The Importance Of Salmon Fishing Fly Reels & Lines

Four fishing rods on the back of a car.

Salmon Fly Reels

The reel is essentially a capacitance vessel. It holds the line and makes it available when starting to cast and yields it to a fish during play. There is, therefore, often more aesthetic than functional appeal when it comes to selecting a Salmon fly reel. Having said this, several elements are important, in our opinion, in the selection of a Salmon reel.

Firstly, the reel must be able to hold a full length of appropriate weight fly line and backing without becoming tight against the rim. Not much can go wrong with a reel, but if it jams on a Salmon, you have lost your fish.

Secondly, a quality ratchet is essential not only for aesthetic feel but for controlled release of line as a fish takes the fly. We believe in fishing “off the reel”, and a smooth yield of line at the take is ideal.

Thirdly, one must feel “in touch” when playing a Salmon off the reel. A disc drag reel is very attractive in this respect; fly line will be given out easily but steadily retrieved during play according to the Salmon’s demands. One always feels much more “in touch” with a fish when played off a disc drag reel.

Finally, a large arbor reel has a tremendous line capacity, has a low start up inertia when a fish pulls and yet has fast line retrieval similar to a multiplier, but without the weight.

There are many reels on the market to choose from. Go out and handle them in the store or preferably on the riverbank and decide according to your pocket.

Salmon Fly Lines

A careful choice of fly line type is essential when considering the depth at which a salmon fly must be presented. Sinking lines are chosen according to the sink rate that is specified by the manufacturer. In warm water, we fish a fly close to the surface on a floating line. In cold water, we fish a fly slow and deep, either on a sinking line or a sinking tip line. Please bear in mind, however, that the size and weight of the fly, type of leader and speed of flow will ultimately affect the depth at which your fly fishes.

There are very many lines to choose from. Here are some specific notes of interest.

In recent years, fly line technology has advanced rapidly, and the introduction of “Spey casting” fly lines have been developed and replaced the traditional double tapered line. The Spey casting fly lines have an extra length of the forward belly, which allows easier loading of the rod, but also with better shooting capacity from a thinner running line.

Even more recently, the influence of the Scandinavian shooting head lines has become ever more popular in Scotland. The shooting headlines come with a shorter and thicker belly with a length of the shooting line. The shooting head fly line offers more effortless casting and greater distance.

A sink tip line is attractive in that one can follow the speed of traverse more quickly than with a slow sinker (or intermediate). However, the density of the sinking tip can make casting trickier and encourages splash as it meets the water. An intermediate or slow sinker fishes the fly at a similar depth but is easier to deliver, having a more uniform density. These sinking lines, however, have to be lifted or rolled to the surface before they can be taken into a speycast and delivered across the water.

A variety of interchangeable sink tip lines are now available. These have a stiff loop-to-loop connection that does not allow hinging and loss of control of the tip. A fast or slow sinking tip can be fished on a floating line, and yet the fly can be presented deeper for cold water salmon fishing. Interchangeable sink tips can be easily changed quickly, and bulky spare spools become redundant. The running or shooting line allows long casts to be delivered with ease.

We have particularly been impressed with the Rio Range of Speycasting and Shooting Head fly lines developed by Jim Vincent.

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