The biggest of the Pacific Salmon, king salmon got their name by default. Notorious for holding in the deepest darkest hiding places, most “anglers” hope them up with heavy, shiny, noisy, smelly, gaudy, greasy gear – saving the fly fishing tackle for easier prey.
However… At Alaska West we have honed and refined our fly angling skills and collective knowledge to a point where we consistently hook and land these behemoth masses that more resemble chrome plated sea lions than fish.
This is a big game fish adventure and once bitten by the bug, it’s a hard habit to cure. The adrenaline rush of the fight and the conquering confidence of a battle won are feelings second only to the humiliating frustration of a war lost. Atlantic salmon anglers leave bewildered by the awesome power of these fly gobbling giants. Steelhead bums wonder how they can get their VW busses close to here. No one can wait to do it again, and most make sure they do.
WARNING… King salmon fishing at Alaska West is not for the traditionalist fly angler with a clicker drag and a cane rod or for the egocentric, know it all, been there done that crowd. These fish will kick your butt and leave you a quivering, second guessing bag of goo, more times than not.
Kings will alter the standard you will judge all other fish by… and it’s the best fresh water game there is, baby!
Throughout our king season at Alaska West, we run a popular spey casting instruction program. Guest spey instructors deliver group sessions and one-on-one instruction to anglers who are interested in improving their spey casting. Our instructors are the best of the best when it comes to spey instruction – whether you’ve never picked up a two-handed rod, or you’ve got years of experience under your belt, you can learn from our instructors. And it doesn’t hurt that your classroom happens to be a river loaded with hot, bright fish!
For a ton more information, have a look at our page about spey fishing.
King Salmon Tackle
The king fishery on the lower Kanektok seems to be custom-made for spey fishing, and most of our guests like to fish two-handed rods most of the time. 9 and 10 weight rods in the 12 1/2 to 15 feet range are most common, with some fast-action 8 weights also applicable for experienced anglers. For detailed descriptions of the two-handed rigs used by some expert anglers at Alaska West, have a look at this page.
Single-handed rods are responsible for many, many kings being caught at Alaska West over the years, and continue to be a great option. 10 weight to 12 weight rods are recommended, with 9 weight being on the light side. In most cases the line and flies are heavy so high modulus good quality rods are best.
We recommend very durable reels with a strong disc type drag and a large spool capacity of at least 200 yards of 30 pound backing.
Skagit-style spey casting is perfect for our fishery on the Kanektok. Skagit heads in grain weights appropriate for the rod being fished are by far the most common choice. Sinktips range from from 7 to 15 feet of T-14, or intermediate to type 8 in standard 15 foot tips.
100 to 500 grain, fast to extra fast shooting heads, and sink tips of 10 to 25 feet are all very common. Versatility is important. An interchangeable shooting head system is a good way to address varied water conditions.
Leaders should be abrasion-resistant monofilament of 15 to 20 pound strength.