The toughest single-hand rod fishing.
Try salmon fishing using a 10 feet 9 weight rod.
The wait is finally over, the winter has come and come and spring has turned into summer. Finally, the salmon fishing season is here. Many new and beautiful flies have been tied. Perhaps you have even tied a few extra large flies in order to try for the large spring salmon in high and cold water. June on a Norwegian salmon river is, as often said before, one of the most beautiful times there are for a salmon fisher. The river valley is green and lush, the river level is good and the large salmon are entering its childhood river. As you rig the rod, look out at the river, and find that tube fly you just know will fool a salmon today, the experience is perfect. The tube fly is tie to the tippet, you make sure the knot is strong enough, and then you slowly move towards the river.
What a moment this is; to once again feel the river flow against your waders. You pull the sinking line off the reel, and place the first casts where you know salmon will lie. After a few casts with excitement running high you feel that heavy pull of a large salmon deep down in the river. You lift the rod and get the feedback you have been looking forward to – the salmon is hooked and the fight begins! And you might be holding on to a heavily bent single handed rod.
This gives me a great kick every single time. The feeling of fishing with such a light, but yet powerful rod, on a large, high flowing river is just fantastic. It is something about the roaring river and the light rod that creates this kick.
Dry fly fishing during low water summer conditions is often described as the most exciting type of salmon fishing there is. I agree that this is very exciting, but it is actually possible to experience even greater excitement.
My experiences of what makes exciting fishing decided by the river conditions at any given time. I mostly fish the rivers Gaula and Orkla. When these rivers flow at medium high or high water levels most people use double handed rods from 12,6 to 15 feet in length. This makes sense, as we’re dealing with large rivers with high water levels, fishing sinking lines and tube flies. This will never become boring, I’m not saying that, but there is another fishing method that can increase the excitement even more. It is so much fun and excitement to fish a single-hander on such big rivers, it’s almost like playing tennis using a spoon.
I constantly push my own limits as a fly fisherman, this is a constant process. Many dreams have come through during my fishing trips, but new dreams and goals are born all the time. It is this that drives me forward, and increases the fishing pleasure. It is only a few years ago when people did not really talk much about single handed rods and sinking lines, but today it is very possible to combine the two in a simple and easy way. Previously, single handed rods were mostly used for fishing floating lines during summer conditions.
Guideline introduced their Double Density sinking lines 5-6 years ago, and after this the use of sinking lines changed completely. Now anyone could use sinking lines, as they are easier to cast. Long before these lines arrived I had fished sinking lines on single handed rods, it just became so much easier with these new lines. It used to be hard work to fish a sink2 line, now even a sink 4 was easy. Over the past few years I have grown very fond of single handed rods around 10 feet long in a 9 weight. This combination of the length line class offers a feeling of raw power and at the same time sensitivity. I fish such a rod when the river is high, and mostly using sinking lines. The length of the shooting heads will be around 10-10,5 meters with sinking rates 1-4, and around 8 meters for sinking rates 5-7, depending on how many classes I will go up. With lines correctly adapted to the rod this is pure joy to cast, it just has to be tried.
I mostly use single handed 8 weight rods. This is the all-round rod for fishing single hand rods on the big rivers when the spring flood has passed. When the river is really high and fast flowing I use a double handed rod. But often the salmon will swim close to the bank when the river is high. I want to challenge the large early season salmon armed with a single hand rod, and during such conditions an 8 weight might be a bit light. The reason for this is not only the fight with large salmon, but also because it is very difficult to fish singe handed rods on a big river using sinking lines and tube flies. This is the right medicine for fishing big rivers in flood, heavy sinking lines and large tube flies, so the extra power of a 9 weight single handed rod is needed and can enable you to fish single handers during such conditions. AFTM class 9, either a 8/9 or 9/10 would be classes that most people associate with double handed rods. I believe that the feeling this weight class gives on a 10 feet single handed rod is totally different to what you’ll get from a double handed rod, it’s hard to understand this feeling until you have tried it for yourself.
It is important to know that the weight difference between an 8 weight and a 9 weight rod from the same range and in the same lengths is 5-10 grams, which you will not be able to notice. The weight of the shooting head for the 8 weight rod will vary between 20-22 grams, and between 23-25 for the 9 weight. I have had positive experiences with Guide Line’s Power Taper single hand 8/9 weight sinking lines for the 9 weight rod. I often use sinking lines with my 8 weight rod, this if fine with lines as heavy as sink ¾, but with the 9 weight sink rates all the way up to sink 7 works great.
Remember the important difference between fly lines for single and double handed rods. A 7-8 weight sink 3/4 line will not sink at the same speed as a 10-11 weight line. This is why I can use single handed rods and sinking lines even when the river is low without snagging. A line I really like is the Guide Line Double Density connect system. This is a flexible system with interchangeable tips, so you can change between fishing at intermediate depths to sink 3/4 in no time. The difference here is that the butt section of the shooting head has an intermediate sink rate and as such your fly will fish faster, even as you fish deeper and deeper. The original lines have a heavier sink rate at the butt section of the lines compared to the sink rate of the front section. These lines fish best at medium and high river levels. Fishing both deep and fast for slow summer salmon is often a very effective way of catching salmon, and this is especially true in terms of the larger specimens. The alternative is deep and slow with heavier sink lines this does not trigger the salmon as effectively as it will see the fly for too long before it passes. Remember that when the river is low the water is usually very clear. With a floating line you will fish high in the water and fast, this is a good technique for catching grilse. Why would the big salmon move upwards from the deep pool to take a small fly just below the surface film? Mostly it will choose not to. Also remember the floating/sink lines for such conditions when the river is low.
Summer floods always give life to increased expectations for catching salmon, these floods can be as large as the spring flood. The difference is that the summer flood will always have a higher water temperature = excellent conditions for a 9 weight single handed rod and a sinking line such as a S2/S3. Otherwise my favourite line for such conditions would be a floating/sink 3 line. Many fishermen often use several rods on a fishing trip, often a 15 feet double handed rod combined with a lighter double hander. I enjoy combining the use of 9 weight 10 feet single handed rod and a 14-15 feet double handed rod when there’s a good flow in the river.
Advice on choice of rod.
The length of a rod like this will be very important. I recommend buying a rod of around 10 feet in length, this makes for a much more flexible rod action compared to that of a 9 feet long rod. This would be much stiffer, and thus more difficult to cast with in terms of all the variations of spey and snake roll casting. It is also much easier to lift a sinking line off the water with a 10 feet rod with a “kinder” action. With a longer single handed rod the practical fishing challenge will also be easier to deal with in general.
I recommend not buying to cheapest rod models when choosing such a powerful single handed rod for using for salmon fishing on large rivers. If you fish medium-sized to large rivers it is actually so that the demands you put on a single handed rod will be tougher than that of a double handed rods. As large tube flies and heavy sinking lines will demand a powerful rod action, but at the same time the rod has to be light. Finally it is very important that the rod is not too stiff, as his makes the rod hard to cast.
I have used the G. Loomis Force Lite GLX 9,9 feet 9 weight for a few seasons, this is a great rod for this tough fishing. Now I have invested in a better rod from the new G. Loomis range, the 10 flight feet 9 weight Native Run GLX , this rod has an incredible combination of low weight and a powerful “backbone” coupled with being very sensitive, due to the new rod action of this range. Man – with this rod in its place in my hobby room the wait for summer will feel even longer than usual.
A fishing story.
It was the 1st of July, the river level had increased somewhat since the last time I was here, and I knew salmon would be running. I had decided to try the most narrow part of the beat I was fishing, this was at the top of the beat. The issue here is that the pool is small, deep and fast flowing. The water level this day meant that the most sensible rod to use would be a double handed rod, but even so I chose the 9 weight single hander as the salmon lie was around 12-15 meters from the bank in a deep hole and I had to use a sinking line. One will fish this pool trough in only 7-10 casts, which means that everything has to be done correctly straight away. I chose a S3/S4 sinking line and a Teal and Silver tube fly. I was really enjoying this powerful single handed rods, and the casts flew effortlessly out across the river. I had perhaps 3-4 meters of the running line out when the fly suddenly stopped. It felt like the “take” itself lasted for several minutes, from when the salmon took the fly until I lifted the rod. Everything was just perfect. The bend in the rod was so powerful that I quickly realised that this could be a new personal best on a single handed rod. The pressure on the rod was extremely heavy, heavier than I could remember from previous fights. Even so I managed to control myself and calm down pretty quickly, as I had such a powerful rod to fight the salmon with. The secret to landing salmon in this area is to make it leave the pool, it is much easier to land them further down the beat, as the upper pool is full of rocks to be negotiated before the salmon can be landed..
The salmon was never more than around 20 meter away for the first 15 minutes of the fight. After this I positioned myself downstream of the salmon and managed to force it to leave the pool – and this was when I first saw the fish. The words that followed do not suit this article, I am from Trøndelag and a hardcore fly fisherman, so those words were too strong to recite here. The salmon took off in a blistering 100 meter run, jumped clear out of the water several times, and stopped behind large rocks, making it more difficult for me. During this fight I was grateful for having my 9 weight single handed rod – the feeling just can’t be described. After around 40 minutes the salmon started to show signs of giving up, I had to literally pull the salmon using the rod for the last 20-30 meters towards the bank.
Finally I could beach the fish and lift it up onto the bank. I can’t even remember what went through my head after the salmon was landed, but that life was worth living, with the single handed rod, now that I was certain of. This was a personal best with a single handed rod – the salmon weighed in at 14,5 kilos.