Waiting For The Salmon Take
By Jock Monteith 9th February 2018
While the River Tay is full of multi sea winter fresh run Spring salmon which are turning up on a daily basis even though the vast majority of anglers aren't I think it's important to recap on the important aspect of setting the hook for those who do 'rightly' venture out for a real chance of a 'fish of a lifetime'!
The Dearth Of Scottish Salmon Anglers
It's just amazing that right now there's plenty salmon in the River Dee which recently opened and few salmon anglers are out having a go! Every season including the 2018 salmon fishing season the Tay always produces several seriously heavyweight Spring salmon up to a whopping 35 pounds even though most Tay salmon beat's are hardly fished at all. Imagine our salmon reversed the internet 'catch stats' into their own version of 'angler stats' and started 'mumbling on' about the lack of salmon fishers present on the beautiful pools of the rivers Dee, Spey and Tay as they ascended up river!
Know Exactly How To Make The Salmon Take Count
For those of you who are sharp enough to realise there's a great salmon fishing opportunity during early Spring at the moment on both the above rivers make sure you know exactly how to make a hard earned and possible fish of a lifetime stay on all the way to the landing net. Far too many salmon hooking opportunities are blown by anglers who've not been properly shown how to deal with a take on the fly or spinning rod for that matter.
The Cold Early Spring Water Salmon Fly Take
The take from a salmon in very cold water conditions can be a slower more drawn out affair. The mantra for your head to brainwash yourself with is 'do nothing' as it's crucial you've got the composure to 'not' react to the first initial bump or tug from a salmon. The problem is that salmon are true masters at knowing when your mind is completely elsewhere therefore the natural instinct and especially for those from a trout fishing background is to react immediately and especially when caught off guard.
Let The Salmon Take Develop
It's crucial that while a salmon is investigating your fly you give it enough time to take the fly properly and let it turn and pull away. The initial stages of the salmon take can involve a series of 'tugs & plucks' that can sometimes continue for several seconds. It's crucial you ignore these tugs and wait for a steady draw of line to start being taken off the reel. Once this occurs give it another slowly counted 5 seconds and stop the fish dead by clamping the reel face momentarily with the rod tip down. What you've now done is put the negligible 'core stretch' of your fly line between the hook point and your fly reel. Enough said!
Lift The Rod After You've Hooked The Salmon
Unless you're addicted to the anguish and that dreadful hollow gut feeling a slack line creates after the brief contact with a salmon only lift your rod after you've felt the weight of your salmon which ensures the hook is set properly. This 'just lift into it' nonsense might work with a chemically sharpened little Summer grilse salmon fly hook but with a reasonably large early Spring double iron you'll never set it by lifting the rod nor would you set anything other than setting yourself up for disaster! If you're fishing a tube fly with a soft rubber hook sleeve take it off and throw it in the fire then replace it with a more rigid plastic version. The last thing you want is your perfectly timed hook set procedure to be 'null & voided' by a pivoting tube fly hook due to a soft rubber tube fly/hook sleeve.
All Fishing Hooks Need Pressure To Be Set
All salmon are masters at shaking out a half set hook and they will usually do that in under 30 seconds following contact if you've not got enough early weight onto the hook points. There's nothing illogical about what I've just stated and thousands more salmon would be landed in Scotland each year if a more logical approach was taken as currently there will at best a 35% 'take to landed salmon' hooking ratio across the Scottish rivers.
Fish A Tight Spinning Reel Clutch
With the 'deadly' & popular ABU Toby 'Salmo' spinning lure it is important that you fish with a tight enough clutch as early weight onto the hook points within the first 10 seconds of contact is crucial or your salmon will be gone. The big hooks on a 'Salmo' are not going home with anything but good firm early pressure when the take occurs. A snatched strike is counter productive as it's likely to whip the lure right out of the salmon's mouth so putting a good solid bend in the rod is the best way to drive the hook home. Once you've put sufficient weight onto the hook then simply loosen off your clutch to play the fish. You've more time than you'll realise to do this after you've got the hook set and before the salmon starts to fight.
Prospects For The River Tay This Week
I know I've overdone things recently talking about February being the Tay's best big fish month but really the evidence to support that is building up by the day. The Tay also has fairly settled and lowish cold Spring water conditions currently which means this head of 'fantastic' heavyweight salmon are likely to remain in the middle river between Dunkeld & Stanley for a week or two until these conditions change. Let me be the one to help push you out of the door and onto one of the middle River Tay salmon beats as if this isn't a great opportunity for catching a 'salmon of a lifetime' then I don't know when is.
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