Unsettled conditions but good fishing

Ronald Sutherland

The Helmsdale river suffered from very unsettled water levels last week but the fishing did not suffer too badly. I had first hand experience helping out on Achentoul rods for the week with George Hardy Sutherland. A good week was had and 23 fish were recorded, the biggest was s super 37.5" 21 pounder for Anthony Barton from slippery Rock pool beat 1 in high water. In a week full of action a few firsts were also had, Bella Foster took to salmon fishing like a natural landing her first two fish at 6 & 5 lbs fron Craggie bend bt 5 and the Point pool bt 2 both on an Alistair tube fly. Husband Toby also hit a purple patch in Long Mile pool bt 2 catching his first salmon and landing another 2 soon after. Anthony's son in law Michel also had his first cast of the week and duly landed his first salmon from the Lodge pool beat 1 at 9lbs. Conehead flies caught all our fish apart from 4 on the Alistair tube when  water levels dropped back a little.

Borrobol rods reported 25 fish and most rods had decent action throughout the river when conditions were favourable. I have not had a reoprt from the Association water but water levels were high so I would assume the fishing was good in the Flat pool all week.

Anthony and 21 pounder which was landed in high water and on a steep bank, the fish was quickly revived and returned safely.

The tail of Slippery Rock pool at 1ft 6 where Anthony also had a 9 pounder. Set up for the day was a 6ft Rio medium sink tip and large Ally Dog conehead.

Tail of Slippery Rock pool

First fish for Bella Foster in Craggie Bend pool where she pulled one, lost one, then landed one, a fast learning curve! the fish was released unharmed.

Bella Foster first fish

The Alistair tube which caught both fish for Bella

Alistair tube

Ally Dog conehead which caught the 21 & 9lbs fish from slippery Rock pool beat 1.

RS Ally Dog conehead




Fresh fish still running

Ronald Sutherland

The Association water has fared well over the last two weeks with 2 good rises in the river of 1ft and last week 2.5ft. Some of the lucky anglers are pictured below, two of whom caught their first fish, Mrs Butler below and Mr Martyn junior second pic down. Most fish were taken on Alistair tubes and coneheads. Green Highlander and Cascade dog connecting with the fish below. Mr & Mrs Butler in particular had a super morning guided by yours truly catching a fish each and losing another in upper Allan pool, they will definitly be back! August can be very good on the local water as there is a little more room and fishing availability. Ian Muir was also amongst the fish on Friday with a grilse from upper Allan and a super 12.5 pounder from the lower. Around 12 fish were recorded for the week.



The beats struggled a little over the last two weeks but sport spiked along with the two rises in the water. Kildonan rods fared best in w/c 6 August and last week provided decent sport if you were on the right beat after the midweek spate. It is good to still see numbers of fresh fish running well into August.

The Highland games North of Scotland fly casting championships took place at the weekend and Gordon Sim from Loop tackle was on hand with myself and all the latest rods and reels on show. A big thank you to Gordon and Loop for providing all the casting tackle. We also had a 15ft Mackenzie rod on demo and Carron Jetstream lines which were very well received. The rod which cast the longest on the day was a 15ft loop Classic Spey and 10/11 Carron Jetstream line with 85ft head.

The overall casting champion was Helmsdale river head water baillif Peter Quail who gathered most points in all events and also won the top salmon distance casting event with 145ft. Next year we hope to crank up the event by adding a professional salmon casting for distance competition with bigger prize fund to lure even more top anglers. Findlay Addams was the junior champion.

The new Loop Cross S1 rods performed superbly and everyone commented on how light and powerfull they were. Call me if you want to demo any of these exceptional rods - we have a 12 & 14ft available at the shop.

Peter on his way to winning the championship below.

The clan at the games

The Sutherland clan


As I write this report I hear thunder and the rain is lashing down - prospects look very good for next week! the Association water has good availability for £25 per rod per day, oap's £12.50 and under 16s free of charge. Stock up on coneheads and get on the water, tight lines.

We have a Loop demo day at the Helmsdale Highland games fly casting competition on Saturday 18th August.

Come and try your hand at casting for distance and accuracy using the latest rods from Loop.

We will have the new 3M Loop Cross S1 models on show to try out.

There will be prizes in Open and Confined competitions for the following

Salmon for distance
Trout for Distance
Trout Accuracy

Competitions start from midday, be
great to see you there.


We can now say with confidence that the peak of the summer run was the second week in July on the Helmsdale and Brora, just like old times but the last two weeks have been pretty good if not patchy and nothing to write home about. The Association water has fished steadily and anglers who are putting in a good shift are being rewarded. Visitor numbers on this water peaked in the last week of July and regular Robert Orr probably had the best of it with steady action and landing 4 on Baby Tds and Alistair tubes. Tim Piers Gamble visiting from the States had his first Atlantic salmon in Lower Allan after only 1 hour on the water at 6lbs and he had never cast a double handed rod or fished for salmon before. He was expertly guided by yours truly ofcourse but he did a great job after rising the fish twice, it was landed in 5 minutes and very much enjoyed in La Mirage in the evening. The killer fly - Alistair tube.

Tim with first fish, Lower Allan pool in the background

Tim Fish

Another highlight from last week was an unforgettable day on beat 1 for local twins Alistair & William Jappy fishing Badanloch rods for the day with 15 salmon mostly fresh, some estate rods dod not come close to this total for the whole week! great to see locals getting a cast on the private water and boy did they make the most of it. Baby Tds once again doing most of the damage.

I have not missed out on the action either as you can see here - a nice 6 pounder lunging at the dropper ( Loop double Kazcade ) was duly dispatched for the successful Harbour day Lifeboat raffle. Tackle was once again the super light Loop Cross S1 14ft and Carron Jetstream line. I have never used such a light and powerful salmon rod, it really is a serious step up from all other rods and an absolute joy to fish with.

Prospects for the week ahead look good with more heavy showers forecast to keep the river topped up. We have a better quality of fish running the river now so the Association water is a very good bet at only £25 per rod per day with over 65s half price and under 16s free. Availability is good so get yourself out on the water.

Derek Macrae  searching for a fish on the local water

Dek local water

The deadly Kazcade fly is turning out to be a real fish catcher, especially if fished on the dropper. Buy online right here -

Kazcade fly