Compared with trout fishing, flyfishing for salmon is easy. Casting a salmon fly with a double-handed rod is, in our experience, much easier than casting a trout fly, and in most situations you don't even have to be particularly accurate or delicate in presenting the fly, because usually your fly hits the water well away from where the salmon is at the time. One other point is worth stressing right now: whereas there are times when and places where trout become very fussy feeders, and matching the hatch can be crucial, salmon are not trying to feed when they take a fly, and so the pattern is much less critical. That's not to say that any old fly will do, but rather that learning to choose and use the right fly is a much simpler business for salmon fishers.
So does that mean you are likely to catch lots of salmon? Sadly no, because salmon are so much scarcer than trout in most of the rivers you are likely to be able to fish.
If there were equal numbers of trout and fresh-run salmon in a river, we would be much more confident about being able to catch a salmon than a trout.
That doesn't mean that salmon fishing is lacking in challenge, but with a suitable tackle setup and by following a few simple guidelines about where and when you are most likely to find a salmon, you can very easily become a very good salmon flyfisher even in your first season. This section of our online flyfishing school will give you a great start towards achieving success and the satisfaction that comes with it.
We have said already that wild Atlantic Salmon are scarce almost everywhere nowadays. Their future is seriously threatened, and the only way we feel able to justify continuing to fish for them is to do so on rivers where the stocks are at least holding steady at a safe level (scientists refer to this as being above the 'conservation limit') and to return to the river quickly and with a minimum of handling all salmon that we catch.
If you visit a river where there is known to be a sustainable harvestable surplus, you may be allowed to take the occasional fish; however, knowing that cooked salmon do not spawn we choose to return all salmon that we catch - just because we know that some people will break the rules and take more fish than the rules allow.
Please see our guidelines on best practice catch and release...