Properly Fishing A Salmon Fly
By Jock Monteith 23rd April 2021
The biggest area I see where the vast majority of salmon anglers could improve there salmon 'hit' rate is through fly control. Get your brain fully tuned into your salmon fly to a point where you can sense its movement in the stream before it gets close enough to see it and bin any useless thoughts of what's going on above the waterline!
Focus Your Brain On The Riverbed Terrain
If you want consistent success in this intriguing business focus on your salmon fly and get its movement pace 'across' and 'down' the river just right. All salmon are smart & tough to catch on a fly so unless your presentation is up to scratch you're heading for an inevitable blank! Out smarting salmon should become an obsession and placing that fly in their 'attack zone' is a truly fascinating element of this fine pursuit. Sometimes the salmon holding area in the water column may be high but more often than not you'll need to swim your fly right down in amongst them for one to lose the plot! Study the 'suspected' sub surface salmon pool terrain and let the surface movement of the river be your 'mirror' for signs of what lies below unless of course you already know exactly what lies beneath the waterline in the pool you're fishing.
Take Back Full Control Of Your Salmon Fly
The two most important areas of your fly's flight path are the first third and last third of its swing. The middle third normally takes care of itself as the stream will naturally add control to the fly by the time your line has swung round one third from its initial delivery angle. 'Taking command' of your fly early at the start of the first third of the swing is important as most anglers mend their line angle too late or are unable to mend to the fly at all with their shooting heads at range even though they've impressed the hell out of themselves with the distance they've achieved! A longer Speyline and Spey rod has a massive advantage for making that first third of the swing 'deadly' when covering long range salmon that require a normal paced & carefully 'controlled' salmon fly.
Fishing Your Salmon Fly 'Through' The Dangle
When you think your salmon fly is reaching the end of the final third of its swing be very cautious and stop yourself from thinking only about the 'relaunch' process! Treat every swing of the fly with suspicion and as if a big brute of a fish is 'shadowing' your fly as it finally swings in downstream of you. Salmon are great at 'silently & invisibly' coming for a look so maintain movement in your fly by carefully drawing in line smoothly & consistency as you're hand lining in your running line. If you just whip the running line in too quickly or let the fly sag you may well be missing great hooking opportunities from fish that are following your fly. If a tiny camera was able to be fitted to your salmon fly your heart would be in your mouth on numerous occasions throughout the course of a fishing day so it's important while salmon fishing you pay attention to what you're seeing and also to what you may not be seeing!
Becoming A Sub Surface Salmon Pool Operator
The satisfaction from 'nicking' a fish from a salmon pool of old resident salmon after everyone and there dog has failed shouldn't be underestimated. This is when you'll know you're becoming good enough to hold a position in that rare top 5% of Scottish salmon fly fishers. Get you're attention off the self gratification of your perfect tight looped Spey cast as Old Sam doesn't care about that type of thing. The time to focus your fishing mind is from the split second your fly touches down until it's all the way back to your side of the river and ready to be recast. This salmon fly swim time and what you do with it will determine how well you've done at the end of the fishing day. Get your fly down and right in about difficult resident fish with some added unexpected & inconsistent fly swim movements and watch what the difference!
Using A Single Hook
If you think doubles or treble hooks are likely to be more effective than a good old traditional styled single hook for getting a proper grip of a fish it's just an illusion. Not only will a fly also fish better on a more even keel with a single but it's also much kinder to the fish. From an effective hooking point of view it will naturally take less pressure at point of hook set to drive home a single than an equivalent double. The Partridge Nordic single hooks are superb tube fly hooks and fantastic for effective hook ups. You've zero to worry about with good quality sharp single hooks like these and once you've had a couple of fish on them you'll be unlikely to return to doubles or trebles. Setting your tube fly up with some rigid hard plastic hook sleeve material eliminates the chance of a pivoting hook point angle when setting the hook so get rid of these soft rubber sleeves and replace them with hard plastic equivalents. It takes a bit of fiddling about to do this as the hard plastic sleeve material isn't that easy to work with but gently heat it and wet the end of the tube fly and waggle it on patiently. Once done you'll have seriously increased your take to hooking ratio!