UK anglers are lucky to have some of the best salmon fly fishing in the world on our doorstep, so it’s a great way to explore a new location, or target a different species on your usual beat.
But you’ll need to adapt your technique (and your kit) to fish salmon on the fly. So if you’re planning a salmon fly fishing trip in the UK, here’s everything you need to know.
Salmon fly fishing setup
Fishing for salmon on the fly requires a different setup to trout fly fishing. You’ll probably need to update your gear and/or supplement your tackle box with some salmon-specific items if you don’t already have them.
Here’s what you need for a successful salmon fly fishing trip:
- Fly rod — a long double-handed rod (around 112-15 feet) is suitable for salmon fly fishing, depending on the size of the lake or river. Smaller single-handed rods can sometimes be used on smaller rivers or low water levels. Many rods in our Clearwater range are designed for salmon fishing, including this Clearwater 14' 9-weight two-handed fly rod.
- Fly reel — match your fly reel to the line weight of your fly rod. Make sure your reel has a drag system that can handle the strength of salmon.
- Fly line — make sure your fly line matches the weight of your rod and reel.
- Leader and tippet — this salmon poly leader is a good option for salmon fishing, as it helps you get your fly down in the water column.
- Fly — the most effective salmon flies are often large and colourful, depending on the time of year and the water level. But it’s a good idea to have a variety of patterns and sizes on hand to try. Ask your ghillie which flies they’ve had success with on your chosen beat.
- Net — use a quality fly fishing net to practise safe catch and release when fishing for salmon.
You’ll also need the right clothing for salmon fly fishing:
- Waders — some beats may be fished off the bank, but most require some wading. For this, waders are a must. Learn how to find the right fly fishing waders
- Wading boots — a pair of quality wading boots will keep your feet dry and comfortable, provide ankle protection, and give you grip on slippery stones.
- Polarised sunglasses — make it easier to spot fish in the water, especially in sunny environments.
You’ll find all the salmon fly fishing equipment you need in the Orvis store.
Best UK locations for salmon fly fishing
Salmon can be found in plenty of locations all over the UK, but some spots are well-known for their lucrative salmon fishing. Here are four of the best places to fish salmon in the UK.
1. River Tyne, Northumberland
Many fishing enthusiasts regard the Tyne as a prime salmon fly fishing destination. As well as an abundance of salmon and sea trout from summer through to autumn, you’ll get very reasonable fishing fees on the Tyne. The Tyne River Trust offers angling passports for just £8 a day.
2. River Wye, Wales
According to Simon Evans from the Wye and Usk Foundation, the Wye is the best salmon fishing destination in England and Wales:
“Statistically, the Wye is the best place for spring salmon in March and April in both England and Wales. Wye springers are magnificent by anybody’s standards; 20-pounders abound and 30s are always a possibility.”
Sizeable salmon aren’t the only draw. The Wye runs through the Brecon Beacons, offering stunning mountainous countryside views for miles. Salmon fishing is best from late spring onwards.
3. River Tay, Scotland
The Tay is Scotland’s largest salmon river. It’s also one of the best places to catch salmon in winter, with populations arriving as early as January. Known for its impressive salmon runs, the Tay offers a diverse range of fishing experiences, from shallow wading to boat fly fishing.
As one of the wider rivers, this is also a great location to test and perfect your Spey cast technique.
4. River Test, Hampshire
Although better known for its trout populations, the Test is a great place to fish salmon on the fly. This crystal clear chalkstream has prolific mayfly hatches year-on-year, making it both a challenging and rewarding Hampshire fly fishing experience. Salmon are most often found from spring onwards.
If you want to brush up on your technique, you’ll also find Orvis’s fly fishing schools on the Test and nearby Itchen.
When to fish for salmon
Now you’ve got the right gear and have a great salmon fly fishing destination in mind, you need to know when to go to get the best results.
Salmon enter Scottish rivers early in the year, and their numbers flourish as the weather gets warmer. In England and Wales, you’re more likely to see salmon in spring and summer.
If you’re just starting out, you may have more success in these warmer months as salmon populations grow. The longer evenings also offer more time to test the waters and try out your technique.
Get everything you need for salmon fly fishing in the UK
Orvis supplies quality trout and salmon fly fishing gear to anglers across the UK. We cater for advanced anglers and fly fishing beginners alike. Get everything you need for your next UK salmon fly fishing trip in the Orvis store.