The South Uist Tackle Guide
RODS & LINES
Any trout rod in the range 9′ to 11’6″ rated for lines between 4 and 7 weight will cope with the trout and sea trout in the freshwater lochs. In common with most areas there has been a trend in recent years towards lighter rods and lines and most modern anglers now use five and six weights. The longer rods up around 11′ give greater control over fishing the bob fly from the boats (or bank) and also help keep the flies above high heather clad banks on the hill lochs from the shore.
For fishing the sea pools for sea trout it is probably best to stick to the slightly higher line weights (a seven) to cope with the adverse winds in the often exposed locations to say nothing of having to horse lively fish out of the sea weed.
Probably 95% of Uist fishing is done with a floating line. There are times early season or in cold spells or coloured water when an intermediate might be a better choice. There is rarely any need of a full sinker as most of the lochs are only a few feet deep although there are some deep holes on some hill/moorland lochs
Wading on Uist & Benbecula varies as widely as the lochs. Some (but not all) of the machair lochs are dead smooth with a sand bed while many of the hill/moorland lochs have boulder strewn beds and sudden drop offs hidden by dark peaty water. Please ALWAYS wade with care.
For boat fishing and wading on the machair lochs many anglers use chest waders. Many of the hill/moorland lochs are best fished from the shore in wellingtons or walking boots as the fish often lie tight in against the rocks. There is no fun in walking half way up Hecla in chest waders!
Please note Some SUAC boats are moored just offshore in shallow water. Waders are required to reach these boats. Waders can also be useful to hop out of the boat and fish those areas that the boats cannot reach.
FLIES & LEADERS
Fly hatches are not generally prolific on the islands. There are good duckfly (buzzer) hatches early season, a few sedge appear in summer and huge caenis hatches on calm nights in June & July. There are good falls of heather flies and crane flies (daddy long legs) in late summer. The lochs are however full of shrimp, snail and stickleback.
This general lack of fly and rising fish has lead to the approach of pulling a team of three wet flies being standard on Uist. The most popular flies being traditional wets such as Kate McLaren, Black Pennell, Bibio, Clan Chief all of the Bumbles (claret being favourite) Invicta, Gorgeous George etc. All of these flies are also used in Muddler form to great effect. With all of the lochs holding sticklebacks flies such as Butcher, Teal Blue & Silver and Alexandra are also rightly popular.
However dry fly can be used during the hatches of fly or fall of terrestrials so you should always be ready to change tactics when conditions dictate. Sedghogs, Kilinkhammers and of course Dry Daddies their moments as can outsized rubber legged beasties on a slow day, you never know what they might bring up!
In windy conditions the machair lochs can colour up due to wave action and then big lures and streamers such as the Woolly Bugger can save the day.
Leaders should as always be matched to the size of the fly but it is rarely necessary to go below 6lb in standard nylon (Maxima or Drennan for example) or a fair bit heavier in fluorocarbon. A lot of the takes even from small fish are explosive and fishing fine is a recipe for disaster.