Rods & lines
Depending upon the conditions and time of year, different tactical approaches will be required for catching salmon. In very general terms, a 15' rod is regarded as standard all year round along with a stout salmon reel.
The opinions on fishing tactics are wide and far-reaching. A 'potted guide' is set out below:-
- In the spring when the water and air temperatures are cool, fish are less inclined to travel great distances to intercept a fly. To this end, every attempt is made to fish 'slow and deep'. In order to do this, sunk lines such as Wetcel 2 and 4 are used and occasionally intermediate lines with a sink tip.
- As the water warms, consistently reaching temperatures over 50°F so the tactics are to fish higher in the water and slightly faster than before. Intermediate, sink tip and floating lines are then employed.
- Throughout the summer and into the early autumn most people will fish the fly and bait high and fast in the water. Fish will respond by coming some distance to intercept a lure in quite an aggressive manner.
- As the water cools into October and November, we return to cold water tactics by presenting the fly deep and slow to the salmon.
- Nylon leaders ranging in strength from 10lbs to 20lbs should always be carried in the Tweed fisher's armoury.
Generations have tried and tested countless flies over the years, some more effectively than others! What is arguably more important than pattern and colour, is the size of the fly employed and the depth and speed at which it is fished. Do consult local tackle shops and ghillies - they are best placed to advise you on what is working well for the conditions.
The following are generally regarded as a good starting point for fishing on Tweed: Ally's Shrimp/Cascade, Stoat's Tail, General Practitioner, Tosh, Hairy Mary, Thunder and Lightning, Willie Gunn, Frances (of all colours), Pot Bellied Pig. A range of flies from size 6 to 16 should feature in the fisher's bag along with bigger Waddingtons for the cold water and some tubes in 1/4" to 3".
Flying Cs, Mepps, Devons, Rapala, Spoon and Toby are all popular but be aware that on Tweed only one set of double or treble hooks per lure is allowed.
On many beats there will be a mixture of bank and boat fishing. The use of chest waders is recommended and most rods tend to wear them in the boat too.
Most beats will either insist upon or recommend the use of lifejackets, and some will ask guests to sign a disclaimer if they opt not to wear one. Most beats will provide lifejackets but it is best to check before arrival.
Instruction & Guides
Informal Instruction from Ghillies
Most ghillies are usually prepared to offer a degree of informal instruction to rods. The effectiveness of this tuition will obviously depend on whether the ghillie is available for your sole use and if he is a willing and helpful teacher! You may wish to check this in advance.
Formal Instruction from Qualified AAPGAI or GAIA instructors
There are a number of renowned local instructors who offer instruction either on their own water or on the beat you have booked. If you opt for the latter, it is extremely important to check that the resident ghillie is happy with this arrangement. We can fully recommend Eoin Fairgrieve who is a fully qualified member of AAPGAI and specialises in double and single handed casting tuition for novices looking to learn the basics right through to expert fly fishers looking to sharpen-up their technique. For details of other instructors in your area, please refer to AAPGAI (Advanced Association of Professional Game Angling Instructors) or GAIA (Game Angling Instructors Association).
There are local qualified guides who will usually join you (or your party) for the day on the beat you have booked to provide you with dedicated advice and tuition throughout the day. As with third party instructors, it is extremely important to check, where appropriate, that the resident ghillie is happy with this arrangement. Please refer to FishTweed for details.