A salmon "nymph" con?

Reg Wyatt

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There has been a good discussion lately about "nymph" fishing for salmon and what kind of nymphs work best. I saw Donny Donovan catch a salmon on a bare hook with just a silver bead head on it - no dressing at all. He said that with certain fish at certain times of the year it makes very little difference as to pattern of fly/nymph. Put it in their eyeline and induce the take and you'll catch them on anything. Does this not smack in the face of all the thousands of beautifully tied salmon flies currently available for about three quid each?

There is of course a big difference between trout flies tied as accurate immitations and of weighted nymphs tied to annoy salmon and it is the salmon flies/nymphs that I am talking about.

Is it really necessary to have thousands of different patterns or should we just concentrate on getting a bare hook with a bead head in the right place/depth? I.e. In front of a salmon?

Probably should add that I too have hundreds of salmon flies!

Reg Wyatt
 

ACW

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There has been a good discussion lately about "nymph" fishing for salmon and what kind of nymphs work best. I saw Donny Donovan catch a salmon on a bare hook with just a silver bead head on it - no dressing at all. He said that with certain fish at certain times of the year it makes very little difference as to pattern of fly/nymph. Put it in their eyeline and induce the take and you'll catch them on anything. Does this not smack in the face of all the thousands of beautifully tied salmon flies currently available for about three quid each?

There is of course a big difference between trout flies tied as accurate immitations and of weighted nymphs tied to annoy salmon and it is the salmon flies/nymphs that I am talking about.

Is it really necessary to have thousands of different patterns or should we just concentrate on getting a bare hook with a bead head in the right place/depth? I.e. In front of a salmon?

Probably should add that I too have hundreds of salmon flies!

Reg Wyatt

Reg
only the salmon can answer ,I try very hard to be a one fly only man at least on hooks,however a tiny doubt always creeps in .
Big tubes and waddys now there lies personal madness
:joking::joking:
 

peterl

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Reg, your probably quite right, but how many anglers would have the confidence to try something as bland as a bare hook with just a bead? Most prefer the safety blanket of a box full of angler catching creations!
As a relative novice to salmon fishing, but someone who fishes for almost everything, I have a very open mind with regards to methods and tactics.From my limited, but revealing observations, the key to inducing a follow/take is not pattern ,but how the nymph catches the fishes attention, dropped onto its nose and then drawn away upwards works, but far better to bring alongside from behind its head then up or outwards from the fish(long rod),Obviously not touching the fish with the line/fly is vital. As for size of "fly", having had takes with things as diverse as 6inch redgill sandeels(try them!) and size 14 nymphs with a pink, metallic tungsten bead head(deadly) , whatever floats your boat.
peter
 

charlieH

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There has been a good discussion lately about "nymph" fishing for salmon and what kind of nymphs work best. I saw Donny Donovan catch a salmon on a bare hook with just a silver bead head on it - no dressing at all. He said that with certain fish at certain times of the year it makes very little difference as to pattern of fly/nymph. Put it in their eyeline and induce the take and you'll catch them on anything. Does this not smack in the face of all the thousands of beautifully tied salmon flies currently available for about three quid each?

There is of course a big difference between trout flies tied as accurate immitations and of weighted nymphs tied to annoy salmon and it is the salmon flies/nymphs that I am talking about.

I think you may be overstating the difference between nymphs for salmon and trout. What about trout taken on bare hook nymphs, or merely a few twists of copper wire? Sometimes the secret lies not so much in what a fly looks like, but what it does, and trout and salmon can be quite similar in this regard.

That said, I'm inclined to agree with your general point. I am fairly minimalist in my selection of fly patterns, and tend to use a pretty restricted selection over the course of a season, in spite of carrying many others, in a wide range of patterns, with me.

On the other hand, there are some hugely experienced fishers who take the opposite view. Look, for example, at the huge range of Irish shrimp flies, some of which differ from others in only quite small degrees, yet they are all given their own name and classified separately, and some people will tell you with great conviction that this or that shade of hackle will be more effective in particular circumstances.

In a sense trout fishing is quite straightforward; the fish are feeding, and the majority of flies set out to imitate or represent whatever they are feeding on at that particular time. Put a fly that looks and behaves like the real thing in front of a trout and you've a pretty good chance of catching it. On the other hand, salmon aren't feeding and we don't know why they take a fly at all, or what is the trigger for them to do so. I think this mysterious aspect is one of the attractions of the salmon fishing, and endless debate about this or that pattern is all part of it. As is sometimes said, if we knew all the answers it wouldn't be half as much fun!
 

allanw

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All I can say is I get far more Salmon (Although Smaller fish) when I’m not trying for Salmon then when I go specifically for Salmon. Maybe they know if you are trying ;). As for types of nymph well had 11 Salmon on nymph over the years and I don’t think any two have taken the same nymph, as I said earlier its always when I least expect it happily wondering along the river plucking the occasional Lady out of the current and then BANG just as the nymph rises at the end of the cast your reel begins to scream off and for a moment that 4lb Grayling Dream is looking promising
The River tends to be Down when I do get one on nymph so maybe the Big Salmon flies are needed when River is in Spate but anything dangling on there nose when they are Holding waiting for some more flow will do
 
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RPS

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On the other hand, salmon aren't feeding and we don't know why they take a fly at all, or what is the trigger for them to do so. I think this mysterious aspect is one of the attractions of the salmon fishing, and endless debate about this or that pattern is all part of it. As is sometimes said, if we knew all the answers it wouldn't be half as much fun!

When you consider various fishing methods, such as induced take discussd elsewhere, or large fly in Autumn to obtain a territorial response, even a plastic tube fly that is taken and swallowed like a shrimp or worm. Do you not think that evidence that we know tha salmon can be specifically fished for and caught under various circumstances and that we do know some of the reasons why they take?

Do you not think that triggers, or "releases" as the scientists are so fond of referring to them, can be used by anglers to catch salmon?
 

charlieH

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When you consider various fishing methods, such as induced take discussd elsewhere, or large fly in Autumn to obtain a territorial response, even a plastic tube fly that is taken and swallowed like a shrimp or worm. Do you not think that evidence that we know tha salmon can be specifically fished for and caught under various circumstances and that we do know some of the reasons why they take?

We can hypothesise about feeding instinct, curiosity, aggression etc, but I really don't think we can ever claim to know.

If your fly looks like a mayfly, and behaves like a mayfly, and a trout is feeding on mayflies, and it takes your fly, I think we can say with confidence that it has mistaken the fly for a natural mayfly. But since I don't know what a Willie Gunn or a Blue Charm imitates, and the salmon isn't feeding on anything at all, I don't see how anyone can really claim to make a connection in the same way.

Also you may have experienced, as I have, fish taking the same fly in very different ways. For example, I remember two fish on a little Irish river one day; one came several yards across the surface to take the fly with a violent slash; the other took in a classic, gentle fashion. It might be tempting to call the first one a territorial response and the second a feeding instinct, but since they both took the same fly fished in the same way I really can't put my hand on heart and say that I was deliberately looking to provoke these very different responses.

There may sometimes be an element of what you describe - it's tempting to attribute the success of a big red fly at the back end of the season to aggression, for example. On the whole, though, I doubt we can really claim to know why a fish takes a fly.
 

RPS

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I prefer to take it step by step, taking note of any lessons proved along the way.

If I had a worm on a hook, a salmon swam toward it, took it in its mouth and then swallowed it, landing the fish and finding the hook down the gullet, I would take that as evidence of feeding. That same process happens time and again with various baits and fish. All the evidence points to a fish feeding. Scientists have taken salmon from the wild, even kelts, and got them to feed and produce eggs again, we humans know and can control many factors of the salmon's life, get them to do things by controlling their enviroment with factors such as oxygen/temperature/light. Even control the way they react. Scientists have trained fish to feed themselves, perform tasks to obtain feed, even to choose what kind of food they want.

When exactly the same tackle and tactics (bait or fly), used for trout and sea trout feeding in a river, is then used to catch salmon then I treat that as evidence that the way that the salmon took is not mysterious.

When scientists have conducted tests on various fish, containing very similar brains and body functions, and the results follow very similar patterns, I prefer to take note of them. We do know, from scientific research, that salmon and other fish that have stopped normal feeding, take in freshwater because of feeding habits derived from instincts passed down through generations of fish. We do know that salmon also “take” out of aggression.

We can’t always identify why a fish took in a particular way, but when fish in a certain lie only take certain flies fished in certain ways, then we can learn/identity something on a practical basis.

Triggers, or “releases” as the scientists call them, are known to anglers and have been known for centuries. One may be a flash of silver, a piece of red fibre or paint, even a shape or smell. Sometimes they work, other times they have no effect, but they are proved to work in the scientific laboratory and real world of angling across the world.
 

mickha

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Salmon will take something which appears to be alive into their mouths but do not feed in rivers and this has been proven scientifically & those who think they feed are mistaken and do not seem to grasp the necessary presentation technique if they are to catch one and especially catch one when other anglers are not successful in getting anything. It is a fact that salmon will on occasion seize a completely bare hook with not one hair of dressing and certainly not having any bead on it. This was spoken about in one of Waddington's salmon books where he said "it is well known that a salmon will take a completely bare hook". Where indeed have all these so called salmon fishing experts been if they are not aware of this important fact?

For many years it's not proved necessary to put dressing on any of my mackerel hooks & yet catch as many if not more than the other keen anglers in my boat so why I thought should salmon be any different.
A long time ago I caught a 20lb salmon with a completely bare no 4 treble bought from the post office at 9 am and caught this fish at 1 pm on a genuine take. The hook was in the back of the throat. The reason I cast a bare hook to it using the induced take technique was that it had taken the tail off the worm the previous cast. Since I was 22 years old I had Oliver Kite's Nymph Fishing Practice and was aware of his other writings where he could get the copper nymph to twist in the water by twisting the line and lifting during his induced take technique..
I firmly believe there is no mystery in this skill. Look at the translucence of a shrimp or a prawn. The human eye can hardly see it and the human hand cannot catch it but a salmon can and does catch what it 'thinks' it sees. A salmon's reactions as regard speed -off the mark are infinitely better than any human athletes that ever lived. Salmon and Sea trout can overtake and catch a lure if it feels inclined no matter how quickly the rod is brought up and the line pulled in.

I have not heard it called the French Technique but Henrik Mortensen on you tube uses it in video , Zpey the perfect cast. He fishes over what appears to be millionaires water but he uses this cast when as he says 'when other techniques do not work'. I would ask him why does he not tend to fish this cast predominantly ? Due to the waters he fishes his reply would probably be that he does not need to.
 
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MicklemusH

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We can hypothesise about feeding instinct, curiosity, aggression etc, but I really don't think we can ever claim to know.

If your fly looks like a mayfly, and behaves like a mayfly, and a trout is feeding on mayflies, and it takes your fly, I think we can say with confidence that it has mistaken the fly for a natural mayfly. But since I don't know what a Willie Gunn or a Blue Charm imitates, and the salmon isn't feeding on anything at all, I don't see how anyone can really claim to make a connection in the same way.

Also you may have experienced, as I have, fish taking the same fly in very different ways. For example, I remember two fish on a little Irish river one day; one came several yards across the surface to take the fly with a violent slash; the other took in a classic, gentle fashion. It might be tempting to call the first one a territorial response and the second a feeding instinct, but since they both took the same fly fished in the same way I really can't put my hand on heart and say that I was deliberately looking to provoke these very different responses.

There may sometimes be an element of what you describe - it's tempting to attribute the success of a big red fly at the back end of the season to aggression, for example. On the whole, though, I doubt we can really claim to know why a fish takes a fly.
Sorry it's such an old post but I do not wish to seem pompous or no -all in my reply although it may seem absolutely that is my intention but I feel a fisher with a vast experience such as Oglesby and his pal Falkus knew what to 'expect' before it happened and they gained that perception through as Oglesby said through the 'hard and bitter school of experience'.
When the ability to be able to catch both sea trout and salmon with a bare hook on a genuine take becomes a far too regular occurrence the fisher firstly does not believe the truth himself but if that fisher declines to believe what he has gained from his experience then that would be absolutely counter productive to his goal - catching fish with an artificial lure and especially a lure he ties himself and especially if it is a tying of his own design.
There has been and still is a lot of mumbo jumbo about what is needed to tie a very successful lure.
The pattern most of the time needs only to be minimal to seem alive.
What a salmon or a sea trout sees when the hook is moving at about 100 miles an hour is any ones' guess and guess is all we can do because to my knowledge no fish has ever given a satisfactory explanation to this phenomenon.

If a bare hook is embedded behind the hard pallet in the soft tissue of the throat of more than half a dozen or so salmon I firmly believe that fish meant to seize hold of that hook without exemption.

I am not bluffing or lying when I say that a Scotsman told me they are banging the worm but I can't hook one! I said nothing as he walked away from the little waterfall that was 'holding them up'
First cast a 17 1/2 lb salmon took a bare stewart tackle right in the throat. I though this was ridiculous but continued to build on the experience although now I hear from the Bailiff that casting a bare hook is now not allowed!
I would have the utmost confidence in a tube fly that had a bit of brown black and a touch of orange in it that fished at the correct height so that any fish could see it and appeared to 'confront it'. I would also like to think it behaved as a shrimp does when threatened. I would not be too bothered that the lure did not stick out like sore thumb but I would feel more hopeful that my lure seemed to blend in with the bed of the river. It seems to be well worth knowing that a fishes eyes are far more acute than ours in that they can see microscopic organisms even in low light conditions....
If a fisher has been a diver and dived in rivers their ability to catch a lure as per the above seems even more remarkable and utterly incredible but believe me they can and do.
The saying 'quick off the mark' is an understatement..... Sea trout and grilse are faster than a streak of lightening - at times.
 

MicklemusH

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Th date of my joining is incorrect because I have been in this forum for donkeys years. Just though it worth a mention........ I once wrote a controversial article in the letters of Trout and Salmon magazine when bailiffs rebuked and stopped a fisher in I believe Devon from using the Falkus flying treble fly which has a tiny treble behind the lure and has no dressing on that treble.
I wrote that article labelled Naked Steel and profusely suggested that the flying treble should never have dressing on it as that altered the sparse appearance of that lure. I also reminded the readers that it is in any case well known and publicised that fish will on occasion seize a completely bare hook and not all bare hooks are intended to foul hook.
Of course if one has salmon fished for long enough the subject of foul hooking is also well established and well known.
 

easker1

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the late AH Woods flies are very lightly dressed as he called them low water flies , almost Nymph like, easker1
 

aenoon

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the late AH Woods flies are very lightly dressed as he called them low water flies , almost Nymph like, easker1
Low water irons dressed sparsely are for that reason, low water.
Spring and autumn flies are heavier, and bigger, for same reason.
Its to get to, and fish at a depth, and speed we think encourages salmon to take.
I dont disagree with that universal logic, is gleaned over decades if not centuries of catching salmon.
However, I do know salmon will, if in the mood, take some crazy patterns, or baits, in strange situations.
Have caught hundreds of salmon on many different things, from size 16 drys down to 4 lob worms on size 2 hooks. The single criteria is the salmon wants to take!
We fish certain styles/methods because history suggests is best way, and it works, but other methods can sometimes work better!
Bert
 

taffy1

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Jim Teeny produced a thin & sparsley dressed fly for salmon, his Teeny Nymph. There's a Scandinavian fly, the Triangle Fly (or some such) that is just a few strands of squirrel tail attached to a treble. My best salmon to date was caught on 1 of these.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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I was always surprised by the number of times I would have a day's autumn salmon fishing and not get a touch, then go Czech nymphing for grayling and get 'pestered' by salmon taking a goldhead hear's ear! 😗

Col
 

petevicar

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I have fished for and caught a few salmon lying in shallow pools using a sort of nymphing technique.

In Iceland and Canada I have seen fish just lying in a pool where the water is obviously clear enough to see them. Swinging a fly in front of the fish achieved nothing. I then tried to dead drift the fly towards the fish. This, in many cases, caused no reaction as the fly was too far away.
With the correctly weighted fly, in most cases a small cone head franciscan get to the right depth and then you must try to drift the fly into the fishes face. On a number of occasions the fish has either just opened its mouth or turned it's head a few inches and taken the fly.
 

fruinfisher

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I’ve done that myself. I find that when the fly drifts down to where you think the fish is lying then twitch the fly away from them works best . An olive version can work well too without too much risk of spooking the fish . I’ve read that’s there’s some Scandinavian rivers considering banning the red Francis because of this , and should probably be used as a last option rather than a “ go-to” fly
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Is this not what is happening when Czech nymphing for grayling? The flies swing round on a short line - almost under the rod tip - and as they pass downstream, they lift upwards. That's when you get a lot of the takes... sometimes grayling... sometimes salmon...

I would ad that I tend to have my goldhead GRHE in the middle of a 3-fly rig, and that is where most of the salmon seem to go for, for whatever reason? :unsure:

Col
 
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