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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This topic is always much debated on my fishing trips. All it takes is a fish or 2 to be lost and it's top of the lunch table agenda. So I'd like to put it out to all the readers - what's your prefered method is of hooking Atlantic Salmon?

Keeping in mind the following.

You are fishing a wide (ish) river so casting 25-40yards.
You will typically have a belly in your line
You can be fishing anthing from full floating to full sinking......I'd like to see if anyone alters their hooking methods based on line density.
You are typically letting the current swing the fly round i.e no pulling or stripping.

I know hooking usually comes down to personal prefernce, but it would be interesting to see whether any particular method has a greater success rate, so please offer some indicatation.

I fish off the reel and let fish take line. When I think it has taken sufficient line to turn I clamp the line and set the hook. Then I lift the rod.

My exception is during the cold Spring months fishing in Scotland using sunk lines.
There I hold the line clamped all the time. I don't give the fish any line and use the belly of the sunk line to allow the fish to turn. I only lift the rod once the fish is pulling the rod tip under the water.

I would estimate that I lose 20-25% of what I hook. Obviously you lose some fish that simply don't take the fly correctly or for other reasons, but I still lose fish or fail to hook fish which I feel I should have got. This is mainly, but not solely, on floating/sink-tip lines when I give them line from the reel.

Would be interested to hear others views.
 

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Hold the line tight against the cork, when the fish comes to the top and struggle, lift sharply towards the bank, (I would use the strike word but it carrys so much baggage)
36 fish this season 3 losses barbless siigles doublesand trebles if this helps.

They either come off early or not at all.
 

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I fish almost exactly the same way, but will probably lose about 5% of fish that are properly on, ie more than 10 seconds. However, once I feel the weight of the fish, rather than lift into it as many do, I tend to pause, let it take a few turns off the reel, then strike quite hard with the line clamped tight to the cork. The result is that they are usually very well hooked. I also fish with a quite high drag setting on the reel, high enough that a fish requires real effort to get the line moving.

One exception to this : On several occasions I have watched Grilse and Salmon from high up on the bank through polaroids come to a fly fished either close to or on the surface, nipping it, and spitting it out again in an instant.

When fish behave like this they are almost impossible to hook unless you strike them immediately. Even then experience has shown that although you may play a few, successfull landing rate is still relatively low.

I believe the same fish behaviour will apply on the sunk line only you can't see it happening. All you will feel are short takes and bumps, if this pattern continues without me hooking a fish then I start striking on the take immediately. I try to maintain a downstream belly in the line as the fly comes round so that when I strike the hook will move at right angles to the fish.

The downside to doing this is if you get a fish that takes the fly conventionally, then you may end up inducing a worse hook hold and losing a fish that you would have otherwise landed!!

These techniques work for me but I think the secret is to try and not lose complete confidence in your own technique when you start losing fish, if your tackle is up to scratch then generally its not your fault.

I try to recognise and analyse what's going on when the fish takes, I don't do anything too radical but try and adapt my technique to combat the unorthadox fish taking behaviour.
 

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Last Cast,

Today, I had exactly the situation you described, with the the fish just hitting the fly for a fraction of a second and leaving it. My remedy was to drop down a hook size, but switch to a treble.

The first fish to go for the smaller fly took with confidence, but still slipped the hook after a couple of minutes.

The next fish was landed(well hooked).

The third fish was well hooked, but snapped the leader with a last ditch bout of acrobatics just as I thought it was beat.

This situation is possibly slightly different, as I was rained of my intended river I fished a small spate river. I always obtain poor hook up to landing ratios on smaller spate rivers. I think the reason is that the fish don't turn on the fly as well, or as often, as they do on a wider faster stream.

The fish were getting returned anyway, but it is still nice to get them into the bank so that you can truly count them in your catch figures.

Tight Lines,

Gary.
 

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A suggestion to try for smaller rivers

Gary,

Its the classic technique to move down a size if fish are coming short, however I was shown a way to hedge your bets years ago which increases your hook up rate even more ....especially with grilse. The theory is that the fish takes the fly of its choice and hence with more conviction.

What I tend to do on the Findhorn in summer and autumn, unless there is really high water, is fish with a dropper all the time. I have a larger fly on the dropper and a smaller on the point, it keeps the balance right. I make sure that the two flies are not much more than a metre apart, that way you've less chance of getting snagged. Use the 4/5 turn water knot for your dropper and use the tail that is connected to the main line that way the knot does n't get pulled apart.

I have never lost a fish due to the dropper being snagged up by the way. Keep away with a net that's the key.

On larger rivers like the Spey its not so easy to fish with a dropper because the longer lines that you tend to have to throw can lead to more than the odd tangle.

I would recommend it for smaller rivers, give it a try you might be surprised by the results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the feedback. I tend to think that the more experience you gain, the more you start to question what you do. I agree it's all about having confidence in what you do, but sometimes your confidence gets dented when a couple of fish are lost or you simply start to question your techniques depending on certain situations.....well I do anyway.

The hooking saga started on the Ness a few years ago, when a certain gentleman asked me why I let a fish take line from the reel when I already have a large belly in the line. He was quite insistant that I should give them nothing, clamp the line and hold on until the fish is on the surface. (ala WillieGunn) I actually agree with what he was saying, but I still like to hear the reel sound when a fish takes, so I don't typically, as a habit, use this technique.......except when fishing full sunk lines in early Springtime.

However, what happened this year in Norway made me think again. I had 2 salmon (not grilse) take the fly well out in the current. The takes were quite aggressive and the reel started to go (I ususally have mine on a lighter check). I let them take a few yards, as normal, and just as I was about to clamp the line they dropped the fly. My initial thought was, if I had clamped the line on the take, would I have hooked these fish?? Suffice to say that all other 6 salmon hooked that week were landed using my normal technique, but it still annoyed me that these 2 fish could have been hooked if I had adapted my method.

To makes things even worse, during my week on the R. Lochy in September I hooked a large salmon, again with a long cast and well out in the stream. I had the line clamped around my fingers and to be honest wasn't paying attention when the fish took. The fish had nearly pulled the rod in the water before I lifted into it. It stripped me well into the backing in one violent run, jumped and then fell off. So much for the clamped method when you have a large belly in your line!!!

As I said, maybe the more your think about it the more complex it becomes, but there's examples of both methods where fish have not been hooked or hooked and lost and I'm still left wondering what if??

Maybe I just need to accept that these things happen!!!!

Ironically, I very rarely lose fish I hook on smaller spate rivers!!
 

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Storlaks,

Do you use any different method on small spate rivers?

Last Cast,

Like you, I always use a dropper in small spate streams, as I normally fish them with a single handed rod or light double hander. The casts do not have to be overly powerful, and the loops not too tight so, as you said, it allows you to fish the dropper. I sometimes like to use a bright fly on the dropper(especially in stained water), and a darker fly on the point.
When fishing these spate rivers I use a lot of flys tied on Esmond Drury trebles. This is more about weight to get the fly down quickly, than about hooking possibilities, as I find these hooks rather bulky and short in the body. I find that these trebles hook well initially, but a lot of the fish are lost during the fight. I am thinking about switching to small Partridge Salars, as I have yet to lose a fish on the larger Salars.

Does anybody esle have this problem with Esmond Drury trebles?

Tight Lines,

Gary.
 

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storlaks,

Regarding your big fish on the the Lochy, I've experienced similar frustration on the Kharlovka in Russia where I appeared an absolute novice, losing several large fish in succession in the first few days. Once hooked and after settling for a few minutes, they would run 70 to 100 yards jumping several times before either breaking the nylon or throwing the hook.

Really crestfallen, I sought advice from the more experienced campaigners, who seemed to have mastered taming the big ones. They all said I was not to worry, there was a huge amount of luck involved and if a really fish wants to leave a pool you'll not stop him. But they also advised that it helped to play them extremely hard at the outset with the number one aim to get their head up. It was critical not let them start their run and build up momentum when you effectively lose all control.

It didn't stop me losing them completely but I did manage to land a couple of big which I am sure I would have lost otherwise.

Sounds as though your fish had a head of steam up almost instantly which would mean there was little you could do; so you were up against it from the start. Bad luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Gary, I lived on the banks of a small spate River (The Doon) for 20years, so I've learned alot fishing these small rivers.

I too used to fish a dropper, until the inevitable happened, so I very rarely do so now. If I'm fishing during or after a spate, when the water is still a reasonable height I normally fish a sink-tip line and a copper tube with either salar trebles or loop doubles. My technique is similar to that on the bigger rivers, except I don't need to wait as long before I lift the rod. On these spate rivers where water clarity is limited compared with the likes of Dee and Ness, a fish will sometimes see the fly only at the last minute so the takes are quick and hard and the fish turns quickly back to it's lie. Where the water is clearer and the fish can see the fly from afar, the takes can be slower and the fish can take longer to turn due to the way it intercepts the fly. I think falkus explained this in his book. I endured a steep learning curve on the Ness when I first starting fishing there. I was always too quick to lift. I always fish the fly down a bit in spate rivers, unless the water is low and warm.

Last Cast........I agree with you on the big fish lesson. Anything hooked which I've estimated to be over the magical 30lb class, I've lost. A great deal of luck is required indeed! The Lochy fish was not in that league, probably more around the high teens or 20lb mark, but since it was the only take of the week, I was gutted to lose it, knowing that the take was really good. Based on that I think I gonna stick to my own method and only clamp the line with the sinker.

WillieGunn........why do you lift the rod towards your own bank? I noticed Ken Sawada does this when fishing on the Gaula. Are a lot of your fish hooked in the scissors/side of mouth then?
 

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storlaks said:
WillieGunn........why do you lift the rod towards your own bank? I noticed Ken Sawada does this when fishing on the Gaula. Are a lot of your fish hooked in the scissors/side of mouth then?
It just seems the logical way to do it. I would say most are hooked in the side of the mouth.
 

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Storlaks,

Thank you for your input. I have fished tubes before in the rivers in question, Endrick and Fruin, but the fish seem to prefer a small fly(10, 12, or 14) even in a heavy spate. I think I've got some minute copper tubes somewhere, I'll try tying a few killers on them!

Tight Lines,

Gary.
 

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Just returned from my first experience fishing for Atlantic salmon. Had two days on (Knockando) Spey and three days on (Park) Dee. The ghillie on the Spey and my guide(Ian Neale) on the Dee told me the same thing: Keep the drag light, your finger(s) OFF the line, and wait after the take to set the hook. This was similar to my instructions from guides in PNW steelhead country whose mantra was "Wait for Weight". Bottom line philosophically I suppose is, "We can't hook 'em all!"
 

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Now we´re talking!
Hooking Atlantics is also on my fishingcircles the most talked subject over dinnertable.
Storlaks; density of the line definately effects on my fishing. Fishing all-sunk lines and heads in Norway in June, I fish off the reel. Drag set medium-hard and let the fish take maybe feet length of line. Then I hit simply by raising the rod upwards. Yes, I let the fish take line even I do have belly on the line.
I guess I land maybe 95% of these early fish.
Note: Not 95%, if salmon take on the dangle. Every time line come to the dangle position, I take it in inch by inch, and often salmon take then. These fish are difficult, I try to give them line and time, but I still loose maybe 50%.
With floaters I use different techniques. Sometimes I have maybe 3 feet of line hanging from my finger under the rodhandle, and I release that when take occurs. Sometimes I fish off the reel and strike immediately. And sometimes I fish with rodtip up some 45 degrees, and this way try to give salmon some time.
I guess all these methods are quite classical and commonly used, but for me all of them work. Which one works best, depends on river, fish and even weather.
Willie G: 36 salmon this summer? I suppose it has been quite a good season this far in Scotland - in Norway it was quite poor! :mad:
Last Cast: I also use dropper on narrow rivers. I tie it maybe 5-6 feet up but with different method: I use inch-long piece of dacron backing, which ends I have "burned" with a lighter. This stump I slip in my main leader (cast) and tie one foot dropper over this dacron with a uni-knot. This allows leader to slide down the mainleader, when fish takes the dropperfly without "burning" main leader and making shure that pointfly doesn´t get stuck.

In hope of good season -05 (no autumn fishing this year... :frown: )
FinnSpey
 

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Another Option

for a dropper is to use a tube fly for the dropper and run both the main leader and dropper leader through the tube, then attach the tube hook to the dropper and you have an in-line system that casts well and does not tangle badly.
 

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Finn Spey, a long season rather than a good summer but there have been plenty of fish about.

Clyde you should have given me a shout, which Knockando beat were you on?

Storlaks, I lost a fish today and I hold you entirely responsible why oh why did you start such a thread.
 

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Ho Willie---I was with ghillie Magnus Oates down the road from Archiestone. Was staying with the people at the Craigellachie Lodge. Wonderful week. Huge numbers of fish rolling in the Spey----but no takers for me there unfortunately. I had to wait to get my first Atlantic salmon, a 6 lb grilse on the Dee. Lots of casting/fishing--- and that was good enough for me. Clyde
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sorry WillieG.......although I feel better now that the "pros" can lose them too (-:

What a difference a year makes.....Park has fished it's socks of this year. Bet the price goes up for 2005!

FinnSpey, it would appear you do the exact opposite of me when fishing with a sunk line i.e. you let a fish take line from the reel. Maybe fishing with shooting heads is a bit different,(not as much line under water surface) but if I was using a full sinking traditinal Spey line I would never give a fish line after the take. The main reason for this is that I would have a large belly of line which would be at least a 1ft under the surface. If I want to get anywhere near "direct" to that fish to set the hook then I would never give it more line before lifting. That's just my opinion. As I said shooting heads maybe different, as you seem to prove this with your 95% hit rate.

Q: When you lift the rod into the fish, is the line still under the surface and bellied? If so, I guess the fish has already hooked itself from the drag set on your reel when it turns, otherwise it seems impossible to set the hook if you still have line under the surface and a belly.

I have met a alot of nordic fishes who still fish with a loop of line......and it works. I used to do this, but for some reason I changed....can't remember why!!!!
 

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I phoned Keith at Park today to see how Ramsay (Muckle Salmon) was getting on. "No nothing yet".... Oh not good.
5 minutes later my phone rings its Ramsay himself having just landed a 23 inch fresh fish without the gillie. Keith just wallked up to him handed him the phone and told him to speak I've never been so pleased to hear an excited american voice on the phone. And where was the gillie when needed oh he was blethering on the phone

Well Done Ramsay and worth all the travel from the States.
 
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