Just before the Christmas break, the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust successfully hosted an online auction to raise funds. Flies and fly boxes are usually popular amongst bidders, so I donated a nice box, made by a famous maker, replete with a dozen salmon flies of my own tying.

At one time I dressed many hundreds of flies a year, and used to teach youngsters in Lairg and adults in Bonar Bridge how to tie their own flies. On that basis, producing a dozen specimens ought to have been relatively straightforward but, I have to say, a lack of recent practice made it a frustrating experience.

Several flies were dressed and, for one reason or another, subsequently rejected. These sub-standard specimens will find their way into my own severely depleted boxes for use in the coming season. I get more pleasure in catching a fish with one of my own flies rather than one made by somebody else.

Lest I make it sound like too much of an ordeal, I did get a degree of enjoyment from the time spent at the vice. Fly tyers are fortunate in that they can maintain a close link to their pastime even in the otherwise barren months of the close season, and it was good to feel the connection with fishing again.