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Ireland Salmon Fishing Methods

In Ireland salmon fishing can be enjoyed with various permitted methods. On this page I will give a brief description of the methods used.

Salmon caught off the shore in County Mayo, Ireland.

Fishing is a great sport for any age group.

The most aspired to method in angling circles is to fly fish for salmon, however I sometimes think that the skill levels and necessary local knowledge involved in spinning and worm fishing are often underestimated. Prawn fishing is by far the most effective method.

Salmon Fishing Methods


Many fisheries allow spinning. Spinning involves repeatedly casting and retrieving an artificial lure, which is referred to as a ‘Spinner’, in an effort to provoke a salmon into striking. The angler searches the water with successive casts varying the speed and action of the lure.

Usually when spinning, it is advisable to move on to another stretch of water if you’re not having any takes.  The trick is to cover a lot of ground. Personally I think that the skills involved in spinning are often underestimated! Examples of some Irish spinning baits that I have been successful with include ‘The Devon Minnow’, ‘The Flying C’, ‘the Toby’ and the’ Rapalla’ plug .

Introducing the next generation to the ways of the fisherman while they are young.

The price at the end of a days' fishing. Get kids involved when they are young, and teach them how to do it respectfully.

Fly Fishing

In Ireland salmon fishing using fly fishing is commonly seen as the supreme method. Some Irish salmon and sea trout fisheries are exclusively fly only. Fly fishing is usually carried out with a fly rod, although some anglers use a spinning rod with a weighted floating ‘bubble’  float on the end, instead of a classic fly rod.

The large double handed fly rod is not necessary on most waters and a regular fly fishing road used for trout fishing will generally be sufficient. Salmon flies fish under the surface. The general rule is that when it’s cold you should fish a large fly in deep water and when it’s warm and sunny, flies are smaller and fished closer to the surface. Having said that, salmon are notoriously moody creatures that often have no respect for the rules of man!

A tagged salmon, caught in County Mayo, Ireland.

A fine catch of salmon!

A salmon fly is a bit of a misnomer because they do not resemble flies in the same way trout flies do. With the exception of the ‘Shrimp’ fly they do not really resemble any particular living creature. On their day the salmon don’t seem to mind, and the elegant tried and tested patterns such as the Munro Killer, or the Silver Doctor and the Stoat’s Tail have banked fish for me year after year.

The shrimp fly is a popular salmon fly used successfully around the world and was invented by an Irishman called Pat Curry from Coleraine, when he tied his famous ‘Curry’s Red Shrimp’. The pattern now appears in many different variations.

Worm Fishing:

Worm fishing for salmon is a very effective method. A bunch of worms are usually cast out and left in a probable salmon lie. The hook is attached to a length of line about 12 inches and tied to a swivel. The other end of the swivel is attached to the main line and also serves as a stopper for a lead ball weight.

The bunch of worms swings attractively in the current, as the angler watches the rod tip for jerks and pulls which indicate a bite. It is important to allow some time for the salmon to get a good hold of the bait before you raise the road and tighten to set the hook.

I’ve met old men on some of the rivers I’ve fished who are masters at this method having spent their lives becoming intimately acquainted with the river, knowing where the salmon lies are and knowing when the fish are likely to be in a particular lie depending on conditions. Their favourite worm is the large ‘Dendrobena’ which they refer to as ‘black heads’. For some, finding a good source of these black heads is almost as exciting as catching the salmon itself! One could also use a worm under a float, but I’ve seen more fish caught using the first method.

Read More About Fishing In Ireland

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Prawn Fishing

Prawn fishing can be a deadly method for catching salmon. In fact it is so effective that some fisheries don’t allow it. The scent of the prawn seems to be irresistible to the salmon, especially prawns with a cluster of eggs attached. The prawn is fished under a chunky plastic float and attached to a specially prepared treble hook and pin. Copper wire is sometimes used to help secure the bait. The prawns are usually dyed purple or red, with different colours seemingly working better on different waters and conditions. They are stored and preserved in sea salt.

Prawn fishing, too, can boil down to an art form. Every successful fisherman who uses prawn fishing will have his or her own secret method of what type of prawn to present and how they present it exactly. I know of one highly successful prawn angler who discovered one day that he was being followed and spied on with binoculars by others eager to uncover his secret.

Whichever method you use I hope you will have a good time in Ireland salmon fishing! Tight lines, Regards, Colm

Hi there, hope you enjoyed our article on salmon fishing in Ireland!

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Thanks a million for your support. Warmest regards from Susanna and Colm!

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Warmest regards, Colm & Susanna

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