Hooking A Salmon
By Jock Monteith 30th March 2019
One of the most important areas of Scottish salmon fishing is knowing exactly how to hook a salmon when it takes your salmon fly. If the entire Scottish salmon fly fishing community fully understood this 'logic backed' procedure I've no doubt Scottish fly fishing rod catches would increase significantly.
Proven Salmon Hooking Method
What I'm going to advise you has worked well for me in the majority of fishing situations when salmon are behaving and taking like salmon. There are occasional water conditions that will make them behave in a different manner and your professional ghillie will advise on how best to change your hooking technique during these brief periods but for the vast majority of salmon takes the fish will take and turn on the fly which is exactly what you're looking for the salmon to do.
When A Salmon Comes To The Fly
As your salmon fly swings over or in front of a fish it normally means a salmon has to come off its lie to intercept the fly whether it be a few feet or several feet from its original position. In deep clear water pools this can be a significantly longer distance which means the fish will turn after intercepting your fly if you allow it the time to do so. Not reacting to this initial contact is so important as I'm about to further explain.
The Initial Stages Of The Salmon Take
Once a salmon takes the fly you'll more than likely feel a gentle tug on the line or reel and at this vital moment the mantra for your head is 'do nothing' even though you'll feel compelled to react. Let the initial tugs develop into a steady draw of line from your fly reel as this is your clear indicator that your salmon has turned and is on its way back to its original lie. There can be on average several seconds of tugs but you must wait until the steady draw commences and at least a 'further' 6 seconds of the steady line draw from your reel before reacting.
Set The Hook When Salmon Fly Fishing
To set the hook simply clamp the reel face of your fly reel and keep the rod down pointing in the direction of the fish. If you don't panic and time this correctly as the salmon is moving away from you you'll apply sufficient hook point pressure to set the hook properly. When you do this you only need to feel the weight of the salmon as you stop it in its tracks for a few seconds before then finally lifting the rod. The weight you'll briefly feel assures you that effective hook point pressure has been applied and the hook is set. This hooking procedure should make perfect logical sense if you think about it.
Forget The Old Salmon Hooking Method
If you use the traditional and often taught 'let the take develop and then lift into the fish' technique logic should tell you there's a fair chance the hook will only be partially set therefore the salmon will likely get rid of it shortly into the fight as they are experts at that. So remember my recommended salmon hooking procedure and always feel the salmon's weight momentarily prior to lifting the rod. If you do so the fish will never come of or I certainly can't remember a salmon ever doing so!
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