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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am pretty new to atlantic salmon fishing and would like some advice or input on fly size. I read that people fish from size 4/0 all the way down to size 18.

What size fly do you generally have the most confidence?

Do you change size depending on water condition or season?

I generally fish from size 2/0 to 2 with limited success.

i realize that hook shank differences are all over the place so I think I am asking about the typical looped eyed salmon hook size.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.
 

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The basic rule for Salmon fly selection is, the higher the water ( in relation to its normal summer level ) the colder the water or air temp, the faster the water and the more coloured it is and even the faster you will be moving the fly in relation to the water speed, the bigger the fly you should choose.
As for small flies, the lower the water ( in relation to its normal summer level ), the slower the water, the slower you'll fish the fly, the clearer the water and the warmer the water and air temp. the smaller a fly you should choose.
That can overlap a bit or be complicated by low very clear cold water in spring or a fast rain swollen warmer summer flood.
A size 2/0 to size 2 are pretty big flies and to me indicate singles and I'm hazarding a guess you fish in North America/Alaska/Canada?.
When one is choosing fly size, it helps if you consider the actual size and profile of the fly itself, the volume of its dressing, its sparcity as much as its bulk. A hook size should be considered as a guide towards fly size, after all a size 8 Stoats Tail is a smaller fly lengthwise compared to a size 8 Ally's Shrimp, because of the tail. You could gather the style of dressing will also make a difference here too. I think you could say I look to the overall visual impact of a fly and not merely it's hook size!
I generally fish Tubes most of the time from 3" Tube length right down to 1/8th's", obviously the accompanying hook will be chosen to reflect the style of fly I'm fishing etc. Dressed flies will be from 16's up to 8's trebles preferably where allowed, or doubles if not. I personally only fish Singles when I want a very slim sparse fly. For most of my fishing these days I'd say roughly a size 10 or 12 would be the average size, that would equate to a 3/8th's" or 1/4" tube with a 12 or 14 treble. A big fly for me would be a std Tube fly dressing on a Tube of 1 1/2". If I'm fishing active pulling flies such as Sunray's, Collie's or Monkey's then the tube could be 1 1/2" long, but the wings up to 5" or 6"'s or even longer.
Over the course of my Salmon fly fishing lifetime, I've usually found " Less is More" as far as Salmon flies are concerned and I'd choose smaller size's than may well be initially obvious, that however could be reflective of the speed I fish the flies at or the speed of the flow of the rivers I fish.
I'm never keen on big Singles such as what I take you have indicated, as I consider the large hook simply adds too much impact to what is after all a relatively small dressing and I prefer flies with a lot more life in the dressing itself and where possible I like the hook to blend in more or even be a part of the dressing-if you get my drift there.
I will concede that Salmon do like a thin fly- which is where singles score well, but I tend to vary the diameter and type of tubes I tie on to get a slimmer profile to my flies.I usually tie on Ball point Pen tubes for the bigger flies, down to WD40 aerosol type tubes for the smaller flies in plastic any way. Slipstream Aluminium tubes are good as are the Greys needle tubes too.
My 1st ever Salmon came on a Hardy's Gold Butcher dressed on a size 16 Trout hook and weighed in at 18lb. I've had most of my 20lb + fish on 14's. A big fly dosen't always mean you'll catch a big fish!
No doubt you get differing replies here as we all fish different, and what protocols apply to you may well be different to those that I'd consider and as different again to some one in Scandinavia say.
Just one more observation in that I personally would consider a big single far too hard to set. It may well be solid once you do, but I take the view a small chemically sharpened modern hook preferable a treble ( which I do understand you may not be allowed to use! ) is the easiest of all to set successfully..
If you're still confused, try blindly following those who fish around you or the same rivers etc, we all have to start some where.
Best of luck,Pedro.
 

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While,im learning to tie flies for Salmon and steelhead ,im really adapting my skills to the larger size hooks.... in the catskillsi fish primarily for trout.....i tie for trout , size #18-#22.........fast forward tying flies to size #2-6...is mind blowing lol,.....learning proportions based ln hook sizes is a transition but all good i love this new adventure ....... i laugh when i tie #2-6. Looking on bench at my normal #18-22. Hooks ......its all about adapting to your waters ....
David
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Rennie
Thanks for your detailed advice!

Yes, I am fishing in the US, and the river is pretty slow glassy current with deep clear pools and runs 4-15 feet in depth.

Most of the salmon are pretty dark by the time they get to where I am fishing, so I don’t know if that makes a difference.

I am used to swinging larger flies for steelhead so that is what I have been using. I have caught a few that way but my success rate is really low.
I suspect that small flies might be a better choice so I guess I need some confidence to size down.
 

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If it helps you any Lake flyer, the longer fish have been in a river and the the further they get from the tide, by and large the smaller the fly you should fish and the less flash you should use in the fly's make up.
I'd look to flies with as much mobility as possible and fished as slow as you can over any fish.
Here in the UK as it gets towards the fish getting closer to spawning it's pretty usual to find them preferring flies with red in the make up of the fly. If you check out some of the Scandi style flies as tied by Rotenone of this forum you might get an understanding of what I mean as to style, just change the colours out for Red's and Orange's. A 1/2" tube still gives a reasonable size of fly, might be a good place for you to start, thing with tubes is, you can use any hook you want or indeed have to!.
I don't think any particular pattern is required, more the right size and as much life in the fly you can impart through its construction.
A Red Ally's Shrimp is a pretty International fly world wide, you could start there, at least you'll have a reference point if you tie your own flies or if you have to purchase them.
As the water cools towards winter, you will in all likelihood find the effectiveness of a full floating line diminishes and you might need to consider Intermediate and maybe even fully sunk lines to reach fish that in all honesty won't be inclined to rise to a flee.
Now, I don't mean to cause offence here, but you'll need to consider a different presentation here too. Skagit and Atlantics don't always sit well together. Scandi heads or full lines cast at 60deg and allowed to swing at a slow steady even pace across the flow are what's required, if the flows slow then impart a slow even steady retrieve such as long strips, or a constant F08 to keep the fly moving. It's no bad idea either to make your casting as quiet, effective and as straight as possible, splashing and crashing about or causing undue disturbance won't do you any favours at all. Watercraft, stealth and common sense are traits that shouldn't be ignored.
I think you're going to have to determine through trial and error what size of fly is best suited to where you fish. Smaller is always better to start off. If you are feeling little knocks and plucks and not getting any other species of fish at all, then your flies are too big and not moving fast enough and that's 100% Salar having a look. If that happens hold your ground and either tie on a smaller version of the same fly, or fish the fly you have on round quicker- cast that bit squarer and add a slow retrieve too.
Have you considered the use of a dropper fly!, bit of a faff but it will let you experiment with two fly sizes at the same time.
Pedro.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If it helps you any Lake flyer, the longer fish have been in a river and the the further they get from the tide, by and large the smaller the fly you should fish and the less flash you should use in the fly's make up.
I'd look to flies with as much mobility as possible and fished as slow as you can over any fish.
Here in the UK as it gets towards the fish getting closer to spawning it's pretty usual to find them preferring flies with red in the make up of the fly. If you check out some of the Scandi style flies as tied by Rotenone of this forum you might get an understanding of what I mean as to style, just change the colours out for Red's and Orange's. A 1/2" tube still gives a reasonable size of fly, might be a good place for you to start, thing with tubes is, you can use any hook you want or indeed have to!.
I don't think any particular pattern is required, more the right size and as much life in the fly you can impart through its construction.
A Red Ally's Shrimp is a pretty International fly world wide, you could start there, at least you'll have a reference point if you tie your own flies or if you have to purchase them.
As the water cools towards winter, you will in all likelihood find the effectiveness of a full floating line diminishes and you might need to consider Intermediate and maybe even fully sunk lines to reach fish that in all honesty won't be inclined to rise to a flee.
Now, I don't mean to cause offence here, but you'll need to consider a different presentation here too. Skagit and Atlantics don't always sit well together. Scandi heads or full lines cast at 60deg and allowed to swing at a slow steady even pace across the flow are what's required, if the flows slow then impart a slow even steady retrieve such as long strips, or a constant F08 to keep the fly moving. It's no bad idea either to make your casting as quiet, effective and as straight as possible, splashing and crashing about or causing undue disturbance won't do you any favours at all. Watercraft, stealth and common sense are traits that shouldn't be ignored.
I think you're going to have to determine through trial and error what size of fly is best suited to where you fish. Smaller is always better to start off. If you are feeling little knocks and plucks and not getting any other species of fish at all, then your flies are too big and not moving fast enough and that's 100% Salar having a look. If that happens hold your ground and either tie on a smaller version of the same fly, or fish the fly you have on round quicker- cast that bit squarer and add a slow retrieve too.
Have you considered the use of a dropper fly!, bit of a faff but it will let you experiment with two fly sizes at the same time.
Pedro.
Rennie
I tied up some Ally’s in size 4 and while I have not yet fished them for atlantics I did try them for steellhead. I never was able to hook up a steelhead but I did get numerous takes (5). I found it to be as effective as having a fiah locator. I would swing back through with another fly (purple intruder) when I would miss a fish and finally hooked up a nice steelhead.
Oddly though using the intruder first didn’t help
locate an active fish, swinging an Ally’s as a comeback fly I got two grabs that failed to hook up.
It has given me the idea to try small flies first and come through a second time with a larger fly rather than using the larger fly as a searching fly.
Thanks for putting me on the Ally’s shrimp. It is an easy tie and really looks good in the water. Plus the sparse dressing sinks very fast without extra weight.
 
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