Become The Salmon Fly
By Jock Monteith 13th February 2023
Who's that chap in the tweed jacket holding the big Tay springer you may ask! That's not Jock that's a reincarnated 'blue bottle' in the shell of a human being just like that old horror movie from 1986 with Jeff Goldblum called 'The Fly'.
Salmon Fly Control
No I'm not suggesting for one minute you get involved in a botched teleportation trial but in Scottish salmon fishing if you want real success you need to focus at all times on that little Arctic fox or buck tail fur ball at the end of your leader. Nothing in salmon fishing is as important as what your target audience are seeing but all too often anglers switch completely 'off' instead of completely 'on' each time the fly is delivered to the river.
How To Control Your Salmon Fly
There are various ways of keeping your fly under control but the first thought on any fishing day should be based on the water height and temperature and nothing other than that. During the near freezing water conditions of early Spring will mean you'll need a sinking tip to take the fly down a foot or so into the water column where the warmer thermals are as salmon sit high in the water column in very cold water conditions contrary to popular belief. Once the water warms up during the rest of the year play about with different weighted tips as salmon are more likely to be holding much deeper in the water column in warmer water conditions.
The Aerial Fly Line Mend
I've never seen this topic written in books but if you want complete control of the fly at distance practice 'battering' in a big huge upstream mend just as your fly line has fully extended and is landing on the water. If you time this perfectly while most of the fly line is still in the air you'll reduce the angle of the fly line much more easily as most of the line will still be airborne. All anglers I see wait until the full line has landed before mending which is less effective and more difficult to achieve at distance. Waiting with a shooting head system will also make it virtually impossible to re-angle a heavy 'washing line' head with 'thread like' running line so practise this aerial mend and regain control of your fly at distance. A longer headed Spey line with properly thought out running line diameter is much easier to mend with but few anglers truly understand that fact.
Constant Control Of The Fly
The above mending technique at range will equate to your salmon fly working from the second it hits the water on the forward delivery and not after the line sag of a slow mend which loses up to 20 seconds before the salmon fly angles itself properly and starts to fish 'effectively'. If you add that 'sag' from the predominantly used slower mend up over the course of the full fishing day you'll realise you've lost an hour or more of what could have been 'effective' fly swim time. This is one of the many reasons why you must be tuned into the fly's performance at all times.
Fast Water Slow Fly Tactics
If you're fishing down through a pool that has a fast current it's not only crucial that you slow the fly up with a mend as it lands but that you stop the current whipping your line round far too quickly unless of course you want to fish a super fast fly. The easiest way to do this is to hold your rod tip out and high to reduce trailing line contact with the river and slowly bring the rod round while lowering the rod as the fly crosses the river until the rod is pointing low and downstream at the end of each swing.
Get Your Thoughts On To Your Fly
Salmon fly mentality and becoming the fly are when you'll transform from 'salmon fisher' status to a 'salmon dental technician' and none of this is based on rocket science but only good old 'logical' common sense. Calculate your effective water coverage with good precise 3 to 4 ft downstream movements between each swing of the fly so as not to show a salmon too much and force their curiosity 'attack' hand. Get that riverbank movement bang on and pair it with complete salmon fly control and watch your 'batting average' soar! Consistent success in this fine pursuit is simply adopting a 'sub surface' vision of how your fly is likely performing with every swing across the stream.