There has never been so much choice when it comes to fishing tackle. We are really spoilt when it comes to the gear, fly fishing has never been easier! We have lighter and stronger rods, reels that are engineering masterpieces, flies our predecessors couldn’t have even dreamt of. Imagine what it would be like to go back then with the modern tackle, I don’t think it would be fair on the salmon.
One aspect of fly fishing that has really come forward in the last 10/15 years is the fly line. The lines we have now are so good that you can have someone making a fishable cast in a matter of minutes, Its almost annoying to see if you had to struggle with the double tapers ‘back in the day’. Although we have all these new tapers, shorter, easier lines to handle, have we really moved on ? Are we making the most of the technology we have access to? Are we still doing the same old thing? Staying in our comfort zone?
I think the majority of anglers are and I have the figures to back it up!
With all these modern rods, lines and leaders the majority still gravitate towards the same old system. For some reason as soon as you mention "salmon fishing” we have this notion that we need to get the heavy gear out, heavy weight lines to chuck out a cast as close to the far bank as possible. I can positively say that here in the UK and Ireland we fish with line weights that are too heavy for our intended quarry. Take salmon fishing in Ireland, our fish are grilse, 4 - 6lb on average. So why o why are we chasing after them with heavyweight fly lines, I mean fly lines because the rods today are incredibly light, but we insist on lines that tip the scales towards the heavier end.
Then lets look at the density of the lines being purchased, the vast majority of line sales are full floating, once you start going down the line densities they begin to drop off sharply. For the same weight in Floating only half the lines would be bought in the intermediate density, remember those old wet cell 2 lines that were a firm favourite, we don’t seem to be using their equivalent today. The modern approach, which the figures support it, is that the majority of anglers are using a floating head with a polyleader.
Polyleader’s, again the trend continues here. Intermediate and slow sinking polyleader’s being the most popular, go down into the fast sinking section and the numbers are cut in half, across the entire line class spectrum. As I said in the workshop calls, a polyleader/versi-leader/coated leader barely scratches the surface, they are for making micro adjustments.
So, back to the title “are we stubborn or afraid?” I think it’s a bit of a mixture, there are those that caught a few salmon one day on a floating line and intermediate polyleader and think that it will work all of the time. Salmon fishing is also steeped in tradition and I think its hard to leave behind some of the old theories and practices. Then we come to the fear, I think this is the biggest cause of the lines leaning so far to the heavyweight, floatier densities. The fear of losing a yard or two of casting by dropping down in line class is one myth that persists, Salmon also need to be bullied so we think we need to really beef up the gear. One of the biggest fears I encounter here at the shop and at the river is the anglers fear of the sinker. Somewhere along their angling career they had or heard of a bad experience with sinking lines, they are hard to drag up, they are hard to cast and so on.
Modern tackle is easier than ever to use, light rods and light lines give the same coverage that our predecessors could have only dreamt of. Start dropping down into the lighter line classes and a few things will happen, you will have less fatigue, fishing becomes more enjoyable, the line lands gently on the water and you will encounter more fish. Delving down into the 1/2 and 3/4 sink rates and again you will see other benefits appear, the fly spends more time out there, in front of the fish, the line cuts through the wind much easier and yes, you will encounter more fish!
I always seem to bring up the experience in Canada, do you know that during the time I have spent there, I have yet to see a salmon in those upper columns of water, you know the fish that apparently sit in the top 18 inches of water. I keep looking for them, but I only see the ones on the bottom.
2019. International year of the salmon, maybe it’s time to start fishing where the fish are.