Control Your Salmon Fly
By Jock Monteith 4th September 2021
I'll keep this daily salmon fishing article simple, understandable and to the point. If you're not fully in control of your salmon fly throughout the morning and afternoon fishing session you're wasting a huge percentage of your salmon fishing day!
Fly Fishing Changes For Better Or Worse!
Having watched thousands of salmon anglers over the years I'd be kind to say that only 75% of them 'switch off' after their forward delivery cast is made instead of 'switching on' at that spilt second with intense thoughts of how their salmon fly is behaving in the stream. Far too many anglers are only concerned about the distance they can deliver a line and even the aerial elegance seems to be out of the window these days unlike the old days where a good Speycaster could almost hypnotise you!
World Champion Spey Casters & Fisherman
As as youngster in the 70's I recall big Peter Anderson swinging into the Tay at Birnam late one Saturday afternoon with his kilt on and a car load of first prize silverware he'd just won at a highland game fair earlier that day. My mentor Willie Laird used to love it when Peter dropped by and went on to the jetty and started delivering a perfect 50 yard plus double or single Spey cast that really needed to be seen to be believed! I'm not talking here about a carefully prepared 60 or 70 yard 'one off' distance cast but what I'm referring to is an elegant use 'all day long' fishing Spey cast as these 2 things are completely different.
Salmon Fly Control At Long Range
The really amazing part of this was watching big Peter put a mend in to control the fly he was casting with. This would be done as the fly was starting to land and the trailing line and part of the belly section was still mainly aerialised. This was the most amazing 'mind blowing' salmon fly fishing entertainment you could ever imagine and something that I personally believe has been largely lost or forgotten about these days. In saying that I know the distance side of things hasn't been forgotten but seriously capitalised on to a degree where effective salmon fishing fly control and elegance of the fly line's aerial performance has been completely disregarded.
Think About Effective Fly Control And Not Just Distance
If you're using a shooting head or Skagit system on a relatively shortish to medium cast range you'll possibly be able to mend your line on the forward delivery but any further than that your salmon fly will highly likely be out of control until it's at least one third of its way back towards your side of the river. Although the angler will feel like they're fishing effectively due to the thrill of achieving distance the reality is they are not in control of their fly and are not fishing effectively at the longer distance their line system is presenting the fly at.
Effective Longer Range Fly Control
If you use these short head types of casting systems have you ever wondered why the majority of takes usually come in the last half of the fly's swing and that should be all the proof you need if you really think about it. As a professional ghillie on the Tay often my role was to hook salmon for guests that were struggling to reach fish that were lying in the 30 to 40 yard range area of a pool. My weapon of choice on the Tay was a 16ft Spey rod for a long range mend advantage with balanced Spey line with normally a proper braided core sink tip for total control of the fly at that precise presentation range as I knew the inside edge from 30 yards in had been effectively covered. Studying fly control for both depth and swim pace at longer range was my 'daily focus' for many years and getting that balance just right would usually always get a result when the opportunity arose to cover longer range fish that otherwise had not been covered effectively.