Fly fishing for salmon is never easy and sometimes when the going gets tough, you need something with that X-factor, here are some essential salmon fishing tips for the coming season.
Early Season Salmon Fishing Tips
During the early spring months, salmon fishing can be quite difficult. This is often not because the fish are particularly hard to catch, instead, invariably they are difficult to find. Sadly, nowadays springers early in the season (between the months of January and March) are quite rare and elusive. At this time of year, the fish are quite aggressive and so are good takers of a fly. Usually, if a fresh spring salmon (a fish that has been in the river for no longer than 48 hours) sees a fly, it will make an attempt to take it. At this time of year, fly selection is not too important but more the depth at which your fly is moving through the water column. Usually, a fly which is bold and bright in appearance and shows up well in the water is all that is required.
Late Season Salmon Fishing Tips
As we move later into the season things can change. In the late spring and summer months often, the water can be low in our rivers. This coupled with hot, bright days can make salmon fishing difficult to say the least. In such testing conditions, the best times to fish can be first thing in the morning and then again at dusk. This is because often the fish are at their most active in low light conditions when it is cooler. Usually, at this time of year, there are good numbers of salmon in the pools but they can be notoriously temperamental, regularly refusing a salmon angler’s offering. The key to success in such conditions is being stealthy in your approach, by scaling down your tackle and using salmon flies which are subtle in appearance and profile.
Fly Fishing Tackle for Salmon
When it comes to scaling down your tackle, firstly you need to consider the rod and line you are going to use. In low water, often using a shorter fly rod either a switch or even trout rod as opposed to a rod fifteen feet in length, can pay rich dividends. Using a shorter rod means that you are less likely to cast a shadow over a pool and spook the fish. If you are using a shorter, lighter rod then a lighter fly line is required. The lighter line will cause less disturbance on the water when casting and so there is less chance of spooking the fish. Another advantage of using a lighter fly line is that it will aid the mobility of the fly and make it appear more lifelike. Often in low water conditions, there can be limited flow in the pools. If you are using a lighter fly line, it will swing around faster in the current and subsequently so will your fly. This will lead to the fly having more movement in the water which makes it much more appealing to a salmon.
Tippet Material Salmon fishing tips
In terms of leader material, fluorocarbon is often perfect for the job in low clear water. The fish can see everything in such conditions and so using the thinnest leader material is imperative. If you are using very small flies which you often are in low water, then heavy leader material makes the fly appear quite slow, rigid and unnatural in the water.
Flies for Salmon
Finally, we come to the terminal tackle, the salmon flies themselves. When the water is low and clear, you don’t need to use big bright flies. It is the small subtle looking flies which can often be the most effective in such testing conditions. It is rare to be able to purchase salmon flies with such qualities. However, some of the flies produced by Fulling Mill tick all the boxes. Flies like the Black and Red Francis, Stoat’s Tail Silver Special, Micro Mirage Stoat and Arndilly Fancy are all perfect for the job. Some of these flies are very sparsely dressed which make them ideal, as they are light, highly mobile and appear very lifelike in the water. These flies truly have that X-factor and are great for catching grilse and summer salmon, when the going gets tough. The subtle appearance of these flies are their greatest strength.
When to fish for Salmon fishing tips
Bright sunny days, coupled with high temperatures and low water is far from ideal when fishing for salmon but by choosing the times you fish carefully, scaling down your tackle and using a stealthy approach certainly helps. If you also have some flies in your box which are subtle in appearance and have that X-factor, then you will tilt the odds in your favour of catching that elusive hard fighting Scottish salmon on even the toughest of days.
This article was written by Sandy Datta who together with his wife Samantha are co-founders of Salmon Fishing Holidays Scotland. This company is dedicated to providing bespoke tailor-made salmon fishing holidays in Scotland. Sandy has also recently written The Ultimate Guide to Salmon Fishing in Scotland.
In their spare time, Sandy and Samantha are both very passionate about their salmon fishing. They are never found too far away from the river bank, and they usually have a rod in their hands!