When you pick up a magazine or browse through social media there really is an overwhelming amount of information being thrusted upon the salmon angler. Theres a new revolution in lines every few months, one year its extra fast action rods, then its glass and for the new comer to salmon fishing, how on earth they are ever meant to pick a fly is beyond me. Experience is great, always ask for help and advice if you can, local knowledge is always best but if you are a trout fisherman, pike fisher or gudgeon specialist I want you to know that salmon fishing doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t need all that gear for your first day out, you don’t need to be a spey casting guru.
So before you even arrive at the river you are going to need some really basic gear. Waterproofs, they are a standard across all aspects of fishing, certainly each discipline and there are even aspects of fly fishing clothing made for certain reasons but as long as it keeps you dry that’s what counts. Waders are a big plus and allow more access to the water and in foul weather keep you dry. Wading itself is kind of a catch twenty two, its advantageous in so many scenarios yet if possible try to stay out of the water, stealth is the number one priority, river trout anglers have some of the best river craft skills out there, apply the same to the salmon.
The rod, its nice to have nice things but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter. I have talked about the right tool for the job, great, but if you have a 10’ #7 single handed fly rod you are going to be just fine for 75% of the salmon fishing we have here in the UK and Ireland. If your a pike fly fisher and wanting a chance of a salmon go ahead and use your 9’ #9 rod, fish for the salmon in the same way you fish for the pike, seeking them out, adjusting your depth and tinkering with your retrieve speeds.
Reels, again we all have that dream reel in our mind that we would like to own but for the vast majority of the salmon you are going to encounter in home waters you really don’t need that expensive drag. Mostly, your reel is there to just hold your fly line. Oh, speaking of fly lines.
The line is the one aspect of your setup I would always advise to invest in, it really does make the difference. But, if splashing out on a line that these days average just shy of £100 is holding you back from getting out there and having a go with at the salmon then don’t worry. Use your standard trout line that you already have, if I was to pick one line for all my salmon fishing it would be an intermediate, a few poly leaders and you are covering some other options. It doesn’t have to be hard, you don’t have to hit the far bank with every cast. Fish within your limits, make a cast that is comfortable for you. For leader material stick with a good reliable mono-filament, your fishing for salmon in rocky rivers so leave the fluorocarbon at home.
Flies, this is what really spurred on this topic for this weeks blog post. I have been moving on some tackle for a customer who is no longer fit to fish and was sorting his fly boxes for him, salmon, trout and saltwater patterns all mixed in with each other. I came to a bit of a conclusion, moment of clarity, why on earth are we paying £3.50 to £7 for a salmon fly when you will only pay £1.50 for a trout fly, there’s as much material and work involved in dressing a dabbler than a cascade. Any ways, getting carried away. You don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on salmon flies, if you have a box of Irish Lough flies I have 100% confidence you will catch a salmon on them, those big goslings and dabblers are not that far away from a shrimp pattern, your black snake flies you hammer the stockies with will substitute for a sunray shadow just nicely, a black pennel or teal blue & silver has been the downfall of many a salmon over the years, so don’t feel you have to spend a fortune to fill up your boxes with salmon specific patterns.
The fishing apect really is simple, fish for the salmon as if its a trout or even a pike. Imagine where they are lying in the flow, approach with caution and work your way up to the pool, all stealth like. Try different angles of the cast, different depths, different retrieves and if that doesn’t provide any joy try presenting a different fly. Do not be afraid to go out there and try salmon fishing for the first time, there is nothing complex about it, if you can cast a line, tie on a fly and fit to walk up and down the river bank then you have all the skills needed to make 2019 your year of the salmon.
If you ever need any help, just ask.