Tackling The Ponoi


The Ponoi river needs little introduction to the salmon fishing world. It is arguably the best Atlantic Salmon river in the world. Situated in the Tundra of Northern Russia, it is basically untouched by man. It has one of the longest seasons of the Russian Rivers and consistently offers fantastic fishing with swung flies from the first to the last day of the season. This year has been no exception. The first three weeks of the season has resulted in over 3,000 salmon landed up to 22lbs. It really should be on every salmon fisherman bucket list!

Once you have chosen your week and booked your self in it is time to think about what to take with you! The right tackle will help you make the most of your Russian adventure both in terms of fishing and enjoyment.

Here at Fin and Game, we have 53 weeks experience of salmon fishing in Russia on 9 different rivers so we feel we are well placed to offer some solid advice.


Searching through the internet can be a daunting prospect. So many different brands, lengths, actions, line weights. It doesn’t need to be complicated though. For the Ponoi, a double handed rod around 14ft in length with a line rating of 9-10 is ideal. Travel rods are preferred, for no other reason than ease. No longer do you need a separate rod tube (which the airlines always manage to loose). The 6-piece travel rods will fit in your hold luggage. Travel rods are available from the likes of HardyGuidelineMackenzieand Shakespeare. It is also a good idea to take a spare. Accidents do happen however careful we think we are. A spare rod also allows you to set up two separate methods, a dry fly and a wet fly rod for instance.

If you prefer to fish single handed rods, then we would recommend a 10ft 8wt rod. These can be great fun, especially when fishing dry fly in the warmer weeks of the season.


The most common line on the Ponoi is a multi tip shooting head. Make sure it matches the rod you choose – if not you could be in for some seriously hard work trying to cast an outfit that doesn’t balance for a week! There are many multi tip systems available from the likes of AirfloRIOMackenzie and more. If you would like more advice on which would suit you best please don’t hesitate to contact us.

If going early or late in the season, where high, cold water is a possibility than a Skagit with fast sinking tips or a fast sinking line could make the difference between a good day to a great day. If you are a bit apprehensive about using these kind of lines, you really shouldn’t be. Line development has moved on rapidly in recent years. Sinking lines are no longer tiresome and hard work.

Don’t forget you will need a running line for most of these lines.


A large arbor reliable reel is a must. The large arbor helps with line retrieval which can be a necessity when a fish decides to run at you and you don’t want to give it any slack. It is also a good idea to make sure you have plenty of backing. Although the Ponoi isn’t famous for its seriously big fish, they certainly know how to pull. A fresh 18lb salmon, in a fast flowing river will test you and take you to the backing several times.

Leaders and Flies

Arguable the most important category as these are the only two things the fish sees, or hopefully doesn’t see when referring to leader. Leader choice is always a personal choice as confidence is key. There is no need to go below 15lbs in spring and in fall I wouldn’t go below 20lbs.

With regards to flies, there are two flies that have been designed specifically for Ponoi salmon by head guide Max Mamaev: The Ponoi Hammer and Ponoi Nail. Between them, these two flies will account for a large proportion of the salmon caught each year. However, these aren’t the only things that will work. The Ponoi has a slight tinge to it in colour, because of this flies with Orange, yellow and red seem to show up best. Patterns like cascades, flamethrowers and temple dogs. If you have a favourite, take it with you and let the fish decided, as with all salmon fishing there is no right or wrong answer

If you would like to discuss your tackle needs for the Ponoi or any other destination please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or on 01573 224066.

For those lucky ones who are heading out soon – tight lines and have fun! Its difficult not too!


[iscwp-slider username="Finandgame"]