B3. Olive Bomber Salmon Deerhair Dry Fly
BOMBER DEERHAIR SALMON DRY FLIES Hook size 10 - $US each
BOMBER DEERHAIR SALMON DRY FLIES
The Bomber dry fly series of flies gained popularity on the Miramichi River, Canada in 1967. It is reported that they were first tied by Elmer Smith of Prince William in New Brunswick who originally designed them for Salmon Fishing. They are tied from spun deer hair, packed tight. These dry flies are surface flies, and usually fished by pulling or "skating" them on the surface, creating a "wake" as they cut through the water. The larger hooks are good general representations of terrestrials like mice, rats, voles or lemmings that have fallen in the river and drowned. They are a very popular North American fly that floats and will tempt the most cynical salmon or steelhead. Some fishermen call them "the locator" because even when finicky fish don't strike at it, they often come up to investigate the fly thus giving away their location to the angler. You can then, if they do not take the bomber, switch to something else to get them to hit.
WHAT SALMON FLY TO USE
The British salmon fly tying traditions of the 18th and 19th centuries that used exotic materials and complicated patterns were exported to the countries the British explored and occupied. In North America and other parts of the world, gradually these pattern were changed and new ones designed to make use of the more easily obtainable local animal skins and feathers. The were also designed to suit the different natural conditions and local fish. Hairwings were used instead of brightly colored feathers from tropical birds. They worked as well if not better. Hairwing salmon flies have now become the norm and the traditional feather-winged patterns are now more commonly found as framed works of art that hang in gentlemen's studies and behind bars.
Choosing the right fly is a problem that occurs for all salmon fly fishers. There is no solid rule that works all the time everywhere. Dark day, dark fly; bright day, bright fly can be a good guide along with high water, big fly; low water, small fly. But sometimes the reverse is true. Some like to chose a fly of a color that matches the overall color of the riverbed. Rivers that flow over bare rock or limestone are often crystal clear. They may have a blue or green/yellow tinge so some choose flies with the same coloring like Yellow Torrish or the Green Highlander. Some salmon experts swear that the colours yellow and green have the most impact in cold water. When rivers are in full flow after a recent storm try some brighter orange flies. As the water warms dark flies like the stoats tail become more productive. Brighter flies will still work but there are times during low water when the most subtle and sober flies, like the Blue Charm, Munro Killer or Thunder & Lightning are the ones that are more accepted by the salmon. As the water warms up flies fished faster and closer to the surface will bring better results. The warmer it becomes the smaller and higher the fly is fished until a floating line is required. During the Pacific Salmon run pink flies are the best. In the Autumn Fall there are lots of young juvenile fish around. Salmon flies like Silver Doctor or Silver Wilkinson with silver bodies give good results.
Your choice of fly is sometimes down to a localís or friendís recommendation, remembering what worked last year, or simply following your own hunch. Others believe that it doesnít matter what fly you use as it is the presentation of the fly that counts. Some say that a salmon caught on one fly would have been taken on any of several other flies of the same size so long as it was presented to the fish in the same way. Some Ďexpertsí will criticize a fly because it has a too full or too sparse a hairwing; the shape of the hook is too curved or not curved enough; the fly should or should not have a yellow, green orange or red butt; the nose should be red or it should be black and the most ridiculous is, that the fly has one too many gold colored ribs or not enough. These arguments have been raging since Victorian times. That is one of the charms of this sport. Everyone has his or her own opinion. It gives you something to talk about around the camp fire or over a bottle of beer.
Generally migratory salmon and steelhead trout cease feeding as they return to freshwater to spawn. Though I have seen them rise to take flies an insects on the surface. They can be tempted or provoked into taking a general brightly colored attractor pattern (some fishermen call them a 'piss-em-off' pattern) like one of the orange Woolly Bugger. You must aim to get your fly within a few feet of the fish to stimulate it into attacking. In the coldest of conditions large salmon flies up to three inches may not be out of place. They may also eat out of habit something that they were feeding upon in open ocean. Flies that represent shrimp, prawns and bait fish are ideal. Experiment with the speed of the retrieve past a known salmon or steelhead lie. An attack can often be provoked if you stir the hunting instinct of this great tasting, large predatory. A sudden quick retrieve can suggest the rapid escape movement of a startled small fish that has seen itís biggest nightmare. In North America and in other parts of the world, salmon are commonly caught on dry flies like hoppers (grasshoppers), daddy-long-legs (craine flies) and the Wulff or Bomber series of dry flies. This is rarely tried in Europe. If you live in Europe, discard tradition and give it a try.
Pacific salmon is a general term used to describe the members of a fish species that die after spawning. The Latin term for this family group is Oncorhynchus. There are seven species. The following five occur on both sides of the pacific .
(1) Chum Salmon also known as Dog Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
(2) Coho Salmon also known as Silver Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
(3) Pink Salmon also known as Humpbacked Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)
(4) Sockeye Salmon also known as Red Salmom (Oncorhynchus nerka)
(5) Chinook Salmon also known as King Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
The following two are only found on the coasts of Asia
(6) Masu Salmon also known as Yamame (Oncorhynchus masou)
(7) Amago Salmon also known as Biwamasu (Oncorhynchus rhodurus)
There is a landlocked Pacific Salmon called a Kokanee. It is a subspecies of a Sockeye Salmon. It spends it's entire life in freshwater and does not attain the large sizes of its ocean going cousins. They migrate to lakes and can be seen swimming back up streams to their place of hatching to spawn. Atlantic Salmon belong to a different group called 'Salmo'. Atlantic Salmon is in fact a species of fish within this group. (It has the Latin name of Salmo salar). Unlike the Pacific salmon that have complex and varied life histories that vary widely within and between species, the Atlantic Salmon have very similar life histories and are capable of surviving spawning and re-migrate to return again. Pacific salmon migrate from freshwater to the sea at different ages. Pink and Chum Salmon migrate at any time from one week to a month, Chinooks from 12 to 16 months, Coho Salmon from 12 to 24 months and Sockeye from 12 to 36 months.
Pacific Salmon nearly always return to spawn in the freshwater areas they were born in. They overcome very hazardous river conditions and swim great distances to reach their place of hatching. Scientists have documented some going to different locations but that is a very rare occurrence. It is believed that the salmon find their way back by sent. They follow their noses to find their home stream. Scientists have also tagged young salmon to plot where they go when they migrate into the Pacific Ocean from the rivers. Some swim many thousands of miles like the tagged Chinook which was recorded having covered 3,500 miles before being recovered swimming back up Salmon River in Idaho, to spawn. The salmon fatten up in the ocean. The record for the largest Pacific Salmon is 126 pounds caught commercially up in Alaska.
Steelheads are simply migratory rainbow trout. (A Sea Trout is the migratory form of the brown trout). They spawn in freshwater rivers and lakes, remain there for about two years, then migrate to the open sea where they will stay for another two to three years before they begin returning to their native rivers. Steelheads returning to their home rivers, will be fully mature and weigh between seven and ten pounds. Fish that have stayed in the ocean longer can reaching impressive sizes of 12 to 20 pounds or more. Unlike the migratory salmon, not all sea-run steelhead die immediately after spawning. About twenty percent of each steelhead generation that returns to freshwater to spawn make their way back down the rivers and into the sea again. Not many will be strong enough to make a second spawning run.
Steelheads in the sea look very much like river trout until they begin their migration when they change to a bright silver, their backs a darker grey. Anglers call these trout "chrome bright," or "chromers." After they have been in freshwater for a time, however, steelhead slowly begin to take on the color patterns of true rainbow trout, with various patterns of black spots sprinkled across their backs, complete with smears of red on the cheeks, with distinctive red stripes marking their flanks. These red stripes can range in color from soft coral pink to a deeper blood-red color. The males fish are more colorful. Migrations continue throughout the year, although the most active steelhead months are December, January, and March for winter steelhead; and June through August for the summer runs. Most steelhead rivers have only a summer or a winter run; some have both, and some experience no spring or summer steelhead runs at all hosting an autumn/fall and winter-run trout. It is mostly the big rivers, that have steelhead runs year-round.
Winter-run steelhead become very single minded. It is the greatest run of trout in terms of numbers. All their energy is devoted to spawning. For the most part, when they do feed, or strike a fly, they seem to do so out of habit and instinct rather than true hunger. It is this instinct - the steelhead's curiosity that can work to the angler's advantage. They will still strike at a well-presented artificial fly. They are also exceptionally wary, nervous, and incredibly difficult to catch. Winter steelhead seem to be, by far, the spookiest of the migratory steelhead. In shallow, clear water. Even the hint of a shadow moving across the water startles them, sending them scurrying.
The spring and summer trout runs produce the highest quality of steelheads, in looks and sport. They are still sexually immature when they enter the rivers. They will spend more time in freshwater before they begin spawning. Most winter-run steelhead will spawn quickly and then return to the ocean, some do linger in the rivers throughout the winter and into the spring. Spring and summer-run trout will often remain in the rivers through the summer months. When these steelheads strike, they do so with a great deal more ferocity than winter-run trout. They fight like big saltwater fish and are one of the great game fish of the world.
FISHING FOR STEELHEADS
The best way to insure good future fishing is to leave the females alone. Any bright fish is probably a hen on her way upriver, and should be left alone, although exceptionally large ones are a tempting target. Watch for female steelheads that turn on their sides and pump their tails, to scoop a hollow where they will drop their eggs. The scent stream of pheromones is like a magnet to the males. Hooking or otherwise spooking the females, is almost a guarantee that any near-by males will depart, and then there are NO fish to target. Accurately casting to the edges of the gathering steelhead male pack will get hits from the males. Cast far enough upstream of the fish to allow the fly to sink to their level before it gets to them. Drift the fly into the fish's face, and lifting and swinging away when it gets within a few inches. This method brings out their predatory instincts. You should see the strike using sun glasses. Set the hook with a downstream sweep of the rod. Play him away from the pack, to avoid spooking the rest of the fish.
Some smaller males will be chased off by larger males, and will drift back. A careful river bed presentation may elicit hard strikes from these fish. Keep the fly deep. Burn that into your brain. The fish are intent on spawning, rarely feed. You must get down to their level. It still makes sense to go by the old "Bright day-bright fly, dark day-dark fly" but don't get locked into it. Experiment with patterns and sizes. After missing a strike, I like to change to a smaller version of the same pattern. If that doesn't bring a hit, I go to a fly that's completely opposite of the original. A huge black egg sucking leech would replace a tiny Polar Shrimp.
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