Early Season Tactics With LTS’s Man on Deeside, Mark Paterson
I’ve always been a bit hesitant to write articles on how to be successful in catching early spring fish but there are a few fundamental tactics which have served me well and might just help increase your chances!
I work for LTS fly-fishing and we have a large selection of all different types of rods, reels and lines for different situations.
I take a range of rods with me in the early days of the season and choose what I want to fish with, depending on the conditions. I will for sure have my 14.6 #10 LTS Explosive doing most of the work. I often prefer longer rods with deeper actions, not for distance but to give me control of my cast and to be able to mend my line more easily. Having control over the speed of your line and how fast your fly swims is extremely important for success.
There are many pools on the Dee and how you choose the correct angle of your cast on the river, will do a lot of the work for you. On these pools, I love nothing more than fishing with my LTS 12.6 #8 Explosive. I can’t see past this rod and it goes everywhere with me. Powerful enough to punch out a long line, accurate and capable of dealing with any size of fish. A tip that has served me well if you want to fish shorter rods in the early season is to fish with is to use triple density shooting heads. This allows for a great progressive sink rate and provides a great action for the fly. I team these up with coated running lines rather than flat running lines. This allows you to have a little more control when mending your line. If you prefer the thin flat running lines try holding your rod up for a second before making the mend. Making the mend is important to allow you to change and vary the speed of the fly and presentation.
If I am using heavy sunk lines in bigger water, the angle of the cast is really important. So instead of a squarer cast, I would be more likely to choose a 30 degree angle to allow the fly to fish immediately it hits the water.
Allow your fly to swim right into the bankside and don’t be too quick to just make another cast, let it hang there for a few seconds. I’m sure many of you have gone to make that cast and pulled the hook from a fish’s mouth. A rule of thumb for me is if you think it’s time to lift into another cast….leave it and hang the fly on “the dangle” and then make the cast.
Another good tip for bigger waters is to fish your double hook point upwards. This is because the fish will be more apt to take in the upper mouth in the softer part. The added bonus for this is that heavy sink tips and fishing deeper in heavy waters, your inverted double hook allows the hook to hit off obstacles without hanking up and losing your favourite and most productive fly.
Only cast within your ability and make sure everything lands straight and the fly is out front. Choosing the right angle to cast to is crucial. I want my fly to be swimming correctly as soon as it’s in the water. Incorrect angles might mean that your fly line has come halfway round the pool before it is swimming in the right manner.
I have three rods set up, firstly my 14’.6” LTS Explosive #10 – LTS 13.6 Across #8,9,10 & LTS 12.6 #8 Explosive. My lines will vary from a float with a fast or super-fast sink tip to a sink 1,2,3 for the deeper pools. Very rarely do we need to fish much deeper on the Dee. The beauty of fishing with the LTS Short Speedline in triple densities is the range and the Sink 1, 3 5 line that gives you that tapered and fine presentation.
Reel choice is also important. 2017 sees a great opportunity for our LTS range to hit the UK market. Our colour concept reels are now going to be complimented by our new Classic Thor and Odin reels. These reels offer a great traditional feel and superior drag that will fight any hard hitting Atlantic Salmon here in the UK, and throughout the world where.
I’m very particular to what flies I like to use. I’ll only use different weighted tube flies for the early part of the season and very rarely move away from a selection of black and yellows, perhaps with a hint of blue. I prefer lighter dressed flies with soft wings with very little flash. Far too many flies are over dressed and too gaudy for the Dee.
Always check your fly is swimming correctly, just because you like the look of the fly doesn’t mean it will swim well so test this in the water in front of you and make sure it’s not swimming at an angle that compromises the action of the fly. The Dee runs very clear in the spring months even when the river is higher and colour choice is also key. Matching the colours to that of the water and sticking to “traditional” tested colours such as yellows, oranges and black, will not disappoint. However, I have a ¼ of a century of experience on the Dee system as both a fisherman and a ghillie. One of the key things for fly choice for me is having a fly dressed sparsely so that the silhouette of the fly can be seen through the materials that form the main body of the fly. Heavy dressed flies for me are a “no-no”.
There is one thing to remember………….there are no hard and fast rules. The salmon chooses ultimately and the day I figure it out and “spoil” the mystery, is the day I stop fishing.