Spin Fishing For Tay Salmon
By Jock Monteith 20th November 2022
If your effective hooking rate with a spinner on the River Tay isn't close to 100% then there's a few different angles of thought to consider the next time you're out slinging cutlery across Scotland's biggest & deepest salmon river.
Massive Spin Fishing Water Coverage
The reason the spinner does so well on the Tay is that it allows a new angler to 'in theory' cover much more water than they could ever achieve with a salmon fly rod. Punching out a 30 gram lure on a braided line is easy and often you've got to put the 'mid flight' brakes on the lure to stop it from pruning trees on the far bank! That 'ease of distance' does not however mean that the spin fisher should ever think that's all that's needed unless they wish blank salmon fishing days. There's great skill & 'mind engagement' involved in effective spin fishing if it is to be conducted properly.
Tactical Spin Fishing Water Coverage
Correct and thorough water coverage with a fly or spinning lure is what catches salmon and nothing else. When using a spinning rod you must have a 'solid' water coverage plan in your head that will allow your lure to travel effectively through every couple of square yards of water while searching out the salmon pools for a cooperator! A 'willy nilly' flick here or there paired with inconsistent riverbank movement is a complete waste of time on the Tay where there's always going to be a big cubic foot of water to salmon ratio even when the river is full of fish!
Get Your Spin Fishing Coverage Bang On
Personally I always found a slightly upstream squarish cast with a steady retrieve the most effective presentation for a lure as that made the lure's retrieve into a lovely big 'not too fast & not too slow' curving swing. The key to the deal for effective spin fishing water coverage is to make sure the angle of cast is consistent (and for distance) and more importantly making sure each casting position was separated by one 10ft rod length. It's really your boots that catch salmon on the spinner (or a fly) if you really think closely about it as good riverbank movement equates to effective water coverage which is the 'real' key for both salmon fishing applications.
Know Your Depth Of Salmon Pool
If you've taken on board the 'angle' of cast and the critical 'casting position spacings' divulged in the above paragraph then the only other things to consider are depth of lure and setting the hook when a salmon takes. After casting and on the lure's impact on the water you can count your lure down for a few seconds if you feel a deeper retrieve depth is required. You should always have a feel for the depth of the pool you are fishing so you know if & when fishing a deeper lure is appropriate. You should also be aware of where your lure is at all times and especially when it comes close to the end of the retrieve to keep it off the likely shallower riverbed and away from possibly damaging your top rod ring liner.
Setting The Hook With A Spinner
I know I sound like a broken record but forget deploying any of the above if you're going to continue to fish a slack clutch setting as most hard earned offers on the spinner will more than likely remain as brief encounters! Tighten your clutch up so that line can still be drawn off the spool but only with a fairly strong pull. That's logically the correct amount of pressure to set a large spinning hook at range in the typical 5 seconds you've got to achieve a good hook hold or your salmon is likely to say bye bye prematurely! Once you've bent right into the fish with a tight clutch setting and felt its weight (to set the hook) then loosen your drag off a little to play the fish.
Deploying the Above Spin Fishing Tactics
If you get your consistent angle of distance cast correct and move 10ft between each cast and count the lure down when you feel the need while all the time fishing with a tight initial clutch setting then get your seatbelt on! You'll now nearly be as effective as a River Tay 'harling' boat and your daily water coverage will be colossal. After 20 casts following the above casting position spacings turn upstream to where your starting position was an you'll be amazed at the water you've already covered! Keep that going throughout the course of the entire salmon fishing day and the law of averages & our 'Salmon God' will provide the rest!