Spey Pages banner

A Question of Shooting Heads

2336 Views 11 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  PStewart
I was trying to fish a Collie Dog Fly on Saturday and found it hard work with a standard spey line. Too much stripping. I was thinking a weight 12 or 13 floating shooting head might be easier. The problem is I cannot find anything of this discription on this side of the Atlantic. I sure I read somewhere on this site that you boys were using something similar.

I need something quite heavy to load a 10/11 rated 16 foot Bruce & Walker.

Landed a nice 11lb salmon (tagged & released) on a little Willie Gunn. 6 salmon this season all on Willie Gunns, and I have been trying other flies they just don't seem to work.

1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Ok Malcom, I'm getting 'creamed' going after the Spring Kings ...

So you're a couple of bucks behind on the 'last delivery,' so you and Steff get to do a few more Willie's to give them a try.

Desperate men do desperate things!!!:devil: How's the rest of the family??; you're doing well. :>)
Hi Willie Gunn (from same side of the pond as you!) - I've faced a similar problem recently for a somewhat different reason. Basically, I found it an enormous problem finding heavy salmon lines of a suitable wieght (AFTM rating) to cut up and manufacture 'home-made' shooting heads. I found that 12 (and 13 wt if you could get them) lines were best for my 15' 10/11 wt G.Loomis glx, and, even when acquired, the flight characteristics weren't always that brilliant. I've given up on this silly (in my opinion) search and have (literally) only just bought a custom Loop head. They do these to suit various rods (in terms of length and rating) in floating, sink-tip, fast intermediate, and fast sinker. The factory joined loops look good and the line seems a quality (if relatively expensive) piece of tackle. I'll be taking the line out for a test cast some evening this week so will report back later. On the subject of 'Collie Dogs', on the one of only two days I've managed to get out this year, I managed a 14 1/2 lb Springer on a 3" Sunray Shadow (basically a very similar fly to the Collie) and usually find fishing it quite square and fast no problem with a Lee Wulff TT as long as 'full on' line stripping in slack water isn't required.

Talk later.
See less See more
What sizes ? Would you like them tied on Waddingtons I know you arn't keen on trebles but you could attach a single. The waddington fishes deeper than a tube. Sizes from 1" - 21/4"

What is vthe correct dressing for a Sunray Shadow? I have heard of them but cannot find a dressing.

I will check out loop and see what they have.


Willie, I'm going after the Kings in fairly deep/fast water so the larger size

Waddingtons and all would be just grand!
Shooting Heads

Malcom, I'm not sure how heavy a head you need to load your rod but according to Rajeff's the 45 ft. Airflo head weighs right at 615 grains.
The dressing for the Sunray Shadow is as follows (although it is, as I have tried to indicate, subject to tremendous variation);

Hook: trebles or doubles, although I believe the dressing comes into it's own on tubes from 1/2" to 1 1/2"

Body: Can be left bare on plain hooks or plastic/aluminium/loop tubes. As a personal preference I leave tubes bare and on any other hook I tie a silver body ribbed silver.

Throat: None

Wing: White Bucktail and/or Arctic Fox under Black Arctic Fox with Black shadow Fox or Black Goat Over (depending on length of wing). Mix some peacock angel hair into the wing and top with 2-4 peacock herls.

Eyes: Jungle cock or sub. (optional)

Tying note: The wing should be tied in 'Norwegian' or 'Fat-Back' style. The first (stiff) under wing of bucktail is optional but can help prevent the long wing fouling the hook at the back of the tube. As the wing in layered in, progressively longer pieces of fox should be added to achieve the desired length (which should be at least x3 the length of the tube/hook).
See less See more
I ordered a Loop shooting head today, they are not cheap are they. I then got out the vice and started on Fred's Willie Gunns. Then I tied a couple of Sunray Shadows it is just a Collie Dog with " bells & whistles"

I'll see if the Connon salmon like them on Saturday.

willie gunn - you're quite correct, basically a sunray is a collie dog with 'bells & whistles' but don't ignore/underestimate the tying style for the wing which produces a noticeably different shape to the fly than any standard collies that I have seen.
Sunray Shadow

Willie Gunn - this is perhaps a point for the fly tying purists but it's recently been pointed out to me that when Ray Brooks originally tied the 'Sunray', the wing was all of black goat (& white bucktail under ie. no fox), there were no JC 'eyes' and no 'flashy' ingredients in the wing. Further, the wing wasn't tied in 'fatback' style and merely had the hair lashed to a bare tube. I still quite like my dressing (!), above, but for completeness I thought I'd give you the original.

Thanks & more questions

Hi PS Stewart,
I tried a couple the other week on the Connon, but the Hydro board were generating and the river was up and down like a YO YO. The fish were not hanging about.

Using plastic tubes the fly dragged alot, I was not sure how much it should drag or just be in the surface film. what material are you making the tubes from? Plastic or aluminium ? Perhaps my wings are too long Is 7" too long ?

Sunray permutations

Hi Willie Gunn, I've tied this style of fly with some success on small trebles (8's and 10's with an appropriately scaled wing length and fished with just a regular 'wet' fly presentation) and on tubes from 1/2" to 1" with a wing length from 2" up to 3" - 3 1/2". For obvious reasons I've fished the tubes a little faster (than the above) which can produce quite an aggressive (THUMP!) take.

Personally, regarding the tube dressing (while I've dressed the fly on a variety of different tubes), I've had most success with the fly dressed on aluminium tubes and fished off a Lee Wullf (or similar) spey line with a home made sink tip attached. Bear in mind that this success is probably a function of me quite often picking this fly (ie on an alu tube) out of my box first, either consciously or sub-consciously, rather than there being any superiority with an alu tube and that I fish this type of line alot of the time when the water warms up. I know, for example, that in their country of origin, this fly is very often tied on a plastic tube and fished off a 'fast' intermediate (such as an orvis ie with a sink rate of approx 1 1/2" per second). In Ireland, Peter O'Reilly rates a similar type of fly on a plastic tube one of his favourite summer flies.

As for the length of the fly, I'm sure that wings of up to 7" would work (not that I've tried mind you), but for any given combination of water speed/ water temperature they would have to be fished at an appropriate speed. As for the fly scratching the surface, again I'm sure this would score in the right circumstances. For example, small (approx 1" total length) plastic tubes tied specifically to scratch the surface fished off a floating line (ie. to make the current 'hump' over the back of the fly) is a minor tactic used with some success in Ireland for grilse.

Generally, this wider topic is very interesting and one's personal experience can't really be done justice in a few sentences so I hope this ramble is of some use to you!

See less See more
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.