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Which lines should I use?

Now that´s a question having as many right answers as there are salmon fishermen.

I’ve been fishing salmon with a fly rod for quite a long time. During the past years I’ve tested hundreds of lines, both factory made and custom made, and from time to time people ask my opinion about which lines I prefer and why? Well, I think these things are never straight forward but with the following words I will share my thoughts about the lines I prefer to use during the salmon season.

The golden rule, that I have followed all these years, is: Choose your line to find a good ”pull” in different pools. When you find the ”pull” you can offer the fly to the salmon with a right angle and right speed. The swing speed. In other words, depth of the pool is not as important as is the strength or speed of the current.

The Tools

In june, when the rivers are large due to melting snow and when the water is cold, it is good to slow down the speed of the fly. In most of the cases, we look for pools where the current is slow. Spots where those big first running salmons most of the times stay only for a little while. You need to be very lucky to meet them. In early season conditions I prefer to use full sinking lines. Sure, many times a line with a floating belly and a sinking tip is the right choice. Especially when you want to let the fly stay, or hover, at the same position a little longer. But if you want to control the speed of the fly and get it deeper it’s best to go with a full sinking line.

My favourite sinkers are from Triple-D fly line family made by Guideline. These lines are very easy to cast and with them I’m able to offer my fly to a salmon the way I want. In a pools where the current is strong and “thick” I prefer to use  I-S2-S4 and S1-S3-S5 heads. I use these heads with my Loomis 15 footer and cut them to about 11,5 meters in length. This length equals to about 40-42 grams in weight. Also, a bit older shooting head family from GuideLine, Power Taper, has a few very good members such as S3-S4 and S5-S6 heads. Pools where I prefer a little more speed I like Triple-D heads such as like H-S1-S3 and F-I-S2. Another very good sinking line is RIO AFS S3-S5. It is very easy to cast and I haven’t cut it at all. It works very well in full length.

Choose your line to find a good ”pull” in different pools

When the water gets warmer during the season, I use mostly a floating belly line with a clear intermediate tip. My absolute favourite F/I shooting head is Vision Ace, the older model more precisely, which is not in the market anymore. The discontinued ACE had a mono core and in my opinion, it is still one of the best fishing lines I’ve used during the “normal” summer conditions. I have discussed with some fly line manufactures about the mono core lines and, as far as I understand, the problem seems to be how to make a line with an good casting features with around monofilament core. Sad… Different kinds of polyleaders are also good alternatives to be used at the very end of the fly line. I was in Norway few weeks ago and used clear intermediate tip line with an intermediate polyleader. I think it was a good combination. Floating belly with a clear long intermediate part is very easy to cast and carries the flies nicely just under the surface.

I hardly ever use a full floater. Well, actually, because I don’t like so much dry fly fishing for salmon, I simply don’t have any use for full floating lines. I use mostly tube flies. I don’t want to weight my flies so using sinking lines with light tube flies, more sensitive to the current, with an longer leader makes me a happy angler. This has been my  way to catch those nice chrome coloured Atlantic salmons.

Loading the rod
Loading the rod. Photo: Erno Mäkinen

If I look back on this season here’s what I used: two of my rods, both 15 footers, only a few lines, Triple-Ds which I mentioned earlier, Vision Ace F/I, and one custom fly line made by my dear friend Pepe Linden. A very good line. That line is special… The body of the line is from old Loop or GuideLine intermediate followed by a short section of sink 4 and I use a S2/S3 tip at the end. The line sort of goes deeper and moves slower from the mid part of the line. With this line I can slow down the speed of the fly really nicely without loosing it.

I strongly believe that it’s more important and more productive to chance your fly line than changing your fly. Of course, sometimes, it’s the other way around but I personally use only few models of flies during the season and change my fly line more often.

Have a nice upcoming winter…

Sinking line
Sinking line and a Scandinavian tube fly – job done. Photo: Harri Hilden
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The two rod system

Like many silver chasers I too like to carry around two rods when I’m fishing. There are several reasons to do this and I’m going write a few lines about this subject on the following post.

Backup rod

When you carry two rods, you will always have a backup ready to go if something goes horribly wrong. This is especially important if you are fishing a river that requires a lot of walking to reach the pools. I personally don’t want to lose one day in my fishing season because I did not have a backup rod with me.

Sh%t happens
Sh%t happens


Short rod, Long rod…

I usually carry two different length rods with me. For example a 13’6” and a 15’ on a big river or a 13’ and a switch on a smaller one. If the fishing requires a lot of precision, then it’s a switch rod and a single hander. Bigger rods are nicer on wide open pools and if you have to wade deep. Shorter ones are excellent if your back is against the bush or if you have to “work” the fly during the swing. I can also fish the fly differently with a different length rod.

Set of different lenght rods ready to go
Set of different lenght rods ready to go
Switch rods rock for Pacific salmon.
Switch rods rock for Pacific salmon.


Different lines…

I always rig my rods with different lines. I think that many times it can make a huge difference when you fish through a pool with a different line. My most used set up is to rig two multi tip shooting heads, one with a floating body, the other with an intermediate body. This way I can change the tips on both lines to fine tune my swing. I love to use heads that have an Skagit label on them. This does not however mean I use them as a “real” Skagit… I use them both as a “normal” scandi shooting head and in other places like a “real” Skagit. That’s a whole other story, so I won’t go any deeper on that subject. All and all the line choices are always dictated by the conditions on the water and the spot I’m fishing at. So there are endless combinations that I use.

MY favourite
MY favourite Atlantic salmon set up for summer fishing. 15′ Meiser Highlander with a F/I/sink2 line and 13′ Echo TR with a 420gr skagit rigged up with a 12′ clear tip.


Having fun…

This is something that I always emphasis in all things fishing related. It has to be fun! Using different rods during a slow day of fishing is a great source of motivation. A little change always brightness up a slow day.

So remember to have fun! Tight lines, not tight faces.

Have FUN!
Have FUN!


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A dream week in Gaula

First of all the headline contains a lot of sarcasm… We had a nice but fishing wise quiet week on the Gaula ending to midsummers. The bites were few and far between. It was one of those weeks that if I had to market Atlantic salmon fishing to someone it would be a pretty tough job. It was certainly not a trip for a beginner.

All and all the season on the Gaula has been a disaster and the low water levels contributed to the fact that our fishing area on the lower Gaula did not stop the few fish running. So there was a lot empty casts made between bites and. Even the weather which is normally very nice on the Gaula was not cooperating. It was cold and very windy most of the trip. The positive side to the low water levels was that we got most of our action with floating lines and light tips.

The highlights of the trip where, my friends beautiful hen salmon of about 11kg that was safely released and salmon sashimi that we made from a smaller fish. We also had a great crew and a lot of laughs on our week there. I do have to say though that all the other things could not save the trip as it’s all about the fish. The slow fishing and very low returns to the whole river did not leave a positive feel. I am very concerned about the state of that river and hope all the best for it. I just love to fish on that river and it would brake my heart if it’s downward spiral does not come to a stop.

Thanks to everyone and hopefully I’ll be back again on the golden river soon. Additional photo credits to Ilkka Neva and Joonas Saarikko.

Gaula catch statistics and water level at Gaulfossen.



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Is summer really that close?

I have spend all my time this spring chasing predators that roam the seas and the up and coming salmon and trout season got me really off guard this time. Even this whole endeavor of having the privilege of writing on this blog really hit me in the face like a 20lb salmon!

Before I can even start thinking about fishing salmon I have to get my stuff together. I have to do a inventory on my flies, have to check that all my lines and tippet materials are in order and make sure my wife hasn’t thrown away my rods when I was out chasing saltwater torpedos.

All I can hope for is that my salmon season will be as successful as my spring chase for other predators.

Stay tuned as I will be back with more on the subject once I get my chit together.



We’re proud to introduce a priceless addition to our blogging crew Jari Koski. “Japi” is an experienced fly fishing maniac with extensive experience in both salmon fishing and saltwater fishing. You are going to love his gear reviews, fly tying articles, fishing reports, and maybe some fly casting magic.

-Editorial staff-