Why do Salmon take a Fly in Freshwater?

allanw

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Why do Salmon take a Fly in Freshwater?
I have come across many theories on this what are your thoughts / opinions

Some Ideas I have come across I am sure there are more
1) It is an aggressive territorial reaction to having there space invaded.
2) It is an instinctive reaction from memory of feeding in fresh water as a Parr.
3) It is an instinctive reaction from memory of feeding in Salt Water.
4) Salmon do feed in fresh water but have such strong digestive stomach juices that there is rarely any evidence they have been feeding.
 

hobble

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Who knows for certain mate, !!!!
How do they know to return to their place of birth, , ???

Many many theories,

no one can say they fully understand nature,
 

BrownieBasher

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Why do Salmon take a Fly in Freshwater?
I have come across many theories on this what are your thoughts / opinions

Some Ideas I have come across I am sure there are more
1) It is an aggressive territorial reaction to having there space invaded.
2) It is an instinctive reaction from memory of feeding in fresh water as a Parr.
3) It is an instinctive reaction from memory of feeding in Salt Water.
4) Salmon do feed in fresh water but have such strong digestive stomach juices that there is rarely any evidence they have been feeding.

If it was an instinct or aggressive reaction, more of them would do it! No one knows for sure and any theories are just that. i've taken salmon in gin clear water on a dead drifted size 18 black double. leaves float past the fish yet he'll take my tiny fly?? They take them so delicately as to not be aggressive.

I have no idea why they do it, I possibly err more toward the cat chasing a ball of fluff, for fun.
 

grey duster

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An interesting point made by an angling colleague in a conversation recently was that Salmon Parr often take when the fly starts to "swim" (or drag) at the end of a downstream drift whereas better brown trout take in the drag free element. As Malcolm Greenhalgh points out in his recent article in FF&FT to tempt salmon to take the fly needs to swim (ie don't upstream mend). I've also noticed that all the sea trout bar 1 (6 out of 7) I caught while fishing spiders for brown trout last season took as the fly started to drag (I left the drift go on too long).
This perhaps suggests that there is a different feeding behaviour between anadromous fish and resident brownies ???? Is there something in this observation perhaps ?
GD
 

BrownieBasher

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An interesting point made by an angling colleague in a conversation recently was that Salmon Parr often take when the fly starts to "swim" (or drag) at the end of a downstream drift whereas better brown trout take in the drag free element. As Malcolm Greenhalgh points out in his recent article in FF&FT to tempt salmon to take the fly needs to swim (ie don't upstream mend). I've also noticed that all the sea trout bar 1 (6 out of 7) I caught while fishing spiders for brown trout last season took as the fly started to drag (I left the drift go on too long).
This perhaps suggests that there is a different feeding behaviour between anadromous fish and resident brownies ???? Is there something in this observation perhaps ?
GD


Hi GD, that's what my theory was, that the salmon wouldnt take a fly unless it behaved differently to all the other detritus in a river, but that was soundly blown out of the water this year when a fish took a small fly on a dead drift. i watched him come out of his lie, and follow the fly follow, follow, follow downstream before plucking it in his neb and returning to his lie. (well, he would have if i hadnt lifted!) Also, ive had fish take a dead drifted heavy tube? maybe it looks dead drifted but the fish detects a bit of behaviour in the fly nonetheless.?
 

allanw

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Yes I have come across both situations in the two previous posts, Salmon taking very delicately when I have set out to fish for salmon and sea trout taking when the presentation for Brown trout has not been too cleaver. I have also found that when I have hooked a Salmon Czech nymphing my arm has almost been ripped out of my shoulder although this may be down to the fact that I have been on a very short line
 

grey duster

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Hi GD, that's what my theory was, that the salmon wouldnt take a fly unless it behaved differently to all the other detritus in a river, but that was soundly blown out of the water this year when a fish took a small fly on a dead drift. i watched him come out of his lie, and follow the fly follow, follow, follow downstream before plucking it in his neb and returning to his lie. (well, he would have if i hadnt lifted!) Also, ive had fish take a dead drifted heavy tube? maybe it looks dead drifted but the fish detects a bit of behaviour in the fly nonetheless.?

The fun thing about plants and animals is the degree of variation around the mean! I took 1 out of 7 sea trout on a dead drift. Doesn't invalidate your theory as a general rule or suggest that Malcolm G is wrong when he advises not to put upstream mends in ( a flaw that was spotted in my fising at 100 yards by Mark Bowler last November and for which I was soundly admonished)
GD
 

maharg

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Up to my eyes in it!!!!
To answer your original question, they generally dont!
If it was the norm we would catch loads more. It is not normal for a salmon to take our offerings, but I am glad the odd one does:D
 

speycaster

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most of my fish [kelts not included] have taken when the fly is on the [dangle]
i think it is the unusual behaviour of the fly when it is being held back ie causing an unatural movement while not being allowed to flow free with the current, i very rarley use a upstream mend prefering to change the weight of my line to get the fly down to the prefered depth allowing the fly to swim more naturally with the current works for me
 

RPS

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You will get closer to the answer if you ask why a salmon does not take in freshwater.
 

guest21

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I think that until a salmon writes the definitive book we'll all keep guessing ... and enjoying the speculation in the meantime.
 

RPS

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We know they take in fresh water, but for the majority of the time they do not take. Most salmon are not caught by anyone, and this is despite tried and tested techniques by generations of experienced anglers using successful tackle combinations. Therefore isn't the more interesting question why they don't take?

Presentation being wrong?
Technique being wrong?
Fly/lure being wrong?

What is wrong, and what is right? The salmon doesn't know what is wrong or right, doesn't often even conceive that something wishes to prey upon it (ie catch it).
 

IrishFloatTube

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I can not see that that line of enquiry leads anywhere productive.

It is more productive to first look at what type of salmon take.
Best: Fresh from the sea
Next best:Freshly run into the pool from a lower pool
Next best after that: a resident fish that has moved into a shallow "travelling" lie and is active to run if water permits
And after that: resident fish that has been stirred up in increased wakefulness (by fly, lure or other fish competing for the lie without becoming aware of the presence of a person nearby
Observation: Fish that have just run upstream, or are about to run are best, fish that are active are next best. The key word is activity.

Now look at what they take:
The best: anything that looks shiny or alive in many sizes
as we move down the list the attractive fly/lure/bait changes from large to small, and from artificial caricature of real to actual real tasting and smelling bait

Hypothesis: they learn to curb their initial free feeding/taking urge developed for fast growth at sea, for self preservation's sake, and begin to learn discrimination in what they touch, they apply learning and take fewer, smaller, and more realistic food items as time passes. And if they move to a new environment (new pool) they lose some (but not all) of the lessons and must relearn them.
Many animals when trained, lose some of the training/learning when taken to a new location, including people. So that is to be expected.

Conclusion: we catch the most active ones with a lower self preservation potential, the injured or the greedy, or the stupid, or the fidgety or the playful and innocent and curious.
Just like every other predator (lions, wolves, venus fly trap) catches that very kind of prey selected out from the healthy strong mass of prey available.
It's not surprising, it's to be expected.
 
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fishmadman

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In a few rivers the Atlantic Salmon will feed

In a few rivers you will find salmon that actually feed regularly on insects on the surface such as moth and caddis, read more here The surface feeder

Fishmadman
 
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RPS

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In a few rivers will you find salmon that actually feed on insects on the surface such as moth and caddis, read more here The surface feeder

But in the majority of the salmon rivers will the salmon not feed, but still you can have the come to your dry fly or riffling hitch in the surface. This might have something to do with their instinct from when they was a smolt.

fishmadman

Could you tell me the name of these rivers, in fact any river, where Atlantic Salmon will not eat a worm, shrimp etc?
 
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