Yellow Lady trout and salmon fly – John Hey on fly fishing for salmon

This salmon was taken on genuine fly fishing tackle from the Hurunui River lagoon.
This salmon was taken on genuine fly fishing tackle from the Hurunui River lagoon.

Yellow Lady trout and salmon lure

By John Hey

A few seasons back I had been fishing for salmon with a lure, a feathered lure, some being English Hairwing style, and while not having a lot of success early on, I decided to read up on how salmon were caught on the fly in the United States. Collecting American Flyfishing magazine, I started reading back issues on all the fly fishing for salmon, from rods, reels, lines, to reading the water.

I even got videos from the United States on flyfishing for Steelhead trout. I spent the whole winter watching those videos. The next season I bought a Kilwell saltwater fly rod (9ft long) and a System Two – 11wt reel. The fly line was a 10wt shooting head, hi-speed, hi d, and spliced that to a floating backing along with 100 yards of Dacron. There’s no way I was going to lose a fish through not having enough line! A short 15 lbs leader to the fly. Now I was ready!

Tying the Yellow Lady trout lure.
Tying the Yellow Lady trout lure.

Many a kahawai had succumbed to this setup, so I knew it handled fast hard fighting fish. Bring on the salmon!

It was February, the first day of my annual holidays when Keith and I had heard the salmon were in the surf at the Hurunui River mouth. We started out fishing the surf and it wasn’t long before Keith was into a good salmon – a nice 15 pounder. By mid-afternoon, Keith had his two, and being the kind chap he is, decided to boil the billy. We left the surf and went back to the Suzuki as I had only caught one fish. I decided to give the fly a go.

There were a few salmon playing in the lagoon. At the time Keith was filming with his video camera capturing the salmon rising. I was casting across and down, then mending the floating line back upstream, when suddenly on my fifth cast the line stopped. Could it be a STRIKE?

Then the unmistakable head shaking of a salmon. A quick yell to Keith and he pressed the record button on his video camera. Not only a salmon on the fly but I had it on video as well. There was no chance to see if it was a fluke as that was my second salmon and limit for the day.

We returned the next Monday and I fished nothing but the fly just to see if it would work again. With not as many fish rising it would be hard, but again late in the afternoon I hooked and landed a salmon. The first was 13 lb and the other 11 lb. The outfit handled very well with plenty of control, neither fish took me into the surf. Mind you I didn’t foul hook them either.

Te author with his mid-water salmon taken on true fly fishing tackle.
The author with his mid-water salmon taken on true fly fishing tackle.

I tie the Yellow Lady salmon lure on upturned salmon hooks. First tie in a tail of red whisks. Then a silver oval tinsel rib followed by yellow chenille. Tie in four yellow hackles on top, then wind your tinsel through to the head. Next, I tie in some copper coloured Flashabou on either side of the head. Then I tie in some yellow Krystal Flash before winding on a yellow throat hackle and finishing the head in black. Some anglers might say you don’t need the fancy trimmings, but hey, if it catches salmon! Tight Lines John Hey.