With over 20 salmon under his belt last season, Welsh all-rounder Tim Hughes certainly knows a thing or two about salmon fishing. In this blog post Tim shares his top 5 early season fly fishing tips for catching these elusive silver tourists. Read on to discover how best to bag yourself a springer!
Tip 1: Get deep
Spring salmon like to rest up rather than travel rapidly, due to cold spring water temperatures, so it pays concentrate your efforts in deeper resting areas such as pool bodies and tail-outs. Deep and slow is often the key, salmon being cold blooded need the water to get up above 50 degrees before they start chasing flies higher in the water, but as temperatures increase be aware extra movement can help induce a take so it is worth carrying a streamside thermometer and checking the water throughout the day.
Tip 2: Use a modern Shooting head set up
Years ago spring salmon fishing was a real chore – heavy duty 15 foot 12 weight rods, full double taper sinking lines and a lot of shoulder aching effort was required to fish. Today shorter 14 foot rods teamed up with the modern shooting head lines such as Airflo Skagit compact G2 with one of the T series sinking tips or polyleaders to match the flow regime allow you to cast further, with less effort.
Tip 3: Fly density and colour
Pay special attention to fly weight. Consider how your fly will sink and behave. Heavy tubes made of brass with coneheads are often the ones to reach for in your early season fly box. Large colourful patterns in orange, yellow and black are ones that will show up well in dirtier spring water. If you get your fly to the correct level the takes will come!
My recommended early season salmon fly list:
Cascade Brass Tube
Willie Gunn Feelers Brass Tube
RS Super Snaelda Cascade Conehead
Francis Brass Tube
Tip 4: Do your research
Choosing the right beat is half the battle. Regularly check the online fishing reports, social media, forums and sites such as FishPal. Look at long term beat records and work out which beats historically do better in the spring. Don’t be afraid to ring the fishery booking office or contact the gillie/river keeper for updates and advice on fish location. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast and as the river starts to drop after a spring down pour the fish will be running – so make sure you get out there and make the most of it; a week later might be too late!
Tip 5: Check your tippet materials
There is nothing worse than losing a salmon due to a dodgy leader. Check and renew your tippet selection at the start of your season. Strong fluorocarbon is my choice spring fish aren’t leader shy – Airflo G3 in 15lb or Airflo Platinum in 20lb is a dead cert for spring fishing.