Stay On The Salmon Pool Move
By Jock Monteith 1st December 2021
On our big salmon rivers like the Tay where your 'water to fish ratio' is is always going to reduce your odds of locating a taking fish don't waste too much time trying to force a salmon to take that's continually showing and not responding. Normally if a take is going to occur it will happen fairly quickly and soon after a salmon sees your fly for the first time (if you're going to pester a 'jumper' multiple differing brief periodic approaches over the full course of the day may get a result if your tactful enough with your sub surface thoughts). Effective water coverage plays a big part of success in this wonderful pursuit and good spacings between each swing of your fly will get you closer to a fish that is willing to cooperate. Don't be fooled by a 'lunging mermaid' as that fish is likely just a decoy to keep you away from the 'taker' that's ready for your fly in the next pool!
Don't Overfish Salmon Pools
If you sit over salmon that are clearly not going to be caught you're only training them to accept your fly's presence instead of searching effectively for the one that is in the right frame of mind to have a go! On a personal basis I'll move a minimum of 3 feet between every cast and apply this riverbank movement as either the fly hits the water if I'm throwing a mend or as I'm hand lining in prior to recasting (if a mend is not required). Take a measure from your rod's butt section and stick to it like glue and you'll be amazed at how much fly water you'll be able to cover during the fishing day. Self evaluation of your actual daily water coverage should tell you whether you've been in with a chance or not as the case may be!
Salmon Fly Water Coverage
If you think about effective water coverage properly and how good spaced fly swing movements will increase your chances of placing your fly in front of a taking fish at some point during the fishing day then you'll appreciate the logic of this important yet seldom taught salmon fishing skill. Being a 'heron' on the riverbank will very rarely work and it will also diminish the salmon fishing day for other guests on the beat who are trying to focus on effective riverbank movement. Increase your chance of catching a salmon and stay on the move throughout your fishing day is my advice without trying to bore a fish to death. The real objective is to 'startle' a fish with the presence of your fly and if you do that via proper fly swing spacings you may just obtain the required predatory reaction! Letting a salmon see too much of the fly through minimised riverbank movement (or heroning!) will only reduce the chances of a take (and your water coverage) so less is definitely more in salmon fly fishing.
Always Maintain A Water Coverage Objective
Make your salmon fishing day's water coverage as effective as you can and plan out how to get through all of the water you've been allocated for the morning & afternoon salmon fishing sessions. If you're fishing a quiet beat and not paired up with another angler on the same pool try to work out a battle plan that swims your fly through the known 'hot spots' twice instead of just the once. The second time you fish through a known salmon lie try a slightly deeper fly if the first swim through didn't gain any sub surface attention. Thinking from a salmon's point of view and what's likely to make it come off its lie for a closer inspection of your fly can often pay off.
When Salmon Take Your Fly
Normally when your mind is dwelling on a far distant subject from the 'task in hand' is when the salmon 'take' often occurs. With that in mind I've always wondered if salmon can sense eagerness from anglers and it wouldn't surprise me if they could given the fact they're astute enough to be able to navigate from Greenland back to their native rivers. Enjoy your casting and riverbank movement and become a salmon fly water coverage machine! If you do then sooner or later you will no doubt be rewarded for your fine efforts. Go into 'automatic pilot' once you know your fly size, swim depth & swim pace are perfect and take your mind away into that far distant free dwelling zone which plays a big yet unspoken part in the attraction of this amazing sport. By doing so you've just put yourself into complete 'stealth' mode and it's only a matter of time before your next sudden adrenalin fix!