In this article, we will be covering some of the best salmon flies to use throughout the season. By breaking down the season into 3 segments, we discuss what flies you should have in your box and how to fish them effectively.

Best Salmon Flies For Spring

During the springtime, traditionally the waters are big due to the influx of rain we see early on in the season and the snowmelt from the back end of the Winter. The water at this time of year is cold and a lot of the time we still see snow on the ground.

Any Spring salmon making their way into the river are doing so slowly, the cold water makes them lethargic. During this time, Salmon will be stopping at wee spots to conserve energy on migrating upstream. So to intercept them effectively, we need to present a fly down deep. Fly wise, you want to look at copper tube patterns around about the 1-1.5inch size. The smaller profile will allow us to present a fly down quickly and in front of a fish and increase your chances of catching.

Our go-to fly choices for Spring are:

When fishing tube flies, ensure you use a heavy mono leader as this will help turn over the flies more effectively. Mono leaders from 18-25lb are more than ample for the job, especially when dealing with bigger water. Rigging your tube flies with an appropriately sized double hook will not only help with fly presentation but it will also increase hook up ratio.

Best Salmon Flies For Summer

When we move into the Summer months, the water levels start to become lower and the water temperatures start to rise. In these conditions, salmon start to become more active, fish are more inclined to start moving through the water column, swimming and up and down and covering various depths. Since the water is warmer, the fish are not using as much energy so they’re quite willing to move around a lot more.

So with this in mind, it’s worth moving across to flies, with either a single, double or even a treble arrangement (if allowed). Fly size, this will vary depending on water depth and water clarity. We will be looking at the following hook sizes; 6 through to sizes 12-14.

You can still use tubes during the summer months, it’s looking at micro tubes during low water conditions.

A good go-to technique during the summer months is implementing a sunray shadow fly. If there are fish present in the pool in front of you and they are not completely switched on, salmon fly anglers will turn to the sunray shadow. Designed by a gentleman called Donnie Brooks, the fly was designed to entice the take by annoying the salmon, by casting square, downstream belly, moving the fly as quickly as you possibly can to try and provoke a reaction strike.

What makes the Sunray Shadow very unique, is its baitfish profile. The pattern is designed to imitate prey fish that salmon would have hunted and gorged on during their time at sea.

Our go-to fly choices for Summer are:

When fishing summer patterns, you can scale down your mono leader to 10 – 15lb as this will help turn over the lighter flies more effectively and will provide better presentation in the lower water conditions.

Best Salmon Flies For Autumn/Back End

Moving into the backend of the season, we start seeing lower light levels, a drop in water temperature and higher waters. The salmon in the river are starting to make that transformation from their nice silver spring attire to their dark red attire.

The change in light levels and water temperature are the triggers required to put salmon into spawning mode. Fish change colour during this process, the male fish produce a long extended bottom jaw known as a kype. This, in essence, is a weapon that allows the male fish to protect and bully-off other competing males. This is when salmon become super aggressive as they become very protective over their nest is also known as a ‘red’. The natural instinct of a salmon is to strike or attack any alien object that might pose a threat to that – making autumnal salmon very territorial.

So during the back end of the salmon season, we think the speed and profile of the fly are far more important than other variables like the fly colour.

By starting with a larger profile fly worked quickly is usually a good starting point. We can then look at downsizing the fly if the larger profile flies are not provoking a bite.

Our go-to fly choices for Autumn are:

When fishing Autumn patterns, ensure you use a heavy mono leader as this will help turn over the flies more effectively. Mono leaders from 18-25lb are more than ample for the job, especially when dealing with bigger water.

TOP TIP: If you know salmon are located in a certain pool but they are not reacting to your fly. Try and change the profile of the fly. For example: If you’re using a 1 inch Willie Gunn, it’s tied with bucktail which provides quite a slim profile. Change the fly to a big winged fly like a temple dog for example. This bigger hair wing will provide a larger profile and maybe the trigger required to provoke a bite.

Conclusion

Hopefully, after reading this article, it will provide you with a template to work from. The aforementioned flies have accounted for a lot of fish over the years. The flies for this piece have been chosen by knowledgable anglers within our team and are derived from years of data that shows the popular/trending flies for various seasons throughout the year.