Flies for Chinooks on the Dean
Fly chewing chinooks are still a rare breed in many fisheries, and by ‘chewing’ I mean honest-to-goodness hair-raising grabs. The lower Dean is one place where they grab indeeed, and the favourite go-to patterns all share some similar qualities to other fly-snarfing salmon waters.
Like in all waters, conditions dictate fly size and colour. In the earlier part of June, when waters run higher, faster and colder, fly choices should include chartreuse…(because ‘Nooks always have something for this colour), with some flash- actually, lots of flash – and some contrast in the form of kingfisher or silver doctor blue and/or dyed grizzly saddle hackles of the same. Marabou, rhea, ostrich, rabbit, and Arctic fox materials all offer plenty of action. Some anglers use weighted eyes to quicken sink rates, while others prefer unweighted, plastic tube-style bugs to fish up around the many big boulders that hold fish. The ‘Lloyds Moose Ugly’s’ have had a favourite colour scheme for a long time and can run anywhere from 3 to 5″ long.
The June fishery generally requires 10 to 20 foot lengths of T-14 depending on the freshet. Last season, water was reasonable and 12 to 14 feet of T-14 and a weighted fly cast well and caught lots of fish. Spring snow pack will dictate 2011 tactics.
As the water drops and clears into July, smaller patterns with less flash, and often with added purple to the mix, come into favour, as well as the ‘mini-moose’, a simply smaller version of above, tied on tubes or Intruder style. Smaller, heavy wire bait or tube style hooks, like Owner the SSW, Cutting point, and Nordic tube, all hold well in #1 to #3/0.
Into July, steelhead start to show in big numbers, and darker patterns catch both species, such as egg head string leech type flies, Bulkley Specials (egg head, blue collar, black/purple tail, blue flash) and Kilowatt color schemes. Use strong jig hooks if you use bring Kilowatts.
All these patterns are best tied on tubes or shanks so you can change hooks. Many Dean Chinooks are smokers, often requiring a boat chase, so expect to put on a fresh hook here and there, even after landed fish. It’s well worth it.