If you’re a regular to our humble little blog, odds are you’ve heard the name Stuart Foxall before. Stu is a professional fly designer for Aqua Flies as well as part of Loop Tackle’s development team. You could say he knows a thing or two about swinging flies for big, bright, anadramous fish.
In fact, Stu’s been swinging flies with us at Alaska West or a long time (nearly a decade now.. whoa). That’s a long time to dial in your gear, and today Stu shares his rig of choice when swinging for chrome Kanektok king salmon (which if you haven’t heard, is open for 2016!).
- Loop Opti NXT 9140 Spey Rod
- Loop Classic 1013 reel
- Airflo Skagit Compact – 660 Grains
- 200 yards of Loop B100 30 lb. braided dacron backing connected to the reel with an arbor knot.
- 33 meters (1 spool) of Loop Shooter 40 lb. flat nylon shooting line connected via a bimini twist loop in the backing and a perfection loop in the Shooter Line.
- Airflo Skagit Compact head attached to the Shooter line via a loop to loop connection. A perfection loop is used in the shooting head end of the Shooter line to create a loop.
- Varying lengths of T-14 sink tip material from 10 to 15 feet long via loop to loop connections. Loops created in sink tip material using double nail knots on each end.
- Leader made of 6 feet of 15 lb. Maxima Ultragreen.
- Tube fly threaded onto leader with a stinger hook attached using an improved clinch knot.
“There really is no tougher opposition on a spey rod, than a large, chrome bright, king salmon hooked just minutes from the tide! They will test your tackle, nerves, and strength to their limits.. So you need to make sure that your tackle is up to the task.”
“I personally like a 14 foot long rod, and was lucky enough to get my hands on a prototype Loop Opti NXT 9140 (that’s a 14 foot, 9 weight spey rod). Yes, you can get away with a shorter rod but if I’m using long tips it’s much easier to lift these heavy tips and flies out of the water in one go without having to roll cast it up to the surface first. Anything that makes your life easier when spey casting is well worth taking the benefits of. That extra length of rod also helps in controlling swing speed, mending, and also casting distance when required. While mentioning casting distance, its well worth taking the advice given to me by old Alaska West head guide and Jedi Master, Ed Ward. Fish a short line through the run first pass pretty quickly and then go through again using a longer line. Sometimes those fish may be running pretty close to the river bank and want that fly swung quickly and not on the dangle!”
“I like the Loop nylon Shooter running line as it doesn’t get affected by the wind or river current so much as a normal thicker running line. I find it also shoots further when a longer cast is needed.”
“The Loop classic reel that I prefer is bomb proof! It has a very strong drag but to be honest I don’t like having the clutch really tight. If you are struggling to peel line off the reel to cast,the clutch is too tight in my opinion. With strong tackle like we are using here on aggressive and angry fish, they will find the weakest point of your outfit.. And with a strong outfit like this, it is usually the hook! I’ve seen lots of straightened out hooks at Alaska West over the years, but usually that’s due to the clutch being set too tight. It’s far better to have it fairly tight, and then you can get extra control on the reel by “palming” or “feathering” the reel with your palm or fingers if needed.”
“I only use 15 lb. Maxima for leader material. It is more than strong enough to land big, feisty fish. The other good thing about 15 lb. test nylon is that we do occasionally catch bottom snags when fishing deep.. Much better for the nylon to break and lose a fly rather than risking breaking off your fly line!”
Getting excited? We still have a few prime-time king salmon spots left for 2016! Drop us a line for more information.