Recommended Tackle For Trout & Artic Char
Fly Rods should be contemporary graphite and at least 8.5 or 9 feet in length. Fly Rod Selection is very important. The very best of fly rod manufacturers build 3 and 4 piece fly rods that don’t appreciably sacrifice much in the way of action, when compared to a 2-piece model. Whatever the brand, you should bring two rods: a nine foot five or 6 weight rod, which will allow you to use a variety of fishing techniques from casting dry flies and nymphs to throwing a sinking line with a weighted streamer.
A second rod to consider is 9 foot 7 or 8 weight. This rod is more suited for high winds situations and/or in the event you wish to fish for fresh Sockeye, Chum or Silver Salmon.
Sage Rod Series; RPL, RPL+, SP (5, 6, 7 & 8 weights) in 9 foot lengths.
Winston Rod Series; LT 5 piece & BL5 (in 5, 6, 7 & 8 weights) in 9 foot lengths.
There are so many good reels on the market today that it is almost impossible to pick one. You want a reel with a drag capable of stopping large fish while in heavy current. Our favorite reel for the price ad durability is the Ross Gunnison. This reel is everything you need, at a modest price. Whatever reel you choose, it should have a smooth drag and hold a minimum of 75 yards of backing and a full fly lie, Reels should have spare spools available and those with rim-control are ideal.
Ross G-2 (5-6 weights)
Ross G-3 (7-8 weights)
Fly Line selection is simple for Alaska. The most important line for you to have for each rod is a floating weight forward. This line is the one you will use almost exclusively. However, as we all know, sometimes fish will be fish and it might be impossible to catch fish without a sinking tip line. We recommend you have a 10-foot fast sinking tip line for each rod. One other line you should have along is a Jim Teeny Line in 200 grain, 24 foot sink-tip or a Cortland Quick Descent 225.
Floating Weight Forward Scientifc Angler or Cortland
Sinking Tip Fly Line Jim Teeny Line in 200 grain or Cortland Quick Descent 225.
Leaders & Tippet:
Leaders for Trout and Char should be short and stiff. Length should be limited to 7.5 feet and tapered to 2X or 3X tippet diameter on both floating and sinking-tip lines. Large trout are best pursued with short leaders tapered to 0X or 1X tippet. For a week’s fishing, you will need no less than four tapered leaders. For tippet, you should bring fresh spools (4X) (3X) (2X) (1X) and (0X). Umpqua and Rio both make quality tapered leaders and tipped material. Note: if you have never tried the new fluorocarbon leader and tippet material, you should. The material if virtually invisible in the water, has great abrasion resistance and sinks faster in the water. Although it costs more than standard tippet and leader material, we are convinced that you catch more fish using it. Umpqua's Deceiver Leader and Tippet is some of the best available.
Split Shot, Indicator Yarn & Floatant:
Bring an ample supply of split Shot in sizes B and BB. Indicators are a must for the bulk of the roe imitation angling. We like to use high-vis green or white synthetic “striker yarn” that’s non-porous and doesn’t absorb water. The Yarn indicator should be dressed with a high quality floatant.
FLY PATTERNS FOR TROUT & ARTIC CHAR
Traditional dry fly fishing in Alaska happens prior to the arrival of the first salmon. In most drainages, these are either the Kings (the largest of all Pacific Salmon species) or the Sockeyes, which are often the most prolific.
From the moment that the salmon begin to actively spawn and provide a much more nutritious and readily available meal, the trout seldom rise again to a dry fly. But for much of the month of June, and the first few weeks of July, dry fly fishing in some isolated locations can be spectacular. By the time August arrives, the best of the trout fishing will be with egg patterns and streamers.
Alaskan Rainbow angling with a dry fly is short-lived in most regions, and non-existent in others. Probably the very best is the Copper River, and a few other famed tributaries to Iliamna Lake. In other parts of the Iliamna, Bristol Bay, and Kuskokwin drainages, late June and early July provide a rare opportunity to take consistently large trout on the surface.
Artic Volls, lemmings or mice are common on many of the Alaskan streams and rivers, particularly in the northern latitudes that flow directly into the Bering Sea and Kuskokwin Bay. Most of the famous Wood-Tikchik and Togiak region rivers have large populations of these full-course meals, and the trout feed on them throughout the summer and fall. This is an exciting form of trout fishing!
- Alaska Lemming: Fly fishermen should always have a couple of the Alaska Lemming patterns in a size 1/0 and fish it with a dry line and short, stout leader (6 foot, tapered to 1X).
In every major river and lake drainage in Alaska, salmon smolt hatch, often wintering in the lake systems and begin their migration to the sea in the spring and early summer, after ice-out. At places like Kulik or Royal Coachman Lodge, trout congregate by the thousands early in the season (late May or early June) and gorge themselves on the salmon fry or smolt as they make their way to the salt. Effective flies include:
Smolt Patterns to Consider:
- John’s Deceiver
- (Purple or Red), size 1/0
- Wiggle Tail, size 4
- Jensen Smelt, size 6 • Clouser Minnow (Silver), size 6
- Alaskan fly, size 12
- Hatchery Smolt, size 4
- Milt’s Pond Smelt, size 6
- Bullet Head (Silver), size 6
Egg Patterns or Roe Imitations:
After the first of the salmon begin to spawn, trout move in behind the sexually intoxicated fish and begin to feed voraciously on the eggs that don’t lodge in the nest (redd) of gravel. Unfertilized eggs begin to decompose after a few weeks and become more buoyant. They work their way to the surface of the gravel, roll along the bottom, and are the primary food source of the predatory rainbows, char and Dolley Varden for weeks. The egg patterns are often the most important flies, and begin being effective in mid-July, and continue to be first choice for the next 10 weeks. They’re best fished with a dry line, indicator and small split shot:
Egg Patterns to Consider:
- Meg-a-Egg (Pink or Orange), size 10
- Iliamna Pinky, size 8, weighted
- Battle Creek Special, sizes 6 and 8
- Glo-Bug, size 6 in 6 colors: Peachy King, Egg, Champagne Roe, Dark Roe, Apricot, Light Roe and Salmon Egg.
- Glass beads (assorted colors)
Leeches and Streamers:
Throughout the season in Alaska, few patterns are more productive for trout or exciting to fish than leech or streamer imitations. The strike is usually vicious, and trout often prefer these foragers to the routine diet of roe.
In the Iliamna Basin and Katmai watershed, where you’ll be doing most of your fishing, there are a handful of deadly patterns that should occupy the bulk of your fly boxes. There aren’t many patterns or sizes, but you should have a bunch of them.
Leech & Streamer Patterns to Consider:
- Poxyegg Leech, size 4 The pulsating action of black rabbit along its length distinguishes this leech and makes it a top producer. Fish with a dead drift, strip it, or twitch it and hold on!
- Wooly bugger (Black) in size 4 A hybrid wooly worm and marabou leech, this heavy, buggy fly is easy to tie and deadly all over Alaska.
- Egg Sucking Crystal Bugger (Purple), size 4 A devastating fly, one the salmon have begun to spawn. Particularly effective on overcast days.
- Egg Suck Bunny Leech (Purple, Black), size 4. Our favorite leech, tied with black or purple, with a sockeye egg imitation in its mouth. Durable and deadly, don’t leave home without it!
- Bunnies (Black/Flesh, Black/Orange) size 4
- Carcass Fly, Ginger, sizes 4 and 8 Alaskan Trout, Char and Grayling feed heavily on the decomposing flesh of spawned-out salmon in August and September. The flesh-colored bunny leech is deadly in every sense!
Sculpins for Trout:
Once salmon begin the active spawning cycle, predators converge from all directions. Bears, mink, fox, Bald Eagles and sea gulls all line up for their fair share. Tout, Char and Grayling move in behind the huge washboard shaped redds and smaller forage fish (sculpins) move up from the lakes and deeper holes to gorge themselves on the spawn.
Sculpin Patterns to Consider:
- Wool Head Sculpin (Olive, Black), size 4. A lifelike silhouette and tantalizing action make this fly the best forge fish imitations in Alaska!
- Pat’s Sculpin (Burnt Orange), size 2
- Zonker (Natural), size 2 An indisputably effective fly in both hemispheres for trout, the zonker - in a natural color - successfully imitates light colored sculpins, as well as another of the flesh or carcass patterns.
Char and Dolly Varden Fly Patterns:
- Polar Shrimp, size 6
- Brite Pink, sizes 4 and 8
- Battle Creek Special, size 8