A couple weeks ago, Alaska West operation’s manager, Jordan Sly, gave us a great post on the life history of one of the most underrated fish in our river, the dolly varden. In case you missed it, make sure to check it out, here!
Today, Jordan is back with another edition of our ‘expert rig‘ series of posts, highlighting how he prefers to rig up when fishing for dollies. His method of choice? A little thing we like to call ‘wake and eggs.’
Take it away Jordan!
Jordan Sly’s ‘Wake and Eggs’ Rig
Dolly Varden are super aggressive to take almost anything put in front of them, but they love flesh flies and beads above all else. One really fun way to fish for them is what we like to call “wake and eggs.” While it might not be the most productive method possible (you will not see the huge numbers you can get with a flesh fly or a bead), it is visual, on top-water, and very exciting to do. You can use virtually any trout sized rod you prefer, but my favorite method is done with a small switch or spey rod, floating lines, and a small skater/egg pattern. Dolly Varden will follow the skating fly, and often grab the egg mid swing, creating a really fun fishing experience. Here’s my rig of choice.
- Pieroway Metal Detector 10’5″ Switch Rod – 400 Grain
- Hatch 7 Plus Finatic – Large Arbor
- OPST 30 pound SP Lazar Running Line
- OPST 300 Grain Commando Head
- RIO Light Floating MOW Tip
- 200 yards of orange 20 pound Dacron tied to the spool with an arbor knot.
- Bimini twist in the fly line end of the backing with a drop of Loon’s UV Knot Sense to create a loop.
- A triple surgens loop tied on both ends of the Lazar Line, with a drop of Loon’s UV Knot Sense over the knot to help it slide through the guides.
- Running line, head, and tip are all attached together with a loop-to-loop connection.
- Leader is a 6 foot section of 10 pound Maxima Ultragreen attached to the tip with a loop-to-loop via perfection loop.
- My fly of choice is a simple unnamed, cream or flesh colored skater, tied on a shank with a size 6 stinger hook (more on this below).
- “I love my little 10’5” 400 grain rod for this type of fishing. It is the length of a switch, but I treat it like a small spey rod and hardly ever actually overhead cast it. When it is combined with the 300 grain OPST head it shoots great and feels almost effortless to cast.”
- “As far as my fly choice goes, I like to keep it really simple. As I mentioned above, I think Dolly Varden are really keying in on the “egg,” but I do like to tie something on there, plus the imitation of flesh can’t hurt. My favorite pattern right now has a white foam back and lip, cream colored rabbit strip placed in a dubbing loop and palmered up the body. I like to put the rabbit in a dubbing loop because it is easier to cast, it isn’t as heavy, and I think it floats better without the leather. I tie a loop of Power Pro braid coming off the back to attach my bead and hook. I like Power Pro better than mono or Fireline because it is very strong, and it is also very limp, which will cause the “egg” to ride lower in the water column while the fly is being skated across the surface.”
- “The typical approach to waking eggs is a down and across cast. I typically cast at about a 45 degree angle, then I tight line skate it across the surface towards shore. To vary the speed, cast more across the river to speed it up, and more downstream to slow it down. I have found that typically slower is better, but vary it a little to find what is working on that particular day. Another important thing is to skate it all the way to shore, as well as fish it on the strip, as you never know when a Dolly will take. Soon enough you will start to get follows, sometime it’s just one, sometimes it’s two, but I’ve seen over four fish following one fly. I believe they are attracted by the flesh and wake, but really they just want that bead in the end. It’s just such an easy little nutrient nugget with all the essentials.”