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Salmon Fishing Rivers in Scotland - A Brief Summary

Article written by Jock Monteith - Have a look at Jock's web site for more information:   

© This article is copyrighted

 The big four Scottish salmon rivers Tay, Dee, Tweed & Spey all have their own slightly differently timed annual runs of salmon. The Tay sees the bulk of its Spring  salmon entering the river from mid March to the end of May where fresh run salmon can be caught as far up the Tay system as Loch Tay. In the Summer months salmon fishing on the Tay can offer good sport and fresh run salmon are found throughout the system at this time of year. The lower Tay traditionally fishes very well in the Autumn through to mid October when the Tay closes and these later running fish will move up through the middle & upper Tay during this time given the scent of fresh water. Permitted methods of fishing are spinning fly fishing and occasionally worm fishing through the Summer months. Harling which is type of trawling is permitted and most salmon beats on the Tay have boats to conduct this type of fishing from. Popular Tay lures are the 28 gram copper or silver toby, pearly pink tomic lure or kynoch for harling and black bodied 20 to 25 gram flying condoms with a silver or gold blade for spinning with in the early Spring or late Autumn months. Popular Spring Tay salmon flies are the Gold Bodied Willie Gunn and Black & Yellow and in the late Spring and Summer months flies such as the Ally’s shrimp, Stoats Tail, Editor and Cascade fly patterns fish well. In the Autumn salmon flies with red or orange in them always do well and patterns like the Jock’s Shrimp, Red Editor, Black & Orange or orange or red Ally’s shrimp patterns often produce results. The River Tay opens annually from 15 January through to 15 October.



The Dee offers some outstanding fly fishing water and has good numbers of Spring salmon in it from opening in February. Dee salmon numbers build up in the lower river until the water warms in March & April which traditionally see’s this large head of fish moving up through the middle Dee beats. The Dee salmon fishing season opens to mid October and  many Dee salmon can be found throughout the river system from Summer through to October. The River Dee is primarily a fly only river due to its magnificent and easily coverable glides and pools. Popular Dee salmon flies such as the Black & Yellow, Park Shrimp, Calvin Shrimp, Dee Monkey, Sunray Shadow all do well in the early months and through the Summer patterns like the Blue Charm, Dee Sheep, Cascade, Flamethrower, Puppy Dog and Stoats Tail all have their moments. The River Dee opens on the 1st of February and closes on the 15th of October each year.

The River Spey can produce a few early Spring salmon in the lower beats at the start of the season when the water is cold but action usually starts to increase from mid March onwards.  The Spey like the Dee offers some really exciting fly fishing water. The months of May, June & July traditionally produce the best salmon fishing in the lower and middle Spey beats but from June onwards salmon and sea trout can be found throughout the Spey system all the way up to its headwaters. The Spey for the greater part is a fly only river however some of the Spey beats do permit spinning at certain water heights. Popular Spey Spring fly patterns are the Black & Yellow, Gold Bodied Willie Gunn and patterns such as the Stoats Tail, Editor, Munro Killer, Ally’s Shrimp, Arndilly Fancy and Executioner all do well from late Spring through to the back end.
The Spey opens its doors on the 11th of February and closes for fishing on the 30th of September each season.


The Tweed is one of the latest rivers in Scotland closing at the end of November each year and many of it beats produce good salmon & sea trout catches at this time of year. Tweed catches of late have been good and Spring salmon are caught on many of its beats from opening in February in the lower Tweed beats. Like the other rivers cold water keeps salmon at the lower end until usually somewhere in March when things start to warm a little then these fish will readily run up through most of the Tweed system. Spring & Summer salmon & sea trout fishing on the Tweed can be very good as many thousands of salmon run this prolific river each season. Like the Spey the River Tweed tends to be fly only with the exception of high water levels where some Tweed beats permit the use of a spinning rod. The popular River Tweed salmon fly patterns are the Eternal Optimist, Gold Bodied Willie Gunn, Comet, Posh Tosh, Sir Richard, Cascade, Stoats Tail, Junction Shrimp, Akroyd, Green Highlander & Blue Elver. The River Tweed opens each season on the 1st of February and closes on the 30th of November.

Scotland offers really exciting salmon fishing on many of its smaller rivers such as rivers Findhorn, Teith, Helmsdale, South & North Esks, Brora, Thurso, Halladale, Nith, Annan, Tummel & Beauly and all these rivers at times can offer exceptional sport. Most Scottish salmon rivers offer a mixed bag of salmon fishing access from reasonably inexpensive fishing association day permits to expensive high end full weekly timeshare lets. On the smaller Scottish rivers good water levels are more important than on the Tay, Dee, Spey & Tweed and timing on the smaller rivers is everything and if conditions are favorable then memorable salmon & sea trout fishing can also be expected.

Jock Monteith is a renowned and professional Scottish salmon fishing guide. Who has been involved in the Scottish salmon fishing scene for over 30 years including a role as head ghillie for 10 years on the Newtyle beat of the River Tay. He can arrange salmon fishing trips on any Scottish salmon river including the rivers Tay, Spey, Tweed & Dee and can give good advice on where and when to fish. Jock is also an  exceptional Spey casting instructor who in all cases teaches fishers to Spey cast quickly & effectively. Accommodation whether a B&B or a 5 star luxury hotel can be arranged by Jock and taking the guess work out of where to fish  stay is one of his many specialties. Airport or hotel pick up & drop off service and daily transportation can also be provided along with all required fishing tackle including quality well balanced rods, reels and lines. Corporate salmon fishing days are also something that Jock specializes in and he has a vast experience of delivering such salmon fishing events. A salmon fishing gift voucher with Jock Monteith for a day or more can also be arranged. Contact Jock Monteith if you are looking for a one stop quality introduction from a true professional to the world of Scottish salmon fishing, Speycasting lessons, all inclusive salmon fishing breaks, quality salmon fishing tackle hire or a professional and knowledgeable Scottish salmon fishing guide.

Have a look at Jock's web site Salmon-fish-scotland.com or email him direct with any questions you may have email