Just a cool picture from a guy who can fish pretty good too.
Today we’ve got a video featuring George Cook, Northwest angling mainstay and Sage/Redington/Rio rep, telling us about his approach to selecting flies for silvers at Alaska West. In moving pictures right on your computer, George covers
- Some specific patterns he likes
- What sequence of colors to use in any particular hole
- Some elements of fly design and presentation that appeal to silvers.
Have a look!
If you’re viewing this in a newsletter or a reader, or if you’d like to see George and his flies in large-format glory, click here to view the video on YouTube.
More on Silver Salmon at Alaska West
In the angling circles of the Pacific Northwest, there are still some doubters out there. We know because we run into them.
“Kings don’t eat swung flies – you have to force-feed them nymphs.”
“Sure, you might hook one, but then it’s like reeling in a mattress.”
Folks who say those things have been fishing in the wrong place, or at the wrong time, or possibly both. On most rivers that still have runs of kings, you have to fish hundreds of miles from the salt to show a fly to those bad boys.
The Dean and the Kanektok are two of the top handful of rivers in the world when it comes to catching king salmon on swung flies.
- Kings only eat (crush!) swung flies when they’re chrome bright and fresh out of the salt.
- Kings only fight like sea lions on crack when they’re chrome bright and fresh out of the salt.
- The Dean and the Kanektok both have really strong runs of kings.
- The Dean and the Kanektok are both small enough rivers that you can swing flies effectively on them within…guess what…a mile or less of the salt.
If you want to catch kings on swung flies in 2010, you’ve still got a shot. We’ve got 2 chinook weeks on the Dean this year with a few spots each available. 4 of our 5 king weeks on the Kanektok are sold out, but there are a few spots left in one of those weeks.
Interested in learning more? Drop us a line. We’d be more than happy to talk your ear off about kings on the swing.
More on King Salmon
Today’s installment of our series on rod quivers focuses on our fishery in Alaska from mid-June to mid-July. This time is often referred to as ‘king season’, and that it certainly is, but kings aren’t the only game in town.
- A 9 weight spey rod between 12 and 14 feet long for kings. When swinging for kings from our gravel bars, most of our guests are fishing spey rods these days, for a whole bunch of reasons. 9 weights are most common, and shorter spey rods are becoming more and more popular because they’re easier to cast all day and more effective for fighting big fish.
- A 6 weight single-handed rod for rainbows. Once July rolls around, the rainbow fishing gets real, real good and you just gotta do some.
Nice to Have
- A 10 weight single-handed rod for kings. Anchoring up and fishing from the boat allows anglers to cover slots that just can’t be fished effectively from shore. Also, stripping flies from the boat in tidewater can make for some of the fastest-paced king fishing around.
- An 8 weight for chums and/or sockeye. Yes, the kings get more of the attention, but the ‘other salmon’ are a heck of a lot of fun when they’re chrome – and they are in the lower part of the river where we fish.
- Another spey rod for kings. You could bring a whole bunch of spey rods if you wanted to. A lighter rod like an 8 weight can be a great option for fishing lighter tips. Besides, it’s always nice to have a couple of rods rigged with different tips and/or different flies just to save time switching gear back and forth.
- A 5 weight switch rod or spey rod for trout. You probably know by now that we love spey fishing for trout, and we think you should too.
More Gear for Alaska
Last week we started our series on Alaskan trout foods with some information on salmon flesh. Today we’re covering a simple, effective fly pattern that’s used to imitate salmon flesh – your basic ‘Flesh Fly’.
Our recipe and photos are courtesy of Matt Hynes, senior guide at Alaska West and recent addition to our management team at Andros South. Matt’s tying is both creative and meticulous – as you’ll see below, for a pattern that’s sometimes known as ‘bunny fur on a hook’, there are some finer points that make the difference between a run-of-the-mill Flesh Fly and one that’ll do you proud.
Tying the Flesh Fly
Almost any non-stainless hook will do: I like Daichii 2220s and 1710s, sizes 2-10
Body and Tail
Non-crosscut stripped rabbit in white, tan, cream, or “dirty sock”
White or pink
Step 1: Thread base
I almost always put a thread base down first – 90% of the time. It helps prevent the materials from sliding and twisting around the hook shank.
Step 2: Attach the rabbit
Decide how long you would like the tail – on a size 6 hook I like about 1.5″. Too long and it will foul, too short and the fly won’t have much action. IMPORTANT!!! Stroke back the rabbit hair to expose the skin as shown in pic #2, and tie the fur down at this point. The skin should wrap around the hook shank under the pressuse of 4-5 wraps. I also don’t trim the thread just because it’s an extra step.
Step 3: Wrap the rabbit
Advance the thread almost to the hook eye. Stretch the rabbit a little and wrap it around the hook going away from you (clockwise), for a right-handed tier. The tighter you wrap it, the more sparse the profile, as wrapping the rabbit openly (with gaps) also will do. Doing this uses less skin, and thus less fur.
Step 4: Finish
Tie off the rabbit a little back from the eye, trimming the strip on a slight angle. This will prevent excess build-up at the hook eye. Whip finish.
- You can’t get a nice tail with cross-cut rabbit. Tying in a tail is an extra step, and I tie 100+ dozen of these a year. If you want to get fancy, use a light pink or cream marabou, then wrap the rabbit strip.
- Tying this on a small size 6-8 egg hook (Daichii x510 or TMC 105) can be deadly during the late trout season.
- Taper your rabbit tail to a point, as seen in the last picture. It gives the fly better action. Don’t be lazy.
- This fly is also great in olive, black, and white as sculpin, leech, and minnow imitators.
More Gear for Alaska
We continue our series on rod quivers today – combinations of rods that are appropriate for our fisheries at various times of year.
Today’s fishery is the ultimate in ‘bring the tackle shop along if you’ve got it’. During late July at Alaska West, we fish for all 5 species of Pacific salmon, as well as rainbows, dollies and grayling. We drift flesh flies. We walk gravel bars with spey rods. We crawl up tiny little side channels. We fish mouse patterns. Other that pike and sheefish, if you can catch it on a fly in Alaska, we’re probably doing it in late July at Alaska West.
Because of the variety in targeted species and fishing techniques, today’s quiver is going to get a little ridiculous. We’ll start by saying that there’s nothing at all wrong with coming to Alaska West in late July with 1 or 2 rods. When we say ‘dream quiver’, we mean it – not at all necessary but pretty cool if you can pull it off.
- An 8-weight with a floating line for silvers, chums and sockeye. We generally catch our first silver right around July 15th, and the run picks up right into August. Chum and sockeye fishing can be really fast-paced in July.
- A 6-weight with a floating line for rainbows. Late July is the time of greatest variety in our rainbow fishery – side channels, upriver spawning beds and lower river snags and dropoffs are all in play. A 6 weight is your most versatile choice for a trout rod.
Nice to Have
- A 9 weight spey rod or a 10-12 weight single-handed rod for kings. King season on the Kanektok typically closes on July 25th, and fresh fish continue to enter the lower river right up to that point. Our peak numbers of kings are caught between mid-June and mid-July, but if you’re around later in July while the season is still open, it never hurts to try your hand at chasing a seal-sized salmonid.
- There’s nothing wrong with bringing along a 5 weight for rainbows in side channels or dollies on upriver spawning beds.
- If you’re into the two-handed game, you should bring a 5 weight switch rod or a 5 weight spey rod. We’re fishing these small two-handers more each year for trout and we’re having a lot of fun with it.
- To the list above you could add another 6 weight – useful if you’d like to target a pod of pink salmon, or just to have multiple trout rigs strung up at all times.
- If you want to target grayling on dry flies in side channels, a 3 or 4 weight could be a lot of fun. We wouldn’t recommend fishing a rod this light with an egg or flesh imitation due to the likelihood of hooking a rainbow or a dolly that would bend the rod in half, but for grayling on the surface it’s fun to have something truly light along.
Bring it all! Seriously, one of the fun things about fishing in late July at Alaska West is that variety in species means variety in techniques and gear too. Those rods aren’t doing any good in your garage!
More on Gear for Alaska
Today we’re starting a series of posts on Trout Food in Western Alaska. We’ll tell you about the major food sources that make up an Alaskan rainbow’s diet, and we’ll also show you some flies that can be used to imitate that food.
The first food source that we’ll cover is arguably the most important to our rainbows on the Lower Kanektok. It seems a little gross to us land-dwellers, but salmon flesh is protein-packed and extremely abundant.
The process here is both remarkable and pretty darned simple.
- Unbelievable numbers of salmon swim into the Kanektok each year to spawn.
- They spawn.
- They die.
- Their carcasses wind up in the river, where they begin to break down.
- Rainbows hang out wherever’s comfortable and safe, and munch on chunks of salmon flesh as they head downriver.
Since we fish the lower 18 miles of a 90-mile river, the concentration of salmon flesh in our waters is pretty darned high – all that flesh from all those salmon upriver has no choice but to work its way downhill. Yes, we fish flies that imitate salmon eggs and sculpins and mice and more – we’ll cover those snacks in later posts. But when you’re talking about trout food in our neck of the woods, you really need to start with salmon flesh.