Top Tips Fishing King Salmon
It is not long now before the King Salmon season starts to kick in full swing on many of our King Salmon destinations around the world. With this in mind, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my tips swing flies for big Kings.
A big mistake made by many anglers fishing for King Salmon is they cast too far. King Salmon like to hold and run quite close to the bank and that’s not just the far bank. Consistently casting neat 40-foot casts will catch more fish than only getting the odd 80 foot casts right therefore longer casts are not always better.
Cast across and slightly downstream, make sure you read the water you are fishing and adjust the cast accordingly, If you’re fishing a broad, gradual gravel bar, the most effective presentation is directly opposite at 90 degrees and around 20 degrees downstream from perpendicular to the flow.
The second your cast lands put a big mend in, as you need the fly to get down quickly. A big upstream mend immediately after the fly lands will result in the best presentation. The best way to mend big is to use the whole fly rod, not just the tip.
More fly time in the water will equal more fish, this relates to the point above. Make sure you fish in a way that you are comfortable with so that your fly is swimming as much as possible. Do not tie yourself up with a difficult cast that results in tangles every third swing. Do not keep changing flies or tips every 5 minutes because King Salmon will be swimming past you and you need to make sure your fly is in the water when they do. I have seen many anglers playing with flies and tippets to only to miss a fresh group of Kings swimming by.
Another tip is to only mend your slack line. If you shoot all your line that’s off the reel on the cast and then make that big mend, you’ll be pulling the fly back towards you, rather than taking advantage of the beautiful long cast you just made. Stop your cast by holding back on the last 4 or 5 feet of the line of your reel so that when you mend you can let go of it so you only mend the slack, therefore, positioning the line and the fly properly and not pulling the fly back towards you.
Maintain a straight line to the fly, as Kings prefer a long, slow, steady swing. Normally this is best achieved by keeping your line as straight to the fly as possible. Keep making some big mends to keep the line straight, and then just let it naturally swing in at a slow pace.
Setting the Hook
Do not strip strike to quick. I understand this is a hard one as you are so hyped up as you have been planning for months, but try to relax and wait for that long pull. Kings are well known to swipe at your fly a few times before taking a firm grip and the over-keen angler will strike, lifting the rod and only proceed to pull the fly out of attack range of an aggressive King.
Set low, hard, and towards the bank as a weak lift of the rod tip will not set the hook properly. After you get the long pull, give a hard, quick strip strike downstream and toward the bank with the butt of your rod. Do not worry if your knots are all tied correctly you can not bust off on a strike like this.
Fighting Chinook Salmon
Kings are animals so fight them hard, these are big, strong fish, and if you are not working hard, believe me, they will be just resting. However, do not try to stop them particularly on the first couple of strong runs, let them run, but make them work for the line. If they’re headed downriver and you clamp down too hard too quick to try to halt the run you will break them off. You need to be consistently pulling hard and keep the fish moving by changing angles, this way you can be in control and get it over quickly for both yours and the fishes benefit. Playing them too light or not taking control has resulted in many King Salmon turning around and swimming downstream and once he has a good lead on you it will be game over. A simple rule of thumb, if you are not breathing hard and your arms feel like they are ready to fall off, you have not fought them hard enough.
When the fight is nearly over and the fish is ready to be landed, the easiest way to end the fight and the safest way is often to keep a tight line to the fish and slowly walk backwards until the fish is in shallow water. If you are not in a spot where you can walk back due to bank vegetation bring the fish into shallow water on a longish line below you, so your guide can either net or tail the fish.
Lastly, if you want that picture of a lifetime, make sure you keep the fish in shallow water and you get in with the fish. After all trophy shots with an angler kneeling low in the water makes for great pictures, plus it’s easier to also get those amazing release shots.
Lastly, I am a great believer in all my fishing, regardless of species or fishing methods, to make sure you keep the PMA (Positive mental attitude). We have all been there at times, however, anglers who get upset because the wind is in the wrong direction, upset about their casting as they are trying to cast too far, or that someone else is catching more than them so they must be doing something wrong, catch less fish. It’s a hard fact but it is true, by losing your PMA and taking yourself out of the fishing zone, because you have got so wound up that you have stopped mentally fishing, reading the water, thinking things through. Anglers, who can keep PMA catch far more fish, learn more and have a lot more fun actually doing it.
If you are looking for some King action, or even your first experience of fishing and battling with Kings we have some great Salmon fishing destinations.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or call me personally on 0044 (0)1603 407596