Summer Salmon fishing can be a funny old sport at times, can’t it? I mean, you spend all week or sometimes a year preparing for your trip and if the salmon don’t want to play then even the best anglers will struggle. The same can be said for a recent trip to fish the majestic Aberdeenshire River Dee in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.
The pools were alive with fresh run grilse and they came in waves throughout the whole day, but, would they take a liking to my offerings? Not a chance. They had a much better idea and that was to run hard and fast while the going was good. We tried everything in an attempt to slow them down but they just leaped out the water in front of us as if to say “thanks, but no thanks”.
Our group did, however, manage to fool many fish into taking the fly but we soon discovered that the conventional methods of fishing low water for summer salmon were not what they were after. Usually, the order of the day during the summer months will be small flies fished off full floating lines and long leaders but changing to a heavy sinking tip seemed to get the desired results. They simply prefer the fly right in front of their faces on this occasion.
Many anglers have their own personal favourites in terms of what fly they will use and when. It’s all about confidence. Fishing a fly that you’ve had success on previously can add that extra bit of concentration and makes you really think hard as to how your fly is fishing. It certainly stops the urge to change pattern or size every other cast and go through the motions of ‘cast and move’ without a thought as to how and where the fly is swimming. We’ve all been there at some stage I’m sure, and fishing a fly full of confidence certainly keeps it in the water much longer as you just never know when that fish might take.
This time of year we tend to fish with small flies ranging for size 10s – 14s depending on the water height. I believe, especially on the Dee, that you cannot fish a fly that’s too small during the low, clear water which we endure during the summer month. Sparsely tied flies can also make all the difference in summer and I like to tie flies for this time of year with the saying “less is more” in mind as I sit by the vice. Flies dressed on small plastic tubes also work very well at this time of year as does a Hitch Tube Fly teamed up with a Fulling Mill Micro treble is another string to the angler’s bow. It’s well worth having one or two in your fly box. Watching the fly skate across the surface of the river and the anticipation of seeing a summer salmon freely rise to take the fly off the surface can be very productive and is highly addictive.
There is something really special about catching a fish on a fly you’ve tied up yourself. Tying on the right hook is all part of the confidence in a fly. Fulling Mill provides top quality hooks in their Magni salmon hook range and they fit the bill perfectly. These strong and super sharp hooks have a lovely profile for tying on and this adds to the lure of a salmon fly, not only to the fish but to the anglers as well.
So the next time you venture out on the river and the summer salmon are not on the “take” then it’s worth thinking about getting down deep and in their faces. It might just make the difference between a good day and a blank.