Fly fish downstream?

Gallionhound

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Hi all, some rookie questions if anyone is willing to provide an opinion.

I just want to confirm the preference for Salmon is usually to fly fish a pool downstream, swinging the fly from the head of the pool and working down to the tail.

I do a lot of up stream nymphing for trout on my local small to medium sized river, and generally would wade a strecth of a mile or so up river, spending more time at named pools.This results in plenty of sport with trout, and i do swing the fly and let it come around downstream often, but for Salmon, I should probably change direction and start upstream and work down?

Has anyone on here got experiecne using upstream nymphing techniques for Salmon? Possibly flies with larger tungsten heads and shrimp like dressings?

And finally, do salmon in a known pool usually sit deep in the pool or have you experienced more takes at the head or tail of a pool?

Thanks
 

T7

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Downstream is the preference as you say but upstream nymphing can be deadly as well. Particularly on small rivers and/or in low water conditions
 

Perrypokemon

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Please take this advice as a generalisation only. Upstream fishing for trout is of course extremely effective. The main reason for this is that trout looking for food will lie and face upstream in flowing water and intercept food sources presented to them as they wash downstream. Salmon upon their return to the river lose all of their ability to digest food and their digestive system effectively shuts down. It is more likely that they will take a fly out of feeding instinct only and not hunger, aggression, curiosity or the magical juju factor that some anglers seem to be able to offer better than others and certainly better than I. It is more efficient for anglers to lash the fly across the river an have it swing around in a large arc before taking a couple of steps downstream and casting again. Unfortunately some anglers have quite a strange concept of what constitutes 2 steps!!! Frequently changing the angle of your cast is extremely good practice as this will change the speed of the swing of the fly. As T7 quite rightly suggests upstream nymphing can be deadly. For the most part though it isn't practised in the UK a great deal. The sixty four thousand dollar question is of course if salmon cannot digest food then why will they take a worm or live minnow? Hmmmmm it's a toughy and no one really knows. One of many things that makes salmon fishing such an enigma, so frustrating and makes me still feel that I should have taken up golf.
 

Rennie

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Gallionhound, the overbearing thing is, Salar migrates through our rivers, entering with the tide and making their way upstream as far as they're going to go in their own particular journey.
Now for years the accepted fashion to fish a Salmon pool/stream/run is to start at the head and work downstream for a blindingly obvious reason!. Its entirely possible your bit of water is devoid of Salar when you make your first casts, but working your way downstream means your always working towards Salar and they are slowly working towards you, sooner rather than later(well perhaps not these days any way!) your paths should cross.
Doing it the other way round, you could find yourself fishing upstream into an empty pocket of water all day long!.
Secondly, you don't only catch Salmon when they're merely resting in a pool, given luck, skill and the right technique you will catch them as you move through the pool and as they move upstream through the pool too.
Nymph techniques do work very well on some rivers and can be a good part of the Salmon Anglers armoury, but master the conventional techniques 1st and your chances will increase greatly!, being honest becoming fixated with a single method will limit your success greatly.Many rivers have now got plenty of water, some too much!, the Nymph techniques may not do you any good at all right now!.
Things have evolved the way they have for a reason.
Best of luck and tight lines, Pedro.
 

Occasional salmon fisher

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In the right hands (not mine !) and the right conditions, a dead drifted fly/nymph and twitched at the right time can be deadly. Particularly in lower water and where the angler knows salmon are lying (or likely to be lying). There have been some very good articles in the angling magazines on this. So definitely a tactic to have in the locker as well as the more conventional down and across style, sunray, hitched tubes e.t.c.

Where salmon sit in the pool varies hugely. If higher water and running fish, pool tails are often the best spots or even pool edges which are dry land in low water. In lower water, more likely to be in the runs and bodies of pools. Sometimes they seem to lie on the bottom (presumably residents which have hunkered down), sometimes they swim quite close to the surface and are quite active.
 
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bassfly

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Lots of good advice. I can only add to what was said up posts as to varying your presentation and an upstream cast can be a good alternative to the traditional across and down. In conjunction with an up stream mend this can give your fly much more time to sink deeper before the line starts to put drag onto the fly.
Small flies like nymphs, stout tails and shrimp patterns can be deadly on their day fished traditionally and up stream.
 

T7

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Think there is some stuff in the Falkus Salmon book about fishing the General Practitioner upstream/dead drifted. Maybe some of the chalkstream salmon anglers could advise as I think they use it a lot on the south coast
 

Pati

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Very interesting! When would you “choose” to use upstream nymphing and why?

Also: what Nymph patterns would you use then???
 

Occasional salmon fisher

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Very interesting! When would you “choose” to use upstream nymphing and why?

Also: what Nymph patterns would you use then???
On most rain fed rivers, probably as a variation tactic in lower water where you know/suspect salmon are lying deeper.
On the chalkstreams, often the first line of "attack", fishing for salmon that you can see.

Just seen this thread from 2013 (seemed to get a bit "political" !).

 
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Gallionhound

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Thanks so much for the replies everyone, they are very helpful. Still trying to tempt my first salmon on the fly, definitely alot more to it compared to chucking a flying c in my opinion.
 
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Please take this advice as a generalisation only. Upstream fishing for trout is of course extremely effective. The main reason for this is that trout looking for food will lie and face upstream in flowing water and intercept food sources presented to them as they wash downstream. Salmon upon their return to the river lose all of their ability to digest food and their digestive system effectively shuts down. It is more likely that they will take a fly out of feeding instinct only and not hunger, aggression, curiosity or the magical juju factor that some anglers seem to be able to offer better than others and certainly better than I. It is more efficient for anglers to lash the fly across the river an have it swing around in a large arc before taking a couple of steps downstream and casting again. Unfortunately some anglers have quite a strange concept of what constitutes 2 steps!!! Frequently changing the angle of your cast is extremely good practice as this will change the speed of the swing of the fly. As T7 quite rightly suggests upstream nymphing can be deadly. For the most part though it isn't practised in the UK a great deal. The sixty four thousand dollar question is of course if salmon cannot digest food then why will they take a worm or live minnow? Hmmmmm it's a toughy and no one really knows. One of many things that makes salmon fishing such an enigma, so frustrating and makes me still feel that I should have taken up golf.
A gradual progression from shorter to longer casts is a good method for effectively covering water also ( a practice I so often forget while I’m actually fishing lol) and varying retrieve rate / pattern . I like to try different retrieves to give the fish a different presentation of the fly , hoping I can dial in on what they like for that day
 

ABK

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I have copied and pasted a small section from one of my books. Hope this helps.



THE TURNING FLY


By


A.B.K (Protected by Copyright)





Salmon fly fishing in its most basic form is really very simple, all it consists of is a down and across cast followed by a step or two downstream before the next cast is made. Throughout any season this approach will indubitably account for most of the salmon caught in any Scottish salmon river I could bring to name. For the majority of the time the aforementioned approach will, provided we are fishing an aptly coloured and correctly sized fly for the conditions and present it through the lies as slowly as possible will be all that is required to catch Salmo Salar on the fly. It must be understood though that although the downstream cast at an angle of approx 45 degrees across a pool and stream and consequent swing of the fly across their width will not always work. There are fish, places and times when a fly presented out of the norm will be the only way of tempting a fish.



Some fish, regardless of their newness into a lie, or into the river will refuse to rise to a standard down and across presented fly, or any other style for that matter. Why I have no real idea, but I am fairly certain that the majority of salmon on their return to the river tend to ignore everything shown to them. If I could answer this question, then I would probably know the reason why some salmon will take flies and all sorts of other assorted lures into their mouths when they do not actively feed on their return to freshwater. In addition to what I mentioned earlier I am personally inclined to think that not all "taking" salmon can be tempted to take a fly. Some fish will only succumb to a spinner or a bait, regardless of how well we put a fly across their noses. Salmon which have the frame of mind to take a fly will only be triggered into taking hold of it if it is presented with the suiting stimuli. As such I am sure the necessary triggering aspect will almost certainly vary from fish to fish. The necessary stimuli may on some occasions be quite specific, and this is why I think that there are days when the water conditions look perfect, but the fish are totally unwilling to co-operate. Likewise I am sure some fish require a number of triggering factors before they move to a fly. Having said this though I tend on the whole to think that most salmon which are potentially movable to a fly may be attracted by a group of triggering stimuli's which, even if only one is correct for these fish will bring about a response. Although salmon are gregarious creatures they are not mechanomorphic, i.e. they are not machines. As a result they will, even taking fish respond differently to the same internal and external stimuli and as such there is certainly potential for individuality. Some salmon will looking for some specific stimulus in the way the fly behaves. Of course it could be argued that the pattern or colour of the fly may well be the deciding factor. This I am quite sure is true, for who is to say otherwise that a glint of colour, a wink of jungle cock eye, or all-around colour combination and image of the fly has not enticed a fish to take it. Another aspect which must be considered, especially in relation to water temperatures and the differential between the air and water is the speed of the fly through the lies. Having said all the previous the one aspect of a fly's triggering appeal to the majority of fly taking salmon I believe is its overall movement through the water.



As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the action of the fly through the water in many instances needs to be no more than a slow steady paced, leisurely affair when moving from one side of a pool to the other, i.e. down and across. At other times the sudden increase of speed in a "pulled" fly through the fishes zone of vision will some times bring about a response from a fish which has ignored a conventional presentation. In fact this technique of suddenly bringing a fly to life at the end of its swing, i.e. when it has come to the dangle will frequently entice a following fish to dart forward and take a firm hold. Some anglers when they "pull" the fly like to give it a series of short sharp jerks, by taking hold of the fly line between the reel and the bottom ring on the rod and pulling in 12 to 18 inch lengths of line, three or four times in quick succession. This technique does of course work, but in my experience one long quick draw seems to work much better. When the fly is nearing the dangle take hold of the fly line with your left hand (if you are right handed) as far above the handle of the rod as you possibly can, then with one long, quick, backwards sweep of your arm pull the fly line back behind your back as far as you can reach. If you think a fish is interested and keeping station behind your fly try repeating the process, very often a fish which has followed a fly round in the current and refused the fly on the first pull will take hold solidly on the second.



Another technique which is worth practising, especially during the summer, when fish have been held up in the slower holding pools, or hard fished pools on association or club stretches is the "turning fly". Although I have mentioned that the turning fly is especially a good method to try during the summer months, it can be used to good effect through the season provided the air temperature is at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the water. It can also be very effective when used during those periods of time when fish are running hard. A good place to try at such times is the tail of pools instead of the middle slower holding sections. This technique of turning the fly when used on the Tay is known as the "Tay Tummy", while on the Stinchar it is locally called the "Stinchar Stomach". Although the "turning fly" is a technique which is practised on many rivers it has for whatever the reason to become known universally as the "Beauly Belly". Unlike most forms of fly presentation where a down and across is initially employed the "Beauly Belly" starts by casting our line, usually a floater (but it depends on the water conditions) straight across the current. Initially our fly will sitting at right angles to the current, but this will only be brief, because as soon as the current starts to belly the line the fly will be turned so that it is pulled head first downstream and at a slight angle back towards the bank we have cast from. As the belly in the line passes its maximum the fly will be kicked round in the current, so that for a small period of time it will once again be fishing at right angles to the current. As the belly in the line starts to decay the fly will now be kicked round so that it starts to face the flow. Fish needless to say can take our fly anywhere during its travel, but the most likely time I have observed for a take to occur is on the two occasions when the fly "kicks" round and changes direction. Long tailed flies such as pot bellied pigs are especially good for this type of presentation. In a slow current we may have to make a downstream mend. Sometimes a small mend will do, but if the current is very slow a large downstream mend must be made. This action allows what little current there is to start and work a belly into the line much sooner than if the line was merely cast straight across and left to its own devises. Contra to the previous, if the central current down the middle of the pool. happens to be strong we may have to put an upstream mend into the line in order to stop our fly from skating round on the surface. An alternative method to using an upstream mend is to use either a heavier fly, or change over from a floating to a sinking line. If we wish to present our fly to fish lying in water 5 ft or deeper a suitable density sinking line must be used. In some circumstances, if the flow is particularly strong and the fish are lying deep we may even have to initially cast our line slightly upstream in order to allow our fly and line to sink before the current takes hold of it. Although the method is primarily used to fish the water, with a little practise, by varying the length of line we cast we can also utilise the method and use it to fish individual lies. The choice of rod, single, or double handed depends mainly on the stature of the pool being fished and where in relation to the fish are lying. Additionally the water conditions will also dictate the rod we must use, i.e. small fly in low water a single hander, and a larger fly in high water a double hander. Regardless of which is used the technique is still the same. As for flies I find it best to use ones which have a long flowing wing, or tail, i.e. Ally's Shrimp for example tied on low water doubles or trebles. Additionally flies tied on plastic, aluminium, or copper tubes with long flowing wings tied Collie Dog fashion or pot bellied pig style flies can also be very effective. The long tails in my opinion help to eventuate the change of direction of the fly, which I believe provokes the fish to take. The reason why I think this technique is so successful is that the fish sees the fly coming towards it and then as a precautionary measure this life form changes direction and heads away from the fish. An exhibited escaping action to most predators usually invokes a predatory response.



When conditions are far from ideal, or the fish in the pool have become stuffy it often pays to try a different approach. The Beauly Belly, Stinchar Stomach, Tay Tummy, or whatever you want to call it is one approach which can often turn the prospect of a blank day into a successful one.
 
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