Prepare Your Salmon Fly Box
By Jock Monteith 2nd January 2023
Your own personal collection of salmon flies that you carry about on the Scottish riverbanks should inspire you for choice every time you open it. Personally I love to tie a specific fly pattern that I have complete faith in like a few of the 'wee beasties' you see here.
Salmon Have Salmon Acute Vision
I've heard people say salmon are colour blind but I'm not convinced that is indeed a fact as they themselves change and adapt their own colours to suit either the sea, river life & spawning cycle. I've also noticed a much higher interest in orange and red based salmon fly patterns through the Autumn months and especially with aggressive cock salmon that are similarly coloured.
Salmon Flies To Use
On a personal basis I've narrowed the salmon fly patterns I personally use down to around half a dozen patterns which I'll keep a few different sizes of for various water conditions. In order of importance here are the patterns I don't deviate too much from; The Copper Ass, The Jock's Shrimp, The Sunray Shadow, The Silver Stoat, The Red Francis & The Gold Bodied Willie Gunn. These patterns I have complete career based faith in and cover all of the seasonally expected water conditions whether tied on 2 inch tube bodies or on tiny size 13's.
Try Salmon Fly Opposites
It's obviously always only the fly that you're using that catches the fish but it's always re-assuring to know you've got other fly pattern options available too especially if you know you've covered a salmon without even a nudge. In a situation like that I love to have a brief go with something completely different and often this 'polar opposite' salmon fly pattern switch will achieve the desired reaction from a fish.
Watch Salmon Response Behaviour
On the bigger Scottish rivers you'll not usually see a fish come to have a look at the fly so you're really only fishing in 'feel' mode. As a boy I used to spend much time up on the West Coast in granite based crystal clear highland spate rivers where you'd not only see every salmon in the pool but you'd also observe every flicker of their fins as the fly swung over their noses. You'd also usually always observe other salmon shadowing the fish you were playing which you're unlikely to be aware of on the bigger deeper Scottish rivers.
Watching A Salmon Follow Your Fly
This type of situation will truly place your heart in your mouth as a fish tails your fly only to turn away at the last moment but it is indeed seriously exciting stuff when you're operating in 'visual' mode while fly fishing for salmon on the smaller shallower gin clear Scottish rivers. Especially on these small rivers a good pair of polaroids becomes your best friend and a true illuminator of every salmon's holding position and their reactions to the presence of the fly.
Build Your Own Salmon Fly Box Collection
Your own personal fly box should also be a fantastic memory box when you open it and look at the weathered patterns and slightly off centre hook points caused by the strain of powerful salmon battles over the years. A good individual salmon fly pattern that's built its own CV of success should remain in your fly box for many years until you receive the 'nudge' to deploy it again or retire it to your fishing cap!