As we all know, when that fly line initially tightens, you have no idea of how big the salmon is going to be at the other end. If you are lucky enough to hook a salmon of a life time during your salmon fishing holiday in Scotland, you want to make sure that you do everything in your power to land the fish. Of course, landing a salmon is not an exact science and the sheer unpredictability of the fight is what us salmon anglers crave. Often, it is out of our hands if the fish is lost. Much does depend, on how aggressively the fish initially takes the fly and then how well it is hooked. Ideally, with any take you want the fish to be hooked in the scissors. Normally when a fly is swinging around in the current the fish will come up, take the fly, and then turn back towards it’s lie. It is at this point that the fish becomes hooked in the side of the mouth. A lot of factors are out with our control when playing a salmon but there are a few things that you can do that will tilt the odds in your favour of landing that big Scottish salmon.
Firstly, if you are wading, you want to carefully get out of the water as soon as possible. It is much easier to move on land than when you are in the water. If the fish decides to take a big long run, then it is easier to follow the fish when on the river bank as opposed to being in the water.
It is also very important to keep your rod tip well up and maintain adequate tension on the line. Holding your rod well up can also help keep the hook in position. If possible, you want to minimise the fish making any sudden changes in direction during the fight as this could go on to loosen that hook hold.
Finally, you want to make sure that the drag on your reel is correctly set and this can be done before you even wet a line. There should be no need to adjust the drag whilst playing the fish as this can often lead to disaster. The only time usually the drag needs to be adjusted is if you are trying to stop a fish from leaving a pool and even then, altering the drag is a last resort.
As salmon anglers, we all want to catch that fish of life time. Often, we have little control of what a fish does during the initial stages of a fight. However, by following a few basic principles during the fight, you can certainly make it more likely that you will land that big Scottish monster!