Everyone has an opinion, when it comes to choosing the best salmon fly. I’ve seen the most dog eared twisted and gnarled flies catch fish. Anglers lovingly grooming some tatty charred remains – Ben Gunn castaway that looks as though it has been fired out of a cannon.
Desperately trying to get it back into shape so it can repeat that sublime magic trick. Hooking a salmon.
Choosing the right Salmon Flies in Scotland
Under-dressed, overdressed, too big, too small. Too heavy, too light, too long too short. Wrong materials, old patterns, new patterns. Hitched, un-hitched, rapala knot, single turle, double turle, lucky and unlucky. Slow movement, fast movement.
And all these observations every time you open your fly box. Your poor brain processing speed is like the wheel of death, buffering your live stream. If you are like me then picking out a winner is a tough gig. I catch so few salmon that experimentation is a high-risk occupation. So, I tend to go for flies that have done the business. The fish with an element of confidence ploy.
Variety is the spice of life..right?
The shear amount of salmon fly patterns should give you a clue. Books so thick that you could use them to stand on to change a light bulb, full of variants and variations. Potbellied pig, red Francis, cascade, atomic cascade, turbo stoats’ tail, pig Francis, cascading pig.
Who knows. Not me. Right place? Right time? Maybe.
Most of us rotate the squad like Pep Guardiola on a European night. Most of our big guns get a run out during a session. The squad is punctuated by some new signing hot prospect. A hot shot that has rewritten the record books on the continent. A hot shot recommended by the scouts on a distant forum or caught your eye on Ebay. Another must have sure thing that will muster a fish like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat.
Tried and tested salmon flies, or experiment with new patterns?
These new signings don’t have long to make an impact. Alan Shearer is in your fly box, is nearly back to full fitness and he wants his place back. With each empty cast you remind yourself of Shearers glory days. Not long now until you bring the new lad off and put on the tried and tested war horse.
Stoats Tail (The Alan Shearer of the fly box)
My Alan Shearer is a street fighting Stoats Tail that looks like it’s been chewed by an escalator. Size twelve hook, tatty black hackle, silver wrapping now flapping with a hint of a clipped yellow stump. I think I may have found it in a tree. Those type of found flies are my favourites. Lost by an unlucky angler, and found by a lucky one. Or so I would like to imagine.
I start and finish every session with it. Now most of the time I use it on the dropper with a lightly dressed Willie Gunn on point. Are they better than anything else in the box? Who knows. Certainly not me. But when you do manage to perform the magic trick and actually hook an Atlantic Salmon. The fly that cracks the code is one that stays in the memory every time the box is opened.
Terminal Chancer – James Gilbraith (author and fisherman)
This short piece written by James Gilbraith, author of two excellent fishing books. Terminal Chancer and Hooked on Hope.