What fly is often the million-dollar question? The fly is, or should be, the only thing the fish will see and so it is important to make sure we have given our selves the best chance of offering the fish what it wants. There are a few factors that I consider when choosing a salmon fly.
Personally, I think size is the most important factor. The fish needs to see the fly. As a general rule in high water I fish a bigger fly and in low water I will fish a smaller fly. So, Spring and Autumn normally are fished with larger tube fly patterns whereas in summer I will fish with smaller patterns tied on double and treble hooks.
Temperature will also help dictate the size of fly I will fish. In colder weather I will tend to fish a fly slightly bigger than I would if the river conditions were the same as if the water was warmer.
Another time I will fish a larger fly is when the water is coloured, and you need to get the fishes attention. Some of my best days in coloured water have been when fishing flies that are larger than the water height would suggest. The larger flies create more of a silhouette in the coloured water and will show up better.
Everyone has personal preferences when it comes to colours. Often these will be black, yellow or orange or some mix of. I am no different and often fish flies with these colour combos.
For me the main reason to vary the colour is the water colour. In clear water I like to fish duller colours with less flash as the fish can see the brighter flies from a long way off. If the fish sees the fly coming down to the pool than it is less likely to take it whereas if the fly surprises it than it is more likely to take as it is rushed into a decision. In coloured water I tend to fish brighter patterns with more flash. I am a big fan of the flies with orange cone heads in coloured water.
Flies are now available in all sorts of weights and I would recommending having a selection of differently weighted patterns in your box. Tungsten and copper tubes are the heaviest and are great for getting your fly down whereas Aluminium and plastic tubes are might lighter. Flies can have weight added by the use of coneheads which are most commonly brass or tungsten.
The weight of fly is determined by the depth of the water you are fishing and the temperature. In colder water, fish being cold blooded, are less likely to travel long distances to take a fly whereas when the water is warmer, they will travel through the water column to take a fly nearer the surface and sometimes on the surface.
When fishing colder water, I want to get the fly down to the fish and in front of their face. This will give them no excuse not to take my offerings. As water temperatures increase, I will turn to lighter patterns and fish them nearer the surface as I am not worried about the fish being stuck to the bottom and feel they are going to be looking up and won’t mind coming up to see the fly.
There are so many different patterns and styles of flies there it can be difficult to know what to use but if you have confidence in a pattern it will probably work. After all you will catch with what you cast as that is what is in the water.
We have an extensive range of salmon flies to browse here.