Rods and Reels
The Miramichi River is designated as fly fishing only, and pinched-barbed hooks are required. The Miramichi and all tributaries can be successfully fished with either single or double-handed fly rods. Single handed rods should be 9 or 10 feet long, and 7, 8 or 9 weight depending on the angler’s preference. A 9’ 8-weight is very good all-around choice.
Double-handed rods in 7, 8, or 9-weight will all work fine. The lighter weights are better in the tributaries during lower water conditions and the heavier weights are needed for higher water and the larger flies that often are used during the beginning and ends of the season.
Spring salmon fishing - kelt fishing - is generally done with at least a 9-weight single or double-handed rod. Many fishermen use 10-weights. You will be using sinking lines and large flies. Fishing is generally done from anchored boats where small fish are often just pulled in against the current.
Reels for any rod should be sufficient to hold the desired fly line and at least 200 yards of backing. 300 is better. A big salmon running with the current can take out a great amount of backing very quickly. Backing capacity can be increased substantially by using Spectra type lines rather than thicker Dacron.
Fly Lines and Leaders
Fishing for bright salmon is generally done with a floating fly line. In the very early season or again in the fall a sink tip fly line may help get more strikes. Some anglers just loop sinking poly leaders onto the tips of their floating fly lines. A short piece of straight mono is used for the tippet.
Spring salmon fishing is done with full sinking or fast sink-tip-fly-lines and straight 20-pound-test for leaders.
Most anglers prefer a tapered leader ending in 12 or 15 pound-test for the beginning and end of the bright salmon season, and 10, 8 or even 6 during the summer as warmer temperatures require smaller flies and thus lighter tippets. Some anglers, though, catch plenty of salmon with 6 feet of straight monofilament as a leader right off the end of their fly line.
There are several fly shops along the river that supply locally tied flies in patterns that are successful on the Miramichi. Many Atlantic salmon flies like the Green Machine wet flies and Bomber dry flies were developed on the Miramichi.
Spring salmon patterns are normally streamers and start with #4 and go up to 1/0. Bright colors are the rule for spring fishing.
Bright salmon will take a larger fly such as a #4 or #2 in cool and/or high water. This is true in May and June, but even more so from mid-September until the end of the season. Typical wet fly patterns like the Silver, Black, or Rusty Rat, Black Ghost, Black Bear green and red butt, Blue Charm, Green Machine, and dozens more patterns are all successful.
Many of the same patterns work during the summer in sizes from #6 all the way down to #12 depending on the height and temperature of the water.
The Miramichi is the birthplace of the Bomber, and many salmon are taken during the summer months with this dry fly. It is not uncommon during the summer for salmon that will refuse all wet flies to readily rise for a Bomber fished on a dead drift.