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Lifelike Salmon Fly Movement

By 7th August 2021

When you're fishing your salmon fly in most river streams there will be a certain amount of natural movement as the fly arcs around from it's initial casting angle starting point to the riverside edge downstream of you. Salmon flies that are tied with materials like buck tail or arctic fox will react in the stream very differently from one another and it's important you develop an awareness of this. 

Salmon Fly Tying Materials

Personally I like to take the salmon fly movement concept to the next level and choose the fly tying materials that offer the most attractive movement of all and even in the slowest moving salmon pools they still move in an optimal 'lifelike' manner. I rarely will fish a buck tail fly these days and will always choose the much more mobile and attractive fox tail equivalent as the wing or tail material. The irresistible 'waggle' from a nicely shaped fox tail wing or tail adds a different dimension to the stream movement of any salmon fly.

Soft Long Salmon Fly Hackles

For the salmon fly hackle on larger flies I'll choose the softer and longer schlappen hackle over regular hen hackle as what I'm always looking to create is an absolute 'live bait' of a salmon fly that even the most educated salmon in the pool just has to come off its lie to investigate. Anyone can catch the 'easy fish' and although always a challenge I get a much bigger thrill out of catching the older resident salmon that has seen it all before. A longer softer fibered schlappen hackle will 'pulse' and move far better in the stream than any normal hackled salmon fly will ever do.

A Few Salmon Flies Is All You Need

As salmon fishers we tend to carry around hundreds of salmon flies in our fishing bags but the reality of the situation is that you only need a few to choose from for the vast majority of salmon fishing scenarios. This reminds me of my youth on the Tay when out with my mentor the late Willie Laird who only ever kept 4 or 5 flies in his tweed jacket and those flies caught hundreds of salmon each season. In many cases the salmon flies in mass production these days are far better at catching fisherman than they are at catching salmon!

Livebait Salmon Fly Movement

Tie your flies with these softer more mobile tying materials and before you use them 'tank test' them at the side of the river and only fish with the one that moves naturally and in the desired 'lifelike' manner. Don't worry about anything else and have faith in that natural 'waggle' and movement when you see a fly that's got it. I cannot over emphasis this enough as when a fly's wing and hackle are sexy enough in the stream to make you think how on earth will a salmon be able to ignore it then that's the fly to fish with. What you've now got is a 'live bait' and if you stick with it via strategically sensible water column depth, good fly swing spacings and speed of fly consideration you will at some point be receiving the perfect endorsement from the underworld!

A Very Good Salmon Fly Supplier

One of my long standing salmon fishing colleagues Danny McLaughlin not only ties fantastic salmon flies with the above mentioned components but he also teaches fly tying in his spare time such is his passion for the craft. I like to tie my own flies when I've time but often I'll call Danny for back up stock especially through busy guiding periods of the season. Danny is the man to contact if you want to get away from the mass production imported flies that flood the market each year and would prefer to swim quality Scottish tied equivalents. Danny McLaughlin can be contacted via email at;