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Ronan's report

Sunday June 26, 2006

Somehow, I fetched up in Scotland about twenty years ago. It feels like home now, more or less, but I'm lucky enough to call a few places home. Fly-fishing owes a lot to Scotland, and so do I. A lot of fly-fishing's lore is essentially Scottish in origin. Salmon fishing, whether it's done in Norway or Labrador, is essentially a Scottish thing, although it was mostly a posh Victorian and Edwardian Englishman's pursuit. The way salmon and steelhead fly fishing is done everywhere today still embodies the way it was done a hundred years ago. There were a lot of revolutionary thinkers in those days, like old Chaytor and Wood who worked out their theories on Scottish rivers.

Trout fishing didn't develop in Scotland along quite the same lines as it did in England and America. In fact, the Scottish highland tradition is relatively conservative (that will infuriate my Scottish pals). Up on the peat stained lochs of Sutherland, the traditional three fly team of 'attractor' wet fly is still pretty much the way it's done - even by anglers who wouldn't dream of using that method on their home waters. You know, when in Rome. I started fly-fishing that way as a kid, but soon discovered how much fun, and how effective, the dry fly could be. I use a dry fly most of the time on the northern Scottish lochs, and it's deadly - much deadlier than the wet fly during the first half of the season. The mayfly is on the water and the trout are definitely looking up. A big scruffy deer hair sedge or emerger will pull more and bigger trout than any team of traditional wets this time of year. I like mine with no hackle and a dark claret seal's fur body. The dry fly is certainly catching on fast, though, as more highland anglers gain confidence in it.

I'm heading up there today. As you read this I'll be driving north with my pal Bob Morton with enough grub and booze for ten guys for a week. Big trip with a good gang of guys. We've been doing it every year, come hell or high water, for almost twenty years, so we know each other pretty well by now. It's always what the Scots call a good craic.


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