Swinging flies is probably the most popular method to fish for atlantic salmon. Cast across or bit downstream, and let the current swing your line and fly straight below you. Take couple of steps down and repeat. Easy, relaxing and simple. Effective? Sure. You can cover large amounts of water with relative ease. Is swinging flies ultimately the best method to catch salmon? Maybe, but there are techniques that produce more action in certain situations.
I love swinging flies for salmon. Especially fishing new rivers where I need to cover lot of water. Swinging flies has it’s downsides. Sometimes the fish are located in the pool in such way, that a good presentation with a regular swung fly technique is just impossible. You might switch to something else.
Dry fly fishing. Fishing with dries is fun, but also really effective method to catch atlantic salmon. Dries work for both fresh fish and resident fish. Those super fast moving fish usually are not interested in dries, but when they stop to rest in pools or in small deep holes in fast water, angler has a fairly good chance to catch one. You can fish with dead drifting the dries or skate them. For fresh salmon I prefer a dead drift presentation and for resident fish skating sometimes gets them to react, but rivers and conditions are different so always try both ways. I believe more in the size of the dry fly, so I only have a couple of color variations of Bombers with me. Sometimes the fish can be really tricky and might be worth the try to fish with a pattern floating low on the surface.
Hitching. Fishing with hitches is really fun, but also effective in certain situations. I’ve had by most memorable hitch-fishing in extreme low water conditions. Especially fresh fish seem to react easily on hitch flies in relatively fast water. Riffles and turbulance create cover for fish, but it also makes it harder to see your fly skate on the surface. So try to position yourself properly to make sure your fly line doesn’t sink in the whirls and choose the size of the fly so that you can see it. In normal and low water, try to keep the size as small as possible. Fishing in high or cold water conditions, you can try a small hitched Sunray.
Salmon nymphing. Using regular nymphing methods is many times really effective for passive salmon. When they don’t wan to rise to a fly, they usually can’t resist themselves when a intruder swims past them at the same depth. I use Frances-variations in this type of fishing with some copper on tungsten weight on them. Salmon seem to hate the Frances so much that if you don’t get a bite, at least you will see some movement in the pool. This method is quite intrusive, so start with something else and be careful not to overfish the pools.
Usually the number of hours put in correlates to the number of caught fish in the long run. You can run into long dry streaks but over the years the highs and lows will smoothen out to your normal level. Using a wide variety of techniques helps you to increase your catches and maintain your interest in salmon fishing.
Red Francis (or Frances) is one of those love & hate flies. Every salmon angler usually has a opinion about it. We think that you should carry a few always in your box. Read our tips for fishing with Red Francis and have a look on the step-by-step tying tutorial.