Atlantic Salmon on a toothpick anyone?

Andrew B

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Of all the achievements in Salmon fishing over the years, there’s still one that I cannot get my head around and often wonder if I dreamed it up?
The great Lee Wullf fishing for large fresh run Atlantic Salmon on a toothpick of a rod of bamboo and six feet in length.
If that’s not baffling enough I’m sure I’m right in saying he was using only 4lb leader lol?

Let’s say he was using 6lb leader I wouldn’t dream of using such an outfit for sea trout never mind salmon.
It’s like fishing the Alta with a Grayling outfit or something? In fact as I write this I can’t even think of a modern equivalent.

How on earth did he stop and turn these fish, let alone land em?
 

Rrrr

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Ive heard of a few lads in our club landing mid double seatrout when trout fishing and also big salmon. It just takes about an hour to land them and play them half to death.

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Andrew B

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Ive heard of a few lads in our club landing mind double seatrout when trout fishing and also big salmon. It just takes about an hour to land them and play them half to death.

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Yes that’s what I suspected.
 
C

cgaines10

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I know things like this are big in America, trying to see how low of a diameter they can use to play a big fish and claim a record of such thing. This is horrendous sport as you'll only end up just killing the fish after hours of playing the fish.

I've hooked a salmon over 10lb while nymphing for Grayling and I just fed it loads of slack line, absolutely pointless trying to land it on my #3. I could do it, but fighting it for an hour or so is just moronic.
 
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Loxie

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Lee Wulff was extremely experienced at landing salmon and could land them on light tackle far quicker than most people on big rods. He came up with the idea that beginners should aim to beat 1 minute per Lb playing time.

lit you know what you are doing the rod doesn't make that much difference. Wulff deliberately set out to catch a salmon on just a fly reel and did it easily. His point was to demonstrate that learning how to play a fish properly is actually a much faster and better way to do it that try to engage in a prolonged tug of war with heavy tackle.

I'm not sure there is any evidence to show that CR survival is affected by time taken to play a fish. I would have thought an exhausted fish was an exhausted fish. However If you let them use their high speed muscles this will exhaust them far faster than a tug of war. If you had to sprint full speed without a load or jog with one which would exhaust you first?
 

keirstream

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Lee Wulff was extremely experienced at landing salmon and could land them on light tackle far quicker than most people on big rods. He came up with the idea that beginners should aim to beat 1 minute per Lb playing time.

lit you know what you are doing the rod doesn't make that much difference. Wulff deliberately set out to catch a salmon on just a fly reel and did it easily. His point was to demonstrate that learning how to play a fish properly is actually a much faster and better way to do it that try to engage in a prolonged tug of war with heavy tackle.

I'm not sure there is any evidence to show that CR survival is affected by time taken to play a fish. I would have thought an exhausted fish was an exhausted fish. However If you let them use their high speed muscles this will exhaust them far faster than a tug of war. If you had to sprint full speed without a load or jog with one which would exhaust you first?

Actually Andrew, we'll need to get away somewhere and argue this one.
There's too much myth surrounding people like Lee Wulff. Deliberately trying to build some sort of aura of invincibility.
He probably managed it with one or 2 cooperating fish and got smashed by every other one.
But what was he trying to prove?
It's damn unsporting behaviour at the very least and I'm pretty sure you as an experienced rod wouldn't attempt it.
I certainly wouldn't.
So why perpetuate this myth that somehow it makes him a great sportsman?
It's like shooting a bull elephant in the eye with an air rifle.
It's just wrong?
 

neilt

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I believe a muscle gets lactic acid building up in it from use without rest.
Tired out salmon need to be held to let the lactic acid in their muscles reduce.
A fish that shoots off from Adrenalin following immediate release can be belly up within minutes.
Get it in quick as possible - if you’re not chapping it - and make sure it’s fully recovered before letting it away.
 

goodwin8288

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Im sure iv seen some programs where they catch big sharks on very light line about 3lb but obviously they follow them in the boat for ages !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Icelander05

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I have accidently caught salmon on trout tackle and today's tackle is very good. However using too light tackle knowingly is totally unsporting.
Icelander05
 

nickolas

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Of all the achievements in Salmon fishing over the years, there’s still one that I cannot get my head around and often wonder if I dreamed it up?
The great Lee Wullf fishing for large fresh run Atlantic Salmon on a toothpick of a rod of bamboo and six feet in length.
If that’s not baffling enough I’m sure I’m right in saying he was using only 4lb leader lol?

Let’s say he was using 6lb leader I wouldn’t dream of using such an outfit for sea trout never mind salmon.
It’s like fishing the Alta with a Grayling outfit or something? In fact as I write this I can’t even think of a modern equivalent.

How on earth did he stop and turn these fish, let alone land em?
Not quite sure what ones trying to prove, it like trying to land 100lbs tarpon on 15lb tippet, totally unjustified by the yanks.
 

SalmoNewf

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Wulff’s 6 foot rods were made especially for him and were very stiff, needing the equivalent of a modern 7 wt. line to get any action out of the rod at all. He got the idea for the short stiff rods from his tuna fishing days plus a knowledge of basic lever physics..a short stiff rod can put far more pressure on a fish, and bring it to hand sooner, than a long limber one. If you see any video of him casting he had to work really hard to drive out the line with those little rods. People like to think he used short 4 wt. rods but that was just not the case despite the Royal Wulff company he founded selling such rods to this day.

Wulff was trying to make a living in a very competitive writing world and like others before and since, picked some activities or stunts to get noticed and sell articles and books. He does seem to have been quite a good salmon fisherman if the advice in his books is any indication. You just have to get past the pedestrian prose and some grandstanding to get to it.
 
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Dunbar

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Remember seeing a video of a challenge to catch tuna using rimfly reels. Interesting initially but not good practice and totally unsporting.


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Rrrr

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Abit like this guy trying to land a goliath grouper on a hardy fly rod


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Loxie

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Actually Andrew, we'll need to get away somewhere and argue this one.
There's too much myth surrounding people like Lee Wulff. Deliberately trying to build some sort of aura of invincibility.
He probably managed it with one or 2 cooperating fish and got smashed by every other one.
But what was he trying to prove?
It's damn unsporting behaviour at the very least and I'm pretty sure you as an experienced rod wouldn't attempt it.
I certainly wouldn't.
So why perpetuate this myth that somehow it makes him a great sportsman?
It's like shooting a bull elephant in the eye with an air rifle.
It's just wrong?

I personally know what I'm capable of sporting fishing with and what I'm not and I personally would not use anything like the tackle he used. Like many "celebrity" anglers he had to have his USP and his was promoting ultra light tackle. I was brought up to believe that sporting fishing means not leaving a hook in a fish and so I would never agree with him on that front.

However, and it's a very big however, I think he has a great deal to teach about playing fish. It may have come from using very light gear but he developed techniques for playing fish that I think have great relevance, particularly if we have to put fish back. I think the majority of people I've seen playing salmon (and on nearly every video on YouTube etc) could improve their technique tremendously and understanding what he did and why would help them do that. I've certainly radically reduced the time I take to play a fish by understanding what he was suggesting. The mere idea that there are better ways to do it have also driven me to seek out and learn other things that have also improved how I do things. It's amazing how much there is to learn about salmon fishing and while much of what he said and did will not sit comfortably with UK anglers it's important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I don't believe he got broken that much, although clearly he must have been. He landed over 7,000 Atlantic Salmon and that's no mean feat for any angler in any era: 100 a year for 70 years?! It's also worth noting that the maximum and minimum strain an angler can exert are the same regardless of the rod used and that the rod is never the weakest link between salmon and angler. My issue would be with using very light leaders unnecessarily and I don't really like the whole culture that surrounds it and the culture of total CR that he is associated with; everything else I'm pretty OK with.
 

Andrew B

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Seen plenty of people playing fish to death with 15footers, it’s not the rod it’s how you use it
Wulff’s 6 foot rods were made especially for him and were very stiff, needing the equivalent of a modern 7 wt. line to get any action out of the rod at all. He got the idea for the short stiff rods from his tuna fishing days plus a knowledge of basic lever physics..a short stiff rod can put far more pressure on a fish, and bring it to hand sooner, than a long limber one. If you see any video of him casting he had to work really hard to drive out the line with those little rods. People like to think he used short 4 wt. rods but that was just not the case despite the Royal Wulff company he founded selling such rods to this day.

Wulff was trying to make a living in a very competitive writing world and like others before and since, picked some activities or stunts to get noticed and sell articles and books. He does seem to have been quite a good salmon fisherman if the advice in his books is any indication. You just have to get past the pedestrian prose and some grandstanding to get to it.
Ah ha I see! I was thinking like 3# brook rods which is why I couldn’t get my head around it? Suddenly makes a lot more sense as some of the footage is in real time and it doesn’t take him forever to land em.
The video of him catching these huge brook trout also using the same outfit on those lakes and rivers is a real treat to watch.
It was the thread that Pedro posted about those recent articles in T&S that got me thinking about this?
Technology and tackle have improved but all of the old classics about Salmon re behaviour still stands.

If I had a time machine the guy I would surely visit would Wood fishing his blue charms on a greased line at Cairnton.
 

Andrew B

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The tooth pick comparison came from Ilkleys finest Trout angler Oliver Edwards. When asked what his finest ever fishing was he replied three days on the Spey at Tulchan for 16 fish. He was sharing the beat with two famous Lee Wulff devotees, one was Stan Bogdan both “armed with spit cane toothpicks” and severely under gunned. Not only that they didn’t have any decent flies between them as all were bushy dry flies. To be fair it was probably an experiment to see if Scottish fish will rise to a dry fly as they do in Canada. Think they caught just two fish.
I can think of many ghillies that would go berserk for not taking advantage of such good fishing conditions lol?
 
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I read somewhere that an American ambassador to the UK lost an eye after trying to cast a large fly on a toothpick rod- I believe some time after WW2. No doubt the toothpick rods used by Lee Wulff and others were fine for light flies, but for a 5/0 Jock Scott- no way!
 

charlieH

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I read somewhere that an American ambassador to the UK lost an eye after trying to cast a large fly on a toothpick rod- I believe some time after WW2. No doubt the toothpick rods used by Lee Wulff and others were fine for light flies, but for a 5/0 Jock Scott- no way!

It's true that Ambassador Lewis Douglas lost the sight of an eye, but he was trout fishing on the Test, so I don't think it was due to the fly being too heavy for the rod - probably just a bad cast.

When I was gillieing in Norway in the 1980s, I worked with a Tweed gillie who had lost an eye to a brass tube cast overhead (some people forget or are unaware that the near ubiquity of speycasting is a relatively recent thing). We had a rule that anyone casting overhead always had to do so over their downstream shoulder, but even so I do remember one occasion when a gillie arrived back at the lodge sporting a treble hook from a tube fly as an earring. It is a serious issue, and that's why I always wear eye protection while fishing.

Incidentally, I'm surprised to read Andrew B's comment about Stan Bogdan arriving undergunned on the Dee. We had quite a lot of American guests in Norway, and Stan fished with us on a couple of occasions. Again this was back in the days before the Americans discovered speycasting, and most of them did turn up with single handed rods, albeit quite robust 9 and 10 weight ones rather than toothpicks. But Stan was an exception, and even in the mid-80s was using double handed rods. So as Andrew says, I suspect it was an experiment, and perhaps he was just trying to do better with a dry fly than George La Branche had done on his visit to the Dee back in 1925.
 

Rennie

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During my 1st few years on the Upper Tweed, I was fishing the Traquair beat and staying at the Traquair Arms- when it was run by Hugh and Marion. In the bar on the Sunday night prior to kicking off our week, we got talking to an American at the bar over for his first ever trip after Scottish Atlantic Salmon.We got talking kit and flee's etc and he said he'd brought with him two 9 ft Saltwater rods of 10 ish weight and quite heavy salt water tapered floating lines.He was quite confident he could cover the river and would match us for fish!, so we were polite and happily got 1/2 cut with him and enjoyed a good blether.
Monday morning at the Bridge met up with Dereck Brown (the then Ghillie) and I got allocated beat 1 for the morning.Now back then most folk never went up there on their turn as it wasn't a favoured beat and not at all productive.However numb nuts here went up, I'd paid for it, I was going to fish it!.
Rigged up my 15ft 6 ins Hardy Sovereign and Marquis Disc reel to an Evans Wet 2 and a 1 1/2" Garry dog tube flee and took it for a walk through the water.Now as I pushed through the extensive rush's at the waters edge, our new American chum appeared on the far side to fish Glen Ormiston's bottom beat.Now the whole of that bottom beat is heavily rush lined (or it was then!)- folk from Glen Ormiston rarely fished there either!, and the rush's were higher and more overgrown than the Traquair side.I unclipped my flee from the keeper ring, stripped off the head of the line and rolled it to just past mid stream( or there abouts!), I could here our new chum go wow!.As it swung I started to strip line off a few yds at a time and slowly lengthened line untill I was covering bank to bank, and started to work down the pool, Spey casting away quite happily.He looked a little in awe!.I knew what would follow, he started to fish, and despite a pretty good steeple cast technique he couldn't get his flee in the water, and when when he did get a flee out there it wasn't very far at all.He was obsessed with trying to double haul and match me for distance and presentation.
That night back at the bar, the poor chap was absolutely foo-ked.He was so cream crackered he could barely walk n talk.
He'd had an horrendous day, lost a large proportion of his flee's and barely had a half doz. or so casts all day that hit the water and that were halfway fishable.Never have I seen such a turn round in a line of thought or belief. He'd been told what he needed, but was convinced he could show those who knew better (that wasn't us by the way but those who advised him on his trip in the 1st place) with his way and techniques.I know the next morning he sloped off to hire some kit for the rest of his week.Real nice chap too, good company, but sadly we never saw him again that week to find out how he went on.
Pedro.
 

Occasional salmon fisher

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It's true that Ambassador Lewis Douglas lost the sight of an eye, but he was trout fishing on the Test, so I don't think it was due to the fly being too heavy for the rod - probably just a bad cast.

When I was gillieing in Norway in the 1980s, I worked with a Tweed gillie who had lost an eye to a brass tube cast overhead (some people forget or are unaware that the near ubiquity of speycasting is a relatively recent thing). We had a rule that anyone casting overhead always had to do so over their downstream shoulder, but even so I do remember one occasion when a gillie arrived back at the lodge sporting a treble hook from a tube fly as an earring. It is a serious issue, and that's why I always wear eye protection while fishing.

Incidentally, I'm surprised to read Andrew B's comment about Stan Bogdan arriving undergunned on the Dee. We had quite a lot of American guests in Norway, and Stan fished with us on a couple of occasions. Again this was back in the days before the Americans discovered speycasting, and most of them did turn up with single handed rods, albeit quite robust 9 and 10 weight ones rather than toothpicks. But Stan was an exception, and even in the mid-80s was using double handed rods. So as Andrew says, I suspect it was an experiment, and perhaps he was just trying to do better with a dry fly than George La Branche had done on his visit to the Dee back in 1925.

Once made the mistake of trying to overhead cast without first getting the line on or near the surface first. A big sink tip and 2 inch brass tube + treble quite deep in a back eddy. A big heave of a back cast resulted in line coming towards me then suddenly the brass tube smacking me on the nose, thankfully not in one of my eyes.

Once saw a child get a Mepps as an ear ring on a stocked fishery. His dad was bringing a rainbow to the net, the hook pinged out and straight into the poor lad's ear !

Been attached to a treble a couple of times whilst pike fishing - loose treble into the hand with the pike still attached to the other treble. Not much fun.
 
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Andrew B

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During my 1st few years on the Upper Tweed, I was fishing the Traquair beat and staying at the Traquair Arms- when it was run by Hugh and Marion. In the bar on the Sunday night prior to kicking off our week, we got talking to an American at the bar over for his first ever trip after Scottish Atlantic Salmon.We got talking kit and flee's etc and he said he'd brought with him two 9 ft Saltwater rods of 10 ish weight and quite heavy salt water tapered floating lines.He was quite confident he could cover the river and would match us for fish!, so we were polite and happily got 1/2 cut with him and enjoyed a good blether.
Monday morning at the Bridge met up with Dereck Brown (the then Ghillie) and I got allocated beat 1 for the morning.Now back then most folk never went up there on their turn as it wasn't a favoured beat and not at all productive.However numb nuts here went up, I'd paid for it, I was going to fish it!.
Rigged up my 15ft 6 ins Hardy Sovereign and Marquis Disc reel to an Evans Wet 2 and a 1 1/2" Garry dog tube flee and took it for a walk through the water.Now as I pushed through the extensive rush's at the waters edge, our new American chum appeared on the far side to fish Glen Ormiston's bottom beat.Now the whole of that bottom beat is heavily rush lined (or it was then!)- folk from Glen Ormiston rarely fished there either!, and the rush's were higher and more overgrown than the Traquair side.I unclipped my flee from the keeper ring, stripped off the head of the line and rolled it to just past mid stream( or there abouts!), I could here our new chum go wow!.As it swung I started to strip line off a few yds at a time and slowly lengthened line untill I was covering bank to bank, and started to work down the pool, Spey casting away quite happily.He looked a little in awe!.I knew what would follow, he started to fish, and despite a pretty good steeple cast technique he couldn't get his flee in the water, and when when he did get a flee out there it wasn't very far at all.He was obsessed with trying to double haul and match me for distance and presentation.
That night back at the bar, the poor chap was absolutely foo-ked.He was so cream crackered he could barely walk n talk.
He'd had an horrendous day, lost a large proportion of his flee's and barely had a half doz. or so casts all day that hit the water and that were halfway fishable.Never have I seen such a turn round in a line of thought or belief. He'd been told what he needed, but was convinced he could show those who knew better (that wasn't us by the way but those who advised him on his trip in the 1st place) with his way and techniques.I know the next morning he sloped off to hire some kit for the rest of his week.Real nice chap too, good company, but sadly we never saw him again that week to find out how he went on.
Pedro.
What a great story.
 

Loxie

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Once made the mistake of trying to overhead cast without first getting the line on or near the surface first. A big sink tip and 2 inch brass tube + treble quite deep in a back eddy. A big heave of a back cast resulted in line coming towards me then suddenly the brass tube smacking me on the nose, thankfully not in one of my eyes.

Once saw a child get a Mepps as an ear ring on a stocked fishery. His dad was bringing a rainbow to the net, the hook pinged out and straight into the poor lad's ear !

Been attached to a treble a couple of times whilst pike fishing - loose treble into the hand with the pike still attached to the other treble. Not much fun.

I've been attached a bit too, not great. I used to have a pair of sunglasses with a deep scratch across one lens from a treble hook due to a poor cast. A good reminder to never fish without glasses.
 

Andrew B

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I've been attached a bit too, not great. I used to have a pair of sunglasses with a deep scratch across one lens from a treble hook due to a poor cast. A good reminder to never fish without glasses.
That could have had your eye out.
 
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