Salmon Fishing


 Highland Grilse 10lbs of pure silver 

'' That Fly's mine ! '' Three salmon chasing one fly


There is little in the fishing world that can compare to the splendour and beauty of a fresh run ' springer ' hard fighting and as silver as a new cast ingot.

Often fishing in freezing temperatures with snow bound banks 'Spring ' salmon fishing is not for the feint of heart.


Temperature is of the utmost importance - salmon will take a bait when the air temperature is warmer than the water if only by a few degrees.In January and February the best of the fishing is from about 10 am onwards the sun having  risen high enough to warm the air.

Fresh fish that entered the pool under cover of darkness the previous evening are tucked up low down in the depths.Slow and Deep is the order of the day,Plastic Brass Lined Devon Minnows,Metal Devon Minnows,Tobies and Fying C's are typcal of spring baits.

Minnow colours vary -Black and Gold,Red and Gold,Green and Yellow...three most popular.

Tobies,Silver,Silver and gold ,Brass,Copper,Black and Gold Zebra.

Bar spoons such as tobies and their counterparts have a reputation for attracting fish to the bait but infamous for their poor hooking qualities.

To get round this minor problem and fish with confidence it is only necessary to double the split ring connecting the treble to the main body of the bait.

Thus preventing the salmon being able to use the spoon as a lever on hook up and throwing the treble.

The trebles on tobies are far too big and it is best to drop these a hook size or two.Baits in the region of 3 – 4 inches are the norm with 6 inch devons in reserve for spate conditions.

Each individual spinning bait is designed to perform in a specific manner for instance..Devon minnow baits slowly revolve around their wire mounts throwing flashes of alternate colour Black Gold Black etc...

Cast down and across stream at 45 degrees the current will swing the bait across the pool unaided as the flow plays against the fins on the minnows body at the correct depth the bait should occasionally touch bottom.

Tobies and other bar spoons have a very enticing ' fluttering ' action resembling injured or distressed prey fish presented correctly these baits are second to none as an attractor and certainly trigger a predatory response.

Again as far as possible the bait should be allowed to ' swim ' the river unaided.

Flying C type baits have a revolving blade that when activated by natural water power or helped along with a few turns of the reel send vibrations through the water layers.Again portraying a distressed prey fish the signals sent out from the motion of the blade are picked up by the inquisitive fish triggering a predatory response.

What colour to use depends on the water height and clarity...

' Yellow Belly ' minnows catch in any conditions,combinations of red/black/brown and gold work well in clear water,Blue and Silver on bright sunny days later in the season.

Snow melt or ' Grue ' carrying lumps of ice downstream tinges the water with a marine green colour and not good for quality these conditions perseverance is the only answer likewise in a filthy flood.

Cold water tends to make fish lethargic and un-willing to give chase so the bait must get down to the fish's level..

Fishing too high in the water levels and the bait will simply be ignored as the spoon passes overhead.

A fresh fish in a 'New Pool' is a potential 'taker' but not to be overfished there is always another chance to cover the best lyes before the day's end.

Work the bank down taking a good step downstream between casts covering all the water not concentrating only the best pools or lyes.

This is bad angling practice as too is chasing fish ..

Fish that habitually show over a known lye are obviously resting up there,fish seen to be jumping mid waters for instance are normally running fish and will not take !


Salmon habituate water no deeper than twelve feet as the norm but will follow through and take a bait in deep water.

There are two types of pool ..

' Holding Pools ' and ' Resting Pools '

A holding pool is one in which salmon lye up in for a day or two perhaps even a couple of weeks.

In such pools there are resident salmon that are slowly moving upstream between pools as the notion takes them after all they are in no desperate hurry with months to wait until spawning time.

A 'Resting Pool' is one which salmon and sea trout use to take a quick rest either momentarily or for a few minutes,these are taking fish.

Once the salmon angler has distinguished which individual pools are resting and those that are holding then he is well on his way to repeated success.

It well known that salmon don't take in the dark however they do take right up to the point of darkness as dusk melts into night.Early season this time coincides with failing light about 4' o'clock ..from about 3.30 pm unbeknown to the angler [ most anglers will be off the water by this time ] salmon are already on the move ..moving into the head of the pools in readiness to run upstream.It is not here where the wise salmon angler concentrates his efforts on the contrary it is the tail end of the pools where success will be found..more so if there are known lyes or it is reknowned as a resting pool. 

Listen to the river let it speak to you !

Once familiar with the natural sounds of dusk and the river it becomes relatively easily to pick out the sound of fish mounting the shallows and the odd splash here and there in the head of the pool somewhere distant.In those places where fish aren't expected or lye up.

A sure sign they're on their way !

Thirty minutes maximum and the light has gone.


              Grilse straight off the  morning tide tide 

                                A nice Highland 8lb grilse 


The alternative to employing spinning baits in search of spring salmon is of course the ' Fly ' fished slow and deep...

In order to reach the correct depths heavily  dressed tube flies,aluminium,copper and brass bodied  in conjunction with heavyweight no 10 – 12 weight lines and double handed rods are the order of the day..Big single irons in traditional standard patterns still catch as many salmon but tube flies are the most popular choice amongst today's anglers.

  Patterns such as....

Black and Yellow ...... best fished in cold clear water.

Tosh – ...... another Black and Yellow fly best fished in clear water or under bright skies.

Garry Dog ...... an old favourite in larger sizes for fishing col water.

Munro Killer ...... a mix of Black /Yellow /Orange /Blue Superb spring and backend.

Silver Garry ...... predominantly Yellow with a touch of Red best fished in coloured waters

Stoats Tail an old classic to be fished anywhere any time.

Silver Stoats Tail ...... fished sub surface in small sizes will take grilse and sea trout too.

Willie Gunn ...... heavily dressed in large sizes fishes both  spring and autumn.

Thunder and Lightning ...... another favourite clasic in large sizes for cold spring and backend waters.

Ally's Shrimp ...... rated as the best shrimp pattern by many anglers..

Torrish Morangie ...... (copper tube) best fished in cool to cold water a mix of Orange/Black/Yellow.

Black and Hot Orange ...... copper tube best fished in cold clear water of spring.

Black or Red Frances ...... cold clear shrimp like patterns with a superb reputation.

Black Boar Shrimp ...... Copper tube Red  and Black good summer fly in smaller sizes if a little depth  required.

Silver Wilkinson ....... copper tube again an old favourite standard pattern in a mix of Blue/Red and yellow.

Flamethrower ...... a bright orange fly rated as one of the best up and comingfly patterns..

Cascades and Sun Ray Shadows in their various colour ranges

There are many flies on the market that have stood the test of time and proved their worth over the years ….The above list is a sample of what is available and a nice blend of traditional and modern designs.

As with all cold water conditions fish become slow and lethargic unwilling to chase a bait so the fly is taken to the fish with the aid of a sinking line if there is any depth to the water..slow / heavy / intermediate / floating lines are fished at the anglers discretion in accordance with water levels....

A substantial of amount of wading can be required so please be safe at all times and not only carry but use a wading staff..if may save your life !Should the gravel for instance give way under foot and a soaking is inevitable ..Don't Panic ! I know it is easier said than done ..Simply relax lye on your back and use your hands as paddles to direct you into the shoreline..The expectancy of waders/wellington boots filling with water and dragging under simply does not happen if you are our total bulk including waterlogged waders ' weighs ' a lot less submerged..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ' PREPARING FOR THE TAKE '

Once cast the line should always be mended as necessary and the travel of the fly line followed across the flow with the rod tip.Enabling direct contact between fly,rod and angler.When  the fly has been cast the butt of the rod can be tucked under the arm and the rod supported with your free hand high on the rod handle.When a fish takes stripping line off the reel a slow count to three will suffice before lifting the rod into him.This is known as ' Off The Reel '

The ' Loop' method is preffered by many and standard practice,simplicity in operation the loop  simply entails leaving a trailing loop of line of about 8 feet in length between reel and rod handle where the line is gently trapped by the forefinger.When the fish is felt to take - the loop is released and allowed to run freely this in turn is time enough before the strike,allowing the fish to follow through take the fly turn and run.Lifting into the fish as the line tightens.Takes can be hard or as subtle as a gentle pluck....

Fish taken on the 'Dangle' as the fly line straightens downstream parallel to the bank leading into the back cast are more often than not poorly hooked and with a shake or two of the head throw the hooks.Using flies tied on outpoint hooks,doubles or trebles aids in hook ups but is not a guarantee that the fish will stay on !

Salmon like to rest in the very tail end of pools especially if they have just negotiated a stretch of rapids,fast water or overcome other obstacles.Hooking one of these fish can be disastrous as he slips over the lip of the run off and heads off back downstream heading for safety in the pool below !

In this situation keep a tight line on the fish but don't apply any pressure as such.Shoulder the rod and slowly walk upstream until in open water where the fish can be played.He will follow as a dog at heel with perhaps a minor head shake here and there in protest ! 



KELT..A spent fish -one that has spawned be it a cock or a hen fish ..Long 

          lean,exeptionaly thin,losing scales,ragged fins and gill maggots a dirty 

          looking fish.Kelts are willing to take what is thrown at 

         them with confidence,found in slacker water they are best left alone.

WELL MENDED KELT..A spent fish that has spawned and regained some of its 

                                    characteristics...Silver scales make these fish appear to be

                                    fresh run but in reality they are extremely thin and their

                                    heads/tail are well out of proportion to the rest of their body 

                                    they also sport a set of large sharp teeth..and are easily 

                                    mistaken as fresh fish by new comers to the sport.

                                    Some kelts return to the sea and return with a fresh run of 

                                    fish although they are already spent.Whilst in the brine their 

                                    scales become pure silver and sea lice attach to their dorsal

                                    and anal areas.Further adding to the confusion of 


                                    Both kelts and well mended kelts rarely share the same lyes.

BAGGOT.. A baggot is a hen fish that has retained her eggs – perhaps she is late 

                 run all means and respects these salmon appear to be fresh others a 

                 little red as they turn stale.In either instance the hen often sheds her 

                 eggs on capture on the bank or in the bottom of the is illegal to

                 kill or take these fish are then deemed as kelts and must be returned


' SPRINGER ' .. A fresh run fish,blood red gills,scales pure silver,fully finned,well

                        proportioned body carrying sea lice.

                        Within 24 hours off the tide sea lice with 3 1-1 ½ inch white tails.

                        Within 36 hours off the tide their tails break away leaving the body of

                        the louse attached to the fish.

                        36 hours onwards the louse dies in the fresh water and drops off

                        leaving red bruises or blood marks more evident in the anal regions.

' GRILSE ' .. A salmon up to 10 lbs weight it is sometimes refered to as an SW1

                 having endured one winter at sea before returning to it's birth river.

' SALMON '.. Salmon are normally recognised as fish that have spent more than one 

                     winter at sea before returning to their birth river and are the 

                     ' heavy weights '. 



                                          ' Riffle Hitch '

                                     'Riffle Hitch Knot '


Most anglers I know would only fish surface flies for salmon as a last resort..why ?

Perhaps because the methods I am going to describe are not written in the book of tradition but can be so effective in all heights of water.


Over a hundred years ago when salmon flies had gut loop eyes which through the course of time weakened and perished,life expectancy of the fly was greatly increased by tying a half hitch of leader over the head of the fly.

This resulted in the fly lying at acute angles,pulled onto it's side resulting in the fly coming to-and skating across the surface creating a distinctive V wake behind.

Today lightly dressed standard patterns trimmed to aid the effect on lightweight irons are in common use.

The tippet is tied with a 'Riffling Hitch' which in effect is two half hitches tied directly behind the eye of the hook.

At this point the leader between 9' and 10' feet should be sitting at a right angle to the fly,either lying to the right or to the left.


                                                                                       How to decide ? 

It is of great importance that the fly is presented correctly and thus hitched correctly.With the head of  the fly facing upstream administer the two hitches on the side of the fly nearest the bank.

Fished across and down stream the fly must travel at an even speed to create the perfect wake.

Having said that the excessive speed of the fly in white or fast water seems not to deter the salmon which tend to follow,picking the fly up when  it 'drops' into those quieter 'calms ' between the rocks.

Constantly mending the line up or downstream and lifting the rod tip enables all the speed control necessary.[ Fast or slow travel ]

' Hitch Flies ' can be fished in most conditions and have been known to pull fish during times of spate and dirty water but in general is more a method for the summer months when the water temperatures are higher than the norm and fish are more active.

This form of fly fishing can be exiting - as the surface wake thrown off by the fly attracts the salmon they tend to move out from their lyes and give give chase.

Judge where the fly is actually fishing and follow through with the rod and your eyes ! Look for bow waves chasing the fly,boils behind the fly and dorsal fins creasing the surface.

Interested fish that followed but refused the fly drop back into their lyes and often will take with confidence on consecutive casts over the same area.

Fish taken on the dangle too frequently hook up successfully as takes are hard fast in a flurry of spray and explosive,or gentle as the salmon simply takes the fly in his mouth and turns down not pull into the fish in this instance until the line tightens and the fish is felt ..

Such an attractant is this method that on many occasions salmon will follow out from the far bank chasing and snapping at the fly covering great distances both upstream and downstream in pursuit of the fly.


                                                                        ' RIFFLING HITCH TUBE FLY '

Based on the same principle but rather than using single irons 'The Riffling Hitch Fly' comes into play and fishes particularly well in low water when temperatures are highest during the summer and autumn months.

Compared to standard tube flies there are few differences,Riffle tubes tend to be plastic,lightly dressed,with a hole drilled  in the body of the tube for the leader to pass through and the head/eye end of the tube sealed.Yet again a wake fly creasing the surface layers as the fly travels round sub surface.

How does it fish ?

The weight of the tube carrying size 10-or 12 trebles will at first begin to pull the main body of the fly under the surface.As soon as the water picks up on the line and the fly begins it's journey.The hooks lift and the  tube now sits at an acute angle almost sitting up-two thirds underwater and a third above.The wake created as the fly swings around with the current is attractive to salmon, moving interested fish from their lyes to give chase.

As with the 'Hitch Fly' the 'Riffle Tube' is best fished across and slightly downstream constantly mending the line as required.


' Yellow Dolly ' style deer hair tubes were primarily designed to ' Dibble ' the fly on and across the surface of runs at the head of a pool,between boulders .. in fact in those places where there is a strength of flow and salmon are known to lye.Particularly effective in the low warm water of summer and autumn when fish are reliant on conserving energy levels and in need of a constant supply of well oxygenated water.

How to fish ?

The ' Yellow Dolly ' is a mix of black and yellow deer hair fibres wound around the the whole body of the tube and in it's smaller sizes 10's-12's appears to be quite bulky this is to the anglers advantage.

Deer hair is naturally buoyant and requires little if any floatant.

This is a close quarter method in the respect that the angler must be able to control the speed and direction of the fly as it skates across the surface maybe only a rod length out targeting a known lye.Manipulating  the rod tip and mending the line ensures full control.

Simply drop the fly directly above and in front of a known lye.Slowly work the fly across the surface creating a distinctive wake .. to the left the right and so on.Controlling the speed of the fly by raising and lowering the rod tip..high and the fly speeds up lower and the fly slows down.

The beauty of this method allows for the fish to be stalked and the fly can be held 'hovering' directly in front of the fish's snout.

Takes are very often gentler on this method as the salmon rises and rolls onto the fly .. head and tailing on his way back down.

Exciting Stuff as the whole scenario unfolds before your eyes.There is no finer sight than watching a salmon or sea trout mouth agape engulf the fly.The reactions induced  by the ' Hitch-Riffle-and Dollie ' flies are second to none and at times move fish when all other methods fail.


Find holding pools with a good flow and concentrate on these rather than searching the river as a whole.

Full spate would demand a return to traditional weighted tube flies or heavy singles/doubles.

Likewise in the lowest of waters when there is little or no flow to employ ' tubes or hitches ' it is time to turn to bulky deer hair flies such as Muddlers and 'Bombers',Madame X,and Goddard's Caddis. 



So many times have I stood and watched salmon/sea trout loch anglers fishing over dead water simply by fishing over depth..

The fish are '' always under the opposite bank ' or in 'The middle of the loch ''.

Loch fishing for salmon requires drifts into the shore line in water which is barely deep enough to cover their backs down to a depth of 12 feet and with sea trout depths to 25 feet.Over these depths is Dead Water,any fish seen to move outside these depths are 'Running fish' and strictly non takers.Chasing and  casting a line for these 'Runners' is a wasted exercise.Salmon will congregate and lye up from the drop off into the shallowest water and it is these areas that should be concentrated on,shallow reefs,weed beds,outcrops of land or rock,areas that are strewn with rocks,and the inlets of any burns / rivers spilling into the loch.

Oxygen and cover are of prime importance.

As salmon do not feed in freshwater we are not looking for those areas where food is plentiful the lye of the loch,bottom structure and prevailing winds are the factors that denote where salmon and sea trout take up residence through the long summer months prior to spawning in late December.

Wind action turning waves over replenishes oxygen levels the shoreline in these conditions with a moderate to heavy wind / wave running will hold fish that have dropped back from nearby lyes .

Heads into the wave lined up regimental fashion taking in oxygen and thereby replenishing energy levels.As the wind abates the fish drop back into their resident lyes.Salmon always choose those those places to lye where they have to expend the least possible energy.

Anglers fishing lochs close to the prevailing winds and are coastal should bear in mind that wind direction normally changes with the turning of the tide and drifts should be re-arranged accordingly.This applies to all and any change of wind direction.As all fish turn and lye head into the wind in order to breathe.

At times of high water both salmon and sea trout will venture from their resident lyes travelling some distance to the inlets running full of spate water.Here they congregate on the edges of the streamy water spilling into the main body of the loch to the point where the excessive spate water flow peters out often 'Hanging' sub surface over deep water beyond their comfort zone of 12 feet.

Somewhere in their sub concious the urge to run into the headwaters is triggered but in reality these fish do not run upstream but simply lye up in the overspill until the spate abates at which point they return to their resident lyes.Fish that are seen to head and tail are all takers and freely take a bait or fly with confidence the highly oxygenated water motivating otherwise dour fish into taking.


        A shoal of salmon wait patiently in estuarine waters 

                     Low water salmon and sea trout  



Successful under most conditions upstream spinning is particularly effective in low water.This method relies on triggering the fish's predatory instincts and will take all fish that prey upon others..Pike,Salmon,Trout,Sea Trout etc...


Short spinning rod 6 feet.

Fixed spool reel loaded with 10 lbs BS line.


18-24'' trace from swivel to lure [10lbs]

selection of lures.[ smaller sizes ]

To begin-wade in directly below where the fish are known to lye,within comfortable casting range.

Cast directly upstream over the top of the fish and wind down quickly keeping in contact with the lure at all times.

In shallower water the lure will fish just under the surface travelling fast,foul hooking is not an issue.

Deeper water,count the lure down,first cast or two sub surface.

Next consecutive casts,count the lure down as it sinks 3-6-9 and so on until you reach the fish.

By drawing the lure FAST directly overhead it is simply a case of …..Chase Snap Take ! Hard and fast.Triggering the predatory instinct ' Feast or Famine '

The fish have little chance to get a good look at the lure before it escapes resulting in a meal lost !! 


Fishing the upstream worm is an art and a delightful method of fishing.There are many personal variations on rigging but this is my preferred method as described.

Keeping it simple and travelling light.

Upstream worming as the title suggests requires fishing a pool downstream -upstream.


Short spinning rod 6 feet.

Fixed spool reel loaded with 10lbs BS mono.


Selection of hooks 8's 10's 12's.

Trace 18'' 10 lbs BS mono.

Box small lob worms or hook up a bunch of brandlings.

Selection of split shot.

Starting at the lower end of the water wade in and fan cast the water directly to your front,moving forward a few steps only at a time.

Hook lobworms only once through the tail [ flat end ] their weight alone will sink them sufficiently drifting naturally with the downstream flow.

Use a small dust or split shot just to keep the worm submerged in a heavier flow other to that use no weight at all.

Wind down gently keeping in touch with the bait.Should you feel a snag simply lift the rod tip and allow the bait to roll over / off the snag.

Bait stopped mid flow – Strike ! 

Anything out with the ordinary strike !


High summer poses it's usual problems,low water excessive weed growth little if any current and of course the proverbial stubborn salmon starved of oxygen,lethargic and unwilling.

There are a couple of 'tricks' to arouse the fish's natural instinct commonly employed on the larger river systems but works equally as well on my highland spate rivers.

Low water demands small flies 8's 10's and 12's lightly to under dressed tied on lightweight low water hooks.

Casting downstream at an angle of 45 degrees allowing the line and fly to swing back naturally in towards the bank is standard wet fly procedure.Using a figure of eight or gentle line strip retrieve when deemed necessary to keep the fly on the move and active.

Problem is there is total disinterest from the resident salmon …

Or is there ?

'Backing up' the pool often gets a response when other methods fail..

Tie on the largest fly in your box.

Stand facing the opposite bank at the Bottom of the pool.

Cast at 90 degrees straight over to the opposing bank.

Put the rod over your shoulder.

Turn upstream.

Take two full steps.

Turn back facing downstream .

Smartly retrieve the line.

Repeat casting upstream until the full extent of the pool has been covered.

*******  By casting square across the river the line begins to drag even in the slightest current.The more pressure put on the line by 'drag' the faster line and fly swing round,in severe cases the fly is brought to the surface and simply skates across the surface.

Under normal conditions the line would have to be continually 'mended' to prevent drag and present the fly as it was meant to be fished'

'Backing up' is somewhat a 'contradiction of method' but it does work  ******

The line settles on the water and is immediately picked up the current incurring a very gentle drag.At this particular moment the fly is hanging midstream looking extremely un-appetising !

Turning with the rod over shoulder lifts the line-combined with the two upstream steps the line and fly accelerate sweeping round in a wide arc bankside.

All it takes is this increased movement to swing the fly directly in front of the fish's face. 

Takes can be violent and totally un-expected.

A successful take.

Poor eyesight only enables salmon to see with any real clarity about 10 feet or so to their front.The fly swinging hard and fast slightly above or directly to the fish's front is glimpsed momentarily as it passes by.

Predatory instincts kick in ...and the salmon gives chase taking hard and fast as he turns heading back to his lye.

It's very much a case of feast or famine and there's little chance of letting a free meal go !


                        Early season dawn over Loch Awe

                                   Summer dawning 


High summer with temperatures soaring under a blazing sun,water levels are low and fishing is at a standstill.

                                                                                     Or is it ?

Last nights tide flooded the sea pool with brine from the estuary carrying a number of salmon and sea trout into the sea pool.

False dawns breaks and the air temperature increases slowly,warmer than that of the actual water and a thin mist rises from the water.There is an eerie silence and the pool is still-seemingly devoid of fish.The sun rises fast burning the mist from the water,within 30-40 minutes true dawn is prevalent and the pool comes to life.

Sea trout splash in the margins and salmon that slipped into the best lyes under the cover of darkness 'Head and Tail' their dorsal fins and backs creasing the surface.Presented with a number 12 double or treble Teal Blue and Silver / Hairy Mary or Blue Charm fished slowly with a figure of eight retrieve.Drawn round directly in front of the fish a take is almost certain.

There are two reasons for this behaviour ..a fresh fish in a 'new pool' is a taking fish and salmon,trout and sea trout that head and tail at any given time or situation be it river or loch are taking fish.

Takes are in general are very soft and barely noticeable until the line tightens.It is vitally important to hesitate pulling into the fish immediately.Wait until the fish is felt rolling onto the fly.most self hook as they turn back to their lye.Fresh from the sea their mouths are extremely soft and it is easy to pull the hook free by striking to soon.

For first light under bright conditions select a bright fly,one that will reflect the natural light thus enhancing the fly.

All to soon,within forty minutes the pool once again returns to its former state and few if any fish show.

Sea trout are notorious for 'coming short' nibbling at the fly's tail without a confident take.Under the conditions described salmon too display this attitude at which point dropping down a size or two ensures a solid take.

A ¼ inch plastic tube fly armed with size 16 treble will normally pick up a fish or two.Small yes but they do provide an excellent hook hold even on the bigger fish.

Fishing prior to true dawn is a non starter.

All salmon fishing is at it's best when the air temperature is higher than that of the water to be fished,a few degrees makes the difference between success and failure.



It is mid summer,water levels are drastically down,pools holding salmon show little if any activity as our intrepid travellers lye low conserving energy levels.High temperatures,warm water and a lack of dissolved oxygen combined have resulted in resident salmon suffering lethargy.There is little hope for these fish to run further upstream until such times as a spate refreshes the system.

Discolouring rapidly-chrome silvered scales redden and darken as resident fish turn 'stale'.'Stale' resident fish are the most difficult of all to entice ! However ..One method which is guaranteed to attract an offer or two is by freelining a shrimp or presenting the bait under under a float.

Many fisheries have banned 'The Shrimp' simply due to it's devastating effects when fished in conditions of low water.

Not so many years ago 32 salmon were reputedly taken from one pool alone in the Cumbrian Eden...the enraged controversy that ensued regarding fishing ethics continued for several weeks after the event.

As far as 'Red' or 'Stale' fish are concerned it is basically up to the individual angler to use his/her discretion – A tinge of red is fine,dark red verging on black simply return the fish to the water !

Many salmon fisherman declare,excusing themselves 'A good one for smoking' ..believe me you need a good quality fresh salmon to provide quality produce.


Personal preference for me would be shrimp I have personally found it more effective and far quicker to entice a response with a greater ratio of hook ups.Salted shrimps/prawns are bought in fishing tackle retailers dyed in the following colours or can be dyed at home.

Cherry in all conditions and water levels. best in cloudy or coloured water. in most conditions

N.B-The most popular and most overall effective colour is cherry red.


Cherry Red Shrimp...Salmon will hit a shrimp with extreme violence engorging hook and

bait and hook up in the back of the throat.

Purple Shrimp...Most effective in cloudy rising or dirty water.

Natural Shrimp...An all round bait but not as effective as cherry red.

Natural coloured prawns are most popular and are also extremely effective,Similar in shape but obviously smaller,shrimps and prawns are fished in a similar manner.With very different effects and reactions !

Shrimps tend to be taken swallowed whole with the utmost confidence and without hesitation.Very occasionally salmon will simply 'toy' with the bait sucking the shrimp in and out of their mouths and nibbling away at the shrimp's body without hooking up.

Fished under a float salmon will come up for the bait and in less than a heartbeat the float is pulled straight under ducking and diving or bobbing about as the fish takes ..straight under...The fight is on !

Like wise when freelining a shrimp the takes are explosive violent and fast.


Float...Do not use bubble floats ! They cause too much drag and any fish pulling one

under feels so much resistance the bait will be thrown.

A grayling or a small Avon/chubber will suffice.

Shop bought dried /preserved shrimps are extremely light there is literally

no weight in them at all.

A small split shot may be required to sink the shrimp but keep extra weight to a

minimum.Salmon wants it he will come up for it ! Bearing in mind we are fishing

low clear water.


Bait-18'' inch trace-swivel-sliding float to allow adjustment for varying depths.

Trot the float over known salmon lyes or any to any fish that you may see lying up.

Stret Pegging works too. .trot and hold the float back when in front of the salmon

allow the shrimp to rise in the water.This action and movement of the shrimp

often entices a take with particularly stubborn resident fish.

Freelining...Freeline the shrimp downstream into and through known salmon lyes..if there is

no immediate response try another four or five times fishing the same lye

before moving on to the next.

Salmon rarely ignore a shrimp and generally speaking immediate responses

are to be expected.

Fishing 'sink and draw' in deeper water or on the retrieve is another successful

method to employ.


Bait-18''trace-swivel no weight unless required to sink the bait a little or when

fishing 'sink and draw'.

Set up...Shrimp

Shrimp/prawn pins [alternative paper clips].

No.2/No.4 longshank hooks.

Alternatively- reservoir rainbow lure hooks.



Bait Elastic/Alternatively-copper wire.

Packet of dyed shrimps/prawns.

Shrimp/prawn pins as the name implies are pins sharpened at one end with an eye at the other in two size ranges.

They can also be purchased fully mounted with pin and hook mount attached.Preserved shrimps are fragile and need to be handle gently with care.Remove one from the pack and wipe away any excess salt .Carefully insert the pin on the underside directly below the tail gently straightening the shrimps body as the pin pushes forward .This in effect keeps the shrimp straight and positioned in readiness to be fished 'Head Down'Two small trebles 10/12's are attached to the pin via short lengths of nylon/wire shorter than the other.Take the shortest connected treble and secure it in the shrimp's tail end.The longer of the two secure in the shrimp's head end.Bind the hook onto the shrimp's body with a few turns of copper wire to prevent the body breaking away from the pin.

Alternately …

Replace the shop bought pins with straightened paper clips.

Use only one treble via your own home made mount

Secure single treble mount at head end of shrimp.

This is In my opinion the best method and have yet to fail on a hook up.


Carefully thread the shrimp onto the hook leaving the barb exposed at the head end.Secure with a few turns of bait elastic.Half hitch a couple of loops of nylon from directly above the hook eye over the shrimps tail securing the shrimp to the hook shank.

Set up..Prawn.

The same procedures apply for the prawn as with shrimp.

Prawns are a much bigger bait so I would advise the two treble hook mount and shop bought mounts.


*** Shrimps do not unsettle a pool ***

*** Prawns Scare The Hell out Of Some Salmon ! ***

Fishing shrimps through low water pools has no adverse affects on fish or catch potential.Fishing with prawns can and does ruin a pool.

The methods are exactly the same 'Sink and Draw' through known lyes or under a float.On most occasions within the first six casts any interested salmon will take,an almost immediate response.

***Or they may leave the pool ! ***

I didn't believe this dismissing it as an exaggeration until I experienced this peculiar reaction myself.On several occasions I nave witnessed salmon in the lowest of waters ' Head Down' bolt from their lyes and shoot through the shallows at the head of a pool …

Perhaps the memories of their sea life and food items flood back..ringing alarm bells when confronting a prawn in freshwater's not a natural ! And so there instinct pushes them onward..

Salmon are notorious for 'toying' with prawns prior to and if indeed if they take.A lot of patience is required ! The only indications of what is actually happening below are relayed through the line to the angler,holding the line gently between thumb and fore finger.

Timing the strike can only be learned by trial error and lost fish when fishing the prawn.




Loch style drifting is the most common method employed by stillwater anglers afloat.As with all disciplines of fishing there are advantages and disadvantages.Loch style offers opportunities to fish through vast areas of water greatly increasing the chance of covering taking fish.

Handling the boat can be difficult in a stiff breeze or heavy swell with the boat exposed to broadside wind and wave.Often blown off course and travelling too fast to cover the water.Using a drouge eliminates most problems but can become an irritating obstacle when playing a lively fish.The method I am about to describe has numerous advantages over traditional broadside loch style drifts.

An oarsman is required at all times ensuring that the drift is controlled at any given time.His job is to drift the boat in a controlled fashion slowly across the waves with the bow into the wind.Stopping the drift dead at any moment allowing the angler to cover a specific lye or fish.


Place a lee board over the gunwhales between oarsman and stern for the angler to sit on so that he will be facing downwind.Man the oars positioning the bow directly into the wind with the angler facing directly down wind over the stern.

The oarsman then takes mental note of a prominent feature on the near shoreline and another on the far shore.Both marks must be in a direct line with each other and the oarsman.

To drift LEFT pull slightly stronger on the RIGHTHAND oar turning the bow slightly into and catching the wind / breeze..

Gently dip both oars together.

Pull both oars together at the same time.

The boat drifts to the left .

It is important to keep both feature marks aligned drifting slowly across the wave in a straight line.

Meantime the angler casts directly downwind with the boat totally under control and moving slow enough to drop each cast within three to four feet of each other.Thoroughly covering the water .In effect the oarsman gently rows across across the wave allowing the wind to do most of the work.

Constantly working the oars to prevent the boat slipping downwind and to stay on a direct line between the two chosen feature marks.Having drifted beyond where any fish may be lying the oarsman pulls the bow directly back into the wind straightens up and allows the boat to drift a casts length only downwind.

Pulling on the left oar will drift the boat to the RIGHT .Just initiate the opposite sequence to that already described.

*** Continue these manouvres over several drifts before moving on .Whether using surface lures or wet flies every fish lying up within the drift area will have seen the bait ***

Seen a fish move ? Need to change flies or lures ? 

Simply pull the bow back into the wind and hold it between the chosen feature marks stopping the drift dead.Pulling on the oars only with enough strength to prevent the boat drifting downwind or rowing upwind.

** Needless to say each individual drift requires new feature marks ! **

This method is well worth mastering,a good way to practice is to hold the bow just off a buoy or a sub surface rock on the oars only.Without drifting downwind or side to side keeping the stern directly downwind at all times.

Sound easy ?

Little effort is required by the oarsman even in a heavy swell.The slightest of breezes will push the boat along nicely too.

Hooked a decent fish ?

Taking line fast down to the backing-simply follow on with the boat chasing the fish as it were,recovering line as you go.When ready allow the oarsman to net the fish.You may prefer to pull in to shore and play the fish from the bank.

Once hooked the fish will follow the boat over a great distance if gently drawn away from it's lye with the boat.Much the same as 'walking a fish'  from the tail end of a river pool.The secret is to hook the fish and hold him without putting much pressure on him.

Slightly overcast days with intermittent sunny spells and a breeze combined with a moderate wave are ideal conditions.Distance casting is not necessary as the boat drifts across and down onto any fish lying up.Cast directly downwind over the stern working the fly or lure all the way back to the boat.As you lift the rod into the backcast slowly lift the rod drawing the fly to the surface gathering momentum – skating the fly across the surface.Be prepared ! Some fish will strike at this point having followed the fly all the way to the boat.Should a fish follow and turn away at the very last moment stop the drift and re-cast until you are satisfied the fish has been covered .Chances are it will be taken on the second or third casts.If the fish refuses several offerings mark the lye in your mind's eye by taking note of feature marks as described earlier.This enables you to pin point the exact location of the fish for future reference.

The art of boat handling is knowing when and how hard to pull on the oars often working one against the other .For example.

You are half way through a lefthand drift,the wind picks up and the stern begins to swing you begin to lose ground drifting downwind.Pulling  hard on the oars will accelerate the problem.To compensate pull harder on the lefthand oar pulling trhe bow back into the wind.As you turn pull the righthand oar only hard enough to steady the correction and continue the drift.After a while it becomes second nature.

To cover river outflows position the boat tight into the bank bow directly into the edge of the flow.

Cast at 45 degrees across the stream.

Hold the boat on the oars against the current.

Once the cast has been fished out drift downstream a bout 4 feet only and re-cast.

Hold the boat steady against the current on the oars.

Follow this manouvre until the flow peters out.

This will ensure that all the water sees a bait every four feet.

Should the overspill into the loch allow,Row upstream and slide the boat across the current for a distance of about 4 feet.

Begin a second drift and continue until all the water has been covered .

Safety afloat is paramount always wear a lifejacket and respect the weather conditions and warnings.

Do not take unnecessary risks and enjoy the day.

TIP..On occasion the wind will die away completely becalming the boat.

In this situation gently row the margins,over known weed beds or other likely lyes.Casting over the gunwhale.The line will belly out in a great arc as the forward motion of the boat straightens theline out behind.As the last ten feet of line or so swing around on 'the dangle' the pace quickens and the fly or lure speeds up momentarily.Sometimes creasing the surface creating a wake.At this point expect a take !

Surface disturbance from the fly or lure even in conditions of calm when fished in this manner is a distinct added advantage and does not spook the fish.

Under conditions of extreme calm I would advocate this method over trolling and row without the aid of the outboard.



Trolling with flies,lures,plugs and deadbaits has been a recognised method of catching fish of all species for many years there is very little difference in method from Victorian days to the present.

The early days however required letting pike rest for ten minutes after taking a trolled dead bait before striking.For it was gorge hooks that were used as the name implies the fish were allowed to gorge the bait and ten minutes later when the angler struck into the fish the 'gorge hook'  splayed out lodging across the fish's throat.Wedged tightly the 'hook' allowed pressure to be applied to the fish and played in the normal manner.The hue or common twine [ Lines/leaders ] were made from twisted horse hair.Pike traces were of such material but had copper wire twisted through to prevent bite offs.

Today we troll with up to three rods one astern and one over each gunwhale.Spoons are commonly used by today's anglers and trailed up to thirty yards behind the boat.Which closely follows the contours of the bank.A good trolling speed is denoted when the rod tips are continually 'knocking'.

As the boat runs over known lyes the noise and disturbance from the outboard pushes resident fish out into open water.....The annoyed fish immediately return to their lyes as soon the boat passes overhead.

In general it is believed that a distance of thirty yards between boat and bait gives the fish time to vacate and then re-enter their domain at a point where the bait is now being drawn through said lye.The angered fish then attacks the bait.

There may be some truth in this as it is possible to - for instance to 'bully' a salmon and other fish species into taking a bait by perseverance alone.

This method is also known as ' Harling ' and common practice on rivers such as the Tay and Tweed employing Kynock Killers as a standard bait.





Make a Free Website with Yola.