Salmon Fishing Equipment
By Jock Monteith 29th December 2020
There's little point in buying access to a good Scottish salmon fishing beat unless you're going to give yourself a fair chance of connecting to the underworld! The next few paragraphs offer some basic insight into what's needed on the River Tay.
Salmon Fly Line Sink Tips
On the salmon fly fishing side of things the River Tay and all other Scottish salmon rivers demand you to have the ability to sink a fly down while you're fishing it so a full floating fly line will be of no use for most of the Scottish salmon fishing season. You need to be carrying sinking tips between 10ft & 15ft in varying densities and be guided by the daily water conditions or the beat's Head Ghillie as to which one to use. You should always be carrying reliable leader material too and personally 18 lbs Maxima works fine for me for the majority of the Scottish salmon fishing season unless I'm fishing a really heavy tube fly or tiny Summer fly where I'll go up or down a breaking strain size or two.
Salmon Fly Sizes To Carry
In the Spring months you need to have a selection of bigger tube flies tied on aluminium & copper tube fly bodies which will give you the option to go deeper or higher in the water column in conjunction with the sink tip you are fishing with. Once the water starts to warm later in the Spring a size 9 double hooked fly will work until late May or early June when a size 11 will more often be the one to use. Once the Autumn comes you could be back onto the heavier deeper swimming tube flies but this is completely dependent on temperature and water conditions as the Autumn these days tend to be more like an extension of the Summer fishing months which means that staying on the smaller Summer fly sizes is more advisable if that's the case.
The ABU Toby Salmon Lure
On the River Tay the vast majority of salmon fishers turn up with lures that could work if they were the heavier versions! 30g or 28g spinning lures like an Abu 'Salmo' or regular Abu 'Toby' has always been the correct weight unless you want to 'skitter' a lighter 18g version across the surface of the heavy stream flows of the Tay. Silver & copper, all silver or all copper are the 3 safe combinations that will work at all times of the season. This particular salmon lure has been working consistently well since it was created but don't fish it with a slack clutch as you'll never achieve a good hook set as the hooks are big and 'logically' require pressure when a salmon initially takes.
Fishing The ABU Toby Spinning Lure
Loosen your spinning reel clutch off 'only' to play the salmon and don't think that a 'Toby' isn't a great hooker of salmon as it is for those who understand what I've just stated about a tight initial clutch setting and ignore the nonsense spoken by many regarding this top salmon lure's hooking ability. You're very unlikely to ever achieve effective initial hook point pressure with a slack clutch setting. Also, adding an extra split ring to the rear of the lure only puts 'illogical' distance between the lure and the hook so again stick with the single 'logical' split ring and fish the lure with a tight initial clutch setting and ignore the hearsay that's plagued this top spinning lure's reputation. Salmon won't hang onto a metal spinning lure the same way they will do with a fly so these initial seconds of 'Toby' contact are vital for getting enough pressure on the hook point to set the hook effectively or a salmon will more than likely get rid of it soon after initial contact.
The Vision Oneten Salmon Lure
The Vision Oneten looks very pretty and has a fantastic swim action but their little bass hooks are not designed for our big Scottish 'hard mouth' bass equivalent so unless you're into collecting these beautiful coloured lures I'd rig them up with a micro barbed single which works a treat as long as you're fishing them on braid (for distance) to counteract the lightweight nature of these attractive lures. There's a picture above of this single hook rig up where the single hook can be held in perfect position with a little twist of fuse wire against the middle redundant lure hook mount. The damage a treble hook does to a salmon is not only when it's in the salmon mouth as much as when part of it (or another treble) catches the mesh of the landing net and 'rips' the other hook points out.
Properly Prepared Spin Fishing Tackle
On the River Tay where spinning is permitted you need your spinning reel to be properly spooled up for distance. If the front end of your spinning reel is missing even 10 yards of line that will have a significant negative impact on the distance 'search range' of your lure throughout the course of the fishing day. Spool your reel up properly regardless of whether you're using braid or monofilament. That extra distance in each cast throughout the fishing day could most likely be the difference between catching a salmon or not.
Salmon Landing Nets
It's very important with 'catch & release' in mind that a suitable salmon sized landing net is purchased and carried by all salmon fishers at all times. This net should have a small diameter mesh bag on it and with preferably a flat or triangular mesh bag base which will turn the salmon on its side when the net bag is lifted to the waterline. A stabilised salmon in the water is always an easier salmon to unhook. If your landing net has a weigh scale in its handle then even better rather than guessing the weight of the fish but make sure you give the scale a periodic clean and scoosh of WD40 to counteract life on the riverbank.