Salmon Fishing Tackle

The tables below offer some general recommendations on suitable tackle for Atlantic salmon fishing on the rivers of the Northern Highlands. Be aware that on rivers with hydro-electric schemes (Ness, Beauly, Conon, and Shin systems), water levels can change significantly and rapidly during generation, at any time throughout the season. Anglers that change their tackle to suit the water levels are more likely to be successful.

While the tackle set-ups suggested below should allow you to fish with confidence, nothing replaces local knowledge, so on the private beats, always take the advice of the ghillie, and on angling club waters a chat with local anglers can prove invaluable.

* Choice of rod should be based on the water conditions (higher water = larger flies = higher AFTM rated lines and rods), and the size of fish expected. Single-handed AFTM #7/8 weight rods are fine in low to mid water levels and for grilse, but it is not advisable to fish with too light a rod in late summer and autumn when there are many larger salmon in the rivers or in high water when tube flies are required. On small to medium sized rivers a 12-13ft AFTM #8/10 double handed rod will cover most conditions. Switch rods offer the advantages of a single-handed rod for short line work, and Spey casting capabilities at longer distances. A 15ft salmon rod of higher AFTM rating can be used, particularly in high water, but it is not essential and can hinder short casting; advantageous in low water conditions.

** Summer low is defined as the water level that is exceeded for 95% of the time (95 percentile). The water level will be below this for approximately 18 days in an average year. Water levels for many Highland rivers are updated daily by SEPA at: