Tweed Guide professional fly fishing

Fly Fishing for Salmon and Sea Trout on the River Tweed

A salmon caught in the river Tweed

We work on some of Scotland's most famous salmon River
Tweed.

The River Tweed is truly one of the world's great atlantic salmon rivers. Throughout the salmon fishing season (1st February to 31st November) wonderful fish are caught by those who have the opportunity to cast a fly on the many beats (stretch of river).

The traditions and techniques used on the River Tweed have influenced salmon fishing, wherever these wonderful fish can be found. To have the chance to fish for salmon on the Tweed is a wonderful experience and Tweed Guide is ideally placed to provide fishing for a day or however long you choose.

In effect we act as a Scottish Salmon Concierge.
We do it all, you just fish. Half days may be available by special arrangement.

We supply high quality rods reels lines flies waders wading jacket permit/licence and your own guide/instructor

Please note we do no provide food and drinks your hotel will be happy to make a packed lunch for you.


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" A fantastic time. The beat was beautiful, the weather fantastic ,the company great,and the guide very professional, helpful ,friendly and always willing to give a hand. "

Howard Gorner from Yorkshire

Leaping Salmon

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I highly recommend Tweed Guide to both new and experienced fly fishers as a quality and trustworthy provider."

Mark Clark (Guildford)

An introduction to salmon fishing in Scotland


Salmon Fishing in Scotland - Fishing for wild Atlantic salmon in Scotland is a lifetime experience for every angler or lover of the outdoors.


So what are salmon, why salmon fish in Scotland, what is the salmon fishing like in Scotland and how does it all work?

One client once asked Tweed Guide, "Make salmon fishing in Scotland simple for me son, it seems like a jigsaw, who has all the pieces". At Tweed Guide we try to do just that, supplying kit, fishing and personal guide in a simple package to enable you to have fun and enjoy our sport. Of course for every straightforward statement there can be many interpretations. If you disagree let’s not argue, we are sorry and you are right. Thousands of books have been written on salmon fishing in Scotland so we will inevitably miss many of the finer points. Let’s just enjoy fishing rather than waste time trying to score points.

The Salmon

The natural life cycle of the Atlantic salmon is in itself a miracle of nature. From across Scotland, tiny stream to mighty rivers, salmon lay their eggs, hatch into small fish, live inland for a few years and then enter the ocean. The fish move to feed off Greenland and the Faroe Islands for one or more years and then return to the area where they were born. Nature’s Satellite Navigation at its best and over distances exceeding 5000 miles.

Around 0.1% of the eggs laid in streams and river end in a salmon surviving to enter the river again. Most salmon which succeed in then laying eggs or fertilising then die. The salmon can vary from anything from around 3 to 30 lbs with many fish in the 7-14 lb range. Gradually the percentage of salmon caught being returned to the river is increasing as we appreciate this cycle of life.

Salmon and Scotland - Salmon have been part of Scotland’s heritage for tens of thousands of years. Whisky came somewhat later and other icons such as tartan are recent inventions. In the last 30 years Scotland has worked hard, and with great success, to preserve its stocks of wild fish. On the River Tweed alone around 14000 salmon are caught each year on rod and line. Scotland’s position in Europe as a centre of salmon angling cannot be underestimated.

Debate flourishes and mistakes can be made, but Scotland continues to support sustainable salmon fishing by rod and line in a common sense and effective manner. The angler in Scotland and the local economy all benefit, and constant vigilance is required to preserve and improve this marvellous sport.

What Scottish salmon fishing means to the angler - Salmon fishing in Scotland is often hard work. This is not "shooting fish in a barrel". Think of it as a quest or an adventure and you are in the correct mood. Salmon fishing is demanding, sometimes even depressing, but the exhilaration of catching the King of Game Fish cannot be underestimated. Warning… this can be an addictive experience.

Why is it challenging?

Spey Casting (details below) is an important part of much salmon fishing in Scotland although other techniques including spinning are common place and productive. Some salmon beginners are wary of Spey Casting. Many of our clients have expressed a desire to fish with a small short rod so that they do not have to learn Spey Casting. To date we have always convinced guests to give Spey Casting a go. 100% then love it and want to try it "back home", wherever that may be. While it is true that Spey casting has reached almost individual hobby and cult status it is a great way to fish and its skills are transferable to other forms of fly fishing . We would advise you to learn Spey Casting and grow to love it. Just always remember that Spey casting is part of the process of presenting the fly to the salmon and not an end in itself.

When and where to fish for salmon in Scotland

Fishing for salmon and sea trout (a sea run brown trout) is illegal in Scotland on a Sunday. Salmon Fishing is possible in Scotland from mid January until the end of November. Each river has a "season", which means the start and finish dates for fishing. The Tweed has one of the longest seasons of any Salmon River in Scotland. 1st February – 30th November, Sundays always excluded.

Each river has prime and less fruitful times within its season. This is based on historic patterns of salmon returning at different months to the river and migrating up stream towards the spawning grounds. Demand then influences pricing and catch records. Status, scenic beauty and other factors all come into play. Different parts of the river peak at differing periods so local knowledge is vital.

In addition river levels and rainfall have a major impact on when salmon enter the river, where they have moved to and how likely they are to be interested in your fly or spinner. Where you fish, when you fish, water levels, hard work and skill are all key elements of salmon fishing. Local knowledge is a vital ingredient unless you are just downright lucky or highly skilled.

How salmon fishing works in Scotland

Salmon Fishing in Scotland is in the hands of an owner. The fishing rights for each stretch can be worth from thousands to millions of pounds. You will still find the friendly local in the hotel bar who will tell you over a whisky that all fishing is free in Scotland. Ignore their advice. Remember who will be left discussing the finer points of law with the local policeman or water bailiff if you venture onto the river and fish without permission. Scots are friendly but the, "But a man in the bar said it was OK," line will not be acceptable.

Salmon fishing in Scotland is spilt into stretches of the river, which are typically a mile or two in length and from one or both banks. Each stretch of the river is called a "beat". The number of people who can fish on each "beat" is determined by the owner. Typically a 2-mile stretch may allow 6 people fishing. Each person is called a "rod".

How do you fish for salmon in Scotland?

Salmon fishing can be from the bank or by wading in most rivers. In larger rivers fishing from a boat is also an important part of reaching the salmon and making sure that the fly or spinner can be taken by the fish. In boat fishing a boatman moves the boat by oar or rope for you. This is skilled and often hard physical work. In heavy flowing water it is reported that some boatmen can lose 20 lbs in body weight over a 3 months period due to sheer physical effort.

Worm fishing still exists in mainly smaller salmon river. It is safer to assume it is illegal unless your permit says otherwise. A salmon which has swallowed a worm hook is often difficult to return which is another reason why this technique is in decline. Why does a salmon swallow a worm when it does not eat in the river? Habit, curiosity...

Salmon fishing Tackle in Scotland

Safety First. Wading staff, glasses and if required a safety jacket are the basis of safe sensible fishing. I still hear , "Aye wading staffs are for women" and stand equally appalled while 2 inch brass tubes hurtle across faces with no protection for eyes. Such nonsense is unforgiveable. It is your life and your eyes. Lecture over.

A Good Ghillie or Boatman

In our opinion in almost all cases a ghillie in salmon fishing on the Tweed and many rivers is employed by the owner of a stretch of river (beat).

The beat ghillie should always have excellent local knowledge. Their expertise on that particular "beat" should mean that they know exactly where salmon are likely to be and how to reach them. This is still no guarantee of success but never underestimate it. As an employee of the owner of the fishing they may also be encouraged to assist in some instruction on casting. They may not. The beat ghillie may be a superb fisher and/or caster or again he/she may not be. The beat ghillie may also have other sporting or ground and building maintenance duties. Again and particularly on the most prestigious stretches the beat ghillie may concentrate exclusively on looking after the guest.

A boatman is a ghillie who takes a guest fishing in the river in a boat. This is a tough and skilled job. The "beat" ghillie may assist 2 - 10 fishers each, which means that the time given to each fisher varies . They may give most time to the fisher who books most fishing or who tips best or they may give their time to the guest who needs most help. Crucially a beat ghillie may or may not be around to help you land or net your fish. Again the number of guests fishing and weight of other duties will influence whether they can be on hand. Some beats have no ghillie.

Ghillie who is not a "beat" ghillie. Some beats allow you to take on your own ghillie who should perform all the above and who may or may not have local knowledge. Many discourage this. Tweed Guide has spent over 10 years building strong relationships with 27 stretches on the Tweed System. If the beat ghillie does not want us on their stretch with you we will not book the beat. Your enjoyment and relaxation are uppermost. The last thing you need is hassle. It is our job to make that go away.

Personality ( ghillies and guides)

We believe that ghillies and guides should be positive but realistic, encouraging, understanding, knowledgeable and above all committed to ensuring that you have a good time. If that sounds like a social worker then we have gone too far but the ghillie’s ability to read people is almost as important as their ability to read the river.

If you want solitude or company as you fish or anything in between the good ghillie or guide senses that and ensures that you get it. Some fishing magazines seem to delight in the image of the rude and abnoxious stereotype of a Scots ghillie. We think this is an insult. Where such "characters" exist it may be seen as quaint or amusing. If that is what you want to experience Tweed Guide cannot help you. Service does not mean servility or a fawning toadie at your side but most people (apart from in dark clubs in the city we understand) do not enjoy paying to be insulted. Tweed Guide’s team and most beat ghillies know that and act accordingly.

Guides

A guide should be able to work with you wherever you are fishing. The guide is there to look after you. Full stop , guaranteed.

They need not be a world class fisher in our opinion. In life the number of world class anything that we experience is fairly small. Being world class does not always match with the ability to relate to clients. (See personality above)

Andy Murray the world ranking Scots tennis star is at the top of his game but I would not like to spend a day with him. The successful guide will do everything to avoid fishing with you unless you beg him or her to. Even then it is a mistake. The successful guide is only interested in you achieving and experiencing what you want. He cannot guarantee success because this is fishing. He should do everything in his power to make your day "just right". The guide or instructor who wants to spend half the day fishing or casting while you watch is a waste of your time and money.

In the case of Tweed Guide we believe that being a successful guide is also ensuring that you have the right gear. Tweed Guide provides all equipment whether you have your own or not.

First this means that you have the right gear (see fishing rods lines etc) In our experience about a quarter of guests who have "all the gear" discover that they do not when they arrive. The person with unlimited money who has bought a rod which is designed for a very experienced angler is then in the same position as the guest with the "length of rubber hose" or rigid "telegraph pole" or indeed any rod that is simply too short. Their day is going to be a poorer experience than it should be.

With Tweed Guide you will always have a balanced appropriate set of good quality gear and it is your guide’s responsiblilty with Tweed Guide to make sure that is taken care of. Don’t start me on the leaky waders or thin waders in sub freezing conditions!!! Yes our guide makes sure that you have the right waders … we have 45 sets. All waders leak, it is just a question of timing, but a set of cheap PVC thigh waders in 3 ft of water is just bonkers.

Wading staff, glasses and if required a safety jacket are the basis of safe sensible fishing. I still hear, "Aye wading staffs are for women" and stand appalled while 2 inch brass tubes hurtle across faces with no protection for eyes. Such nonsense is unforgivable. It is your life and your eyes.

The guide is not always an instructor but will assist with your casting. His aim however is to get you fishing productively and quickly. The ideal scenario with Tweed Guide guides for beginners is a 1-2 hour session on the river the night before your first day with one of our 6 instructors and then your guide working with you and encouraging you all the next day. Such ideal scenarios do not always happen however and they are not essential.

By 4.00 pm on the first day of salmon fishing you will be very tired and most of your casting will start to fall apart. This is because there is a natural tendency to try and make the rod work rather than to let it do the work for you. The next day or visit after a refresh you will be casting at your best again.

Finally at Tweed Guide we try to ensure that your guide has you on the best piece of river for your skill, wading ability, geographic and transport limitations, time of year and of course your budget. That is not easy but since 20% of Tweed Guide clients come back to us the next year, even in as unreliable sport as salmon fishing, we believe we do alright. Your testimonials also help and enable us to fine tune every year.

Instructors

Instructors teach you how to cast. This may be on water . A good instructor concentrates on you (see personality above) A bad instructor is a demonstrator who forgets that you are there. A small minority of instructors also instruct while you fish. Tweed Guide’s 6 instructors’ work in this way once they have taught you the basics of casting.

Teaching on the river is tougher and less well paid work than casting instruction alone but we like it. So will you. Casting instruction on its own is however something we recommend.

Tweed Guide staff go to other instructors to fine tune and work on their own casting. We believe that this kind of refresh is crucial for us to continue to develop and maintain our skills. If you do the same it will only improve your fishing experience.

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