Sunday, 25 March 2012

Salmon Fishing And The "Musker's Fancy."

I stumbled across some extracts from a book in the Carlogie fishing hut this February. The book was called "Salmon Fishing, The Greased Line On Dee, Don And Earn" by Frederick Hill.

The author of the book was a ghillie on the Carlogie beat to Captain Musker in the 1940's. He give detailed descriptions of all the pools at Carlogie and interesting tactics for every condition possible. I purchased a copy of this wonderful wee book a few weeks back. It maybe dates back from the 1940s but some of the author's observations are still used today and it's well worth a read if you can get your hands on a copy.

In his book Frederick Hill says that his favourite fly to fish in low water was a fly called the Musker's Fancy. It was created by Captain Musker and used to great effect on Carlogie during his time as fishing tennant there.

Last week I bought myself some single hooks and decided to try and tie up a couple of these flies because, at the moment the water here is so low anything was worth a cast! I took the dressing for the fly from the book and searched online for a picture of the fly which I found on a cracking website dedicated to traditional Salmon flies. It can be found at

I took my newly tied flies out on the Don this Saturday past for a test run. The Don, like the Dee is almost down to it's bare bones so I was not too confident in hooking anything. I started at the Manse Pool which incidentally Frederick Hill mentions in his book as one of the best holding pools on the whole river Don and it's still true today. I started at the top of the pool and about 5 casts later I hooked a fish! It took off like a steam engine and I thought to myself, "Surely the fly is not this good!". After a few flashes of silver and a big leap I realised it was a large kelt I'd hooked. Still, at least I knew my fly swam and looked ok to the fish. After a spirited fight another angler netted the fish for me. It was sporting a big Black and Gold Rapala wedged in it's jaws! No idea why it would take a fly with that embedded in it's jaw but it did! Maybe it was clever and realised I would remove both the rapala and fly for it. After removing 2 trebles of the rapala and my size 5 Musker's Fancy the fish swam off no problem, probably glad to have a big 13cm rapala removed from it's mouth.

Just goes to show, you should never fish too light in the Spring. More for the safety of releasing kelts quickly. I fished on for a few more hours but didn't touch anything. As the morning fog lifted the sun was bright and warm so not ideal for fishinig low water. I packed up and headed home to tie up some more Musker's Fancies. Here are a few pictures of the fly and the big kelt.
"Salmon Fishing, The Greased Line On Dee, Don And Earn" by Frederick Hill 1948. Cracking wee book and very interesting read. I love reading all these old books and stories from days gone by. The author tells of a pet blackbird he fed which returned to him every March after the winter had passed.
"Musker's Fancy No.2" This is the fly which a big well mended kelt took a liking to.
"Musker's Fancy No.1". I tied these on doubles as I had no Black singles. Looks ok on doubles. Ordered up some black singles for next time!
A group shot of the flies. I will be using a lot more of these during low water in future. Hopefully something fresh will take a fancy to them next time.
The fish which took my fly. It would have been glad to see the big rapala removed from its jaw I bet. Would have been a lovely fish last year and hopefully next year too. Good to see a well mended kelt on it's return journey to sea.

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