Freshwater Salmon Fishing with Single Hand Rods

Kashf

Just Hatched
Hi all, you probably remember me from the old forum as Speedbird48. I'm still working on my casts, and still hoping to land Sea Run fish. I've been fishing a lot more small water and rivers recently, practicing casting dry flies, and swinging wet flies. I have a few Salmon/Sea Run trips planned with a friend this November, and I would love to practice my presentations on the water. Spey rods are the traditional rods used for Salmon and Steelhead since Salmon and Steelhead rest close to the river bottom, and spey lines are most effective at reaching deep down, unlike the intermediate lines we prefer while fishing streamers on the beaches. Spey rods and lines are unfortunately beyond my budget, or justification until I am more confident in my ability to read water and find fish. Can I get away with traditional single handed sink tip lines that you would use for trout streamers? Apologies for the elementary question but it was surprisingly difficult to find anything on Google, and I figured other newcomers could benefit from the answer as well.
 

SSPey

loco alto!
Forum Supporter
Salmon and steelhead do not always rest close to the bottom, and spey lines don’t necessarily get down quicker than single hand lines.

I often use 9 wt single hand rods with shooting heads for salmon. Forget sink tips, you want a full sinking head/line if going deep is the goal. My sinkiest head is 25’ of T-14, no false casting, just make one good backcast and sling it out. Heads of T-17/T-18 sink more, but cast better with a 10 wt rod. You can use T-11 on lighter rods. All of the straight tungsten heads sink fast when backed with a mono running line.

Add an intermediate and a Type 3 sinking shooting head, plus the T-14, and you can cover a lot of salmon water. Regular sinktips are great for shallower presentations (i.e., for winter steelhead)
 
Depends on river conditions. This year there’s lots of low rivers and shallow holding spots where you can catch salmon with a floating line, bead, and indicator. I caught chum a couple of weeks ago the same way. Next year should be good for pink salmon, but out in the sound with an intermediate or floating line.

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Kashf

Just Hatched
A lot of salmon and steelhead were caught on single hand rods before spey rods showed up more frequently on the local fishing scene.
Use what you have with your single hand stuff. It may be old school but it will still work.
SF
Great advice from everyone, well appreciated! If I were to stick with a floating line+Intermediate poly leader, besides indicator fishing with an egg fly or a bead, what tactics should I use? I assume I should focus my efforts on tailouts? The closest thing I can think of in the world of gear chucking are lighter spoons and spinners. Would I be best stripping my flies the whole drift? Or can swung floated flies fish well?
 

Matt B

RAMONES
Forum Supporter
Great advice from everyone, well appreciated! If I were to stick with a floating line+Intermediate poly leader, besides indicator fishing with an egg fly or a bead, what tactics should I use? I assume I should focus my efforts on tailouts? The closest thing I can think of in the world of gear chucking are lighter spoons and spinners. Would I be best stripping my flies the whole drift? Or can swung floated flies fish well?
There’s no one right answer. Different species, different holes, different timing in the run will call for different approaches. You can fish quite deep with a single hand rod if you want to. Sink tips to floating tips, heavy flies and unweighted flies will all have their place.
 

Thomas Mitchell

corvus ossifragus
Forum Supporter
Stripping streamers on an Outbound Short with a poly leader can be productive for coho in coastal rivers when they are bitey. If extra depth is needed, the single hand 'streamertip' type lines with a built in fast sinking tip work well. I find it easier to get the jigging action needed to attract coho with a single hander although the heavy flies can be tough to cast.

At least on the smaller coastal rivers I fish, I don't see much advantage in using a spey rod even though I'm a better two-handed caster than single (not saying much though as I'm crap at both). For river salmon, I'd choose the single hander any place I can make a backcast that gets me to the bucket.
 

Divad

Whitefish
Forum Supporter
To be fair many of the lower PS and CB tributaries wont even accommodate two hand tactics. Use what you got, play with the weight of the fly, length of the leader, leader material (fluro vs mono for even more sink rate fine tuning) and maybe some polyleaders if you want swung or stripped grabs.

And of course, nymph them up on a floating line with a bobber! It is the best tactic for salmon fishing on smaller water with a fly line.
 

Hillbilly Redneck

wishin I was fishin
Forum Supporter
Lot's of time salmon prefer a jigging motion. I find it's best achived with a floating line and shorter rod (<9') so you can strip/jig effectively. Only works if the flows will allow you to get your presentation down to the fish. I've got an old Sage indicator line that will turn over a bowling ball that works good for this. I much prefer to swing flies, but sometimes you gotta put meat on the table!
 

Stonedfish

Known Grizzler-hater of triploids, humpies & ND
Forum Supporter
You can catch chums on the swing if that is your target.
The best way to catch them though in my opinion is to imitate how they are fished with gear, which is with a float and jig. You can do the same with a fly rod using a floating line and a indicator. Long casts often aren’t required. Sometimes just a simple roll cast will do. Being decent at mending helps.
SF
 

dirty dog

Steelhead
Forum Supporter
One size does not fit all.
I don't like my spey rod and I will sell it to you very reasonably. PM me.
I like to fish with my 10' 8 wt and depending on the water where I fish I use a wff with a 10' floro leader or a short 8' sink tip and if the 8' doesn't get where I want it I'll use a 12' sink tip.
 
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