How To Catch Salmon Fly Fishing

For outdoorsmen, learning how to catch salmon fly fishing is something of a pinnacle in challenging fishing pursuits. Fly fishing technique alone is notoriously difficult to get the hang of, and when combined with going after such a powerful yet picky fish species, the prospect of successfully landing salmon is downright daunting. But with the right mindset and skillset, your fly fishing for salmon experience can in fact be very lucrative. The key, of course, is in understanding the aspects of fly fishing for salmon that you can control, and being able to execute based on that knowledge.

  1. Salmon migrating through fresh water don’t eat all that much. By the time salmon hit freshwater rivers during the spawning season, their main directive isn’t food. It’s reproduction. Thus, you’ll have to use a fly fishing approach based on finesse. This means you’re going to want light lines, unnoticeable leaders, and small flies.
  2. Before heading out to fly fish for salmon, practice your casting. Thanks to centuries of natural selection, salmon have become very sensitive and attuned to their surroundings during their spawning runs. You won’t be able to sneak close to holding areas and make short fly fishing casts without spooking them. So, before your trip, hit the local pond or even your backyard and work on making accurate long distance casts.
  3. When you’ve reached your salmon fly fishing destination, talk to guides and locals. While many fly fishermen use standard mayfly or nymph flies to try and catch salmon, you can give yourself a real advantage by finding out what works locally. Salmon, as a species, are known for having a very localized appetite in fresh water. If the food your fly resembles isn’t found naturally in the spots you’re fishing, then you can’t expect to catch many salmon.
  4. Fish the pools for success. Salmon running up fast currents are solely focused on reaching their destination, so you won’t be very effective fly fishing for them there. Wade within a few dozen yards of a pool, close enough to cast into it but far enough away to avoid spooking any staging salmon. This method will give you the best chance of catching the fish off guard.
  5. Practice catch and release. Sure, salmon are very tasty. But unless you absolutely need one for sustenance, stick to a catch and release policy when fly fishing for them. This is especially important when fishing for them in fresh water, because they are on their way to procreate. You can ensure future fly fishing opportunities by doing your part to keep the species as a whole thriving. 
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