Salmon Fly Waggle & Sparkle Is Important
By Jock Monteith 19th May 2023
There's a huge difference between a cast & hope specialist and a precision bomber when it comes to properly fishing a salmon fly. Here's a few basic fly movement thoughts to consider while presenting a salmon fly to the Scottish rivers.
The Salmon Take
To start with you should view your salmon fly as your extended right hand as an offering of a 'hand shake' to a salmon! That offer to a salmon needs to be an open one and delivered with consistency, persistency and a 'genuine' belief that your salmon fly is optimally swimming throughout the full course of the fishing day to a degree where you can actually visualise its glinting, darting & tantalising waggling under the waterline. If you start to adopt this 'fly mentality' you'll already be in the top 5% of Scottish salmon fly fishers and you'll have now entered a new dimension in salmon fly fishing.
Tank Test Your Salmon Flies
This process of visualisation should in all cases start at the riverside before final salmon fly selection time if you're taking this business seriously. Don't just tie on any old fly just because it's the correct pattern and size as that's telling you nothing about the fly's actual in-stream movement. Before you commit to any fly tie it onto a leader and get it wet at the side of the river to see how it moves in the stream. If it's not got a 'live bait' style movement of its own then put it in the bin and try another one! Be brutally ruthless as the bottom line in this game is you only ever need 2 or 3 vey good salmon flies to have a 'bumper' salmon fishing season! If you're not absolutely brimming with excitement with what you've just tied on the end of your leader your quality of salmon fly needs a serious re-think. Remember that a blind dog in a snow storm can catch the easy fish but there's much more satisfaction in this game being the 3rd or 4th rod through a pool to produce 1 or 2 fish that the preceding anglers haven't even had a sniff of!
Faith Is The Number One Fly Tying Ingredient
You must have complete and utter 'faith' in the fly you're using for it to become a trusted member of your salmon fishing approach & kit. When you establish that professional bond with your salmon fly nothing will stop you from catching salmon as long as you're reasonably well presenting it to the river in a methodical and well spaced fly swing manner and at the right depth & pace as dictated by the prevailing water conditions. Honing in on your salmon fly's natural stream movement then maximising a carefully thought out water coverage plan is without any doubt the most lethal approach for breaking the boredom of your landing net! If you require a few non-mass production salmon flies that have been tied to exacting professional ghillie specification and with fly stream movement in mind one of the best guys to contact is professional salmon fly tier Danny McLaughlin as pictured here with myself. Danny goes crazy when I promote him like this as he's inundated with his own salmon fly orders but he has a sense of humour so he'll forgive my persistent push to assist fellow anglers to catch more salmon. To preserve our friendship please keep any orders to under half a dozen!
Comparing Salmon Fishing Robotics Against Astute Salmon Psychology
Don't be robotic in salmon fly fishing and just go through the motions as your success rate will be minimal. Don't think it's all about a perfect D-loop or leader/fly turn-over elegance as I can assure you salmon aren't interested on those 2 things. Go to the next level of salmon fishing curiosity and intimately know your fly's natural stream movement and its 'glint ratio' from any bling that the fly's wing has tied into it. The best 'glint ratio' I've personally found is an occasional glint once every 3 seconds so don't fish a fly that's been overdressed with the glittery stuff that looks like it's permanently got its head lights full on! Go for the more subtle lesser 'bling'ed version as the occasional glint not only catches a salmon's eye better but I'm convinced it is the defining 'trigger' moment as a salmon is tailing the fly that seals the deal via inducing a positive final fly attack! On-beat salmon intel is something you should be subtly scanning for when you arrive at any salmon beat when the going is tough. 'Seen anything' or 'anything showing' were my choice words to the beat ghillie if that intel wasn't readily forthcoming. All you need to know is which pool(s) salmon are mainly holding in before you start digging deeper about methods, skill sets or fly patterns that haven't worked if these fish are not readily being caught.
Improve Your Salmon Fly Fishing Success
In these recent times of mass media scare mongering that would have you believe there are no salmon left in our rivers made worse by the fact we have no main stem 'in-river' fish counters therefore fluctuating and often 'ineffective' rod pressure is the only salmon stock measuring tool which is as reliable as a chocolate fire guard! Negativity was significantly increased on the back of the low warm water 2018 (& 2022) fishing seasons but anyone with half a clue about this game will know that salmon don't like low warm water and nor do anglers! Here we are again this season with a similar scenario but my money is on 'Old Sam' and his troops making a big appearance after the next significant lift in water. It's important to not only ignore negativity but to also tune into methods that will show other anglers that there are indeed salmon there to be caught. Nothing inspires other anglers more on the river than witnessing a fine fish being landed right in front of their own eyes. With that fact in mind the above thoughts on making sure your salmon fly is one 'sexy mover' in the stream (prior to fishing with it) and also that it's fishing at the correct depth (& swing spacings) should be taken as seriously as you know how!