Note: The Moy system however is very much an all methods Fishery in many places due to its character. All those into catch and release only fishing, or fly-fishing only, will find that a lot of the following may be suitable not for you. You will though still find plenty of quality sport on the Moy system in places.

The Moy system is one of the best places anywhere to learn how to bait fish for salmon and grilse. It is also an excellent place to learn fly-casting as it is a larger river. One cannot be properly prepared for fishing the classic rivers of Scotland, Russia or Norway or larger rivers in general unless one practices on a larger river.

The Moy System has a large official surplus of 23,000 fish that can be taken by rods, (2009 season).

The first advantage of fishing the Moy system is the numbers of fish running the river and generally available to the angler for what is relatively low cost salmon fishing. The Moy system also excels in another important area, in terms of the consistency of its salmon fishing. This is due to the fact that it is not a spate river system that would be reliant on recent rainfall to fish well. It excels yet again in accessibility, there is a wide variety of accessible fishing and fisheries available on the Moy. The angler can move around to suit the weather conditions and water levels or the time of the season, or simply to learn the other stretches.

Often some specialized, non-conventional salmon fishing techniques used locally are the most productive methods on the river. Some of those techniques such as Moy style bubble and fly fishing, and stret pegging / sliding float worm fishing were specifically devised to match some of the fairly unique circumstances anglers may encounter on the Moy system.

Atlantic Salmon angling in general is a vast subject and there are very many facets to it.

Its best to say at the start that it is a way of life and a tradition with many. There is a lot of sporting etiquette involved and long term learning. One does an apprenticeship. There is nothing quite like Atlantic Salmon fishing. Its intriguing, different, unique, difficult. It contains at times both exasperation, and supreme elation.

While most people will gravitate eventually to orthodox fly only fishing for salmon, personally I do enjoy most methods of salmon angling where permitted, including of course orthodox fly fishing and salmon fly casting. Many places on the river Moy system where I live are suitable for alternative methods of salmon fishing to the orthodox fly.

Some aspects of these other methods of salmon angling I particularly enjoy, as well as fly fishing of course which I also practice very extensively. In particular plug fishing with Rapala lures, bubble fly fishing with Irish Shrimp flies, shrimp and prawn fishing both free lined and float fished, and light line worm fishing, again both float and free line.

In orthodox fly fishing I like mini tube fishing, and in particular furrowing mini tubes as distinct from riffling mini tubes though I do practice both, furrowing and riffling. I love working Irish shrimp flies in medium to slow water and low water.

I consider the most important thing in all of salmon angling is to foster the ability to catch your fish generally by design, through understanding and applying knowledge. Understanding the nature of the fish and the nature of the currents and geography of a river.

The main methods are Fly Fishing, Spinning and Bait fishing.

Fly fishing can be practiced as the usual orthodox fly fishing with wet fly, nymphs or dry flies.

wet fly fishing is the main method used in the U.K and Ireland with hair wings, Irish and Scottish shrimp flies or tube flies. Wet fly may mean well sunk flies or just sub surface fishing. Down and across fishing slowing the fly's progress across the current by the angle of presentation used, rod tip positioning or mending line, or one may be fishing more across current in lesser flows or low water and speeding up the movement of the fly a little with a retrieve, such as when pulsating Irish shrimp flies, furrowing mini tubes or riffling hitch fishing.

Nymph fishing is popular and effective in some areas of the U.K. and Ireland, induced take sighted fish nymphing where a lift is made, or dead drift nymphing in known lies.

Dry fly fishing is normally used in more Northern latitudes and it is not a very successful method in Ireland or the U.K.

Fly casting ability and the general control of a fly line and flies will become of great importance to fish well when orthodox fly fishing.

Bubble and fly fishing is a popular method on some Fisheries in Ireland, most notably on the Moy system. Moy style bubble and fly fishing is very visual and exciting. The bubble is placed at the end of the line and the flies are on droppers up the line. A retrieve is made and the flies cross over the fish before the bubble. In other places such as the Mourne River the fly is placed on a trace after the bubble and usually the bubble is allowed to swing around in the current.

Spinning is normally carried out using metal, plastic or wooden spinners, spoons or plugs. Lures such as the flying C and Devon Minnows, or wobbling spoons. Plugs are used extensively also. Occasionally real small fish are used such as minnows or baby dace.

Bait fishing usually means Worming, Prawn & Shrimp fishing. Bait fishing may be carried out with or without a float, sometimes the float is set over depth and used for stret pegging.

There are many different types of salmon angler. For me angling of any type, most especially including salmon angling, is about using knowledge and tactics to catch fish. That is what most interests me personally, catching some fish entirely by design and not accident. Nowadays on the fly rod as the added requirements of casting ability and line density choices make it more interesting.

The beauty of salmon angling in general lies in the fact that the fish can and do respond to a tactical approach. That the fish are in fact so heavily influenced by the weather and water conditions and by presentation. That they are also influenced by the topography of their environment.

Perhaps most challenging is that you must adapt to the situation as you find it since the weather and water conditions are always outside of your control - however what you can do in terms of preparation and approach is always within your control, including knowing when to not fish and wait for a better opportunity and indeed where not to fish. You actually have a lot to do to get your side of things sorted out. As we say then you do not miss it when it is happening. In other words, you can't make the conditions or circumstances you experience but you can only properly take advantage of them, when they do present opportunities, once you have your side of things properly under control.

The Atlantic salmon or grilse is the most glorious and intriguing fish for the freshwater angler, perhaps most especially for an all methods angler. For me there is simply nothing to compare with salmon angling and most especially spring salmon angling.

The Moy System

Fishing the Moy System is like salmon angling anywhere in that the fish behave as Atlantic salmon do.

The preferences displayed by the fish are usually (or certainly were in the past) a little more obvious on the Moy because of the numbers of fish present. It is possible to hear some people telling you that there are no rules in salmon angling and things like it does not matter about colour of fly e.t.c.. I once replied to a guest who asked me about it, that the facts are that if you wish to increase your chances of taking salmon and achieve some consistency with Atlantic Salmon angling then there are plenty of rules to observe. The rules exist because of the nature of water, the weather conditions, the nature and habits of the fish, all of which combine to show quite clearly some discernible preferences displayed by the fish.

It is simply fact that you will catch more fish, or have a better chance of taking one -

In certain types of flow than in other types of flow.
At certain depths for the method being used than at other depths of water.
At certain places at specific water heights and not others.
In certain places at certain times of the season and not other places at certain times of the season.
On certain methods in certain types of water, (fresh flood water, or long settled water).

You'll catch more at certain angles of presentation in a particular flow than at other angles of presentation.
You'll get more at certain fly, lure, or bait water speeds than at other fly, lure or bait water speeds. (oh how important that one is, a lot hinges on that)

You'll catch more in a certain light intensity than at other light intensities.

You may have more or a better chance of taking one at certain times than other times in low water, or in certain weather conditions.

You'll take more of them in a specific wind direction for a certain place than in other wind directions at certain places.

More in this barometric pressure on a certain method than at another barometric pressure.

Those are facts, not opinions, governing the sport that the angler discovers through the experience of himself and importing knowledge from others. It is discernible, predictable fact.

Where the fresh runs of fish will stop on the river system due to the time of the year is one of the most influential factors affecting sport on any stretch of the Moy, and on larger river systems generally.

There are rules and principles, general overall rules and many other related sub rules and anyone who thinks there aren't simply doesn't understand much about Atlantic salmon, water or weather.

After knowing many of the main things governing how we should approach the sport, there are all the little nuances involved and full awareness of the nature of a river and the behaviour of its fish only comes from long experience.

Each river will have a unique set of circumstances that its salmon and grilse will relate to the angler by their behaviour. It is up to the angler to be observant enough to start to perceive many of the reasons why things happen. This is what makes salmon angling really interesting. Quite frankly if it was all down to luck only all of the time there would not be much point in the exercise, the challenge the sport of Atlantic salmon offers most is to become a tactical angler over time and with experience. Luck may still play a part at any time, but to be consistently successful over time is not down to luck, it is down to carefully managing and directing your effort. How perfect a fish for such a challenge, how long the learning curve, how complete the satisfaction with it.

The beauty is that almost always everything about water and weather conditions is largely outside of your control as it is directed by nature, so you must therefore adapt or respond to what nature presents. There is a key to success (as in sequence of presentation specifics) for the day and you have to find it or realise what it is. It may occasionally be - to wisely realise that the best option is not to fish at certain times or certain days and selectively reserve the concentrating of your effort to another time.

You can at most only have your side of things right, you can be fully prepared. That is really more than enough for anyone to do, it will take serious attention to detail. It will usually take enough effort and time to last most of a lifetime. Tactical salmon angling is about moving from catching occasional salmon mainly by chance, to catching salmon consistently and almost always entirely by design. Or as some put it, from them occasionally catching you - to you catching them.

Don’t believe the myths about luck or that there are no rules. Most salmon behave predictably and catching fish by design and not accident is the highest form of satisfaction possible in Atlantic salmon angling, it is also something that often allows for anticipation of the take. The take will come my Dad used to say to me when he felt he was fishing right, he knew it was only a matter of time.
The statement that the rules are that there are no rules is incorrect as far as taking a realistic approach to angling in general is concerned and to indeed to any sense of consistent or tactical salmon angling.

The fact is that what an odd fish does just doesn’t make the rules nor does it break them, (though they do break them literally but they most certainly do not break them generally or in concept - if you can follow what I am saying).

When a predictable and observable trend or pattern emerges from the behaviour of numbers of fish, more than an odd fish, you can then learn from that and understand that there are many general rules whether or not an odd fish operates outside of them. What the vast majority of fish will do predictably is what makes the rules, what allows you to learn and discern what you should be doing. Fish for the 95% to 98% of fish that stick to predictable form no matter what odd ones will do. What the water does and its nature makes discernible rules. What the weather does and its nature makes discernible rules.

Understand fully that there’s almost no luck in consistent salmon angling. Presentation is very, very critical at times, not perhaps all the time but very many times. More critical sometimes than would be believed.

When you say something matters it does not mean that it matters 100% for 100% of the time. It means it has an influence, that influence can become more or less important as everything interrelates and is interconnected. So depending on a host of other circumstances something that matters will take on more or less importance. It could matter very greatly at one time or on a day and yet matter much less so another day though it would still feature as an item of some contributory consequence to the overall chances for success.

How do we make a start in tactical salmon angling?

The very first thing to understand is the extreme importance of fishing the taking lies and not the whole river. Taking lies are determined mainly by the viscous flows. To be able to instantly identify them as second nature is critical, they are always the best taking lies. I consider the single most important piece of advice I could offer to anyone about salmon angling is to be able to recognise the viscous flows.

The second thing is to be very selective about when, where and how you fish. Be discerning. You must work around and adapt to natures time table, its not going to change to suit you. Understand that the fish are very influenced by weather, water and light conditions.

Always be observant and prepared to import local knowledge on places and methods from experienced anglers.