Salmon Fishing Fly Rods - Tackle Tips

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Single handers Vs Double Handers


Rod size and AFTM
Double handers

A double handed rod offers a distinct advantage if you are fishing many Scottish waters. Many of our rivers are bordered by trees and it is simply not possible to overhead cast. This is why the "Spey" cast was invented. With this cast all the work is done in front of you.

A single hander can be useful for grilse fishing and for fishing on the smaller rivers and streams, but ideally even here it should be a relatively long rod (10'+) to allow for roll casts. All rods should have sufficient power in the butt section to handle a 10lb salmon. An 8' brook rod should be left at home!

              Rod size and AFTM
                  Single handers
Most European single handed reservoir rods these days are 9' 6" and AFTM 6/8 and at a push such a trout rod can be used for grilse. But if you want a rod for the job it really needs to be 10-12'. Above 12' and you start losing power.

                  Buying a rod
Unless you are already familiar with a rod the advice is try it before you buy it. Many tackle shops today have a testing area and even if you don't but it from them - have a go.

You will often see people in shops pressing a rod against a roof - so say to see what the test curve is like. No doubt a few rods get broken that way and a few sales made. Here is a better way:

Assemble the rod and hold it horizontally (preferably outside!).
Wiggle the rod up and down quickly.

The rings on the rod will become a blur - except for one.

This is the pivot point.

The closer is is to the butt the more through action the rod will have. On the other hand if the pivot point is close to the tip then you have a tip action rod in you hands.

                  Buying from the States
Rods (and much fishing tackle) is much cheaper in the US. Most rods cost in Dollars what we pay in Sterling. So check out some of the on-line shops. Just be aware of tax (?), shipping, packaging and insurance.


Double handers all tend to have through action to make Spey casting possible. A real tip action double hander is good for nothing but trolling!

In order of importance the rod size will depend on:

  • How large you are.

  • The size of the water to be covered.

  • The sort of line (sunk/floating)

  • The wind conditions.

  • How experienced you are.

There is no point handing an 18 foot double handed rod to a child, they wont be able to pick it up! Most ladies find a 15 footer about the most they can handle comfortably. Beyond 16 feet the strain starts to show after a morning.

Bigger double handed rods can throw a longer line. So if you are fishing big waters go for a big rod - 15/16'+.

Sunk line fishing usually takes place in winter and spring when the water is cold. You need a big rod to lift the sunk line out of the water. - 15/16'+. Most salmon rods are weighted between AFTM 9-12. 9/10 are usually used for floating line work while 11/12's are used for sunk lines.

Summer fishing with floating lines relies a little more on presentation and a rod of more that 16' is about as big as you are likely to need.

The AFTM number is less useful for salmon lines since it only measures the weight of the first 10 yards and you will be mobilizing much more line than that .. so take advice when buying the rod.

With a sunk line part of the line will inevitably still be in the water when you make your cast so for the same rod my sunk lines tend to be of a lower AFTM than my floating lines.

If its really windy apart from switching to a safer cast (e.g. upstream wind from casting from the left bank use a single Spey) you might also consider using a sunk line and a longer rod. A sunk line tends to have a lower diameter and flaps about less in a wind.
If you are just learning keep within the 14-16 foot range.




Enough technicality - what's the best all rounder?
Answer a 15-16' AFTM 10.


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