We all know that the “rating” system for rods, reels and lines is a universal mess. The AFTM system is being openly abused by some manufacturers where they deliberately sell fly lines heavier than the AFTM rating that is on the box. Some even boast about it in their blurb! The related AFFTA system for Spey Lines has never taken off and was even more confusing. To cap it all there is no such thing as an agreed AFTM measurement for rods or reels which means that the maker can say whatever AFTM they feel like on those. The same sort of thing is happening in golf too – each brand wants its 5-irons (for example) to hit further than other brands– so what do they do? They change the club specification to that of a 4-iron! Wow, that was easy marketing – just change the number on the box!
Clearly, if unchecked by proper regulation, marketplace competitive forces simply start breaking down the fundamental structures consumers rely on. It’s little wonder that the poor customer is often befuddled into buying the wrong thing.
Thank goodness, at last, a tackle designer has entered the market with some plain old common sense and, dare I say it, some principles too. Salmologic is the brainchild of Danish master fly fisher, Henrik Mortensen and as the brand name suggests, a lot of very careful thought and testing has gone into his range of products.
Their product labelling is as crystal clear as the rivers Henrik fishes. If you buy a fly fishing outfit from Salmologic you KNOW that you have a perfectly matching outfit in your hands.
It works like this: The products are divided into “outfits” each having its own ‘size’ given in grams, e.g. 20. This actually refers to the line weight in grams that is ideal for loading the rod but it is also used on everything you need. So when you buy a fly rod (whatever length) numbered 31, you would also buy a fly line (whatever type – float or sink) labelled 31 and then the coated-leader labelled 31 (whatever type – float or sink) and indeed the tapered nylon labelled 31. This weight based system makes sure that every component in the system weighs the correct amount whether it is a floating fly line or very fast sinking line. If it is labelled with the same number then it weighs the same, so it could not be easier to buy, or sell, for that matter. Henrik calls this his G&G system.
Rod rated 24g with lines below to match
Just a small selection of size ’24’ choice!
I first came across a Salmologic outfit this summer when a friend arrived from Germany to fish Lambley my favourite beat on the South Tyne. He was using a ‘Scandi’ shooting head system of a brand I had not come across before, made up of an 11ft Salmologic Skyborn Rod (20g), a matching Short-Cut Head fly line shooting head (20g) connected to a very slick running line at one end and a fast sink coated leader (20g) with 5ft tippet at the other. The river was two foot on the gauge and with a good breeze blowing I did wonder if he was ‘under-gunned’ with such short and light gear, however, with a flick here and there – the line sailed out and delivered a small bottle tube without any fuss or bother at all. Cor, I must try this I thought, and so I did.
Well, what a surprise and delight. As you would expect the outfit was perfectly balanced and of course light as a feather. It made casting really rather easy and effortless! This was like driving an F1 car for the first time – light, efficient, slick and urging for more. The head and leader outside the rod tip simply flew as far as you allowed the running line to go. I have never fished such a small rod for salmon before but felt totally in control and soon forgot all about its length. In fact, the biggest surprise for me was when I returned to my tried and trusted 13ft traditional Spey outfit which now seemed slow, ponderous and heavy. I was back to driving a 4×4 again!
This brief encounter was an eye opener, so being very keen to explore further I contacted the UK representative for SalmoLogic.
Michael and the Magnificent Seven
Michael McMenamin from Salmologic UK arrived off the plane from Northern Ireland carrying seven Salmologic outfits ready for us to try at Lambley the following day. I’d gathered a few fishing stalwarts and we stayed in one of Lambley’s terrific cottages which are perfectly suited for fishing ‘parties’!
After dinner, Michael showed us the impressive packaging and product labelling and explained the simple logic behind it all. The attention to detail in both packaging and product is extraordinary with clear labelling everywhere. We really liked the detailed specifications laser-printed on both the fly lines AND the coated (poly) leaders! (With my current poly-leaders I can never remember or work out what the sink rate is!). Michael also explained how the extremely slick running line thickened at both ends (reversible) so that it tapered to match the fly line head to give a smooth transition, strong overhang, and provide stability during the flight of the cast. Michael also told us how fundamentally important the coated-leaders were to a Salmologic outfit not just for depth control but also in the flight of the cast itself. In fact, the tippet is very important too and their experimentation has shown that a tippet of around 5ft is ideal for balance and presentation.
For gear junkies like me this was exciting talk, but one or two of the others were more keen to know the practical implications (they had by this time moved on to smaller cut-glasses). And this of course is the most extraordinary feature about the Salmologic system – the flexibility it gives to cover changing fishing conditions. For example, the Skyborn double handed rods are available in models designed to cast ten different gram weights of line: 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 31, 33 and 35. Once the rod size is chosen (say 33g) you can then pair it with one of seven different fly lines of size 33g and then pair that with one of five different sink rates of coated leader size 33g. All in all, I make this 35 possible outfit combinations for each rod size! This choice is amazing but with such clear labelling (and colour coding) you really cannot go wrong.
On the river we tested the following outfits:
- Salmologic Skyborn 11ft – 18g Gram Switch Rod – 5 piece. Gravity Reel no 2 loaded the 18g Shortcut Head in Float/ S1/ S2 with a sink 4 Logic Leader.
- Salmologic Serenity 10ft 11in – 18g Switch rod – 5 piece. Gravity Reel no 2 loaded the 18g Shortcut Head in Full float with sink 6 Logic Leader.
- Salmologic Skyborn 12ft 6in – 24g Double hander – 5 piece. Gravity Reel No 3 loaded with the 24g Logic Head in float / sink 1 with sink 4 Logic Leader.
- Salmologic Serenity 12ft – 24g Double hander – 5 piece. Classico Reel No 2 loaded with the 24g Logic Head in full float with intermediate Logic Leader.
- Salmologic Skyborn 13ft 1in – 31g Double hander – 6 piece. Gravity Reel No 3 loaded with the 31g Logic Head sink 1/ sink 2 with sink 4 Logic Leader.
- Salmologic Serenity 12ft 10in – 31g Double hander – 6 piece. Gravity Reel No 4 loaded with the 31g float / sink 1 Logic Head and intermediate Logic Leader.
- Salmologic Serenity 13ft 6in – 35g Double hander – 6 piece. Classico Reel No 3 loaded 35g floating Logic Head and intermediate Logic Leader.
The ‘signature’ handle on a Serenity rod.
The South Tyne that day was fining down after a minor flood and looking terrific but still a bit coloured. Unfortunately, a very cold, fierce downstream wind sprang out from the south and the skies cleared to a bright sunny day. Rod testing became rather difficult for us mere mortals. Michael on the other hand gave us a master class of casting with the whole range of outfits despite the fierce downstream wind. It was a pleasure to witness a professional at work using tools perfectly suited to their job. We were impressed to say the least.
Despite the conditions we each took in turn to try the outfits and here is a summary of our joint conclusions:
1. Every outfit was beautifully balanced, felt light and was effortless to use.
2. The sinking lines were as easy to fish with as the floating lines! In fact, better at cutting through the wind and perfect for the conditions of the day.
3. The 11ft Switch Rods were a breath of fresh air to us dyed-in-the-wool 15ft salmon rodders!
4. All the rods felt as if they had deep reserves of power available if required.
5. The Skyborn rods had lovely, graceful, progressive actions and we loved their colour.
6. The Serenity rods felt amazingly powerful and responsive, and in the right hands (Michael’s) produced effortless, seriously tight loops.
7. The bent signature handle is like marmite – but I loved it – though it is optional.
8. The ability to change tactics so easily is a major benefit on any spate river.
9. These are “fishing” outfits par excellence. Not just casting tools for hitting the far bank.
We enjoyed a terrific day which left us with serious questions not only about our current traditional outfits but also about our attitudes towards the smaller rods. Our overseas cousins have been banging on about switch rods and light lines for some time – but we have been slow to respond in the UK – but now I’m really looking forward to exploring this new territory on my fly fishing journey.
We were all genuinely impressed with the Salmologic tackle and the brand’s really clever and sensible approach to more effective fishing. There can be no better balanced and more efficient outfits on offer in the fly fishing marketplace today. Salmologic seem to have thought of everything and provided not only quality but also the flexibility for us to fish effectively. Henrik’s Salmologic has quite simply, created the Formula 1 tools of fly fishing and I’ve already made my New Year’s resolution: I’m going to make the Switch!
Our thanks go to Salmologic UK operated by Michael McMenamin of AM Angling, The Mall, 13 Frances St, Comber, Newtownards BT23 7DW. Tel: 07544 308098. http://www.salmologic.co.uk & http://www.amangling.com