In Alaska’s Goodnews River, king salmon typically rest in seam water that’s six to eight feet deep. There’s always a strong current. If you want to catch one with a fly rod you usually need a fast sinking fly line and a fast sinking fly.
Before my first trip there Bob Stearns allayed my fears about what to tie by telling me, “Those fish have never seen a fly before, never seen a fisherman. They will eat almost any well-presented fly.” Of course he was right. Most of the time the fish are way less fussy than the fisherman, and a heavy chartreuse Clouser Minnow will often work as well as anything else.
That having been said, the old standard fly was a cerise-colored bunny leech tied on a size two Mustad 36890 hook, with a 1/30th ounce or heavier lead eye.
Articulated flies (see how to tie one in the video below) have become all the rage since I started working at the Goodnews River Lodge six seasons back. They take longer to tie but help prevent short strikes. You can tie big, crazy flies this way. For weight some tyers use lead eyes, others use tungsten cone-shaped beads. Both work, so use whichever you prefer.
Most guides at Goodnews like an octopus-style hook for the trailer, with sizes ranging from 4 to 1/0, the tyer’s personal choice. A larger hook is less likely to fail under duress. Some of us dress it, others leave it naked, again, a matter of preference.
Effective colors include cerise, purple, hot pink, black, blue, orange, chartreuse, and combinations of these. Flash material is in good taste, and a rattle is easily tied in on the forward hook before tying in the dressing.
While you don’t need a wide variety of flies, you need plenty of those patterns you like with you. You’ll be fishing deep and it seems the best spots always have boulders or lumber where flies frequently get lost.
That is all you need to know about tying Flies for King Salmon.
All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.