by Kieran Conlon – Guideline Powerteam Ireland
Another close season has drawn to an end. Many rivers are now open and a few with the first Spring Salmon already caught. The anticipation builds, rods, reels, lines & flies are ready to go. Thoughts turn to tactics for the coming season and a look back at last year is always a great place to start.
Time to remember the great experiences,locations,people and the tackle that helped to make it all possible. What rods worked best and the shooting heads that were most effective in various locations and conditions throughout the season. Knowledge based on previous experiences is a vital tool to any angler and used correctly will ensure the best chance of future successes. Its not just a case of remembering or checking one’s diary to see what line or fly caught what fish at a given time, but to question each experience be they good or bad and to challenge it. Would a slightly faster sinking head have worked better maybe a smaller fly ? Just because something has always worked does not mean it can not be improved upon. Speaking for myself a lot of the enjoyment in fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon comes from trying new ideas, tactics, flies,rods & lines and achieving success through experimentation.
Last year was very much the year of the switch rod for me, generally lower than average water levels for a lot of the middle part of the season meant that Switch gear reigned supreme. My Lxi T Pac 11’6 8/9 coupled with the Compact Switch heads caught fish even on the larger rivers that I wouldn’t have caught on the heavier gear, owing to the ability to achieve stealthy presentations with small flies in low flows. Its not just that the lighter gear doesn’t spook fish but the lighter lines ensure the flies swim enticingly in the lower flows.
Nature at it’s most beautiful
A lesson learned here though was that on our small to medium rivers even when water levels rose in many cases there was no need to revert back to the larger double handers. The switch rods and the short shooting heads are now so good we can continue to use them even high water conditions. The compact Switch heads are available right down to Intermediate/S5/S6 and well able to carry a large fly a long way. The introduction of the 9/10 T Pac Lxi Switch is going to be a great addition again increasing the range of conditions in which a switch rod can be used. Definitely the rod I am most looking forward to using in challenging conditions. Don’t think for a minute that these rods won’t handle large fish.
My best fish of 2015 came on the 8/9 T Pac Lxi Switch with out any issues. These rods have plenty of leverage to get the job done, but provide loads of feedback not only in casting but also in fishing allowing a great level of feel for what the line and fly are doing during the swing. Late Summer rains saw the rivers rise to high levels at times meaning the double handers best suited the conditions on the larger rivers. The longer rods just providing that little bit more control of the fly when covering far of lies in high water. Most effective combos were the ReactionFRS 13’7 8/9 and Scandi Intermediate/S2/S3 and the T-Pac Lxi 13’9 9/10 and Triple D S1/S3/S5. Not very deep you might think for high water but at this point in the season the water was warm enough that fish were traveling high in the water column and all I needed was to get the fly below the heavier surface currents.
Success in the face of adversity, A Grilse caught in conditions many deemed to high for the fly.
Most fish being met just either side of the heavier currents along the creases & seams.
My first trip of the year is now only two weeks away and I am already thinking about what rod/line combo to use in which pools and will the water levels hold up till then. Reports coming in are good with fish now being caught almost daily. Will I be successful ? I hope so but you can be sure I ‘ll enjoy trying to be. One aspect of Salmon fishing thats as important as any other is to be optimistic. Optimism leads to confidence which I think in turn leads to greater concentration and attention to details on the day. The ability to notice small details or subtle changes in the conditions are often vital to success.
A Cold Spring Morning, A sight that greets many a Fly Fisher on the first trip of the Season