Salmon fly size - how to select a salmon fly page 1

Fishing instructor, fly fishing tuition and fishing trips based in Scotland. Salmon and trout fishing advice, flies and articles.

Salmon fly size matters - introduction (article and pictures by Ally Gowans)

How do we choose – do long tails or long wings make a difference, does the hook size make a difference – does the bulk of the fly count – should we think of fly “presence” rather than size?

Slamon fly fishing R Findhorn
Casting a salmon fly R Findhorn

It’s always nice to be beside a river, imagine its June month and the swallows flit along the surface looking for insects, a dipper bobs and chirps loudly to its newly fledged brood, “come eat some caddis” it seems to call out to the gregarious fledglings. A gentle breeze wafts and a sky of broken clouds signals the passing of the weather front that yesterday caused first the ditches, then the burns and eventually the river to swell into the welcome sight of a summer spate. Today the river height is more than a foot above normal and the turbidity of the spate has disappeared. I can see clearly from a line of riverbank debris that river has been about a foot higher overnight. Now the water is dropping, but it’s still quite heavily stained with tannin, that curious beery translucency and as if to emphasise the analogy with ale blobs of white foam swirl in eddies and less distinctive lines of foamy bubbles indicate boundaries between the currents running through the pools help me to predict where the fish might be lying. Fish the “bubble line”, coincidence or not it’s often where taking fish are to be found. Dropping water with a bit of cloud, a pleasant temperature and right where expected a salmon shows on the surface. Strange how they seem to have preferred places to perform, an old fishing companion of mine used to give the fish names and claimed that his favourite “Jock” came back every year. Told convincingly to visitors I wonder how many believed this fishy tale. The ripples spread across the glassy surface of the pool, fish appear to be running and it looks like another one has just showed as it navigated the shallow gliding water above the lip. Perfect conditions, or so I hope. On days like this the water may drop quite quickly and if I’m to make the best of it I must be prepared to change flies and tactics to try to keep pace with the conditions. I’m nearly kitted up and ready to go, my rod, line and leader are assembled all I need to do now is decide on which fly to use.

From my earliest fly fishing days I was told never to choose a fly until I’m standing on the water’s edge and that advice has stuck with me and I believe that it’s helped me on innumerable occasions. Sometimes I’ve arrived at a pool with a fly already attached, looked at the fly, looked at the water and changed the fly without hesitation due to some hunch that its better replaced. The reason may have been water depth or clarity, it might have been the pace of the current or perhaps conditions such as wind or temperature have changed noticeably. It may even have been just an instinctive thought or a loss of confidence in the fly that was attached. Whatever the cause the result of the change is a boost to my confidence and that is paramount if I’m going to fish properly.

Salmon fly size article is continued on page 2
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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.