Fly fishing for salmon is perhaps one of the biggest challenges the sport has to offer, due to the fight and size of the fish and the difficulty in enticing them to bite. One of the notable differences in salmon fishing over other types is that salmon really have to be in the mood to bite, and curiosity or other instincts come much more into play than hunger.
Salt Water flies for salmon and steelhead fishing really don’t need to imitate the types of insects found within the environments at all, all that is needed for success (in terms of flies anyway) is a wide range of flies in different colors and shapes.
There are traditional patterns used for salmon fishing flies, but anglers have also found success using larger trout flies, as long as they utilized light wire salmon hooks. Let’s take a look at some of the classic salt water flies used for salmon and steelhead.
Wulff: The Royal Wulff is the contribution to the salmon fly fishing world by Lee Wulff, who made an art of landing big fish on light gear. This is a very intricate fly to tie, involving several different brightly colored feather patterns and is also very large, dressed up to size 2. There are several additional designs in the Wulff vein, including Black, grey, and grizzly.
Bomber: The Bomber is a relatively new pattern as far as salt water flies for salmon ad steelhead, and some anglers look upon it initially with disdain. It does not embrace the bright feather appearance of traditional flies like the Wulff, but nevertheless works very well when salmon are taking anything at all.
Some other types of fly patterns that have proven to work well as salt water flies for salmon include MacIntosh, Pink Lady Palmer, Rat-Faced McDougal, and the Salmon Skater. The Wulff and Bomber patterns, however, remain the most successful and popular.
Salt Water flies for salmon and steelhead fishing are actually a proud North American tradition, as these flies are not used extensively anywhere else. Many of the flies developed for catching salmon are wet flies, so using one of these patterns on your favorite river means you are in rare company among anglers the world over.