Trout Fishing On The Luther Water

thumbThe Luther Water is not one of Scotland’s better known trout streams, but just because you don't know about something does not mean it's not there.

The Laurencekirk & District Angling Association offers very reasonably priced day and weekly permits to visiting anglers wishing to fly fish for wild brown trout and these can be quickly and easily purchased on this web site.

But before you go it's worth learning a little bit about the water. Hopefully this article will provide some guidance.

Firstly have a look at the maps that show you where you can actually fish. These are linked to on the right hand side bar of this page; there is a vast amount of water which will take many visits before you really get to know it. Be warned, this is not manicured fishing, the banks can and do get overgrown in high summer! Like most things in life that are really worthwhile, The Luther takes a bit of time and effort before you get the best out of it; it can be hard going; prepare to be stung by nettles!

The river rises in the foothills of the Grampian Mountains and can rise quite quickly after heavy rain. Flowing as it does through farmland it gets a bit brown in spates and takes a few days to clear, so keep an eye on the SEPA gauge which you will find here:

If you see the river is rising, leave it a few days, or better still keep checking then buy your permit when you see it falling. Anywhere below 0.6 M on the gauge (while the river is falling) is about perfect.

The river is normally crystal clear – almost unbelievably so. Anglers with a keen, trained eye might be able to spot and sight-fish, a rare thing in Scotland. The Luther has vast beds of trailing ranunculus and in some ways resembles a southern chalk stream. However, the rananculus giveth and the  rananculus taketh away. It provides great habitat and cover for fish and invertebrates but makes fishing subsurface flies a royal pain. The feeding is good. The fish are fat and there is no doubt about it, the average size has been increasing. This has been obvious over the past few years.  The average fish is not big, but it is getting bigger.

Now when I say it makes fishing subsurface flies a royal pain I only mean when using the old technique of down and across. That is not the way to fish here. As well as getting continually fouled up in the rananculus the fish will see you a mile off and scatter before you get anywhere near them spooking everything else nearby.

Remember I mentioned the overgrown banks? Well, that and the rananculus should tell you how to fish. Wade carefully and fish upstream. Stay in the water, getting in and out is a hassle. You really need chest waders, not that you will be wading deeply (most of the time), but chesties are just more versatile and you can concentrate on your fishing rather than on avoiding boot-fulls of cold water! I'm not suggesting that you don't watch where you are putting your feet, far from it. The river bed is very uneven and the sandstone strata has many traps and fissures. You can easily step into deep slots and holes, so be very, very careful and always wear sturdy wading boots with studs. You have been warned.

So back to the fishing. Fish upstream using dry flies or fish nymphs into the gaps and holes in the rananculus, just as would a southern chalk stream angler. This is not a lazy or an easy way to fish, but it is worth the effort.

The Luther has a huge and rich range of fly life and freshwater shrimp, from March Browns and Large Dark Olives in spring, Olive Uprights and Blue Winged Olives through to sedges and terrestrials in summer and autumn. Your favourite nymphs, dries and emergers should do the trick. Don't forget some large leggy terrestrials from summer onwards.

This is part of an important migratory fish system and at certain times of year you will catch salmon parr and smolts. Please fish only with barbless hooks and carefully return these. Better still fish total catch and release and the fish will still be there next time you visit.

Lastly, remember that this is North East Scotland, the fishing seldom gets going until mid to late April and in very cold springs it can be slow until May. But do you know what one of the real bonuses of the little river is? It flows north east to south west. For the fly fisher casting upstream this means that most of the time the wind will be on his back and he won't have the sun in his eyes on these balmy summer evening. Think about it

It's a lovely, intimate little river that is very inexpensive to fish; you really should give it a try.

Restriction Order

The restriction order on the Esk District has been lifted but the Fisheries Board have put together voluntary recommendations (see link below).

Voluntary Recommendations


Maps of our fishings on the Bervie and Luther Waters can be downloaded here.

Bervie Map

Luther Map


The open seasons on our rivers are as follows

Luther Water Salmon and Sea Trout 16th February to 31st October inclusive.

Bervie Water Salmon and Sea Trout 25th February to 31st October inclusive.

Brown Trout 15th March to 6th October inclusive

Anglers respectfully are reminded that:

It is a criminal  offence to fish for Salmon and Sea Trout on Sundays

It is a criminal offence to fish for Salmon and Sea Trout without written permission

Brown Tour fishing rights belong to the riparian owners and / or lease holders. It is not a public right.

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