Fly Fishing For Salmon - Fly Presentation
We wished there was an easy solution to how to present a fly to a salmon but there isn't.
It depends on the species of salmon, area of water - saltwater, bays, or rivers, and often
the river itself. There's one thing that salmon generally don't like and that's the
downstream wet fly swing. It doesn't matter what fly you have on, salmon just don't react
to the flies like steelhead.
Remember that salmon in rivers have been eating saltwater baitfish and are changing
back to freshwater food. They differ in the way they eat depending on the water, how
long they have been in the stream, and the species of salmon. Basically, salmon prefer a
dead drift presentation. Chinook salmon are much like bass. They tend to lie in holding
areas of deeper water and eat whatever comes by them. On the other hand, some
species of salmon, such as the Coho, will feed in open water and tend to chase flies.
If the salmon are in water that is still affected by the tides, this can greatly vary their
feeding habits. You must keep track of the tides to know when the fish will take flies and
when they won't. In this case, the salmon are much like many other saltwater species of
fish and rely on the movement of the water caused by the tides to catch their prey.
Incoming tides seem to be best in most situations.
Lighting conditions vary the feeding habits of the salmon. They prefer to feed during low
light levels such as early morning and late afternoons. The only species that seem to
feed anytime you can find them are the Pink Salmon.
Fly color is a very important consideration. We think it has to do with the clarity of the
water as much as anything. The time of day, and amount of available sunlight also affect
this. In essence, you want the fly to be just visible enough to be seen by the salmon but
not so good that it can detect the fly is a fake. The color of the fly affects the visibility of it.
The best type of fly line to use depends on the depth of the water your fishing and the fly.
Floating fly lines work fine in shallow pools but if the water is much deeper than six feet,
we prefer to use a sinking tip fly line.
You want to vary the retrieve of the fly. As a general rule, erratic presentations work
better than steady presentations. Keep the speed of the fly slow as possible. Salmon are
not steelhead and if you present the fly at too fast a speed, most of the time they will
Always vary the retrieve, change the strips and pauses and continue to try various
things. Keep in mind that the fly needs to remain in the strike zone, meaning the area or
depth you think the salmon are holding, and use a presentation that keeps the fly in that
zone of water but keep changing the way it is presented until you get some results.
Copyright 2013 Tanner Leonard
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