Recommended Fly Fishing Tackle For Sockeye, Pink, Chum & Silver Salmon

Fly Rods:
Fly Rods for these Salmon should be moderately stiff, with plenty of backbone and durable enough to withstand the rigors of dozens of big, strong fish each day. Optimum length is 9 feet, and the best line weight selection is 8. A very stiff, strong 7 weight will be adequate, but an 8 weight is optimum. Too light a fly rod will exhaust the fish and too strong a rod will dramatically reduce the sport. Manufacturers are many, but we like Winston, Sage, Loomis and Scott. Choose 3 or 4 piece rods that you can carry with you in the plane.

Sage RPL+9’/4-piece 8 weight

Fly Reels:
Fly Reels for salmon species must be very strong and should be salt-water anodized, since much of the best salmon fishing is found in brackish water. Reels should be equipped with counter-balanced spools and have a minimum 125 yards of #20 to #30 backing, as well as a full line or shooting taper.

Bauer M-3 w/20# backing

Fly Lines:
Fly Lines are critical. The key to successful fishing for salmon of any species is to get the lure or fly to the proper depth. Certainly, the selection of fly or lure is important, but only after the fish have been confronted. A floating line, preferably a weight-forward, is a must – probably your handiest line. Cortland type 45 and 6, and SA type 4 and 5 sinking tips are great for the type of fishing, as are the Teeny Nymph Lines. Very fastest sinking Shooting Tapers are occasionally the key in very large, swift rivers, Water conditions vary, so be prepared for constant line changes. Extra spools make fly line switches quick and simple.

Floating Weight Forward Scientifc Angler or Cortland.

Sinking Tip Fly Line (Type III or IV) Scientifc Angler or Cortland.

Leaders & Tippet:
Leaders should be very short, stiff and strong. Often a butt section of 24” of #30, with two 12” sections of #25 and #20, attached to 18” of 15# test tippet is adequate. Tapered leaders should be 6 to 7.5 foot, 1X – 01X.

Sockeye Salmon Flies:
Sockeye, in our opinion, may be the most underrated game fish in all Alaska. These pacific salmon are HOT! and will take a fly when presented in the right manner. We have found that the best sockeye flies are sparsely tied, similar to a comet.

Flies used in the Pacific Northwest for shad are great. Green, yellow, chartreuse, pink and orange colored flies tied on #4’s and #6’s with bead chain eyes and ribbed body work well. “Wiggle Tails”, #2’s and #4’s also work very well, especially on Kodiak Island. A simple and fast fly to tie uses a #4 medium shank hook wrapped with lead wire. Over this, you slide a piece of gold or silver Mylar tubing (use your imagination on color) and secure at both ends with colored thread. At the front of the fly, you wrap a colored (inexpensive hackle) three or four wraps are perfect. NOTE: color of hackle and thread should be the same. This fly last, gets down to the fish and they eat it.

Sockeye Salmon Fishing Techniques:
By far the best way to fish sockeye is to dead drift a fly into a pod of holding fish from a point directly above, If you can set yourself up in this situation, you should be in them. Occasionally, you’ll find sockeye in still water where a cast and strip method will suffice. Be aware of slight hesitations in line speeds or stoppage of fly, as sockeye usually take very softly. Some water can be fished using a dead drift, nymphing technique with a floating line. When fishing over large concentrations of sockeye it can be easy to snag fish. Try to distinguish between the fly dragging over a fish’s back and a take. It can be quite challenging at times, but rewarding.

Coho Salmon Flies:
Of all the salmon in Alaska, Coho “Silver Salmon” move the best on a fly. Most often you’ll find silvers in slack or swirling water out of the main current of the river. This is why the cast and strip method works the best. Streamers, by far, are the most successful. The Karluk Flash Fly (all silver, purple, green or pink) #4 to #1/0 is a killer. Other flies would include Popsicles (purple and pink) Egg-Sucking Leeches, Egg Sucking Crystal Buggers (purple or black), fluorescent Bunny Leeches (pink or chartreuse), Wiggle Tails, Spanker Fly (chartreuse Ice Chenille, pearl flashabou tail, heavily weighted), hair tied coho streamer (pin, green, red, orange, blue with white buck tail). When conditions are right, silvers can be caught on a dry fly waked over the top of them. The Pink Pollwog or Dahlbert Slider, in chartreuse, are great choices.

Fishing Techniques:
As mention, most silvers will be fished in slack or swirling water, outside the main current of the river. Therefore, a cast and strip pattern works well. If there is a hug school of fish milling, don’t cast right into the middle of them but to the sides, to avoid spooking. A floating or monocore intermediate line works the best under these conditions,. When fishing Cohos in moving water, a classic downstream wet fly swing produces well. Pay close attention to the end of your swing, as the grab often takes place here.

Coho Patterns to Consider:

  • Karluk Flash Fly, (Red, Pearl, Purple or Orange), Size 2
  • Salmon Hare (Pink or Chartreuse), size 4
  • Wiggle Tail, size 4
  • John’s Deceiver (Red or Purple), size 1/0
  • Hickey’s Stealth Fly (Orange, Pink), size 2
  • Manhattan Beach, size 1/0
  • Davis Spanker, size 2
  • Coho Shrimp, size 2

Pink & Chum Salmon:
Pink and chum salmon are not fussy about what they eat or hit. You can use just about any standard salmon or steelhead pattern to entice them. Flies on tied on #6’s to #2’s weighted and non-weighted are standard. Straight, short leader works the best.

Fishing Techniques:
The most effective method of fishing these salmon is the classic down stream wet-fly swing. Both chum and pink salmon take a fly aggressively. Occasionally, you’ll find chums held-up in slack water where a cast and strip technique is deadly. Both chum and pink salmon are strong fighters when fresh from the sea and can provide a lot of excitement.