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THE River Dee began its salmon fishing season this week with a bit of a bang.

An opening day total of 27 fish might not have been a red letter day decades ago, but by today's standards, it's a terrific catch, one beat having 11 on its own.

I used to fish the Dee for the first three days of the second week of the season on a lower beat in an era when it was brilliant.

Snow and frost reduced the river temperature to just above freezing point, which held the salmon back in the lower beats.

Fishing at that time of the year was a bit of a gamble, however, because you could be hit by the early season angler's curse - slush floating up from the bottom of the river making fishing impossible.

When the river did fish, salmon fell to devons and spoons as well as sunk lines and tube flies. I even had them on floating lines with sink tips in a shallower run.

One February, we had a competition with one of our party of four, who preferred to fish the fly, using it every day while the rest of us either spun or fly fished depending on what we fancied.

The fly-only angler caught the same number as everyone else did, proving that even early on, the fly in the shape of a big tube with a sunk line, can be very effective.

Sunk line fishing in the spring is tough on the rod, so you need a good, powerful 15 or 16 footer, capable of handling a DT12 or WF12 sinker such as a Wet Cel 2. I'm very fond of the weight forward Speycaster type lines which make casting much easier.

The secret of sunk line fishing and protecting your rod from being overloaded and possibly broken, is to lift less line on the cast and shoot more.

So, with our powerful sunk line rod and armed with a selection of two inch, maybe two and a half inch tubes or Waddingtons and a six-foot long 18lb breaking strain cast, you are in business and ready to try for a fish.

Fishing slowly is the key to successful spring fishing.

There's no point in casting across and slightly down and letting the current create a downstream belly on your line. This will result in the fly whipping round too fast and too close to the surface.

To have any chance you must "mend" the line, that is, switch the fly line upstream as soon as it hits the water so that it has an upstream belly.

That will get your tube down deeper, enabling you to fish slower.

Sometimes, particularly if you are fishing fast, deep water, it pays to also attach a fast sink leader to the end of your line just to get the fly down a little bit deeper and fish a bit slower.

A good tip is to have a couple of yards of loose line retained in your hand as you make the cast.

This is released only as you make the mend so it forms and even bigger upstream belly.

Another good tip is to move two or three steps downriver after your cast, which has the same effect.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 6, 2009
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