Coming soon to a river near us, Silver Salmon! It is just about that time of year when the acrobatic Silver Salmon fill the rivers outside both Alaska West and Rapids Camp Lodge. We are already anticipating the first top water explosion from a Coho on a bright pink Pollywog. In honor of this event, we figured it out be an appropriate time for a Round Up of some of our most popular posts regarding flies and techniques for catching the high flying Silver Salmon.
Are you a DIY saltwater angler, looking for the silver ghost and not getting many shots? How high is the tide? If it is to the point where the mangroves lining the flats are filled with water, you need to find another flat. Fish will follow the tide up into the mangroves and use them as protection from predators and a great spot to feed on the extra forage they offer. Mangroves are fantastic and needed for the fishery, but you aren’t going to catch a fish (or see many for that matter) when the water is high enough that the fish can swim into the mangroves. Consider finding another flat that has fish that are looking for food in the open and therefore, are also available for you to catch.
We respect the DIY saltwater flats fishermen. You are doing something that is not easy and incredibly rewarding. Want to spoil yourself a little bit? Consider fishing with us and some of the best flats guides on the planet! Give us a shout here and we will help you plan your trip to Bonefishing paradise!
More Timeless Tips:
The more time you spend on the water, the more likely it is that you are going to encounter some of the slightly annoying issues that can happen when fly fishing. One of these issues that almost seems like a rite of passage that a fly angler will eventually have to face is when 2 of the ferrules of a multi-piece fly rod get stuck together. We previously discussed this here but have a few additional points we wanted to add onto this list.
First off, what NOT to do. Never try and unstick the rod by gripping the guides/eyes. This is a very quick way to be calling in on the lifetime warranty that came with your expensive new rod. You want to grip the rod itself, one hand on each section that is stuck. If you aren’t able to separate, try using something like a rubber glove to give you a little better grip. Make sure you are pulling straight and not bending, with a good grip you may be able to twist it some to loosen. This is fine, twisting the sections will not hurt the rod as long as you are pulling it straight apart and not gripping a guide when twisting. If this still doesn’t work, you need to call in some reinforcements and recruit a friend.
For this, the two people should face each other and put a single hand on each section that is stuck. That means person A has his left hand on a section, followed by person B’s right hand. On the other section person A should put his right hand followed by person B’s left hand. This alternating pattern will help you both apply enough force to pull it apart without the risk of bending the rod in a way that could break it.
If the sections are still stuck (I have never personally had the above method not work) but have heard people find success in rubbing the male section of the ferrule with an ice cube or soaking it in ice water. If there was any expansion of the male ferrule causing it to get stuck, the cold can help reduce it and ideally cause it it dislodge.
More Timeless Tips:
We have been experiencing some near recording break temperatures so far this year in Alaska. While this may good for our sunglass tans and Vitamin D intake, it does make for some tough King fishing. For those of you who have chased the mighty King Salmon before know, hot and sunny conditions are not ideal. We however having a saying around here and that is, “Winners Adjust!” If we only fished during the days where conditions were perfect, we would only be on the water a fraction of the days that we could. Alaska West Head Guide, Ben West, gave us some pointers for targeting Kings in hot sunny weather.
- Downsize your flies. Ben prefers flies in the 2-3 inch size range.
- Fish darker flies. These will stand out better in the bright conditions. Ben’s favorites are a black or blue fly with a contrasting cone head.
- Fish deep pinch points and drop offs. These areas will have more holding water in the low flows allowing the fish to feel more comfortable on their journey upstream.
- Don’t ignore fishing downsteam in the tidewater.
- Keep your faith. When targeting any anadromous fish, we can get a little superstitious. There will be times when you have to do a million things right, and still get a little lucky. Keep thinking that your next cast will the rewarded with a grab and good things will happen.
More From Ben West:
You have got to stay hydrated out there and with various manufacturers incorporating hydration bladders into their backpacks, this is easy to do. One thing that commonly gets ignored with the hydration bladders however is the need to clean them. Even if you are only filling your hydration reservoir with clean water, the bladder itself can easily accumulate mold or bacteria but the awkward shape of the device makes it difficult to clean. Here is some advice to help keep you drinking clean water.
- Get some mild dish soap, bleach, a cleaning brush and some cordage. (Some companies will even include dissolvable cleaning tablets with the reservoir when you purchase it.)
- Fill the bladder with warm water, a cleaning tablet, or if it didn’t come with a cleaning tablet, use 5 drops of bleach per liter of water. Let this soak for 20 minutes before draining through the tube/bite valve.
- After you have drained everything, refill the bladder with warm water and dish soap this time. Scrub the interior of the reservoir with a scrub brush before thoroughly rinsing again. Get a piece of cordage that is longer than the hose and after removing the bite valve, pull the cordage through the tube a few times to remove any mold that could of accumulated there.
- After this, the most important step is to dry it completely! Separate all parts (the bladder from the tube and the bite valve.) You need to keep air flowing through the bladder as it dries. To help with this, you can use a thin metal hanger or even stuff the bladder with paper towels. Whatever you do, do not put it away wet or your time cleaning will have been wasted as mold will form.
- Another helpful tip that I have found is if I am regularly using the bladder with a week or so between uses, I will store it in the freezer. That way I do not need to clean it between every use and mold will not form in the freezing temperatures.
I hope that helps and remember, stay hydrated out there but don’t drink through a hydration bladder that is filled with bacteria!
More Timeless Tips:
Saltwater guides worldwide know they are in for a frustrating day when they have a trout fisherman on the bow of their boat. The process of going from setting the hook with the rod tip (aka, the trout set) to strip setting is a right of passage every saltwater angler must pass. Unfortunately, the best way to learn to instinctively do it right is to make the mistake of trout setting and grow from it. (Just don’t make that mistake too many times for the sanity of the guide and your own self confidence.) Fish of the sea have a hard mouth that you have to really pierce the hook into. When setting with the rod, the soft tip of the rod absorbs some of the force (like it was designed to) and the fish gets a chance to feel the fly move a little and spit it out before the fly really hooks it. When you strip set, there is no give from the tip of a fly rod, the fly immediately hooks into the fish’s hard mouth. How hard you strip set varies on the fish you are chasing and the tackle you are using. For larger saltwater targets, i.e. Tarpon, GT’s, Rooster Fish and Jacks, you really want to strip set hard and hang onto the line for an extra second until the fish takes off. Burn marks on your finger from the fly line may be painful, but they are a good sign of a strong strip set worthy of landing that fish of a lifetime. I look at them like a souvenir, reminding you of the great fish you landed days before. And never forget, no TROUT SETS!
More Tips on Strip Setting:
The purists of the sport may not enjoy reading this but I will be the first to admit, I am all on board the tippet ring train. Companies like Rio have been selling tippet rings for years but it seems like they have really taken off recently as more and more people became aware of the benefits they offer. Here are a few ways tippet rings make my life easier.
- Easy set up. You don’t need to worry about a big jump in leader/tippet size. With a tippet ring, you can go from 0X to 5X if you want. A thinner diameter piece a line wont cut through the thicker piece because the two are not tied together. You simply put a knot (improved clinch is my preference) to each end of the tippet ring and you are good to go.
- Following up the previous point, it allows for a quicker set up. Some beginners struggle with line to line connectors like the Blood Knot. No need for one if you have a tippet ring..
- They make your leader last! This is my personal favorite benefit of the tippet ring. If you are using a fluorocarbon leader, you are costing yourself some good coin every time your line breaks and you need to retie. With a tippet ring, I will use an all fluorocarbon leader to the ring. Then tie a slightly lighter piece of fluorocarbon off of the ring to my fly. If I ever break off, I can just retie off of the ring, I am never cutting into the leader itself.
- They serve as a great attachment point for tungsten puddy. I love using tung puddy but it is frustrating when you attach it to the knot on your leader just to have it fall off. The puddy sticks very well to a tippet ring allowing you to easily add/subtract a specific amount of weight.
- Having a small tippet ring on your line is not enough to sink a dry fly. You know those all fluorocarbon leaders that people love to fish to pressured trout? You can use one with a tippet ring and still fish a dry fly.
- Creative rigging opportunities. I have even seen people fish a “Drop Shot” type of set up with tippet rings. They have their leader coming in from one end, then tie a piece of tippet off the bottom with a chunk of weight on there, then tie their flies on a third piece of tippet from the middle of the ring. At first this sounded like one big tangle to me but I have watched people effectively fish this set up. And if their weight ever gets snagged on the bottom, the can break just that off and save their flies.
Do you have any other ways that a Tippet Ring has made your life easier?
More Gear We Love:
If you want to catch a lot of fish in Alaska, bead fishing is a great way to achieve that goal. Fishing beads was developed in the streams of Bristol Bay as a cheap yet effective way to imitate salmon eggs. Over the years, small improvements have been made to the bead fishing game to increase your hook up and landing percentages. One change to my bead fishing set up that has resulted in more fish in my net is when I started Snelling my bead hooks. I use the knot from the diagram above, the uni knot snell. I will be the first to admit any normal knot to the eye of the hook can work when bead fishing but I have found that when I snell the hook, I land a higher percentage of the hooked fish. This is because when using a snell knot, the line is wrapped around the shank of the hook causing it to ride in a straight line behind the bead. When using a traditional knot like the improved clinch to the eye of the hook, some of the time the hook can swing out to the side of the bead resulting in less meat of the fish’s mouth being hooked. You will get the same number of eats on the bead with either knot, I have just found that I land a higher percentage of those fish when my hook is snelled.
More Timeless Tips: