Comparing the Thurso and Tweed Part 2

Nigel Passmore

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The Tweed

All being well, this will be my 42nd season on the Tweed. There is a former poster on here called Zephead (who I know personally) who has fished every recognised salmon beat on the Tweed. I can't say that. While it is my spiritual home, when prices on the Tweed went through the roof in the Naughties I spent my time and money on the Dee in spring. I wouldn't swap a single one of the liced 20lb springers I caught on the Dee for a single autumn fish on the Tweed. However, when all is said and done it is my salmon fishing home.

Although I have had nothing like the reach of Zephead, I have fished it a lot. I have had a syndicate Watsonian rod for over 30 years. For several seasons I had a syndicate rod at Ladyboy and dithered with one at Blankersyde and Santa's Groto. I've fished the Tweed for salmon in every month of the season and caught salmon from it in every month of the season except March. I suspect I might have remedied this if I wasn't spending so much time on the Dee, Naver and Oykel in March; but och so what.

Anyhow, these are the beats I have fished (this excludes Teviot, Ettrick and Yarrow where I have also fished). You can judge if that makes me fit to comment:

Stobbo
Peebles AA
Glenormiston
Traquair
Upper Watsonian
Lower Watsonian
Peel
Yair
Boleside
Tweedswood
Ravenswood
Bemersyde
Dryburgh Upper and Lower
Lower Merton
Rutherford
Upper Floors
Lower Floors
Junction
Upper Hendersyde
Sprouston
Carham
The Lees
Birgham Dub
Ladykirk
Horncliff

Frankly, to compare this with the Thurso is pointless. You can spin the Tweed, you can't the Thurso. You can fish the Tweed from Boats from Boleside down; you can't on the Thurso. You could spend £1200 per rod per day on the Tweed and when I fished it no more than £120 per day on the Thurso. Would you typically catch 10 times the number of salmon on the Tweed as the Thurso? NO. Does the Middle and Lower Tweed have large sections of dead canal water at summer level (which you cna have in autumn quite often) ? YES.

Is the Tweed with its autumn colours in October a magical place? OH YES. Would I swap my first ever salmon a 14lbs hen from the Upper Watsonian Boat Pool on the Tweed on the 4th October 1982 for anything e.g 10,000 Thurso grilse? NOPE NEVER EVER.

Summary

I'm not going to write sections on seasons and tactics for the Tweed. That would need a book not a post. What I will say is this. If you can, go fish the Thurso. It has it's own charm and challenge. If you can go fish the Tweed, it has a different charm and challenge. The Thurso pattern and season is still relatively stable. The Tweed is in a period of tremendous flux. Keep your eye on both of them.

Images


A lot of the Tweed is very manmade - Merton



DSCN0370.JPG



The Real Farr Side - part of a Tweed Dynasty that now spans 3 generations over three great beats (and Blankersyde eh Ian :) )

Xmas 2007 016.jpg


Tweed spingers getting bigger these days - Birgham Dub February

17lbs Cock Fish Birgham 150210.JPG


Yep we chapped them all nearly 40 years ago - but this sort of catch was possible once on Upper Tweed (Nov 1986)

Watsonian Beat 5 November 860001.jpg


Ah blessed we be for Ladyboy in spring

Jammy D into 'im LadyKirk 17042010.JPG


Meanwhile over at Lower Floors it is snowing at the end of November and fish are still being caught in the [Don't pay the ] Ferry [Man] Pool

Big Jim Willows Fish 271110.JPG


What everyone got so excited about on Tweed in autumn - UF 20 of yer finest ponds gov

20lbs Upper Floors Nov 05.jpg


But actually here is what I think is the best of it. Tweed gillie legend Ritchie boating the late Geoffrey Palmer across the Slap at Upper Floors in May

Ritchie about to boat Geoffrey Palmer across the Slap May 11.JPG


The Tweed and the Thurso have their own charms and challenges. Whether you love one, the other or neither is your privillege but I hope you could all just accept them for what they are and no one is forcing you to fish there.

Regards

NHP
 

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Nigel Passmore

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Upper Watsonian :unsure:
Lower Watsonian :unsure:

:ROFLMAO:
Not quite perfect geography, but The Upper Watsonian is opposite Eliebank. The Lower Watsonian is opposite Ashiesteil. As Elibank notes they are both generically called Thornilee, although in reality that description has not been used for over 70 years.

On a Satudray and half term the school children members fish it as one. Mon - Fri the Lower half is a syndicate and the Upper Half is fished as a private day ticket water available to Watsonians.

Regards

NHP
 

Scierra

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Not much response to Part 2 on here ? some fine pics of the Tweed but no canal water ?but there's plenty of canal type of water on the Tweed, more so on the lower & very bottom beats, even more so when the tides hit twice a day, There are some classic fly fishing pools on the Tweed no doubt about it of which some get the spinner too,The Tweed cannot be compared to the Thurso as the Thurso is Fly Only,

One thing about fishing the Thurso the river is easily covered as it is similar size to the Tweed tributaries , Teviot,Till and Ettrick, but much more productive, than the main river Tweed beats, as some days beats catching 10/20 salmon & grilse per day to 2 rods, all double bank too. not many double bank beats on the Tweed ?

2 of the last 3 seasons have been serious droughts on the Thurso ,as it is a spate river, Even in 2019 in the hot summer months the water temp, got so high it put the fish down even with the river running at above summer level ? yes I fished it in July 2019 heatwave and thundery showers, the 3 days I fished I grassed 1@10lbs on Monday beat 7,god it was sticky/clammy overcast drizzle at times , Worse still Tuesday not a cloud in the sky red hot on beat 5,blanked . Wed Beat on beat 3 grassed 3 grilse , thunder all around me all day but managed to stay dry apart from early morning ,I fished the Thurso AA Thursday & Friday , by then the water was tepid in the lower reaches, waste of time but i gave it a good shot , @ £50 per 8hr session , To fish the full day 2 sessions £100 , But the Tidal beats on both Tweed and Thurso rivers get refreshed when the tides roll in and out in times of low river levels so they both on par there.

Tillmouth Beat one of the largest beats, on the Tweed has 6 rotating beats ,but only single bank and only just over 4 miles in length ,most Thurso beats are more than double the length of any one of Tillmouths beats, Tilmouth prices are way more than the Thurso, West Learmouth too, so no comparison here too. Most of the other beats on fishpal are around Thurso prices
 

nickolas

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The Tweed

All being well, this will be my 42nd season on the Tweed. There is a former poster on here called Zephead (who I know personally) who has fished every recognised salmon beat on the Tweed. I can't say that. While it is my spiritual home, when prices on the Tweed went through the roof in the Naughties I spent my time and money on the Dee in spring. I wouldn't swap a single one of the liced 20lb springers I caught on the Dee for a single autumn fish on the Tweed. However, when all is said and done it is my salmon fishing home.

Although I have had nothing like the reach of Zephead, I have fished it a lot. I have had a syndicate Watsonian rod for over 30 years. For several seasons I had a syndicate rod at Ladyboy and dithered with one at Blankersyde and Santa's Groto. I've fished the Tweed for salmon in every month of the season and caught salmon from it in every month of the season except March. I suspect I might have remedied this if I wasn't spending so much time on the Dee, Naver and Oykel in March; but och so what.

Anyhow, these are the beats I have fished (this excludes Teviot, Ettrick and Yarrow where I have also fished). You can judge if that makes me fit to comment:

Stobbo
Peebles AA
Glenormiston
Traquair
Upper Watsonian
Lower Watsonian
Peel
Yair
Boleside
Tweedswood
Ravenswood
Bemersyde
Dryburgh Upper and Lower
Lower Merton
Rutherford
Upper Floors
Lower Floors
Junction
Upper Hendersyde
Sprouston
Carham
The Lees
Birgham Dub
Ladykirk
Horncliff

Frankly, to compare this with the Thurso is pointless. You can spin the Tweed, you can't the Thurso. You can fish the Tweed from Boats from Boleside down; you can't on the Thurso. You could spend £1200 per rod per day on the Tweed and when I fished it no more than £120 per day on the Thurso. Would you typically catch 10 times the number of salmon on the Tweed as the Thurso? NO. Does the Middle and Lower Tweed have large sections of dead canal water at summer level (which you cna have in autumn quite often) ? YES.

Is the Tweed with its autumn colours in October a magical place? OH YES. Would I swap my first ever salmon a 14lbs hen from the Upper Watsonian Boat Pool on the Tweed on the 4th October 1982 for anything e.g 10,000 Thurso grilse? NOPE NEVER EVER.

Summary

I'm not going to write sections on seasons and tactics for the Tweed. That would need a book not a post. What I will say is this. If you can, go fish the Thurso. It has it's own charm and challenge. If you can go fish the Tweed, it has a different charm and challenge. The Thurso pattern and season is still relatively stable. The Tweed is in a period of tremendous flux. Keep your eye on both of them.

Images


A lot of the Tweed is very manmade - Merton



View attachment 57487


The Real Farr Side - part of a Tweed Dynasty that now spans 3 generations over three great beats (and Blankersyde eh Ian :) )

View attachment 57488

Tweed spingers getting bigger these days - Birgham Dub February

View attachment 57489

Yep we chapped them all nearly 40 years ago - but this sort of catch was possible once on Upper Tweed (Nov 1986)

View attachment 57490

Ah blessed we be for Ladyboy in spring

View attachment 57491

Meanwhile over at Lower Floors it is snowing at the end of November and fish are still being caught in the [Don't pay the ] Ferry [Man] Pool

View attachment 57492

What everyone got so excited about on Tweed in autumn - UF 20 of yer finest ponds gov

View attachment 57495

But actually here is what I think is the best of it. Tweed gillie legend Ritchie boating the late Geoffrey Palmer across the Slap at Upper Floors in May

View attachment 57499

The Tweed and the Thurso have their own charms and challenges. Whether you love one, the other or neither is your privillege but I hope you could all just accept them for what they are and no one is forcing you to fish there.

Regards

NHP
Is that the late Geoffrey Palmer of Gannet coats, the infamous shooting man.
 

heather point

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I would think that it is Geoffrey Palmer the actor who was a very keen fisherman and who died very recently.
 

marty31

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Not much response to Part 2 on here ? some fine pics of the Tweed but no canal water ?but there's plenty of canal type of water on the Tweed, more so on the lower & very bottom beats, even more so when the tides hit twice a day, There are some classic fly fishing pools on the Tweed no doubt about it of which some get the spinner too,The Tweed cannot be compared to the Thurso as the Thurso is Fly Only,

One thing about fishing the Thurso the river is easily covered as it is similar size to the Tweed tributaries , Teviot,Till and Ettrick, but much more productive, than the main river Tweed beats, as some days beats catching 10/20 salmon & grilse per day to 2 rods, all double bank too. not many double bank beats on the Tweed ?

2 of the last 3 seasons have been serious droughts on the Thurso ,as it is a spate river, Even in 2019 in the hot summer months the water temp, got so high it put the fish down even with the river running at above summer level ? yes I fished it in July 2019 heatwave and thundery showers, the 3 days I fished I grassed 1@10lbs on Monday beat 7,god it was sticky/clammy overcast drizzle at times , Worse still Tuesday not a cloud in the sky red hot on beat 5,blanked . Wed Beat on beat 3 grassed 3 grilse , thunder all around me all day but managed to stay dry apart from early morning ,I fished the Thurso AA Thursday & Friday , by then the water was tepid in the lower reaches, waste of time but i gave it a good shot , @ £50 per 8hr session , To fish the full day 2 sessions £100 , But the Tidal beats on both Tweed and Thurso rivers get refreshed when the tides roll in and out in times of low river levels so they both on par there.

Tillmouth Beat one of the largest beats, on the Tweed has 6 rotating beats ,but only single bank and only just over 4 miles in length ,most Thurso beats are more than double the length of any one of Tillmouths beats, Tilmouth prices are way more than the Thurso, West Learmouth too, so no comparison here too. Most of the other beats on fishpal are around Thurso prices
Nearly all you say is fact, and cannot be disputed, we at the bottom have plenty canal water! But enough faster water to still catch fish, we are not separated so basically the rubbish water is either spun or more likely to be not fished! Tillmouth yes is single bank, but the shear size of the river can carry that problem as its mainly boat fishing, therefore the gillies make sure that it works, its 4 miles long, yes but i bet tillmouth and the opposite sides tweedmill, lennal, and milnegradens catches added up are more than 26 miles of the thurso, a bigger average, and a lot fresher, more expensive? I dont know? Where i would rather be?? I will stay loyal to the tweed thanks! But understandably! Horses for courses! Fishing a big deep slow river! Is not everyone's cup of tea! It is completely different fishing thats undeniable, but when you hook a fish! You never know just how big that fish will be! Whatever the time of the season.
 

charlieH

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not many double bank beats on the Tweed ?

My knowledge of the Tweed isn't great, but is this correct? I thought that the majority of the most productive section of the river - roughly speaking from Birgham Dub up to Boleside - comprises double bank beats.
 

Handel

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My knowledge of the Tweed isn't great, but is this correct? I thought that the majority of the most productive section of the river - roughly speaking from Birgham Dub up to Boleside - comprises double bank beats.
Lower Birgham to Boleside will give you mostly double bank fishing. Whether that is the most productive section of the river these days may be more debatable but by most standards it is certainly productive.
 

Nigel Passmore

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One thing about fishing the Thurso the river is easily covered as it is similar size to the Tweed tributaries , Teviot,Till and Ettrick, but much more productive, than the main river Tweed beats, as some days beats catching 10/20 salmon & grilse per day to 2 rods, all double bank too. not many double bank beats on the Tweed ?
Most of the Tweed beats I listed are double bank or for the majority of their length double bank. The Big 4 River with the single bank issue is the Middle Dee where the majority of fishing is single bank from Aboyne to Banchory.

Regards

NHP
 

Loxie

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Most of the Tweed beats I listed are double bank or for the majority of their length double bank. The Big 4 River with the single bank issue is the Middle Dee where the majority of fishing is single bank from Aboyne to Banchory.

Regards

NHP
That's the worst thing about the Dee for me and in most heights of water it's not wide enough to take the pressure. Unless there are new fish running it can feel desperately over rodded, whereas at Wark the river feels big enough to tolerate the opposition.
 

simoncassidy

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I haven't fished the Thurso yet,but from photos and some video's of it I feel it may be similar to a spate river we have in the West of Ireland the Erriff.The Erriff is set in a wonderful valley with the famous Ashleigh Falls just before it cascades into Irelands only fjord Killary.The river can give magical fishing given the right conditions and break your heart more often than not.That said the Tweed for me is a whole different animal. My first visit was a backend trip to some of the cheapest and highest beats on the river.We fished Dawyck,Peebles Crown Water and Sunderland hall for the week.We got a few fish and I fell in love with the river.We have returned annually some years twice for a Spring week and our annual backend pilgrimage.By now we have fished every beat on the Upper and Middle river barring one or two that are on the bucket list,Mertoun lower being one, crossing the river on the way to St. Boswells and the cauld above the bridge just draws me every year.The Tweed in Autumn is nothing short of magical.The scenery and colours can be breathtaking. The whole area is steeped in fishing,hunting and shooting nothing short of a countrymans Utopia.I have been fortunate to fish in alot of wonderful rivers all over the world but very few come even close to the magic of the Tweed.Try it and you may bewitched.
 

Oscar

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Not much response to Part 2 on here ? some fine pics of the Tweed but no canal water ?but there's plenty of canal type of water on the Tweed, more so on the lower & very bottom beats, even more so when the tides hit twice a day, There are some classic fly fishing pools on the Tweed no doubt about it of which some get the spinner too,The Tweed cannot be compared to the Thurso as the Thurso is Fly Only,

One thing about fishing the Thurso the river is easily covered as it is similar size to the Tweed tributaries , Teviot,Till and Ettrick, but much more productive, than the main river Tweed beats, as some days beats catching 10/20 salmon & grilse per day to 2 rods, all double bank too. not many double bank beats on the Tweed ?

2 of the last 3 seasons have been serious droughts on the Thurso ,as it is a spate river, Even in 2019 in the hot summer months the water temp, got so high it put the fish down even with the river running at above summer level ? yes I fished it in July 2019 heatwave and thundery showers, the 3 days I fished I grassed 1@10lbs on Monday beat 7,god it was sticky/clammy overcast drizzle at times , Worse still Tuesday not a cloud in the sky red hot on beat 5,blanked . Wed Beat on beat 3 grassed 3 grilse , thunder all around me all day but managed to stay dry apart from early morning ,I fished the Thurso AA Thursday & Friday , by then the water was tepid in the lower reaches, waste of time but i gave it a good shot , @ £50 per 8hr session , To fish the full day 2 sessions £100 , But the Tidal beats on both Tweed and Thurso rivers get refreshed when the tides roll in and out in times of low river levels so they both on par there.

Tillmouth Beat one of the largest beats, on the Tweed has 6 rotating beats ,but only single bank and only just over 4 miles in length ,most Thurso beats are more than double the length of any one of Tillmouths beats, Tilmouth prices are way more than the Thurso, West Learmouth too, so no comparison here too. Most of the other beats on fishpal are around Thurso prices

Interesting stuff. I’ve caught fish from B7, although really struggle in low water, and without a breeze! Had a couple from above and below the bridge, but without wind and flow find it hard to gauge the rest of the beat.

Interested to hear where you have had joy.

Oscar.
 

marty31

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I haven't fished the Thurso yet,but from photos and some video's of it I feel it may be similar to a spate river we have in the West of Ireland the Erriff.The Erriff is set in a wonderful valley with the famous Ashleigh Falls just before it cascades into Irelands only fjord Killary.The river can give magical fishing given the right conditions and break your heart more often than not.That said the Tweed for me is a whole different animal. My first visit was a backend trip to some of the cheapest and highest beats on the river.We fished Dawyck,Peebles Crown Water and Sunderland hall for the week.We got a few fish and I fell in love with the river.We have returned annually some years twice for a Spring week and our annual backend pilgrimage.By now we have fished every beat on the Upper and Middle river barring one or two that are on the bucket list,Mertoun lower being one, crossing the river on the way to St. Boswells and the cauld above the bridge just draws me every year.The Tweed in Autumn is nothing short of magical.The scenery and colours can be breathtaking. The whole area is steeped in fishing,hunting and shooting nothing short of a countrymans Utopia.I have been fortunate to fish in alot of wonderful rivers all over the world but very few come even close to the magic of the Tweed.Try it and you may bewitched.
Well said, tweed has a following of loyal rods who respect its worth, loyalty to keep returning even after what hopefully has just been a blip between a change in seasonal running times! And soon returning to its former glory as the best salmon river in the uk
 

Oscar

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I haven't fished the Thurso yet,but from photos and some video's of it I feel it may be similar to a spate river we have in the West of Ireland the Erriff.The Erriff is set in a wonderful valley with the famous Ashleigh Falls just before it cascades into Irelands only fjord Killary.The river can give magical fishing given the right conditions and break your heart more often than not.That said the Tweed for me is a whole different animal. My first visit was a backend trip to some of the cheapest and highest beats on the river.We fished Dawyck,Peebles Crown Water and Sunderland hall for the week.We got a few fish and I fell in love with the river.We have returned annually some years twice for a Spring week and our annual backend pilgrimage.By now we have fished every beat on the Upper and Middle river barring one or two that are on the bucket list,Mertoun lower being one, crossing the river on the way to St. Boswells and the cauld above the bridge just draws me every year.The Tweed in Autumn is nothing short of magical.The scenery and colours can be breathtaking. The whole area is steeped in fishing,hunting and shooting nothing short of a countrymans Utopia.I have been fortunate to fish in alot of wonderful rivers all over the world but very few come even close to the magic of the Tweed.Try it and you may bewitched.
Ha! Very interesting. I caught my first salmon on the Erriff - Broken Bridge B5 - and fished it from 1997 to 2005 without a break. Love the place!

As you say it’s very much like the Thurso, with backing up the way to go on the flatter pools, just like those on B2, like the Quarry. Interspersed with faster water, both rivers offer great variety in my opinion. The Thurso is a bit wider though I’d say.

You should come across and give it a try!

Oscar.
 

Cascade

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I once had the pleasure of fishing Upper Floors in late February and was lucky enough to catch a springer from the pool at the top of the beat, Slates. To fish the beat I had to stay in the Roxburghe hotel.

I remember having a drink in the drawing room and reading through some old catch return books, dating back to the early 1900s. In the first part of the 20th century I learned that Tweed was very much an early spring river and some tremendous catches were made in February, March and April. Apparently they stopped fishing in June as there wasn't a summer or autumn run.

Upper Floors must have the nicest fly water on the river.
 

nickolas

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Apologies, I don’t understand your response?

Regards
I assumed possibly incorrectly, following you saying you had fished the dub, there’s a photo in the dub hut with Geoffrey the two ghillys and one other fisherman. Probably 20ish years ago.
 

Scierra

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Ha! Very interesting. I caught my first salmon on the Erriff - Broken Bridge B5 - and fished it from 1997 to 2005 without a break. Love the place!

As you say it’s very much like the Thurso, with backing up the way to go on the flatter pools, just like those on B2, like the Quarry. Interspersed with faster water, both rivers offer great variety in my opinion. The Thurso is a bit wider though I’d say.

You should come across and give it a try!

Oscar.
I am sure they fish the natural shrimp on the Erriff ,seen a few video's a few years back worm too ? never fished it , but visited when on holiday there in 2004 the falls look impassable ? height ? not sure is there a fish ladder there for low flows ?
 

charlieH

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That's the worst thing about the Dee for me and in most heights of water it's not wide enough to take the pressure. Unless there are new fish running it can feel desperately over rodded, whereas at Wark the river feels big enough to tolerate the opposition.

At the risk of drawing the Dee further into the comparisons, your observation about the problem of single bank ownership there isn't a new one. Ashley Cooper commented that: "This is a drawback, and it is very different from what is to be found at least on the Spey and Tweed...Since the Dee is not a river of great width, friction between opposite banks can then result. This is always a misfortune, and it would be hard to deny that, in these days of intensive fishing, to have fishing rights on both sides of one's beat is an unmixed blessing. It is one of the justifiable criticisms of Dee fishing that often on this river one is not so fortunate".

At least on the Spey (at Carron and Laggan) and Tweed (Sprouston and Hendersyde), although owned as single bank beats, the owners recognise that double bank fishing is preferable, so have come to arrangements to avoid rods from different parties fishing opposite one another. On the other hand, one of the things that has puzzled me for some years is that, at Park on the Dee, although both banks are in the same ownership, they persist in letting it as two single bank beats, rather than dividing it into upper and lower beats with both banks.

It's a point that I've raised previously here. In fact, I recall mentioning it in a thread back in the early days of this forum, and being firmly told by a couple of once prolific posters called Zephead and Clag (whatever happened to him? ;) ) that the arrangement at Park was just fine. But so far nobody has managed to explain satisfactorily how Park differs from just about anywhere else - and disproves Ashley Cooper's assertion - in that it wouldn't be improved by being organised as double bank beats.
 
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