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An Introduction and how to guide for Salmon Fishing

Updated: Sep 12



A salmon is an extremely hard fighting fish, it is extremely fast and can grow very large. Due to salmon having immense power, selecting the correct rod and line are essential. Generally, within the UK, salmon are viewed as the main trophy fish every angler wishes to catch. Salmon fishing is extremely popular with fly fishermen. Although, many bait fishermen will also fish for salmon.


a leaping salmon
A Leaping salmon


Salmon Locations


There are several species of Pacific salmon. Five of them occur in Northern American: Chinook, Coho, Chum, Sockeye, and Pink. Masu and Amago salmon occur only in Asia. There are one species of Atlantic salmon (UK).



Fly Fishing


Fly Fishing for salmon can be an extremely difficult task. Keep all of your expectations low to start off with. It is not uncommon for an experienced angler to not catch a salmon on a fly for months on end. When starting out learning the basics for fly fishing it is recommended to target smaller more common species such as trout. After building your skills up advancing onto salmon is recommended.



The sport is brilliant. Developing a great cast will massively improve your chances of catching a salmon. It is recommended to learn a Spey cast. Spey casts are the starting skill for any salmon fisher., and mastering the ‘Single Spey’ and ‘Double Spey’ will allow you to fish effectively from both sides of a river


Taking Spey casting lessons before you choose to fish the river for the first time will help you enjoy your fishing more. Local angling stores can help provide you with helpful knowledge based on casts, locations, what the fish are feeding on etc.







Basic Flys


The following is a selection of basic salmon flies:




Wolly Buggers -

Wolly buggers are black flies with green dubbing. Ensure the fly has a bead head before fishing. The reason for this is that the fly-tip should be lower in the water to imitate a baitfish.


Shrimp Patterns -


Shrimp patterns imitate a shrimp. They are a fantastic option all year round in all different types/variations of water. Find this fly in a size 4-10. These flies are streamer patterns.


Egg fly patterns -


You can find these flies in many bright, extremely colourful patterns. They imitate fish eggs. Egg patterns are proven to work in all types of water. It’s a lightweight fly. Depending on the flow rate, you may need to add a split shot or some other form of weight to get the best results.



Bait Fishing for Salmon


Salmon can be bait fished fro using simple methods


Various types of shrimp such as sand shrimp and salmon eggs are proven to be amazing bait. Selecting the correct bait wisely is extremely important to ensure a salmon will strike. Make sure your hooks are kept extremely sharp. This will allow for easier penetration and hook setting.



How to Spin Fish for Salmon


Spinning is the simplest method, to catch salmon. It is also the most effective if done correctly. Mepps are a brilliant brand for salmon fishing lures. Lures should have some sort of reflective material on them. Many have a spinning metal spoon. The reason they have these is to attract predatory fish. These lures will represent small baitfish. Flying C spinners are our number one recommendation. Flying C lures are notorious for being one of the best spinning lures on the market.




Generic Techniques and Tips


1. Ensure sure your bait definitely has something flashy attached to it to attract the fish. Salmon prefer very low lighting conditions, so something that flashes will attract them in darker waters.


2. Colour dissipates the deeper it goes underwater. The very first colour that dissipates when it hits the water is red. Red disappears in water with as little as 15 feet. This is great for fishing, because the line will appear invisible to fish at this depth or deeper, and your bait will appear more life-like. Only sockeye salmon can see red, these are not within UK waters.


3. Fish in mild weather when there is an overcast overhead. This is common knowledge as the best fishing conditions for trout and salmon.


4. If you happen to be fishing at a saltwater location or somewhere where tides impact your condition you should fish one hour before or after high or low tide. Again, these are amazing times to fish, so make sure your rig and bait are ready to be used.





Water Features


There are various features in bodies of water. Using these to your advantage can dramatically increase your chances of catching fish. These features displace flowing water and create a tiny bed of gently flowing water directly behind the rock.. Look to target the sides of the boulder in the faster-flowing water to encourage fish to push out from behind the fish lie. After you are hooked into a fish, apply a solid pressure initially to try and pull the fish away from the boulder to eliminate the chances of losing the fish.


One of the prime features for any salmon species. Margins on rivers offer an array of features from cutaway under steep banks to large drop-offs. Salmon will lie within these cutaway troughs. Placing a bait, spinner or fly upon these will hopefully get you a strike.


Salmon pools are the number one place to catch salmon. Salmon will stop for rest in shoals within a body of water in rivers. These salmon pools are much deeper than the normal river depth. The current is slower in them allowing the fish to not work as hard. When a bigger salmon moves towards these pools it will push any other fish out.



Finishing Notes


Overall, fishing for salmon is an extremely challenging task. Although, it is very rewarding. Ensuring you use the correct attractant as well as a heavy rod is crucial for success. Understanding water features and following the provided tips will ensure you catch a salmon with patience.


by Daniel ONeill








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