Fishing and Tackle Advice

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Lochy Fishing tips – Flies and stuff
What influences fly selection?
Does fly choice matter when fishing for salmon? This question comes up time and time again. Some
say yes and others think it makes very little difference if the salmon are in the right mood.
Personally I believe both theories are correct, but we can’t just rely on the salmon being in a good
taking mood all the time, therefore our fly selection, size and presentation, at times, can be the key
to success.
Selecting ones fly on the day is a personal choice. Our selection process will indeed come from
experience and knowing what works and when and also having confidence in the fly we have
selected. We all fish more diligently when we think we have the “right” fly on. However we should
also consider some key factors before we decide on what fly will work or not. Here are some basic
tips on what to think about before making your selection for the day.
Weather – overheads, temperature – this may determine fly colour i.e. a bigger and bolder fly may
work better on a cloudy day as it creates less of a silhouette against the sky line. Something smaller
and more subtle may work better on a bright day. On very bright days a small fly presented deeper
may work better than the same fly presented nearer the surface.
Time of year - water temperature – this may determine fly size and depth. Below 48deg F, a bigger
fly fished deeper may work better than a smaller fly fished near the surface, however we all know
how successful a large SUNRAY SHADOW can be fished HIGH and FAST in cold as well as warmer
temps.
Water height and colour – Normally we associate higher water with a coloured river but the Lochy
can run high and relatively clear. However during increased flows we should increase fly size and
possibly weight. Weighted tube fly variants can help steady our presentation by getting beneath the
turbulent top layers. Flies with a bigger presence and brighter colours can also pay-off in coloured
water.
Type of water your are fishing – The lochy has glides, fast riffles and even paced pools. The general
rule is to go up a size or two when fishing riffles and faster turbulent water . When fishing a glide or
smoother water you may want to do the opposite and go down a size or two.
We are fortunate on the Lochy that the number of variables are possibly less than on some other
rivers. The Lochy runs clear for most of the time, even in higher water flows. It’s a relatively shallow
river, so the need for fast sunk lines and very heavy flies are limited, but maybe not to be ignored.
The water temp, during the season, doesn’t fluctuate too much, particularly at the lower end of the
scale (less than 48degF) so this simplifies our selection process.
The 3 Ps
So how do we put theory into practice? Success factors in salmon fishing, as described by “expert
salmon angler and author” Francis T Grant in his book - SalmonFishing, The Dynamic Approach, can
be summarised in 3 catagories (the 3 Ps): Preparation, Persistence and Presentation.
The first two speak for themselves but Presentation is a little more complex. If I try and simplify
things I would say we have 3 ways of presenting a fly : FAST, MEDIUM, SLOW
Let me try and explain :
1. J-curve cast – SLOW presentation - casting square and mending the line (sometimes 2/3/4
times) to ensure the fly swims slower than the speed of the current. This cast can be used
to good effect over known lies as it can allow the fly to “hover” in front of the fish. Smaller
flies can be used with this type of presentation as the fish will typically view the fly from the
rear. If using sinking-tips, typically the fly will be fished deeper using this method.
2. Down and Across – MEDIUM presentation - normally this cast will be made at a
downstream angle with no mend. The fly will typically fish as soon as it hits the water and
will swing across at the same speed as the current. Normally the fly will be presented at a
medium pace and side on to the salmon’s view. This may be classed as conventional tactics.
3. Square Cast – FAST presentation – this is achieved by casting square to the current and
either not mending or mending downstream. Fly is pulled across the current faster than the
speed of the flow. This can result in aggressive takes as the salmon has very little time to
make its decision. Bigger flies (Sunrays) can be used to great effect with this method but
depending on flow and conditions, smaller flies can also be successful. Hand-lining can also
be used to increase fly speed and induce takes. Figure-of-8 pulls and stripping can be very
effective particularly in sluggish pools or just to add some extra life to the fly. Try it, you’ll be
surprised!
Lochy seasons and fly selection
Early season - May and June
This is when see the main run of MSW salmon. Weather and water can vary from warm and low to
higher and colder so be prepared for both.
The MSW salmon travel through the main beats relatively quickly at this time of year so I’d be
inclined to fish something that will instantly attract them.
My simple recommendations would be:
1. Shrimp style flies or similar, sizes 6-10 or tube fly/conehead variants or small Templedog
styles. Vary presentation.
2. Sunray Shadow – 4-6inch wing. Fish is square and fast close to surface or deeper and
slower in cold temps or very bright days.
With long daylight hours, pay attention to tides and overhead conditions. If you have hot sunny
weather and morning and evening tides, then fishing during the middle of the day could be
counterproductive. Also, if you have night-time tides, take great care on your first run through your
selected pool in the morning.
Mid season – July and August
At this point of the season we should be starting to see the grilse run appear with the peak of the
run happening in August. July can still provide a few big MSW fish so always be prepared for this.
Grilse fishing is usually associated with small flies and fine leaders. This can be true, but as
mentioned above, conditions will dictate what size of fly, not the fish itself.
In low warm water, which can happen at this time of year, come prepared to use small and very
small flies. Riffle hitch or dibbling can also be effective under these conditions.
My simple recommendations here are :
1. Shrimp style patterns – sizes 8-14
2. Tubes and/or micro tubes/coneheads 0.25-0.5inch
3. Sunray Shadow – 3-6inch wings – normally fished Square and Fast
As above, always pay close attention to overhead conditions and tides.
Personally I have found that grilse like a fly fished fast so don’t let in meander round.....keep it
moving. They will chase it! Add movement by tweaking it or hand-lining.
Late season - Sept and October
This period of the season usually sees the pools starting to hold residents as well as some fresh fish
continuing to enter the river. It can be quite frustrating to see fish in a pool and not get an offer.
Resident fish can often switch off, especially in stable water and weather conditions. Sometimes a
change of temp or barometric pressure, a rise in water or a change in light conditions can change
their mood. Always look for these signs at any time of year! However if you see a pod of fresh fish
enter your pool immediately start fishing. Not only will you have a chance of picking up a fresh fish
but the residents will be disturbed and often react to a well presented fly.
September is a change-over month. It can be warm and sunny one year and cold and wet the next.
October is typically colder and wetter. Come prepared for all conditions.
My simple recommendations for these months would be :
1. Shrimp style patterns, maybe with orange as a more predominant colour – sizes 8-12s. Fish
these mainly for fresher fish.
2. Tubes/Coneheads – Templedog style, typically with a black wing – tube sizes 0.5-1inch
with various wing lengths depending on water flow and colour.
3. Sunray Shadow – as above. If you strip a sunray through a pool full of resident fish and it
gets ignored, don’t try it again and again. Change fly. In my experience this fly is at its best
when fresh fish are in your pool.
4. Red Francis – 0.25in-1inch tubes or 8-10 doubles/trebles. Try fishing it deeper and
slower....even cast upstream and dead drift with a lifting/jerking action.
5. Stoats tail – micro tubes or 10-14 doubles/trebles. Can be fished in the glassier water near
the surface. Again a J-curve presentation can be effective.
Tackle recommendations
Rods : 13-15ft. Shorter rods can used in lower flows where delicate presentation maybe important
or if fishing dry fly or riffle hitch.
Lines : Floating to sink 1 speylines or shooting heads with various densities of sinktips. Heavier lines
i.e. sink2/3 could be useful in extreme conditions.
Leader : Standard Nylon e.g. Maxima or similar 12-17BS, Fluorocarbon e.g. Seaguar or similar 1522lbsBS
Double, small treble or single hooks
Chest waders recommended. Wading staff and/or life jacket are optional but recommended.
FLY PATTERNS
Ross MacDonald’s Banana Fly – originated
from Norway but perfect colours for the
Lochy!
The Lochy Shrimp – perfect on bright, clear
water days. Designed by Ross MacDonald.
[email protected]
Red Francis - More a late summer and
backend fly.
Sunray Shadow - One of the best flies for
clear rivers. Fished deeper and slower or
stripped fast on the surface, it’s a MUST fly in
box.
Willie Dog TD Conehead - Great fly if the
water is slightly coloured
The Garrabudhie - a great all-rounder.
Designed by Lochy ghillie Kenny
MacDonald.
[email protected]
Silver Stoats tail - A fly that’s lasted
generations. Great for grilse and tempting
resident fish.
Silver Cascade - A great all-rounder at most
times of year.
Silver Stoats tail – Micro Tube - Another great
summer/Autumn fly for grilse...in low flows.
Demo Equipment
I am able to offer some Demo/Test rod-line set-ups here at Camisky Fishing Office.
www.mackenzieflyfishing.com
Scott MacKenzie, 3 times world champion Speycaster, has developed his own brand of products
which are, quite simply, top class. In addition to his NEW DTX G2 rods and Spey-lines, Scott also has
a range of shooting heads which are all available to try. Please ask at the Fishing office if you wish
to test.
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