Autumn fishing and the choice of flies available to the salmon angler can be bewildering with a staggering number of patterns, new materials and advice available to the angler from a variety of magazines, websites and forums.
Terry Griffiths in the Essential Kelson says ‘There are so many imponderables, so much ‘luck’ that can impact on the start and end result, that the simple mantra of the trout fisher – man ties fly – man fishes – man catches trout, simply does not work in salmon fishing…regardless of even the highest levels of skill and dexterity.
As with most rivers at this time year, the pursuit of autumn salmon usually indicates that fly selection tends to steer towards those with brighter colours. So with this in mind we asked a number of ghillies for their advice.
Head ghillie Martin Ritchie on the successful Newtyle beat River Tay said ‘we are using colours that stand out, from Flame Throwers to the Ally Gunn, with bright autumnal colours orange and red to attract salmon’
Scott Mackenzie 3 times world champion Spey caster and 22 years experience as a full time ghillie on some of the best rivers in Scotland and now creator of the Mackenzie DTX range says ‘ Copper body flies replaced with red from Ally’s and Cascades etc are good, as salmon are pairing up they are becoming territorial and red flies depict natural danger. Remember the weight of your fly depends on the height of the river’
River Tyne Head ghillie for the Bywell Beat Gary Hillary says ‘at this time of the year we are using successful patterns consisting mainly of red. From red Cascades to red shrimps using a inch of copper tubing on a sink tip’
River Tweed ghillie on the Lower Pavilion beat Scott Povey, confirmed that autumnal colours from Willie Gunns to a large Francis using a inch of copper tubing and heavy lines to get flies down to the target area. Scott also said ‘we are fishing black and yellow bottle tubes, Editors (black and blue), some thing different, saying ‘the blue looks great in the water’.
River Dee, Park ghillie Keith Cromer ‘Gold Willie Gunns, Park Shrimps, Red Ally’s and the Red Francis together with the Black Snelda with a silver twist in the body are proving to be successful. The brighter flies invoking the usually aggressive nature of the autumn salmon, the darker flies being for clear water.’
Paul Little FishPal consultant says ‘Popular flies for this time of year on his local river the Cumbrian River Derwent consist of: The Cascade (traditional and gold bodied), Ally’s Shrimp, Shadow Shrimp, Silver Stoat’s Tails and variations’
Its often said that fish don’t read books, so if a particular pattern has caught fish for many years then I think it is a sure bet that it will continue to do so, longevity is important and speaking with Gary Scott World Spey Casting champion and guide who uses Classic feather wing Salmon flies on 1/0 and 2/0 single hooks, ‘Old traditional patterns from the Victorian era such as the Black Doctor are proving their worth during the autumn months’.
With the advent of the Skagit line with fast sinking tips, fly fishing in high water with heavy flies proves to be a successful method, fishing deep in the margins instead of spinning. The bottle tube has made a significant appearance along with the traditional copper tube for this type of fishing.
Finally the one piece of advice from everyone’s lips ‘As with all types of fly fishing, confidence is the key’
FishPal’s exclusive range of salmon flies has been carefully selected by world-champion Speycaster Eoin Fairgrieve. Eoin spent many years working as a ghillie on the River Tweed and has over 22 years experience in teaching anglers all forms of fly fishing techniques for Atlantic salmon.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the above article.
Anne Woodcock. Marketing