With a total of five species of salmon native to North America — chinook (king), chum (dog), coho (silver), sockeye (red), and pink (humpy) salmon — salmon is one of the most popular fish to fish for. In particular, fly fishing salmon in either saltwater or freshwater is a fun challenge that requires both patience and skill. Using the right techniques and equipment is key for making a catch worth bragging about.
Know where to look
Ideally, you want to talk with an experienced local or guide who can tell you the best places on the water to fly fish salmon. However, you can have fun learning to read the water yourself. You may sometimes find fish at every depth, while other locations feature salmon only at certain river flows. Look for salmon a few yards upstream after rapids begin; they typically rest in calmer waters after battling faster currents. Additionally, spring salmon tend to rest in depressions near submerged boulders. So, keep an eye out for turbulence on the surface of the water that may be caused by an underwater boulder, but remember this will be occurring slightly downstream from the obstruction itself. Shaded areas are also popular resting places for salmon during the day.
Use the right flies
Your choice of fly can help set you up for salmon fishing success. Atlantic salmon flies, in particular, are specifically designed to make these elusive fish easier to catch. With experience, you’ll soon learn which salmon flies you prefer to use. For example, dry flies are the most commonly used fishing fly and the Wulff Bomber is one of the most popular flies for salmon and steelhead dry fly fishing. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes to attract fish in both clear and murky water. Alternatively, Munro’s Killer is a classic choice used by salmon fishers around the world. It contains several colors (black, yellow, and orange) thought to increase its efficiency and lure salmon in any conditions.
Try the wet-fly swing
The wet-fly swing is an effective technique for catching even the most hesitant of salmon. It’s simple to do, lets you cover an impressive distance quickly, and gets the fly deep into the water where salmon reside. The wet-fly swing involves casting your fly across stream and mending your line upstream — this ensures the fly sinks deep. There’s no need to twitch the fly as it moves across the current. You’ll therefore need to use an adequately heavy sinking-tip line, which is capable of reaching the bottom. Once you’ve swung the fly, perform a small roll cast to lift the line up before casting it back out. If you want to go deeper, cast the fly further upstream. Unlike other techniques, the wet-fly swing can be successfully used in both high or cold water conditions.
Fly fishing for salmon is an exciting challenge to set yourself this summer. Be sure to get the most out of your efforts by following these effective tips.