wts right up to 15ft 10wts, but normally offer our clients 13ft 8wt rods. Normally we use Scandi-style Spey lines and we are confident that we can take anyone from total novice to being able to cast well enough to catch fish within a couple of hours. The same goes for singe handed trout fishing, with your guide’s attentive assistance most people are able to put out a line that can catch fish.

Pike fly fishing is a bit harder than trout or salmon fly fishing and we recommend being a fairly confident single handed fly caster before trying pike fly fishing.

Should I train in casting before coming?

Many instructors in other countries that offer Spey casting actually teach Skagit casting. This is not quite the same thing, and can lead to ingrained errors. If this is what’s on offer, it may be better to just wait till you arrive and learn from us.

We tend to use Spey lines with 55ft heads for our beginners on big rivers, and 37ft Scandi heads on smaller rivers. Many Skagit lines have a head length of around 20ft. Without getting too technical the casting of different head lengths requires more or less the same casts but very different timing and somewhat different techniques.

Single-handed or trout casting is largely the same wherever you learn – so yes, it’s a good idea to learn what you can before your Fishinguide trip. Don’t worry if you can’t though. We’ll train you up on your (first) day.

What should I wear on my feet?

If you’re going river fishing you will be in waders which we will provide so it doesn’t matter what you’ve got on your feet, you’ll be getting changed as soon as you arrive. If you’re going in a boat or bank fishing then hiking boots or wellingtons are the best option.

If you’re going on a hiking and fishing trip then sturdy, ankle high hiking boots, or mid-shin hunting boots are the most suitable. Gaiters are good but not essential.

What size are the fish we usually catch?

Salmon on the River Tay average around 12lb, but different months see different sized fish entering the river. During the first few months of the season (Jan, Feb, March) there are few but usually quite large salmon.

Through April and May there are more fish, and again the norm is large. This time of year represents the best chance of a fresh run 20-30lb springer. As we get into June and July the average size of salmon running into the river drops to 3-7lb, these are salmon which have been at sea for one year and we call them ‘grilse’. Bigger salmon are still possible a this time, some resident since the earlier months and some running amongst the grilse.

In August, September and October the late run of multi-sea-winter (MSW) salmon is underway. MSW salmon are anything from 8lb to 30lb or very occasionally even 40lb.

On the west coast rivers the average size is a little smaller than the Tay. The run starts in mid-April with MSW salmon entering. One of our guides, Alan, hooked and played a 40lb+ salmon in April 2016. This huge bar of silver wouldn’t fit in his net. In September the same year another of our guides, Tom, landed – in the same pool – what may well have been the same fish, it was 48 inches long and its weight was estimated at between 40 and 44lbs.

Late April, May and June, especially early June, represents the best chance for springers on the west coast rivers. As we move into late June, July and August the best fishing comes immediately after heavy rain, when the river is in spate. During such conditions lots of salmon run the river and the fishing can be very exciting. It usually lasts a day or three and then we’ve got to wait for the next spate. One of our favourite rivers has a dam-controlled flow so you can catch there even when there’s no spate.

On our ‘Secret River’ things have been changing a lot over the last few years. The July run seems to have gone and the later we leave it the better it fishes. So the last two years we’ve been fishing it in late September and October only.

Trout weights vary massively depending on where you’re fishing. In the lochs around Edinburgh the trout are stocked and the average is around 2-3lb. On the small upland streams where we run purist trips the trout rarely exceed 1lb in weight. On our Trophy Trout Trips we tend to catch fish in the 3lb to 8lb range, these are all wild brown trout. If you go trolling for ferox trout on Loch Awe there’s a chance of trout as big as 30lbs.

On an average day fly fishing for trout on our rivers anything from 8oz to 2lb is normal, bigger than that is special. On our Secret Loch in Argyll we tend to get bigger trout, so far our biggest is 4lb but there are much bigger ones around, and wild browns of as much as 20lb have been caught on the fly at this venue.

All our pike fishing venues hold pike from as small as the lure you’re throwing, to in excess of 20lbs. We never know what’s going to bite, but the potential for very large pike is ever present. We have some venues which are better for numbers and other venues which hold fewer fish, but some real monsters. Unlike trout and salmon there isn’t really a size we expect to catch. It may just as likely be 2lb as 12lb. Pike over 20lb are not exactly rare but are not caught all that often, though we’re always prepared to catch pike of that size.

What sort of flies do you use?

For salmon we keep it fairly simple. Black and yellow monkeys, Cascades, Frances, Pot bellied pigs, Ally’s shrimps and Snaeldas in various sizes and weights make up most of our fly boxes. Occasionally we use other things too, to suit the conditions.

For river trout, deer hair emergers, CDC uprights and things like Paul Proctor’s APT (all-purpose terrestrial) do a lot of our dry fly work. For nymph fishing, PTNs and hare’s ears are some of the most effective patterns.

The fly box for loch fishing is bigger with a vast array of flies to target trout at different depths, during specific hatches or to fish lures, or loch style or on the top.

For pike we like the UFO patterns and lots of other baitfish imitations too.

How many days should we fish?

The more days you fish the better an experience you will have. Scotland has lots of breathtaking hidden corners where fish can be caught. We love exploring the upper catchments of rivers, amongst the hills and dramatic scenery where some beautiful fish live.

If you’d like to experience what Scotland has to offer then a day or two of salmon fishing, trout fishing, pike fishing and saltwater fishing will give you a good idea of why we love our jobs!

The other aspect here is that we try to make you feel connected with the environment and the fish. The longer you’re in the company of your Fishinguide the more effective an angler you’ll become. Your casting distance will improve, your understanding of where fish live will get better, your ability to present the fly with finesse and accuracy will sharpen. Fishing, especially fly fishing, will become less frustrating and more rewarding.

We like to encourage an appreciation not just of the fish, but also of the surrounding landscape and wildlife. There are days when we don’t catch, and there will be days when you don’t catch. What makes a day enjoyable or not is how connected you feel with your surroundings.

If you can allow yourself to listen to the birdsong and feel the wind, if you can slow down your thinking to give your mind some space to appreciate the beauty of what’s around you, then real rapture can take place. This is what it’s all about. There’s no better place to connect with the wilds and your inner self than a beautiful wild landscape.

What are the average temperatures?

Always prepare for the worst and then you’ll be fine. Bring several layers of warm clothing, with a waterproof outer layer. Waterproof trousers are not usually necessary if you’ll be river fishing (because you’ll be in waders). Otherwise, a pair of waterproof overtrousers is a good idea. A waterproof jacket is always necessary; you may not use it, but the weather can change fast in Scotland, so it’s best to be ready for anything.

Taking temperature info from Aberfeldy (in the centre of Scotland) here are some average temperatures:

  • December to February – average low 1C (33.8F), average high 5C (41F)
  • March and November – average low 2C (35.6F), average high 8C (46.4F)
  • April and October – average low 5C (41F), average high 11C (51.8F)
  • May and September – average low 7C (44.6F), average high 15C (59F)
  • June to August – average low 10C (50F), average high 18C (64.4F)

Where should we stay?

© Fishinguide 2018