Words & Images by Alesso Falorni.
Thinking Salmon for Trout – The Ultralight Swing System. I have been addicted to salmon fishing since 2001. Sadly, I live in Italy, a country where this magnificent fish is not indigenous. Like many of you, I suspect, my fishing for salmon is consequently limited to three or four precious weeks of the year and most of my fly fishing is carried out targeting other species.
My discovery of the “ultralight swinging” way of fishing for salmon proved to be very useful while targeting some of the difficult trout that live in my local rivers. Indeed, since i started ‘salmon fishing for trout’ my tally of big, shy trout has increased dramatically. After learning how to fish for salmon, it seemed a natural extension to try the classic downstream and across swing so often associated with fishing for Salmo Salar for Salmo Trutta! Initially, I used a standard trout set-up, employing standard floating WF lines and therein I began to discover some great fishing but also some limitations. The floating line presented the flies very close to the surface and I found myself on regular occasions wanting to fish deeper. This was particularly the case with our “zebra” trout, a notoriously shy species that spend most of their time feeding on nymphs among the rocks and stones on the bottom of the river. These fish are very reluctant to ‘rise’ to the fly and i needed to find a way of getting my flies down into the feeding zone.
The initial solution was to use 20 grams shooting heads matched to a light 12’6” double hand Guideline LeCie. I didn’t want to ‘over-rod’ for trout fishing and the #6/7 was my rod of choice. It was a great combination but one that tended to excel in winter during in high water levels. On the lower stretches of our water, where bankside bushes make overhead casting almost impossible, it was the supreme combination during the colder months but the set-up lacked the versatility I required to fish in lower, clear water and where overhead casting might be possible. Delicate presentation was also an issue and I resolved to find a more versatile set-up to suit lower water conditions.
Enter the LPXE Switch 11’ #6/7. I used the rod with a DDC Connect line or Triple D cut back to weigh just 18 grams – a beautifully versatile set-up that excels in delivering delicate, accurate presentation. Nonetheless, in really low water, even this set-up lacked the finesse to present a small size 14 classic wet fly to a spooky fish.
Finally, after spending quite some time refining my approach, I came to the conclusion that shooting heads fished on a light single hand rod was where I needed to be. However, finding the right lines to use with my favourite class 3,4 and 5 single hand rods was now the key to what I was sure would be the optimum set-up for spooky fish in low water.
One solution to the problem is to take a traditional WF line that is two or three line weights up from the rating of the rod and cut it back to create a shooting head. Short Skagit lines also work well but instead of using the heavy tips that these lines are supplied with, the addition of a 10’ trout polyleader gives the required delicacy and balance with the ultralight rod.
Using these lines in combination with Compline as a shooting line has enabled me to present flies delicately and yet also fish them deep and slow, just the way the trout often like it. Casting square greatly speeds the fly up and covers those situations encountered on the days when the fish like to chase a fly that is moving at speed. The end result of my trails and experiments has been more fish in the net. I am catching more and bigger fish these days and if you fancy trying the technique yourself, here are my set-ups in detail:
Small river with bushy banks.
Fario CRS 8’9 # 3 wt, with Quadra 24, Compline 25 lbs and DDC connect tips 8/9 single hand (4,5 meters @ 7 grams) in float, int/S1, S1/S2 and S2/S3 with 10′ trout polyleaders of different densities, Or 4Cast WF cut at 98-9 grammes (6,5 meter circa)
Open wide river with normal water.
Fario Classic 10′ # 4 wt, with 46 Quadra, same Compline, and # 7 wt 4Cast wf lines (F, F-S1, F-S3 and F-S5) cut at 11 grames ( 6,8 metres circa) with or without polyleader ( depending condition).
All purpose outfit.
RSI 9′ # 5wt, with 46 Haze V2, 25 lbs Compline and DDC connect tips 10/11 DH (4,5 meters @ 12 grams) in float ( a skagit like line), I/S1, S1/S2, S2/S3 and S3/S4 with 10′ trout polyleader, Ultracompact 5/6 or Triple D 7/8 single hand cut at 14-15 grams.
Only in larger rivers during winter month I choose the LPXe switch 5/6, Quadra 4/6, Compline 25 lbs, matched with Ultra Compact 6/7 or 7/8 Triple D cut at 15-16 grams due the better speed control by a longer rod.
Before i finish, you might be interested in some of my favourite fly patterns. In low water or in reasonable water temperature I prefer March Brown Spiders in different sizes. In high cold water, my favourite fly and one that I use almost to the exclusion of anything else, is a Monkey Fly. One of the variants is called ” Biru Biru,” a minnow imitation with silver body, white hackle and black fox wing. Another variant is the “Sculpin Tube” (same shape as previous fly) but with gold body, partridge hackle and wing built from from a mix of tobacco, brown and black fox wing. Both tubes seem to work better with the addition of jungle cock cheeks.
Words & Images by Alesso Falorni – Guideline PowerTeam Italy