The river Tay Perthshire

By Cohn O’Dea – Guideline Ambassador & Head Ghillie Taymount, River Tay.

The River Tay and its surroundings, often called The Heart of Scotland, are simply quite stunning during the autumn season.  For those fortunate enough to find themselves submerged within her hypnotic and seductive flows, surrounded by its abundance of breathtaking wildlife and outstanding autumn scenery.  It is my hope that you find something useful in this composition of guidelines and considerations, that gives you the edge in your experience and pursuit of a fish of a life time.


Safety – First and foremost in all situations and related applications.  Life jackets, wadding sticks and sunglasses are essential for the various situations you might encounter.  Caution is required whilst wadding this mighty river.  Navigate your pools with due care, the most simple wades are often the most treacherous.

Rods and Reels – 14/15ft, 9/10, 10/11 rods are standard requirements.  12/13ft, 8/9, 9/10, are essential for more competent coverage of the river.  In the biggest of waters these shorter rods shall serve you well, as more often than not your best opportunities are not far from you.  Reels are advised to have Disc Drags and hold at least 200 yards of 30LB backing, (Think Big, succeed big).  Although they are less common these days this mighty river still has the potential to give you the opportunity of a fish, of a lifetime.


Lines and leaders – At this time of year you should cover all bases from full floater to heavy sinkers.  3D and 4D multisystem are my recommendations.  Mono 15-20LBs Maxima tried and tested option.  Fluorocarbon 16-22LB, Reverge Grand Max is most reliable on the market.

Flies – You can’t over do it this department.  Palmered bodies and feelers really come in to play at this time of the season.  If your fortunate enough to be a fly dresser, subtle changes to current or tried and tested patterns can bring great results.  Change long tails to long wings, leave out jungle cock eyes, black body with gold or silver rib during the daytime fishing, gold and silver bodies in the evening.Big classic hair wing singles, along with standard, old school classics, such as Stoats Tail, Munro Killer, Curry’s Red and Hutchy Shrimp and Thunder & Lightning have saved the day for me on many occasions. Although they are no longer in fashion, when all else fails you can always trust in them too work.


Waders and Boots – Chest waders are standard.  Robust boots with rubber or felt soles are recommended to be accompanied with good or new studs.  Some of this rivers bedrock bottom can be like glass at this time of year.

Clothing –  Climate and river temperatures are variable and sometimes extreme at this time of year.  The River Tay has its own unique eco-climate, one side can be very cold whilst the other side can be warm.  Winds can be fierce, waterproof clothing and thermals are essential to cover all elements of weather you may encounter. Please remember in Scotland we can regularly encounter all seasons in the same day.


Applications – This big old river requires a multi-dimensional approach.  If you fish one dimensional you will only succeed one dimensional.  First thing in the morning, after lunch and in the evening you may encounter fish in the most untypical parts of the pools, eg, really thin water, drop offs and runs.  The best approach for such fish is to use shorter rods with lighter full floating lines, long leaders with classic fly’s or small tubes will bring great success.  Clear intermediate tips or small cone heads for increased control and depth.  Cast short from different angles and vary your fly speed with rod movement, figure of 8 or slow/quick pulls of different lengths can often seduce hard to catch fish.  Tailor your wading to suit each approach.  Your first run down each pool should always be with your shorter rod, with little or no wadding.  Your second run, with your longer rod a more typical and orthodox approach, with medium or comfortable wadding.  Deep wading is not advised and rarely achieves, nothing more than cumbersome casting, failed crumbled back turnovers.  Tidy manageable casting with good fly turnover and touch down will without doubt result in more opportunities of hooking these truly magnificent and elusive fish.


1) Safety first in all aspects.
2) Tailor your approach and application.
3) Carry a complete selection of fly lines.
4) Make sure you have strong well tied knots, leaders and plenty of backing.
5) Current, classic, experimental variants and outlandish fly’s required.
6) Think Big & you shall succeed big.  This ensures everything else is well catered for.
7) Keep cool, dry and warm, as you may well encounter all seasons in one.
8) Resist over casting and over wading.
9) Always expect the unexpected.
10) Absorb your total experience.

Keep it Reel and C,Mon the Fish
By Cohn O’Dea – Guideline Ambassador & Head Ghillie Taymount, The River Tay, Scotland. 


Cohn’s introduction to fishing began as a poachers son aged 4 by carrying the rods and observing at Taymount in1974. His father (Cohn Snr),master fly fisher, J.T Third and Tay legend George McGinnis were his mentors and inspiration to learn, refine and improve all aspects of his casting repertoire and expertise. For him fly fishing on the river Tay has a special attraction. He has a complete symmetry with the rivers mystical union, unique challenges and ever changing moods; He continues to pass on his passion for salmon fishing teaching and advising anglers from around the globe who visit his beat on this mighty river. With his life long obsession, dedication and commitment we are proud to welcome Cohn as a Guideline ambassador and part of the Guideline family.


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