Tackle Advice

Our ghillies are an excellent source of advice and we are also very well served by local tackle shops.

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The most commonly used on the river are double-handed fly rods. Rod lengths have gotten shorter in recent years and while the 15' rod remains the workhorse, particularly in spring, many anglers prefer to fish shorter rods early in the season. It is a matter of preference.
Once we get into to the warmer months, rods in the 12'-14'range are most common. In low water some anglers prefer the smaller switch style rods which are around 11'. Stepping down a size from that anglers often enjoy sport with sea trout and grilse with single handed fly rods of 9'-11' in length rated for a 7-8 weight fly lines.

Reels and Lines

Large arbour type reels are popular. These should be loaded with at least 150 metres of backing line.
There is a tremendous, almost bewildering choice of fly lines on the market. The most common ones seen on the Dee are short belly speylines - around 55'; shooting heads of varying lengths and skagits for fishing deep with big flies.

To keep things simple a floating line with a variety of tips and an intermediate line will cover most eventualities. More experienced anglers will fine tune their set ups to their own specifications.
If you have any queries about what to bring, please get in touch with Ross Macdonald ross@riverdee.org

Our ghillies are an excellent source of advice and we are also very well served by tackle Shops.


The Dee has produced many famous flies over the years and names such as the Mar Lodge and Blue Charm are etched into the history of the river. In more recent times modern flies such as the Stoat’s Tail, Dee Monkey, Park Shrimp and Franc N Snaelda have also emerged from the Dee and have gone onto enjoy success throughout the salmon fishing world.

DID YOU KNOW? The Stoat’s Tail, one of the most famous salmon fly patterns in the world, was created by Park ghillie, the late George Cooper.

While everyone has their own favourites, we have listed a small selection of flies for the Dee on this page.

Crathie Fly

The Crathie has been a popular choice for Dee anglers for over forty years and remains an important fly in the late spring and summer months when it is fished on the full floater with a long leader. It was created by Dee veteran Tommy Saville, who named it after the beat he loves. A correctly tied Crathie should have a beard hackle dressed the same length as the wing, with both hugging the shank of the hook.

Stoats Tail

The Stoat, or ‘the wee black flee’ as it is described on Deeside, really comes into its own when the water warms up and the fish are more apt to come up for a small fly. Created by the late George Cooper, who was the ghillie at Park, it is the quintessential floating line fly. In May and June this classic pattern is at its best as anglers fish on warm evenings looking for late running springers and the first of the grilse and sea trout. The Silver Stoat is equally, if not more popular and with a couple of jungle cock cheeks, it is also a favourite for sea trout.

Sunray Shadow

A simple yet deadly fly on the Dee, especially as the water begins to warm in April. These are fished ‘on the swing’ when water temperatures remain cold and are also stripped across pools stimulating the Salmon’s aggression, making for what can often be spectacular takes.

Franc N Snaelda

The Franc N Snaelda is a very popular pattern from Sean Stanton, Head Ghillie at Ballogie. It is a twist on Icelandic legends, the Frances and the Snaelda, and combines elements of both these hugely successful patterns. Sean has experimented and finely tuned his way of tying and fishing the FnS. The action of the fly in the water and the method of presentation have combined regularly to take fish from pools which have yielded nothing to the conventionally fished fly.

Tosh/ Black and Yellow

The Tosh, or Black and Yellow as many anglers call it, is a very simple fly and one which has stood the test of time as a spring fly on the Dee. It accounts for a large part of the catch in February and March. The fly is all about contrast and fishes best deep and slow. Dress it on aluminium or copper tubes in a range of sizes from 1”-2” and be confident of success.

Dee Monkey

The Dee Monkey was created in the ‘noughties’ by Danish angler Jimmi Lauridsen. It has gone to almost universal acclaim, not only on the Dee, but throughout Scotland. It combines the favour colour combination of black and yellow with a deadly long wing. It is not just a fly for springers and will take fish throughout the season. Don’t leave home without one.

Willie Gunn

This north Highland pattern is an all-time classic, which has a strong following on Deeside. The Gold bodied Willie Gunn is arguably the most popular spring fly in Scotland at this time of year. It is a brighter alternative to the Black and Yellow and can work wonders if there is a bit of colour in the water.

Park Shrimp

The Park Shrimp is named after the famous beat on the lower Dee and was created by Ross Macdonald in 2007. It works well throughout the season on tubes, coneheads and small doubles. It is particularly effective when there is a touch of colour in the water. The highly mobile tail gives the fly a lifelike quality, which is irresistible to fresh salmon and grilse.

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