We fish a lot of flesh flies for rainbows at Alaska West. Here are 5 reasons why.
- There’s always a flesh hatch. Our rivers get jammed with salmon biomass every summer, and when the salmon die, their flesh winds up in the river. It sticks around for a long time. Flesh hangs up on snags and gets caught in backeddies. Salmon carcasses pile up on gravel bars, then get swept downriver with the next high water. Even if it’s early in the season and spawning hasn’t yet begun, there’s still plenty of last year’s salmon parts in the river. Yes, our rainbows get keyed on flesh at certain times of year, but on any given day, you can catch rainbows on flesh flies.
- Flesh flies don’t require a perfect dead drift. Insect nymphs are often suspended in the water column, moving along evenly with the speed of the current. That’s why, when fishing traditional nymph patterns, a dead drift is pretty important. Salmon flesh tumbles. Most pieces of salmon flesh aren’t suspended in the water column – they tumble downriver, bouncing off the bottom, getting pushed around by currents, catching on snags, releasing, sinking back to the bottom. Fishing a flesh fly with heavy weight mimics the bouncing, tumbling movement of flesh really well, even if you’re not mending like a world champion. Chuck your flesh rig into the right kind of water, make maybe one respectable mend, and you’ll be in the game.
- There’s flesh for every occasion. Giant flesh flies work well in big water because they’re more visible. Little tiny micro-flesh patterns do the trick in clear water in the late season or small water in side channels. Salmon flesh comes in all shapes and sizes, and flesh flies do too.
- Flesh flies don’t need to be pretty. You’re imitating a piece of salmon carcass. You might feel better if your flesh flies are perfectly proportioned, but the fish don’t care one bit. Attach some bunny fur or marabou to a hook in whatever fashion is most convenient, and you’ll catch fish.
- Trout move to flesh flies. Flesh is a high calorie meal, so rainbows are perfectly OK burning some energy to eat it. They’ll come tearing up off a shelf or out from the recesses of a snag to snack your fly – you don’t need to bump ’em on the nose!