King Salmon on the Fly

Next to Steelhead, Springs (Chinook/King salmon) are probably the next most exciting large freshwater Species that can be taken on the fly. Springs are the first of the Salmon to enter their native streams, in late spring early summer when river flows are high and the water colored and somewhat turbid.

Although we generally prefer wading gravel bars and swinging flies into these giant Salmon, water conditions often dictate different scenarios so we are alway ready with our single hand rods in the event we are forced to drop anchor, and cast from the boat.

While Casting a fly to kings may seem intimidating to some, it is just a mater of understanding few key principals, including choice of water, proper equipment and presentation adapted to the water you are choosing to fish, in order to master the techniques required to catch one on a fly.

Usually when looking for Springs, we remember that they tend to lurk in the deepest and darkest of places. However when using a fly, we tend to look for holding water that is 5-10 ft deep offers a little bit more of a uniform current flow and moderate speed that will allow you fly to swing gently across the run, as opposed to fishing the standard boiling back eddies we night look at if we were say casting spoons, or spinners at them.

We like to think of this as fishing for large Steelhead and generally employ the same techniques: casting straight across the river, putting a big mend in the line to allow it to sink, and then swinging it across the current as slowly as possible until it has stopped swinging and is hanging directly below you. .......Step down and repeat.

While we often swing flies with the single hand rods as well, depending on the situation, we find they offer a little more flexiblility technique wise. Often times we will cast a 300 or 400 grain sink tip on a 9-10ft # 9 or #10 weight rod, into a pool or eddie that we know is holding fish, allow the fly to sink right to the bottom, and strip it slowly about 6-8 inches at a time right into the kill zone of one of these aggressive river monsters.

Most fishing conditions for King/Spring Salmon, require heavy shooting heads such as a 10-15 ft piece of T14 and large weighted flies for proper presentation. We prefer to use the Skagit style lines which easily cast and turn over these long heavy sink tips and heavily weighted files.

Our choice on spey rods would be in the 9 or 10 weight category, which depending on personal preference their lenght will range in the 12.6-14ft range.

These heavier weight rods generally make casting these heavy lines and large flies much more enjoyable. Additionally the longer rods provide increased fish fighting power as well as the ability to easily cast a wide variety of sinking tips and flies of your choice without repeatedly changing up .

Fly reels for king salmon should be large (3.5-4 inch spools) and preferably should have a sturdy mechanical drag system.

Your tackle recipe should look a little like this:

*275 yards of dacron backing attached to the spool with an arbor knot

*I prefer the Airflow running lines (0.35) with a loop tied on the back with two nail knots of 12-15lb maxima then heated shrink tube over them then looped to the backing

*Airflo Compact Skagit head that matches your rod of choice (your running line and head with come with factory welded loops and are very simple to change out in the event you feel you need to.

*Leaders are usually short, consisting of a 6" butt section of section of 30lb Maxima with a perfection loop tied on the end of it. Then 15-25 # mono of only 2-4 feet of maxima ultra green attached with a blood knot, and finally a non slip loop knot or double turl knot to attach your fly.

Fly Selection is usually dependant on the type and clarity of water you are fishing. In very clear water i prefer smaller patterns suck as comets tied in chartruese and green as well as orange and chartruese.

In water thats got a little more color i prefer weighted intruder style flies in combinations of black, green, and chartruese, though oranges and pinks are very effective as well.
weighted Bunny leeches are also very effective in combinations of the colors mentioned above.

I hope this helps give you giant salmon seekers some direction in putting one of these big bruisers on the beach...

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