Salmon rods may be divided into two main types—spinning rods (sometimes known as bait casting rods) and fly rods.

Spinning rods

Spinning rods, the kind more widely used for salmon fishing, are usually 810ft in length. For rivers requiring the use of heavy baits and lines with high b.s., that is, over 15 lb, a doublehanded rod of 9}10ft, used with a multiplier reel, is the best type. This combination gives good control of the bait and will handle big fish in the larger, stronger rivers such as the Hampshire Avon and the Wye. It is also suitable for fishing with a prawn bait. Smaller rivers, where lighter lines and bait may be used, call for a shorter rod, 8|9ft long, used with a fixedspool or multiplier style reel. Line of 1015 lb and casting weight of up to loz are suited to use with this combination. This outfit can be used for worming for salmon, although a longer rod is probably preferable with this technique.

Ideally, a salmon spinning rod is strong, with a mediumtostiff action. The through action favoured in the past to assist in avoiding casting problems. Such as overruns by the multiplier reel, is no longer essential as reel design has improved. The newer kind of action is preferable, even for use with the multiplier.

Twopiece construction, with glass spigot joints in the case of carbonfibre and tubular glass, is standard in salmon spinning rods. Handles are usually of cork, with either sliding fittings or a fixed screw winch fitting to hold the reel. Stainless steel rod rings are the most commonly used. These have a hard chrome finish to withstand wear from the line. The rod should have enough rings to ensure that the strain on the line is evenly distributed along the rod’s length. On rods used with the multiplier style of reel, which sits on top, the rings need to be carefully positioned so as to avoid any contact between the line and rod.

Fly rods

Salmon fly rods are designed for use by one or two hands, according to the style of casting employed. The doublehanded variety are usually 1214ft long, certainly over 11ft. The ideal length for an allround rod is 12}13ft, and this, coupled with a double tapered size 9 line, is suitable for fishing most of the salmon waters in this country.

The modern carbonfibre fly rods, although still expensive, have several advantages and are increasingly popular. Apart from casting as well as a top quality built cane model, they have the valuable assets of lightness and strength, and so may be used, where necessary, in greater lengths without any strain on the angler. Their small diameter is a great advantage in windy conditions, where built cane would offer more wind resistance.

Rod materials

However, the most common material for salmon rods is tubular glass for, apart from giving a serviceable rod, it is much cheaper than either carbonfibre or built cane. Although heavier than carbonfibre, the tubular glass rod has the advantage of lightness over the built cane variety. A 12}13ft model makes a good allround rod for most types of salmon fly fishing and will control the largest fish.

Singlehanded fly rods of 9}ft or longer are suited to fishing for salmon in small to medium sized rivers, where smaller flies are used. They should not be used, though, to lift long lines, as this subjects them, and the angler’s arm, to considerable strain. Fishing in these conditions requires a light, 10ft rod of carbonfibre, tubular glass or built cane, equipped with a double tapered line, size 7, on a reel large enough to take 100 yards of 15 lb b.s. Backing line. This outfit should prove adequate for the salmon encountered in the smaller waters.


Most salmon fly rods today have an action that may be felt right through from the heavy tip to the butt. A tip with this fairly rigid action is required because of the need to ‘mend’ the line or straighten it out. This need arises when the strength of the current varies at different points across the stream and the line is pulled into a bow shape as it is carried downstream. This in turn carries the fly back across the flow at an unnatural angle, making it unacceptable to the salmon.