A psychological & tactical profile breakdown of what separates regular salmon fishers from the elite team of sub surface salmon magnet technicians.
There's a rare breed of salmon fisher who frequent the Scottish salmon rivers who appear to be clearly operating on a different bandwidth to what regular salmon fishers operate on. These fishers seem to seldom blank even during the toughest of water conditions yet always appear humble and are never too smart to realise that salmon fishing is a never ending learning process that will often take a full lifetime to truly understand.
A true salmon fishing expert will know how to align their vibe with that of the river and how to keep their confidence and excitement levels under a kevlar wrap. The inner confidence a true professional posesses is a powerful inner feeling and that attribute paired with their ability to listen to the constantly changing vibe of the river will flash salmon hooking possibilities through their mind on multiple ocassions throughout the fishing day. A true salmon fishing expert will also understand the importance of salmon river observation and will never rush over eagerly into the river to start fishing. The expert knows only too well that once the basic sub surface tactical thoughts are in place paired with that inner suspicion of where a taking salmon is holding then they're often only a dozen casts away from success.
Having observed and personally known many in the Scottish salmon fishing game who fit into this expert status I'd say that the number one attribute that seperates them from the pack is having an uncanny 'feel' for the mood of the river and where to expect a taking fish to be located at any time of the fishing day. A true salmon fishing expert will also be flexible in their tactical fishing thoughts and will never switch off as to where the possibilities of a fish may lie throughout the full course of the fishing day. All tactical notions that appears in the predatory mind of an expert will not only be listened to but will also be actioned. These often subtle tactical notions only have to be correct once for a successful outcome to the fishing day.
A true Scottish salmon fishing expert will always have a definite idea of where their salmon fly is targetting in the water column based on the prevailing water conditions and temperatures. An expert will never just go through the motions of salmon fishing and will always be tuned into exactly what depth their fly is fishing and at what speed. There will be nothing left to chance in the mind of a salmon fishing expert even though this may not be apparent to observers who are only seeing and observing what is happening above the waterline. When an expert's salmon fly lands on the water that is when they really 'switch on' whereas a regular fisher will normally at that point 'switch off'.
Another attribute of a true salmon fishing expert is that they will clearly understand the value of effective riverbank movement throughout the full course of the salmon fishing day which enables them the ability to manufacture their own salmon fishing luck more than a regular salmon fisher can do. Effective fly swing spacings (after the depth and speed of fly have been taken into consideration) will by the law of averages position their fly at least once over a taking fish during the fishing day. That 3 foot fly swing spacing movement between each cast is an unspoken weapon when searching a big Scottish river for a sub surface cooperator and should never be underestimated or ignored and all true Scottish salmon fishing experts will be fully aware of that.
On a personal basis I'd fish better on an empty stomach and wait until lunchtime but again not overeat at lunchtime or while out on the river. Waiting for a big feed at night was always a trigger to get me off the river but maintaining full river vibe to mind connection on an empty stomach seemed to always allow my inner tactical thoughts to run wild much more than on a full stomach. Avoiding excessive alcohol or caffeine seemed to also allow a higher state of river vibe connection although that was often a difficult nut to crack while working on the Tay in the company of fantastic fishing guests! A drop or 2 of nascent iodine in you tea in the morning will also assit the functionality of your 'third eye' via the decalsification of your brain's pineal gland. Deep breath control utilising the nostrils more than the mouth also seemed to improve the river vibe connection along with periodic thoughtful riverbank observations throughout the course of the full fishing day. Focussing on your peripheral vision on a big Scottish river like the Tay for subtle signs of salmon movement from either running or holding fish would also often provide the edge for having the fly in the correct square yard of a pool at the right moment of the day!