Jeff Hickman is a two-handed rod steelhead guide from Oregon who owns Fish The Swing LLC. He is a signature Idylwilde flies tier and Deneki veteran who will be joining us again this season to guide kings at Alaska West. Here is a quick little tip from Jeff about fly selection when targeting Chinook salmon.
It seems the trend in king flies is the bigger is better mindset. While big flies do work well to elicit the big grab of a king in most water conditions, so do smaller flies and they are a lot easier to cast. When king fishing, especially when wading and spey casting, a big fly can be really cumbersome and difficult to cast all day long.
If your cast is not turning over well because the fly you are throwing is too big or too heavy, it is not going to be fishing effectively and it doesn’t matter how good it looks in the water!
In most conditions I prefer an unweighted, easy to cast fly like a Fish Taco or Flash Taco or lightly weighted flies like Brian Silvey’s Silveynator or Tandem Tube.
I find fly choice is important, but what I find to be more important than the fly choice is the fly depth and presentation speed. Kings like the fly to be at the right depth and speed. Sometimes that is deep and sometimes that is shallow, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. It all depends on the water conditions and the mood of the fish.
If you are casting well and your easy-to-cast fly is turning over straight at the angle you need, then your mends and the sink time of the fly are most likely going to be where they need to be – resulting in more fish eating your fly!