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A Beginner’s Guide to Fishing the Highland Rivers of Scotland:

Essential Equipment Tips


Fishing the pristine rivers of the Scottish Highlands is an endeavour that promises breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable angling experiences. For those venturing into this pursuit for the first time, selecting the right equipment is crucial. In this guide, we’ll explore the essential gear every novice angler should consider investing in to embark on their Highland fishing adventure. Your local angling shop will always be the best place to start and at the Sports and Model Shop we are always happy to chat and help with advice.

1. Rod and Reel Selection

Your fishing rod and reel form the backbone of your angling setup, dictating casting distance, accuracy, and overall fishing experience. It is important to decide which species you are targeting, and whether you are going to Spin, Fly Fish or use bait.

If Spinning or Bait fishing we recommend that you opt for a versatile rod, ideally between 7 to 9 feet in length, with a casting weight of 5-30g. This ensures sufficient strength to handle various fish species while maintaining sensitivity to detect subtle bites. Paired with a quality spinning reel of appropriate size, you’ll have the versatility to tackle the diverse fishing opportunities in the Highlands with confidence.

For Fly Fishing you would again choose your rod based on where you are planning to fish and what for. For a fishery with little tree cover and some good sized Rainbow Trout you could choose a 10ft Rod rated for line weight 7, whereas to fish a hill loch for wild brown trout you should choose a much lighter rod rated for line weight 5 or even lower. A 9ft rod line weight 6 would be a good middle of the range size that would work in various conditions N.B. The Rod, Reel and line should all match to the same line rating.

2. Fishing Line and Leader Material

Selecting the right fishing line is paramount, considering our clear waters and wary highland fish. When spinning or bait fishing Monofilament lines, ranging from 4 to 10-pound test, offer a balance between strength and invisibility.For brown trout choose lighter strengths and for pike or other bigger fish choose a minimum of 10lb test. Experienced fisherfolk often use braid, which is more expensive, but ultra strong and smooth casting for the diameter.

Choosing a Fly Line and Leaders for Fly Fishing it is essential to match the line with the right size rod and reel. To begin with it is usually best to start off with a floating line and add a poly leader to match the conditions i.e. Floating to keep the fly on the top of the water ranging to Super Fast Sinking to get to those low lying fish in big water. Fluorocarbon tippet can further enhance stealth, minimising the risk of spooking cautious trout or salmon. Buying as good quality line as you can afford will help improve presentation and casting performance.

3. Essential Tackle and Terminal Gear

Carrying a well-curated selection of terminal tackle ensures you’re prepared for various fishing scenarios. Stock up on a range of hooks, including sizes suitable for the prevalent trout, salmon and pike species in Highland rivers and lochs. Additionally, invest in an assortment of split shot weights and swivels to customise your rigging for optimal presentation and bait control. Don’t forget to include a variety of artificial lures such as Rapala’s or Tobys , and natural baits such as worms or mackerel to entice finicky fish throughout the season.

Fly fishers should not leave home without a good selection of well tied flies appropriate for the location and species targeted. In addition tippet, poly leaders, floatant, snips and a landing net (hopefully!) will be needed.

4. Proper Clothing and Accessories

The unpredictable weather of the Scottish Highlands demands appropriate clothing to ensure comfort and safety during fishing expeditions. Layering is key, starting with moisture-wicking base layers to manage perspiration, followed by insulating mid-layers and a waterproof outer shell to shield against rain and wind. A wide-brimmed hat and polarised sunglasses not only provide protection from the elements but also enhance visibility on the water, aiding in spotting fish and navigating water features effectively. A good pair of waders will keep your bottom half dry and comfortable. Breathable waders are the most comfortable but can be cool in the spring and autumn months when a pair of Neoprene waders might be preferable. Alternatively traditional rubber boot foot waders are tough, practical and long lasting.

5. Safety Equipment and River Etiquette

Prioritising safety on the water is non-negotiable, especially when fishing remote Highland rivers and lochs. Equip yourself with essential safety gear, including a properly fitted life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) and a reliable wading staff to navigate uneven riverbeds safely. Familiarise yourself with local regulations and angling etiquette, respecting the rights of other anglers and the delicate ecosystem of the Highland rivers you explore. Dont leave any rubbish behind and be especially careful to take any offcuts of tangled line away to preserve the wild birds.


Embarking on a fishing journey amidst the stunning landscapes of the Scottish Highlands holds the promise of unforgettable adventures and memorable catches. By equipping yourself with the essential gear outlined in this guide and approaching your angling pursuits with respect for nature and fellow anglers, you’ll set the stage for a fulfilling and rewarding fishing experience in one of the world’s most captivating fishing destinations.The Sports and Model Shop, 66 High St, Dingwall IV15 9RY

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