Salmon fishing – whatever anyone says – is a lot about luck. Being in the right place at the right time is absolutely key and sometimes complete novices can be that lucky while the expert can fish all day and fail to touch a thing. However there’s an old (golf) saying that “the harder you practise the luckier you get” or perhaps in salmon fishing parlance if you work on improving your fishing techniques – casting, wading, water lore, etc – then you can improve your chances considerably. Even if you think it is 90% luck, then its all the more reason to work on the other 10% because its the only part you can affect. So visiting a casting instructor, learning the new different casts that have been developed and perhaps attending a salmon school can make future trips very much worthwhile.
So what do you need to learn to become a better salmon angler? Well there’s a lot more to fishing than just casting but casting is pretty key. Its also very satisfying to make neat, effective casts. Its also very practical to be able to fish in different ways. In the mid twentieth century the overhead cast was just about the only one used. People had started to develop roll casts and spey casts but they were mainly for the experts (and show offs!). By the end of last century these extra casts had become the prevail of the ordinary anglers….and there were double spey casts, and casts using both hands/shoulders. Then there were snake rolls and circle “C” casts and all sorts of minor variations. There’s a place for them all – if the wind changes direction its often best to use a different cast. If the bank is overhead behind you, its different to if you are having to stand well back from the bank and fish from dry land. Mind you a lot depends on the kit you are using and then whether you are wading. If so, there’s a lot to learn about wading too – not just from a safety point of view but also from an ease and effectiveness viewpoint. “Reading” a river when you are about to fish a new spot is a very useful skill, and understanding why fish stop and lie in certain places at certain times is very important, otherwise you can be fishing dead water. Learning when and how fish “take” is so helpful and it helps to know the salmon’s life cycle and habits. Any good hunter gets to know the life cycle of his prey. That helps you to choose the right fly or lure and other tackle. There’s a lot to learn at any salmon school!