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Salmon Fishing Abroad

By Allan Shephard AAPGAI

Surely salmon fishing abroad is the same as in the UK? To a certain extent this is correct although you would be advised to consider a few points before packing.
Depending on where you are travelling to you may need to either upgrade your gear to suit much larger fish or locally successful techniques.
The rods you use at home will probably be fine but I would always take spares if I am travelling. You could be many miles from the nearest tackle shop if you have an accident! Rods are more likely to break if you factor in air travel and boats no matter how careful you are.
This is one item of tackle you may need to upgrade for use on rivers in Norway or Northern Russia where there is a chance of hooking a really big salmon. There is no doubt that a reel with a smooth powerful drag system is going to put the odds of landing a once in a lifetime fish in your favour. Playing fish on a heavy drag setting is more likely to keep them in the pool you hook them in, as a general principle. Also make sure the backing is carefully loaded on to the spool – fish can be lost if the backing beds in on itself or a loose loop forms and catches on the reel. Both these problems are caused by not winding backing on the spool tightly enough. If possible use a line winding machine to load the reel – you can then evenly wind the backing whilst maintaining a steady pressure. Check the connection carefully between backing and fly line – it needs to be really strong and flow through the guides easily. Suggested knots are the Bimini twist – this will give a strong loop or the Albright knot which can be tied securely onto a loop in the end of the fly line.  
Fly lines

  • One golden rule that has helped me on many occasions is always to carry a very fast sinking line when travelling. No matter what you are told about suitable lines to take there will be an occasion where the fast sinker will save the day sooner or later.
  • Spare lines are also very useful – a big fish can drag the line around rocks and damage the coating - always carry spares.
  • Make sure the lines you have are suited to the distances you need to cast – find this out in advance of your trip. Also that they are suitable for casting the size and weight of flies you will be using? Big Scandinavian style flies do not cast well on spey lines with light delicate tips.
  • You may find that shooting-heads will work well for you.

On known big fish rivers it is sensible to use leaders of at least 25lbs breaking strain. Modern fluorocarbon is very strong for its diameter so does not look out of place even with relatively small flies. For larger flies 30lb B/S is standard. Seaguar Fluorocarbon is tried and trusted. One of my friends on a recent trip to Norway played a huge 45-50lb salmon for some while only to have the leader snap sometime into the fight. He was using 30lb fluoro!
It is well worth doing some wider research when it comes to stocking your fly box for a trip. Remember the most productive fly pattern and size will change with the water height. Water that fished well with sunray shadows one summer may be lower when you return the following year and an alternative tactic required - in this case the magic technique was a red francis fly fished very deep as fish were holed up in deep pools.

  • Always prepare for extremes of weather – it always seems to be hotter, colder, wetter, drier, windier, calmer than it should be when I go anywhere!
  • You will need your waders and wading jacket to be waterproof! – part of my pre trip prep is making sure this is the case. Leave sufficient time for the necessary repairs to be sorted out. Also take some basic repair items eg aquasure glue and patches.
  • Take the correct under garments to match the conditions you will encounter – always build your clothing up in layers starting with a base layer next to your skin that will wick moisture away from your skin. Above this layers of fleece can be added or subtracted to suit conditions. The outer shell will be your waders and wading jacket.

Good quality sunglasses are essential both to protect your eyes from flies and UV light and to make sure you maintain concentration after staring at the water all day. I would take two pairs – one for bright conditions and one for cloudy conditions.
A purpose designed rod case eg Sportube will ensure your rods are properly protected when you fly. Seeing your rods in damaged packaging at baggage reclaim is no fun at all.
Take a small rucksack as a day bag and as your hand luggage.
To wade safely you must have –

  • A lifejacket
  • A wading staff
  • A wading belt

Also take insect repellent, a head-net and possibly anti-histamine tablets as appropriate. Unfortunately some of the best times to fish coincide with biting insects being at their most active.

I hope this will help in your preparation – please contact any of our stores for more information.