Benson and Hedges House of Hardy Fly Fishing Championship OTFA Participation

Orkney Trout Fishing Association has sent a team northwards every alternate year since 1951, to compete against our island neighbours, Shetland Anglers Association, but it was 1987 before a team ventured south to compete on the Scottish Mainland.

The Home International Championships were held on Harray Loch, Orkney in 1983 and 1985 and it was as a result of this that OTFA came to send their first representative to compete in the Scottish National Championship Final on Loch Leven in 1986. Peter Miller was unsuccessful in gaining a place on that occasion but in August 1987 Sandy McConnachie caught two nice fish, including the heaviest one of the competition, and secured a place in the Scottish Team for the 1988 Spring International on Loch Conn, Ireland
1987 was also the year when a decision was taken to enter a team in the Benson & Hedges forte first time. This came about as a result of increased publicity for the event, which began in 1982, and because Loch Leven was to be the venue for both the Scottish and British Finals and only one trip would therefore be required in the event of success.

Billy Sinclair,Ian Hutcheon,Norman Irvine,Stan Headley,Sandy McConnachie and Lewis Munroe

In those days Loch Leven held only brown trout and they could be very difficult to tempt in bright conditions. The team had one practice session prior to the Heat, this being the first time on the loch for four members. With the Heat scheduled to start at there wasn't much time for sleep - the two members who only got out of the bar in time to head for the loch can vouch for this. At the 11. 00am Weigh-In it transpired that one more decent fish would have been enough to secure a place in the Scottish Final but, unfortunately, it was to be a long haul back north the following morning instead. In 1988 the team succeeded in reaching the Scottish Final and went on to gain a place in the British Final on Rutland Water where they finished in a commendable Sixth Place. This was to be the first of a run of seven consecutive British Final appearances achieving Second Place in 1989 and the coveted Gold Medals in both 1991 and 1994. Since 1996 two teams have taken part but success has become more elusive with a single team qualifying for the British Final in 1996 and 1998.

1989 Silver Medal Team
Sandy McConnachie, Stan Headley, Sandy Nicolson, Ian Hutcheon, Maurice Rendall and Norman Irvine











1991 Gold Medal Winning Team
Stuart Leslie, Ian Robertson ,Billy Sinclair, Norman Irvine ,Ken Kennedy and Maurice Rendall












1994 Gold Medal Winning Team
Norman Irvine,Ken Kennedy,Stuart Leslie,Sandy Nicolson,Sandy McConnachie and Maurice Rendall











There has always been keen competition between members for team places. Since selection is based on the results from fourteen competitions, held on various Orkney lochs, a good attendance is ensured for each event, with in excess of thirty anglers normally taking part.
Nowadays, with increased practice sessions, the Scottish Heats and Final can mean team members being away from home for up to eight or nine days depending on the Heat results. With the need to hold back holidays in the event of qualifying for the British Final this can make it difficult for some members to take part but there are plenty of others waiting to fill their shoes.
Some of the women folk think these trips are just a holiday when, in actual fact, it is more of an endurance test - fishing and fly tying sandwiched between fried breakfasts and deep-fried suppers. The travel is not always a pleasure either. Sitting in a minibus for the thirteen hundred -odd mile round trip to Rutland Water is not something to relish. The first trip to Rutland was in a hired camper van with a mind of its own. It had to be wrestled all the way there, with a top speed of 60mph, into the face of a southerly gale.
Thankfully, the downside of these trips has always been outweighed by the enjoyment and there have been lots of memorable moments over the last thirteen years. Many friendships have been established with other anglers from throughout Britain and members have been able to keep up to date with the latest in fly patterns and fishing techniques.
Orkney Trout Fishing Association's participation has been greatly assisted over the years with sponsorship from the following: - Highland Park Distillery (both financial and liquid), Matthew Gloag & Son, P & 0 Scottish Ferries, Orkney Islands Council, Orkney Enterprise and Bank Of Scotland (Stromness Branch). Without this assistance it would not have been possible for OTFA to enter a team every year. The Association is also indebted to Ian Muckle and Brian Roberts for providing accommodation in the early years