The 5pm Salmon Fishing Blues
By Jock Monteith 23rd January 2022
After the elation & excitement of a brilliant day on a Scottish salmon river do you ever get to the end of a blank day when you're content but you just have that niggling inner feeling of what could have been! Sadly that feeling is felt by too many salmon fishers who've not been shown how to make a salmon take truly count!
Bad Salmon Hooking Habits
There's nothing more stubborn that I've ever seen than a salmon fisher who's set in their ways and continues to miss glorious quality opportunities to 'effectively' hook salmon. I'm not talking here about newcomers to the sport as they're easy being 'blank canvasses' to brainwash properly on hooking techniques. I'm referring to the old 'they'd rather not disclose it than fix it' brigade when it comes to hooking salmon. All salmon hooks 'logically' require sufficient pressure at the correct moment to be set 'effectively' as hooks don't magic themselves into a salmon's generally tough mouth flesh all by themselves!
Feel The Weight Before Lifting Your Rod
The above title does not state 'lift into the fish to then feel its weight' it clearly states 'feel the weight of the fish 'before' lifting into the fish'! If that isn't more logical than a big bag of logical things then I don't know what on earth is. If you time the tightening of your fly line by clamping your fly reel with the rod tip down to when the fish is swimming away from you all that is between you and the hook point is the braided core stretch of your fly line which means you don't need to be a physics professor to work out you'll set the hook! Keep lifting like a perfect salmon loss machine and sooner or later you're going to realise you're in the hands of the Gods whether your fish is going to stay on given the tough nature of the inside of a salmon's mouth and the 'useless' hook setting soft action of a salmon fly rod paired with a lightly set reel clutch (to correctly allow the fish to turn and draw away).
Spin Fishers Need To Know Too
If your riverbank movement is good enough to earn the take from a salmon while spinning on the Tay you've got no more than 5 second on contact with a fish to set the bigger hook of a 'Toby' or your fish will say bye bye prematurely! The biggest load of crap you'll here about that fantastic 'Toby' lure is that it's a bad hooker! That lure in the right hands is deadly and not just for attracting salmon but getting a firm grip of them too. The 'bad hooker' nonsense translates into 'incompetent fisher' due to anglers fishing the lure with a slack clutch setting and foolishly hoping that the fish will play 'tug of war' the same way a dog would on the front lawn with a bath towel! Make sure your spinning reel clutch is initially set tight enough to hook the salmon then loosen the clutch off a little to play the fish 'after' you've set the hook and watch your faith in the old 'Toby' soar sky high!
Thousands Of Lost Salmon Hooking Opportunities
The thing that cracks me up the most having watched the 'debacle' going on for decades is that it'll be effecting the local economies by making rivers appear to have less salmon in them. Often I hear of dozens of 'golden' opportunities on the Tay that were squandered by anglers who don't technically know what they are doing. That frustrates me as any ghillie wants to see that amazing salmon smile on an angler's face after the successful conclusion of battle with a perfect super fit Scottish salmon. The second a fish does feel the hook it's objective is to get rid of it and they are true masters at doing so unless you've 'clinically' set the hook to a degree where the fish would need to break your line to escape the landing net!
The Amazing Taking Consistency Of Scottish Salmon
I know for a fact due to the 'high' consistency level of squandered salmon hooking opportunities that angler incompetence plays its part in our game these days. The take to landed salmon ratio for the average salmon fisher at best would be about 3 to 1 from what I've seen. Think about the positive impact of these other 2 salmon being landed for salmon fisher retention in this sport and the sheer 'economic value' to Scotland. Science based (mis)information advises that we are in a salmon stock down turn even though it's impossible to truly know (as long as salmon angler rod catches are all we've got as a measuring tool) however the majority of anglers could play their part by obtaining the necessary salmon hooking skills to allow them more consistency at turning their hard earned salmon takes into fish for the Scottish river 'dependent' scoresheets.