Printer Friendly

SANDISON'S SCOTLAND; BRUCE SANDISON IS A JOURNALIST, ANGLER AND AUTHOR OF A STRING OF BEST-SELLING BOOKS ABOUT SCOTLAND'S OUTDOORS. HE LIVES IN SUTHERLAND. LILY'S FINE FLY TALE LEAVES ME CAUGHT, HOOK, LINE AND SINKER.

Byline: BRUCE SANDISON

Isometimes think that the artificial flies we anglers use are designed not so much to catch fish as to catch us.

Hundreds of patterns have been produced over the years and hardly a month passes without the introduction of yet another - always guaranteed to attract salmon, sea trout or wild brown trout, whatever the weather conditions and under all circumstances. I have been fishing for more years than I care to remember and I limit my angling armoury to a few well-trusted standard Scottish patterns. I make no apologies for doing so, because they've been good friends.

Among my standard patterns, one of them, the Kate McLaren, is excellent, particularly for sea trout. To go fishing for sea trout without a few Kate McLarens in your fly-box is to be improperly dressed. However, there has often been debate about how it got its name so I recently decided to establish the truth.

The person who could supply the answer was Lily McLaren, widow of the well-known angler and author, Charles Carmichael McLaren, who made the fly famous.

Lily lives in the village of Altnaharra, in North Sutherland, where Charles used to run fishing courses from the Altnaharra Hotel. Given that I live in Tongue, only 17 miles distant from Altnaharra, I arranged to visit Lily to ask about the birth of the fly and for details of the original dressing. Lily is a happy, smiling woman with a warm nature and ready laugh. She has a wealth of stories and knowledge about salmon and sea trout fishing and was taught to fish by her husband. She gave me an account of the naming of the fly, and of the dressing.

She said: "The Kate McLaren was first tied by William Robertson, a tackle dealer in Glasgow. The Robertsons were friends of Charles's father, John McLaren, and it was designed by John and named after his wife, Kate. The dressing is, tail - golden pheasant crest; body - blackribbed flat silver; hackles - black tied down the body and at the head a natural red hen, one tied over the black (must be hen so as to work properly in the water)."

Charles's parents had the Kinlochewe Hotel in Wester Ross for many years but when restrictions were placed to areas of the West Highlands during World War II, they moved to Blair Atholl. After the war, the family returned to Kinlochewe and it was there that Charles learned many of his fishing skills. Charles used to run fishing courses at the Culag Hotel in Lochinver and this is where he met Lily when she joined one of his fishing weeks.

A few days after my meeting with Lily, an envelope from Altnaharra arrived on my desk. Attached to the front of the card was a Kate McLaren, taken from Charles's own fly box, and, written on the back of the card, "With best wishes - Lily McL". If ever a fly was designed to catch an angler, it is the Kate McLaren. It certainly caught me.

CAPTION(S):

FINE PATTERNS A selection of artificial flies
COPYRIGHT 2013 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 11, 2013
Words:514
Previous Article:WE WANT TO CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN; With 282 peaks on the Munro list, more and more enthusiasts are relishing the challenge of bagging them..and then...
Next Article:TAKE THREE..
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters