This was my first time fishing for salmon on the fly. We set up at the Mamquam River near Squamish, BC. The pinks were running. It was late Aug. The weather was hot and sunny but the river was running fast and muddy. We started with big casts letting the flies swing almost to shore before picking up and casting again. As the water was so fast we had up to 2-3 split shots to get down. One of us was using a type 6 and the other a floating line but both needed the extra weight. Took a bit to really get in to the fish but when we found them they were only about 20 ft from shore. They were generally lying in a seam, we were on the inside of a corner and there was a ledge about 15-20’ out where the water suddenly got deeper and a little faster. Right on that seam was where they were lying (except for a select few who darn near swam right over our boot tops 3’ from shore).Soon we forsook the big casts and just went to a roll cast.
My companion had good success swinging the fly, letting it reach full tension in the line and making a big swing into shore. The guy up the beach was using a similar swing using an indicator to watch for strikes. I had the best success casting quartered upstream, mending upstream once or twice and letting the fly drift naturally. I used the end of the fly line as an indicator, setting the hook firmly but not too hard as soon as the tip seemed to do something not quite right. Sometimes it just stopped drifting with the rest of the line, sometimes it just sank a little too quick.
The strikes were anything but exciting. In fact I think I pulled the fly out of a lot of fish mouths early in the day thinking I had a snag. With a bit of experience I set the hook, then held tension on the line for 15 or 20 seconds. Usually my “snag” would wait, wait, then give a few head shakes. The pink salmon didn’t take huge runs or make spectacular jumps. Usually they’d just get in the current and bury their heads like a bull dog. I was glad at that point that my mentor suggested I bring my 8 wt (insert part number). These pinks were mostly males and BIG for pinks. We rarely caught anything under 5 pounds and most were in the 7-8 lb. range. We each landed 6-10 pinks (all but one catch and release) and probably lost as many. This was my first time fishing salmon on the fly and it was a great day.
I’ll always be a trout guy first but I think I’m now a salmon convert as well! Overall it was a great day. We brought my Jeff’s family and their family friends and though not all were fly fishing everyone got into at least one fish. I loved seeing kids hook fish, especially the ones that were new to fishing.As far as gear I was using a Fenwick HMX 8 wt 9’ fly rod with floating line, one to three split shots and I generally stuck entirely to a bright pink Crazy Charlie fly. The other fly fisher, Tom, was also using a Crazy Charlie, with a type 6 sinking line but he was using a little lighter rod, a 9’ 6 wt. Dragonfly fly rod.Stay tuned for the tying recipe for the Crazy Charlie, and gear reviews of the Fenwick HMX and the Dragonfly fly rod. Have fly fishing stories of your own? We’d love to hear from you here, especially if you want to share what gear and flies were working for you.