Fly Fishing and Camping - Sandwood Bay Scotland - July 2013


You might not have heard of Sandwood bay. And there is no reason why you would, it's in the middle of nowhere. 5 miles south of Cape Wrath in Scotland and an 8 mile walk from the nearest road. It's a 6 hour drive north from Glasgow or Edinburgh before you even start the walk. It is better to go up the night before, stay in a hostel and set off in the morning. There is no accommodation or amenities of any kind once you get to the beach. It's wild, it's rugged and it's brilliant. But it's quite a hoof carrying your tent, enough food for the trip, stuff for surfing and, of course, fishing.

The route starts from Blairmore where there is a car park and toilets. Cross the road, go through the gate and follow the wide track. Pass loch Aisir , your first chance for a cast, and continue down the track. You will go by a number of lochs along the way and if you arm yourself with a map you'll see a lot more in the surrounding area. They all have populations of wild brown trout. Behind Sandwood bay is Sandwood loch which has sea trout as well and the mouth of the river which flows out of it and into the sea a short distance away often has mullet.

As there is no accommodation you'll either be camping or sleeping under the stars. The latter is not half as romantic as it sounds. Especially in Scotland. For those who haven't camped on a beach before, the best technique is to push in your tent pegs into the sand and anchor them by dumping a large boulder on top.

Once you are set-up you can walk to one of the lochs and bring back fish for the barbecue. If this is your plan remember to bring charcoal as there is little driftwood on the beach. The loch trout tend to be small so if you are with a group you'll need to be a better fisherman than me if you are going to feed them all.

Over the years I have fished Scottish lochs often and I have tied hundreds of flies ahead of trips. I don't know much but I do know this – you are better to stick to the basic, tried and tested patterns. The Black Spider, the simplest of flies, is also one of the best. I also tied some Soldier Palmers, Peter Ross and Partridge and Orange which, although originally from England, works well on Scottish Lochs. Here are the patterns:


Soldier Palmer


Hook: 12-10s

Thread: black

Body: bronze Peacock herl

Rib: fine gold oval

Hackle: medium red game


Peter Ross


Hook: 8-16

Thread: Black

Tail: Golden pheasant tippets

Body: Rear half silver wire, front half red angora goat

Rib: Fine silver tinsel

Hackle: Black hen

Wing: Teal flank


Partridge and Orange


Hook: 14 - 18

Thread: Orange 6/0 or 3/0

Body: Formed with tying thread

Rib: Fine gold wire

Hackle: Mottled Brown Partridge


Someone I know said that Conde Naste magazine voted it one of the top ten beaches in the world. If you go, you'll see why.



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