River Don Trout Flies

Useful patterns for the River Don by Sandy Nelson: The following fly patterns were suggested by a variety of River Don fishermen and represent a general selection that covers the whole season, along with a few local specials to help things along.

Most of the flies will work best when fished upstream to moving fish, however there are a few prospecting flies in here too. Remember the fish can be anywhere on the river, so try most spots as they can all hold surprises.

River Don Brown Trout
River Don, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Black Pennell

An excellent all rounder for most of the season.

Hook: 12-16 Wet fly

Thread: Black

Tail: Golden pheasant Tippets

Body: Black thread

Rib: Silver wire

Hackle: Black hen

Black Pennell

Alexandria

An excellent attractor fly and a good imitation of the minnow, of which the Don trout are particularly fond.

Hook: 10-12 Wet fly

Thread: Black

Tail: Red Ibis or Subs

Body: Silver or pearl tinsel

Rib: Silver wire

Hackle: Black cock

Wing: Peacock sword

Cheeks: Red Ibis or Subs

Optional: Jungle cock eyes

Alexandria

Invicta

A great sedge imitation for those summer evenings.

Hook: 12-16 Wet fly

Thread: Black or yellow

Tail: Golden pheasant topping

Body: Golden yellow seals fur

Rib: Gold wire

Hackle: Palmered red game cock

Beard: Blue Jay

Wing: Hen pheasant wing

Invicta

Butcher

Another super little attractor fly that in the larger sizes imitates the minnows and small fry found in the river. It may also be taken for a hatching midge with a shuck.

Hook: 10-14 Wet fly

Thread: Black

Tail: Red Ibis or Subs

Body: Silver tinsel

Rib: Silver wire

Hackle: Black cock

Wing: Mallard blues

Butcher

Silver Invicta

This a good attractor pattern and is very effective during the summer evenings as a hatching sedge imitation. It is also very good with a pearl body.

Hook: 12-16 Wet fly

Thread: Black

Tail: Golden Pheasant topping

Body: Silver tinsel

Rib: Silver wire

Hackle: Semi palmered red game cock

Beard: Blue Jay

Wing: Hen pheasant wing

Silver Invicta

March Brown

This is another superb all rounder on the Don. There is a hatch of the naturals during early April, when this fly is extremely effective in larger sizes. Silver and Gold bodied versions are good too.

Hook: 10-14 Wet fly

Thread: Black or brown

Tail: Brown Partridge back feather

Body: Hare's ear fur

Rib: Gold wire

Hackle: Brown Partridge

Wing: Hen pheasant wing or similar

March Brown

Adams

This a very versatile and effective dry fly in a variety of sizes. Tied with the original muskrat fur body or hare's ear (as shown) it covers most of the olives on the river and the March browns too. Traditional style dries are good but the parachute version is far superior.

Hook: 10-18 Dry fly

Thread: Black or brown

Tail: Grizzle and red game cock hackles

Body: Muskrat or hare's ear

Rib: Very fine gold wire

Wing post: White and orange antron

Hackle: A grizzle and red game cock hackle wound together

Adams

Badger And Yellow

This is a Don special to imitate the Yellow may dun that the Don trout have a particular fondness for. Use it on a June evening when the fly is hatching and some great dry fly sport can be had.

Hook: 14-16 Dry fly

Thread: Yellow

Tail: Badger cock hackles

Body: Yellow thread

Rib: Very fine gold wire

Wing post: White and orange antron

Hackle: Badger cock

Badger and Yellow

Grey Duster

This a great imitation of the Small dark and Blue winged olives which hatch off the river it is also a great Iron blue imitation when tied with red thread.

Hook: 14-18 Dry fly

Thread: Black or red

Tail: Optional; badger cock

Body: Mole

Rib: Very fine silver wire

Wing post: White and orange antron

Hackle: Creamy badger cock

Grey Duster

Black Klinkhammer

This is a very good fly all season but is particularly good in the very small sizes on some of the slower stretches of the river. It is a great imitation of hatching midge and of the reed smuts that the trout can become preoccupied with during a summers day.

Hook: 14-22 Grub hook

Thread: Black

Body: Black thread

Rib: Very fine silver wire

Wing post: White antron

Hackle: Grizzle cock

Black Klinkhammer

Hare's Ear F-Fly

This is a great little fly when a rise is on as it looks like a hatching bug of any description. A great dry fly banker which works all year. With or without a tail is up to you but I like the fly to have a wee shuck.

Hook: 12-18 Dry fly

Thread: Black or yellow

Tail: Hares ear or white antron ( about 7/8 strands )

Body: Hares ear fur ( lightly dubbed on the yellow thread )

Rib: Fine gold wire

Wing: Natural CDC 4-6 feathers depending on fly size

Hare's Ear F-Fly

Orange Spinner

This is a vital fly to carry on summer evenings, especially just as dusk is falling. The trout really do key into these flies for a small period of time and nothing else will work. A sherry spinner or orange quill is also suitable, but I find this CDC pattern the most effective as it sits in the surface film. Just like the real fly.

Hook: 14-18 Dry fly

Thread: Hot orange

Tail: A few fibres of white antron

Body: A rusty red CDC feather tied in at the tip, twisted into a rope and then wound on

Rib: The finest copper wire

Hackle: A dirty white natural CDC feather spun in a dubbing loop, which should be fairly sparse.

Orange Spinner

Whickams Fancy

A dry fly yes, but more of a general attractor type. It may represent many of the winged insects skittering about the river surface but I fancy it for a sedge. As a wet fly it is also pretty good.

Hook: 12-16 Wet fly

Thread: Black

Tail: Red game cock hackle

Body: Gold tinsel

Rib: Gold wire

Hackle: Red game palmered, Another for the collar

Wing: Starling wing or similar

Whickams Fancy

Black Spider

This is perhaps the best fly of all and it can be used confidently all season in many sizes. It represents almost anything and the trout love it.

Hook: 12-20 Dry fly

Thread: Black or brown silk

Body: Black or brown silk

Hackle: Starling back feather wound with silk through the first 1/3 of the fly

Black Spider

Greenwells Spider

A devastatingly effective fly for Don trout and one most locals never have off their leader. Good as a dry and a wet, but best fished spider style.

Hook: 12-20 Dry fly

Thread: Well waxed pearsalls #5 yellow silk

Body: Thread as above

Rib: Gold wire

Wing: Rolled blackbird wing or similar, tied up at an angle as shown

Hackle: Two turns of Cochybondhu hen hackle

Greenwells Spider

Hares Lug And Plover

( Hares Ear Soft Hackle ) Many versions of this are popular. Tied with hackles of plover, partridge, woodcock and grouse. The Plover one is perhaps the most effective all rounder, but the others can have their days too.

Hook: 10-16 Dry fly

Thread: Yellow

Body: Lightly dubbed Hares ear

Wing: Golden plover back feather.

Hares Lug and Plover

Snipe And Purple

A good dark olive and iron blue imitation, this is yet another spider that fishes well most of the season. Especially on the top dropper.

Hook: 14-16 Dry fly

Thread: Purple silk

Body: Purple silk

Hackle: Outer covert of a snipe's wing

Snipe and Purple

Stewarts Red Spider

A borders fly that works very well mid season for trout on the river. The original used Landrail for the hackle. A few substitutes are available but I have found the lightly barred rusty red feather from the lesser coverts of a blue jay wing are an excellent alternative.

Hook: 14-16 Dry fly

Thread: Well waxed Yellow silk

Body: Silk as above

Hackle: Rusty red barred feather from a Jay wing

Stewarts Red Spider

Waterhen Bloa

This is a brilliant large olive imitation and in the smaller sizes it is also a good blue winged olive imitation.

Hook: 12-16 Dry fly

Thread: Yellow silk

Body: Lightly dubbed mole or muskrat fur

Hackle: The pale grey from the inside of a moorhens wing

Waterhen Bloa

Black Buzzer

The Don is full of black buzzers and the trout feed on them voraciously. If there are no upwings or sedges about, or even if there are, the rising trout are often taking buzzers. Try in the slower sections of river. A size 12/14 duckfly can do some damage during the summer. Not sure why though.

Hook: 12-18 Grub Hook

Thread: Black

Body: Black feather fibre (pheasant or similar)

Rib: Silver tinsel

Thorax: Peacock herl or glister ( Optional: White feather breathers )

Black Buzzer

Hares Ear Nymph

This is a great all round general nymph pattern. Use weighted and unweighted versions and prospect with it.

Hook: 10-18 Wet fly

Thread: Brown or black

Tail: Partridge or Coc De Leon fibres

Body: Hares ear fur

Thorax cover: Pheasant tail fibres

Thorax: Hares ear fur well picked out.

Hares Ear Nymph

Pheasant Tail Nymph

Another good all rounder, but especially effective as a baetis nymph ( small and blue winged olives and iron blues ) Again try weighted and unweighted ones.

Hook: 12-18 Wet fly

Thread: Brown or black

Tail: Pheasant tail fibres

Body: Pheasant tail fibres

Rib: Gold wire

Thorax cover: Pheasant tail fibres

Thorax: Hares ear well picked out, or you can form legs with the tips of the pheasant tail.

Pheasant Tail Nymph

Red Fox Squirrel Nymph

This a good early season fly when fished czech style. It can also be tied without the bead and smaller with a tungsten head to represent different nymphs. But the large copper one is great as a caddis fly nymph/ stonefly imitation in fast water.

Hook: 10-16 Longshank nymph

Thread: Black

Tail: Red fox squirrel fibres

Body: Red fox squirrel belly fur

Rib: Gold tinsel

Thorax: Red fox squirrel back fur

Head: 3 or 4 mm copper bead

Red Fox Squirrel Nymph

Shrimp

The Don has an abundance of freshwater shrimp and they tend to be a dull straw/light olive colour. It is an effective pattern to fish czech style.

Hook: 12-14 Grub

Thread: Straw or light orange

Body: Dirty straw coloured dubbing

Back: Clear flexibody

Rib: Copper wire

Bead: Orange hot head

Shrimp

Czech Nymphs

This is an effective fly on the Don when worked through some of the Pocket water areas. There is an abundance of Hydropsyche and ryhacophilia nymphs, so take green and cream/tan versions.

Hook: 8-12 Grub

Underbody: Tungsten or lead wire

Thread: Black

Body: Cream or green seals fur

Rib: Gold tinsel or wire

Thorax: Hares ear

Back: Tan flexibody

Optional: Pheasant tail legs ( as seen on the green one )

Czech Nymph

Czech Nymph

I hope you find this fly selection useful and informative.

Tightlines to all.

Sandy Nelson