Fishing on the River Spey

The River Spey is the most famous Salmon fishing river in the world. One of the ‘big four’ salmon rivers in Scotland, the Spey  offers exceptional and unrivalled fishing along it’s banks. 

Home of the famous ‘Spey Cast’, people from all over the world covet the opportunity to land a Spey salmon, making it one of the most sought after locations in Scotland and Europe. 

Use the links below or continue reading to find out more about fishing on the River Spey. 

Before fishing on the River Spey please read our River Guidelines and Conservation Policy.

A little advice about fishing on the Spey

The River Spey is the home of speycasting and one of Scotland’s big four salmon rivers. It has the third largest drainage area after the Tay and Tweed and is the second longest after the Tay. However, its major attraction is its size and the strength of its stream – in the middle and lower river it falls on average 12 feet per mile – the gradient and volume of flow produce a unique experience for the angler.

An interesting aside, the Spey, unlike most British rivers, does not have a sizeable town at its mouth. The river is snow fed from the Cairngorm Mountains and in a good year this can mean the river staying high until early June.

Fishing Tackle

The tackle required depends on the time of year and where you are fishing. If fishing the lower or middle Spey stout tackle will be needed during the spring and autumn, and even in the summer if there happens to be a flood.

When fishing in the spring or autumn long rods of around 15-16ft rods are used by many experienced Spey anglers, often with intermediate or sinking lines and/or sink tips. In the summer a 13-15ft rod with a floating line is usually sufficient although in times of drought a single-handed rod may suffice. It is advisable to ensure that your reel has plenty of backing as a large fish in a strong current can take a lot of line. Salmon are not known as leader shy so don’t be frightened to fish with 15-18lb nylon in the spring and nothing less than 10lb in the summer.

The choice of flies depends on the time of year you intend to fish and the height of the water. In the spring ‘any fly will do as long as it is a Willie Gunn’ is a commonly heard expression. During the summer months try shrimp patterns like General Practitioner, Ally Shrimp and Cascade – and who would dare fish the Spey without a Munro Killer in their box? In low water conditions a member of the Stoat’s Tail family is always good for grilse.

Waders and Clothing

Chest waders are usually required on most beats. These can be hired or bought and can be a good investment. Neoprene waders or breathables with several under layers are required in the spring and will help keep out the chill although as the year progresses breathables will be most suitable. Warm waterproof clothes are also advisable as the weather in Scotland can be unpredictable; it is easy to take off a layer if you get too warm. In the interests of safety a floatation aid is highly recommended and is compulsory on some beats. Given the power of the Spey flow a stout wading stick is also advised.

"Fishing on the River Spey is a once in a lifetime experience, or for the lucky few, a yearly privilege."

Why fish the Spey?

Man with big salmon

The highest catch in Scotland 2021

World class ghillies

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Lower spey sunshine

Magnificent and tranquil scenery

The home of Spey Casting

Angus Fishing

Triumphant Spey Anglers

Thousands of salmon are landed on the River Spey every year. Below is a small selection of beaming anglers and their Spey salmon.

Recent Fishing Reports

Fishing Reports

Week Commencing 16th May 2022

Welcome to another weekly report from Speyside. Unfortunately, Sandy Howie, who produces our widely read Weekly Fishing Reports, couldn’t produce this week’s report. Sandy was faultlessly involved in a road traffic accident towards the end of last week that required a trip to hospital. Thankfully he is ok, at home, and hopefully on the mend.

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Fishing Reports

Week Commencing 9th May 2022

Afternoon everyone Been quite a nice day here in Moray, not long back from the Gordon Castle Highland Games which is being held for the first time in 3 years. Was tying flies for a while at the River Spey Anglers Association stand. The event looked as if it was very busy and the event

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Fishing Reports

Week Commencing 2nd May 2022

Good afternoon all The first week of May is past and the year is flying in or is it just me getting older? A very mixed week of weather behind us, warm, cold, wet and windy at times, suiting some and not others. The garden is badly needing water but what rain that fell has

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