We love our big, leopard spotted, mammal eating rainbow trout that inhabit our waters in Alaska. However, sometimes we find they over shadow some of our other fantastic species. Species that if you’ve never tried fishing for, you’re surely missing out.
Today, Deneki family member, Adam Jackson, fills us in on fishing for an extremely overlooked species found all over Alaska, our beloved dolly varden.
In Alaska, we find that dolly varden are prevalent in most drainages that run directly to the salt. Ranging anywhere from 6 inches to over 20 pounds, these bull dogging tornadoes are one species that you are sure to hook while fishing in Alaska. Closely related to Arctic char, they can be nearly impossible to differentiate. As ravenous feeders they are aggressive, competitive, and curious. Often to the point of taking or chasing the fly at unnatural points during the swing or drift. So long as they can even remotely identify the fly or its action as prey as it passes through the strike zone its “fish on!”
The jealousy factor between competing dollies for a fly is strong. It’s not uncommon after hooking up and fighting your fish in close to witness other dollies swooping in to steel the fly away from the hooked fish’s mouth. You will also note the continuous rolls and twists made trying to throw the hook. This typically comes after several long runs, ending only after applying more pressure with your palm to the spool, slowing them to a cork bending halt.
When targeting dolly varden, it’s hard to compete with the effectiveness of a simple bead rig. However, conventional fly patterns work extremely well too, particularly some lesser known patterns such as the Battle Creek Special or the Thunder Creek (tied with orange and white bucktail).
More on Fly Fishing for Dolly Varden