Eoin Fairgrieve has been professionally teaching fly casting and fly fishing for over twenty four years.
In 2000 Eoin set up an angling development program called ‘Tweedstart’ to encourage more children to take up fishing and has since taught over 7500 children Eoin has written two children’s educational fly fishing books called My First Trout and My First Salmon. In recognition of his work with youth development within the sport, in 2011 Eoin was awarded the Arthur Oglesby Award for services to fly fishing.
He has travelled around the world demonstrating spey casting and conducting fly fishing seminars. He is also is a regular features writer and photographer for the UK’s leading angling publication,Trout & Salmon Magazine, and has contributed to angling publications in Europe and South America. In 2006 Eoin was a member of the Scottish fly casting team that won the Emerald World Speycasting Championships.
Q. When did you start fishing? And what led you into a career in the industry?
A. I started fishing when I was eighteen – relatively late for a border lad! I started working professionally in salmon fishing in 1988 when I worked as ghillie on the Makerstoun beat of the River Tweed
Q. What was your most memorable catch?
A. My most memorable catch was a 42lb Chinook salmon in Alaska. It wasn’t just the size of the fish, but also the stunning surroundings.
Q. What is your favourite species to pursue?
A. My favourite species to fish for are Atlantic Salmon and Sea-run Brown Trout
Q. What are you hoping for in the season ahead?
A. A good run of spring salmon and settle water conditions for the autumn run of fish.
Q. How do you feel flyfishing has changed over the years? Is there more interest in Speycasting and flyfishing, locally and internationally?
A. One of the main changes in fly fishing and speycasting are the tackle we are using. Gone are the days of wooden rods and brass reels. We now use very modern materials for rods, lines and reels, which make covering the water easier for a broad range of casting abilities. Both fly fishing and speycasting are growth sports around the world.
Q. How has the market changed in the Borders? Where do the visitors come from? And has the recession been felt in your industry?
A. Salmon fishing is the primary source of angling income for the Scottish Borders. Visitors come from all over the UK and overseas to fish the river throughout the season. Like the rest of the leisure industry, the angling world has been affected by the down-turn in the economy.
Q. What drew you to photography, when did you first begin to record the flyfishing world?
A. I became interested in photography when I started submitting articles to fishing magazines like the Trout & Salmon. The editors would ask if I could supply images as well as the text for various commissioned features.
Q. Who/what have been your biggest influences/inspirations in both fishing and photography?
A. In fly fishing I have been influenced by a number of great anglers and casters. In photography my main inspiration comes from photographers like Yngve Ask and Matt Harris.
Q. Rod or camera?
A. A very hard question, but it would be the rod.
Q. Do you ever have moments of conflict – camera in hand and wished it were a rod? Or the other way around?
A. Yes – there are times when I’m fishing and the light changes or a fellow angler hooks a fish and I down tools and run for the camera. I have also been the designated photographer when the fish are taking well and I wish I had the fishing rod in my hand.
Q. People pay top whack to fish the rivers in your backyard – is there anything you’d rather be doing, or do you think you’ve got the best job in the world?
A. We are very fortunate that the Tweed system supports a good run of salmon during the 10 month season. This helps support fishing-related businesses like my own and allows me the opportunity to make a living from a sport I enjoy so much. I’m sure there are better jobs, but I’d struggle to think of any other I’d like to do.
Q. You’ve worked with children a lot, how do you think the younger generation take to life on the water? Is there an optimum age to teach?
A. Children respond very well to the fishing environment. The optimum age to start a child fishing is around 10-12 years old, with the best environment being a well-stocked trout lake.
Q. As well as being a flyfisher, instructor and photographer, you’ve also written two books and features for periodicals, who/what do you read?
A. I enjoy books about achievement and the strength of the human character. My two favourite books are ‘Touching the Void’ by Joe Simpson and ‘South’ by Ernest Shackleton
Q. Any top tips you’re willing to share?
A. Yes, whenever you’re fishing, listen to the ghillie!
Find out more about Eoin Fairgrieve Spey Casting Tuition and Photography here.