What would you have done?

Tangled

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I find that it's not so much the fish you catch but more the circumstances that you fish in that makes the memories. So I regularly run my mind over a situation I got into a few years ago where I didn't actually catch or even hook a fish.

It was my very first salmon river and my second day on it. I'd caught a couple the day before but this day had been hard and we were on our way back to the lodge to write a blank into the book. Walking along the river we were looking down into it from above - you have to haven't you? - and we saw 5 salmon at the head of a pool so of course I had to have a go. But it was tricky.

We were 4m above the fish above a cut in the river, so I had to go upriver and wade down. It was a difficult wade across a wide underwater ledge with deep water to my right and a vertical rock bank to my left. When I had to hold my elbows out of the water I felt that was far enough and if I couldn't reach them with a fly then too bad.

But I could just about get there and with my spotter above I was able to cast to them. My mate was telling me that the fish were following as the fly swung by but then losing interest and returning to their positions. I tried bigger and smaller flies no retrieves and fast and slow stripping and every time at least one fish followed but didn't take.

I eventually had to give up but I still wonder what else I could have done. I was fishing at the right depth, conditions were pretty good, about 15C and overcast. water was clear and cold. No other casting position was possible.

I know a bit more now and have a wider selection of flies. I was using 10lb Maxima and the fish were in the 7-12lb range so I didn't feel like going lighter (and couldn't anyway) I'd certainly try a dry and a hitch but I reckon a 4” stripped-back sunray might have cracked it.

But I'll never know and always wonder.
 

MCXFisher

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What was the depth of the water in which the fish were lying? And what was its temperature?

If the water is very cool, it's often the case that the distance over which the salmon will commit to a fly is reduced from the normal 6 feet or so. That distance is also affected by the current beyond the bounds of the lie: they're often reluctant to follow a fly into heavier water owing to the energy expenditure involved.

And if the temperature is normal - in the range 7.5 - 15C - but the fly is perhaps a mite too far away, they may move to inspect it but not commit.

For every one reason for a salmon to take there are 99 for it not to take.
 

Wee-Eck

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I know this is probably not fly fishing per se but I have caught fish, mainly sea trout with a fast sink line, in my case a Wet Cell11 a 2' leader and a large booby nymph. Work the line round along the bottom until the booby is wafting about just in front of the fish and leave it there. As long as the fish is not scared off there is a chance it will eventually grab the fly. Standing still in the one spot for half an hour waiting to see if something is going to happen and suppressing the urge to cast again is not everyone's cup of tea but it does sometimes work. And when you are desperate well !!
 

Tangled

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What was the depth of the water in which the fish were lying? And what was its temperature?

They were in about 2.5m of water about 1m down meandering around. temperature was about 10C

If the water is very cool, it's often the case that the distance over which the salmon will commit to a fly is reduced from the normal 6 feet or so. That distance is also affected by the current beyond the bounds of the lie: they're often reluctant to follow a fly into heavier water owing to the energy expenditure involved.

They were certainly reluctant to move very far.

And if the temperature is normal - in the range 7.5 - 15C - but the fly is perhaps a mite too far away, they may move to inspect it but not commit.

apparently I was getting the fly right in amongst them.

For every one reason for a salmon to take there are 99 for it not to take.

Yes, but it's painful when you can actually see them teasing you.
 

Gustav

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Every time is different and temperature and depth as mentioned above are key alongside the size mobility and speed of the fly.
There are also no right or prescriptive answers that cover all occasions and sometimes nothing will work.

I've been in your situation before when I could see a pod of 7 grilse no more than 6 or 7 yards away in a small river and the pod was in about 3 ft of water in a small hollow behind a sunken log.
Being low and clear water with perfect visibility I could see they ignored a procession of my normal tiny salmon and sea trout flies going over them (all 12s - 14s).
All the time I could see them but they couldn't see me behind a bush with trees behind.
I think it is really important they don't see you and are not spooked. (This is more important than many people realise especially in lower water conditions.)

I would cast above them and was fishing each fly on only 3 or 4 casts.
First cast a dead drift.
The Next a wee twitch or two and the last a faster strip.

Sometimes I would get a slight reaction from one or two when it was a new fly but nothing more than a distant look or a distant sniff and no real hunter interest i.e. no mouthings or anything.
The time between different flies was probably a couple of minutes and I guess I tried a dozen or so flies.

Finally I took out an unweighted size 12 minkie/zonker rainbow trout fly which was too big as it came out of my box but I cut it right back to its silver body, a scrawny hackle and a much reduced heavily scissored wispy black zonker wing.

On first cast the shoal lit up when they saw the fly and one of the back markers moved forward but then missed the fly in a very late lunge.
I counted to 100 and tried again.
The same fish came again but was beaten to the fly by one of the other fish.

The difference I think and I've talked about this with people who know a lot more than I do was the inherent and very sleek and natural movement from the rabbit wing.

In those particular circumstances the cut back and scrawny minkie was seen as being alive and the rabbit zonker wing simply imparted the necessary movement compared to what I'd been using before.
Over the next two days I hooked and landed three fish out of the small pod before the river rose a foot and the pod dispersed.

Minkies don't always work and are not a wonder fly by any means but I hit onto a right fly, right time, right place and wish I could have filmed it.
 
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Occasional salmon fisher

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As others have said, this is probably happening all the time whilst salmon fishing ! How many days when we have caught and seen nothing have we actually had numerous fish move towards and examine the fly ?

I think all you can do is try to avoid scaring them and try different flies and tactics, perhaps resting for a bit in between.
 

ArchieL

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Dreaded Flying C, Works a treat for stubborn fish , infact the fish turn mental and just fling themselves up the banking at your feet.

I would have put on a big buoyant muddler with a small silver ally 3 feet behind it and made some surface wake to see if they would come up for a look then nail the ally.
 

Rennie

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A most important factor there, that many - if not most Salmon Anglers, never give thought to.
Thats stealth in approach and during your fishing.Maybe not crawling round on hands n knees in camo. gear, but rather using common sense, your best quietest casting too.
I often cringe when I make a noisy cast, if I know about it, Salar certainly does.Big clumpy pit boots full of tungsten keep you up right and safer in the river, but hells teeth Salar must hear you walking a mile away, let alone when you get close and most wading sticks ring like a bell on clattering a rock.
Thinking back to the dearth of 30lb er's thread, I don't know a big fish of any species that wont better respond to a stealthy better thought out approach, not simply the chuck n chance n swing most of us use as the default setting!.
Honestly said and with the best of intentions, but some casting techniques create more disturbance than a jacuzzi bath after beans and Guinness!
Hey!, I'm not perfect- far from it, but at least I try and give the matter thought.
Pedro.
 
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cgaines10

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Fishing down and across and at great lengths, produces a lot of slack in the line. If you could have a camera above your fly you'd be surprised at how many times your fly has been followed or even in a fishes mouth and not felt it. That's why all the FIPS mouche technique has now evolved to minimise drag and slack lines so you can feel every touch. I know it's not suitable for salmon fishing though but shows the problems we face ?
 

Invermarnoch

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If you ever have a chance to read Falkus' book on Salmon Fishing, you will find that he records a similar experience.
 

Occasional salmon fisher

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If I remember rightly he got his wife to watch from above whilst he cast over a thousand times to the same fish. Eventually it took! He really knew how to show a girl a good time!!

Lol !

Did it take it ? No

Did it take it ? No

Did it take it ? No

Etc, etc, etc

Four hours later ......

Did it take ?

Yes it ***king took ! Now wind the ***cker in and lets go ***king home !!
 
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Marcus c

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Every salmon angler has been in this frustrating situation(whether they admit it or not)Myself_l remember fishing a pool where l counted 80 odd fish_all fresh up.l hammered them with every technique for the day and didn't stir a fish.A few weeks later ,l fished the same pool with only 2 fish holding_and ended up hooking and landing both fish within 20 minutes.lf they are switched on ,you will probably hook up and if they're not you probably won't. Note_l use the word (probably)At the end of the day ,nobody can predict ,,only persevere.
 

Oscar

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Probably Sunray themor Snaelda dropped on their head. I’d find it intensely frustrating and give it about 10 mins then get angry and flounce off!

My fishing buddy would stick there all day and eventually catch one.

Oscar.
 

firefly

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I know it's not suitable for salmon fishing though but shows the problems we face ?
Experience tells me otherwise, salmon can be caught with any technique. Circumstances dictate which one to use. I've caught some without any fly line on the water. Upstream nymphing can be deadly where more traditional methods fail. Thinking that the down and across approach covers the whole river and all salmon in it effectively can be quite deceiving.
 

MCXFisher

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That's why all the FIPS mouche technique has now evolved to minimise drag and slack lines so you can feel every touch. I know it's not suitable for salmon fishing though but shows the problems we face ?

As Firefly points out above, your range of techniques is limited only by your imagination. This September at Tomatin the dearth of fish and water allowed me to experiment in ways that I would never have explored in normal times. The target was the few salmon from a run in June that had been in the river for 10 weeks or so. None of these techniques caught fish (they weren't for catching) but I was able to form a good view of their feasibility and practicality in terms of delivering a fly to the required place behaving in the desired way:
  • Upstream nymphing with Frances and Snaelda is pretty well known. Managing the line and staying in touch with the fly can be a challenge. It's most easily done with a single-hander or light switch, which leaves a hand free for line management.
  • Oblique nymphing with a Snaelda under a Finnish indicator was very interesting because it gave you precise control over depth and the ability to adjust it in known steps. Line management was much easier than plain upstream nymphing, and you didn't need to change the leader length, just move the suspending indicator.
  • Sideways 'French' style nymphing with a small Frances fished on a short fluorocarbon leader was potentially useful in shallower runs. It did, however, require changing the leader between each location. It could be seriously exciting in clear water, especially if you had the sun behind to allow you to see the fish come to the fly.
  • Czech 'bombing' with a small tungsten Snaelda fished directly under the rod top in a narrow defile, with a short leader and about 6" of line outside the tip ring. Having previously hooked a large sea trout like this I can say that if you hook something substantial, things go mad very quickly.
As the fish were stale I didn't bother with hitching either a small fly or a sunray, which in my experience work better with fresher fish and a stronger flow of warmer water. But these are two more techniques that everyone needs to have up their sleeves when the conditions dictate.

After the experiments I concluded that the Oblique Finnish offered good advantages in simplicity and superior reach over the Czech and French options. Next season I shall keep a little tube of foam indicators in my pocket.
 
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cgaines10

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Experience tells me otherwise, salmon can be caught with any technique. Circumstances dictate which one to use. I've caught some without any fly line on the water. Upstream nymphing can be deadly where more traditional methods fail. Thinking that the down and across approach covers the whole river and all salmon in it effectively can be quite deceiving.

Of course it can be done & some are caught as by catch, but you never ime see people out there nymphing for salmon. Maybe it’s popular somewhere out there in the world. #8 nymphing rod would be fun


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cgaines10

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As Firefly points out above, your range of techniques is limited only by your imagination. This September at Tomatin the dearth of fish and water allowed me to experiment in ways that I would never have explored in normal times. The target was the few salmon from a run in June that had been in the river for 10 weeks or so. None of these techniques caught fish (they weren't for catching) but I was able to form a good view of their feasibility and practicality in terms of delivering a fly to the required place behaving in the desired way:
  • Upstream nymphing with Frances and Snaelda is pretty well known. Managing the line and staying in touch with the fly can be a challenge. It's most easily done with a single-hander or light switch, which leaves a hand free for line management.
  • Oblique nymphing with a Snaelda under a Finnish indicator was very interesting because it gave you precise control over depth and the ability to adjust it in known steps. Line management was much easier than plain upstream nymphing, and you didn't need to change the leader length, just move the suspending indicator.
  • Sideways 'French' style nymphing with a small Frances fished on a short fluorocarbon leader was potentially useful in shallower runs. It did, however, require changing the leader between each location. It could be seriously exciting in clear water, especially if you had the sun behind to allow you to see the fish come to the fly.
  • Czech 'bombing' with a small tungsten Snaelda fished directly under the rod top in a narrow defile, with a short leader and about 6" of line outside the tip ring. Having previously hooked a large sea trout like this I can say that if you hook something substantial, things go mad very quickly.
As the fish were stale I didn't bother with hitching either a small fly or a sunray, which in my experience work better with fresher fish and a stronger flow of warmer water. But these are two more techniques that everyone needs to have up their sleeves when the conditions dictate.

After the experiments I concluded that the Oblique Finnish offered good advantages in simplicity and superior reach over the Czech and French options. Next season I shall keep a little tube of foam indicators in my pocket.

Absolutely, likewise with anything. Good on you for giving it ago. Will you be doing it more? How was it nymphing with a switch rod?


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