Are you confident with your fly choice this autumn?

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 

About FishPal Global Online booking system for all things fishing

FishPal are a global online information and booking system for all types of fishing. Our site has the latest rod availability, permits can be purchased online or via our customer services team and are issued immediately.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Are you confident with your fly choice this autumn?

  1. Martin Joyce says:

    All goes to confirm what most Ghillies advise. The actual type of fly doesn’t really matter if it is fished. and I repeat ,fished, in the right size at the correct depth. This can be guesswork, but knowing the water temperature judging the speed of the flow, and ‘stripping’ when necessary may help to improve the odds. I’ll see what I can do on the Tyne next week, and report back!

  2. henrygiles says:

    So agree with Scott Mackenzie. And just to repeat everyone else – confidence is the key. If you are confident in a fly – just tie it on, fish and enjoy yourself because if your fly-choice confidence is 100 per cent you are giving yourself the best chance of a fish, no question.

    • Henry,

      Thank you for your comments. You are totally right, confidence is the key.

      Are you out fishing again before the end of the season?


      • henrygiles says:

        Anne, Yes confidence in the fly, then getting it in front of a salmon that may take it (and ideally ‘hanging’ it there for a bit, or maybe working the fly if that feels right), and then another cast, then another, and so on until the chill of an autumn dusk closes in.
        No my season is over, hard as it is to say that. Have to do an end of season stock taking post on the blog (will look forward to that and getting a bit philosophical –why not?) before thinking of that river I know with a very prolific spring run … (thinking and dreaming, dreaming and thinking),
        Are you getting out again? – if so tight lines. Henry.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.