Video on Streamer Fishing Techniques

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This is something long overdue, I have created a video. Please bear with the first 2 minutes 30 seconds but there is a reason I put those 3 casts in the program. That reason is to demonstrate that the method for rigging lines I will show you does work, they cast well. After those first couple minutes I’ll pitch into what I think may be useful to many viewers and readers of this set of articles I have here in this blog. The video is the visual companion to the two articles you can find directly below this entry on the page here.

I have met many anglers who have traveled great distances to fish for salmon, steelhead and trout. Most everyone has plenty of tackle but sometimes they are lacking in a very important way, technique for fishing submerged flies. Whether you are headed to the Great Lakes tributaries, The Maritime Provinces, Pacific North West or here to Alaska you will do yourself right by taking time in advance of that trip to practice the style fishing needed at your destination. Just recently I read a question of a fishing forum posted by a fellow leaving for his first steelhead trip in 3 days; “How Do You Rig For Steelhead?” Honestly folks, three days isn’t when you want to start asking or more importantly practicing about or for your trip.

You can practice salmon and steelhead fishing techniques anywhere that there is moving water. The presence of the target species is not necessary at all just to familiarize yourself with techniques. I have provided the link to the video below and there are 2 articles on the same subjects right here too.

I hope you find these things helpful and your comments are always welcome.

Because fish seem to be something we all can agree on I will update with a few recent catches. All of these species were caught using the rigging and techniques I describe in my articles and the video linked above.

Pacific Silver Salmon;
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Another Silver;
1001

Steelhead Trout
Keni Anchor Trip0970

Another Steelhead, a fresh one.
Keni Anchor Trip0981

I could go on but will save them for another entry, the point of the pictures was to support my advice given here.

Thanks for reading,

Ard

Fishing / Controlling The Submerged Fly;

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In this writing I will share some technique that resulted from my use of streamers and salmon flies over the past 40 years. I hope it will be useful to the readers.

After a fly has been cast into the flow there are a lot of things that one must train their mind and hands to do. A few of the control factors are current speed, depth, and whether or not you have a targeted zone where you expect there to be fish. 

Think about the relationship between the rod tip which represents the semi stationary terminus of the line. The fly represents the moving point of your actions as it travels down and comes across the current in its effort to come to a halt directly below the rod tip hanging in the current. All of the things that happen between when the fly lands and when it reaches the dangle straight bellow the rod tip are in the realm of control of the angler. 

The mends flipped into your floating line either upstream or down are your means to control both the flies depth and its direction of travel to some extent as well as its speed. The speed with which the fly travels is often a direct result of whether you are handling the line and rod correctly. Too fast = not enough depth, too slow = hitting bottom and possibly snagging your hook. The position of the rod tip, your stationary point of the line to fly connection is one of your primary tools for controlling the speed of the flies course. The speed with which the fly travels can and will have an effect on the maximum and minimum depths obtainable given the waters speed. The mending is your way to counteract the varied current speeds and seams of current between you, the rod tip, and the fly which is moving but doing so in direct relationship to the mends and movement or lack there of in the rod tip. It is a combination of line control (mending) and movement (or lack thereof) with the rod tip which allows for you to have some say in how fast – how deep and where that fly will travel. 

All of what I will say here was learned fishing with traditional single hand fly rods and then applied to my casting & fishing using the Spey rods. I believe that the single greatest misconception people must deal with when they progress to using a 2 handed fly rod is that they must completely change the way they fish. What I am about to expand on is basic single hand fishing using a streamer fly. This is exactly how I have continued to fish in the wake of taking up a Spey rod. Let us assume that you have been using traditional North American fly casting & fishing techniques for an extended period of time here. By this I mean the single hand fly rod. The use of the Spey rod is simply your graduation to a more effective way to fish with a streamer type fly. The added length and the 2 handed grip make for control of the fly line and thus the fly much easier. Remember please that I do not use Skagit or full sinking lines as you read on. I believe that when using a very short shooting head you sacrifice your ability to control your fishing (the line and fly) to accommodate ease of casting. The braided or for that matter any running line you may have loaded behind the ‘head’ provides very poor mending and thus poor control over your fishing. Likewise a full sinking line leaves you at the mercy of the river once the line and fly have settled in and began their down stream trip. I am not saying that either of these lines don’t catch fish but they do limit your ability to actively interact with the swing to a great extent. So let us focus on the use of a floating line with a head length of at least 45 feet as I continue please. 

I made a crude drawing that I hope will aid in my ability to reference the act of controlling a cast after it has landed and sometimes just before the fly has landed.

Click image to enlarge / browser back arrow to return to article;

Image 20181 

I find it very handy to put the very first upstream mend into the floating line just as the cast is unfurling, right before the fly slaps the surface that is. This would be mend ‘A’. Please don’t confuse this with a ‘Drop or Slack’ cast because it is not. The mend is made as the bulk of the fly line has reached the surface and the leader is yet to turn completely over. It is at that precise moment that the wrist rolls creating a much larger circular motion in the rod tip and thus throwing the mend upstream. Depending on the length of line between rod tip and end of line, you will need varying amounts of power in that ‘wrist roll’ motion. The technique of doing this without a thought will be something you will at first need to focus on and remember to do, eventually it will become just part of your cast. Now why is this important you may wonder? Every motion of either pull or slack that you make to the line via the rod and rod tip are directly transferred to the sinking fly and leader. When you allow a cast to land – the fly to begin to sink & gain depth – and then remember, ‘oh I should make a mend’; that mend, that pull on the terminal end of the fly line which is that sunken fly will jerk it back upstream and Toward the Surface. Since the whole concept of the streamer type fly is for it to get down in the water column and swim along like something that may be fun to eat, everything you do with that rod and line should be targeted at keeping the fly down and traveling through or toward the area you believe there to be a fish. Make sense? By training yourself to instantly put a generous upstream slack loop into every cast you avoid jerking that fly back up toward the surface by a foot or more. In the game of sunken streamers every second and inch of sink after the cast & fly have landed are critical. After all the deeper the better is the rule in most cases right. So there’s something to begin with, if you already do this like a machine, good. If you don’t then perhaps that’ll be useful. 

Now lets look at the smaller mend ‘B’ in that wonderful drawing of mine.

Click image to enlarge / browser back arrow to return to article;

  Image 20181 

This or these depending on current speed & depth, this is a smaller effort at giving the fly more hang time / sink time. In the scenario I am describing here we are assuming that the target water lies somewhere to your 11: O clock if we consider straight across the channel as 12: O’ clock, and the Dangle point which is at your 9. You can make as many upstream mends as seem appropriate but do remember the lesson about not jerking the fly back toward the surface when doing this. It is during these mends that you may or should be following the cast and swing of your fly with the rod tip. The follow comes natural because you will end up pointed right where you think that fly is at the end of each mend motion. You’ll find that with rods between 13 and 15 foot in length it doesn’t take much effort to make the floating line respond to a gentle flip of the rod / tip. Did I mention to be sure your line is clean and floating as high and dry as it can? I guess not and it’s time, I have been using Glide from Loon Outdoors and it seems to do a good job. Having that line bobbing along like a cork makes all the other pieces come together much better. You will find a sticky thread in the Spey forums here; How to make The Braided Connector For Your Welded Loop Spey Line; If you scroll down past the How To pictures you’ll find how I make my sinking leader. This system keeps your fly line on the surface better than anything else I ever tried. I have stayed the course since 1994 using some variation of this for sinking my flies. Whether or not you choose to try the novel way that I sink the fly will be up to you but if you do you may find that it leaves your line floating and allows for easy pickup and sweep when you are ready to cast again. 

Looking again at the diagram that I so finely crafted

 Image 20181 

We have now determined that we are indeed following the fly with the rod tip as it courses the stream or river. However we are following in relation to that series of light flips or the rod tip we’re making to offer more time to sink to the fly and less drag from the current on the line between you – the rod tip and the fly. Good, we’re keeping it down as best we can all things considered. During all this focus and control the fly will pass through your ten O’ clock and advance through the 11 area. It is here you may want to consider the mends marked ‘C’. These are down stream mends made ever so gently so as not to greatly disturb the swinging fly. They do however have an effect that we sometimes fail to consider. The downstream mend allows for a very slight pause in the flies movement followed by an acceleration in swim speed and a slight change of direction. The size or sharpness of radius put into the loop thrown into the downstream mend will alter the direction the fly is traveling. The fly will deviate from the rather wide down and across path it has been following in relation to your position and take a more lateral cross current path before returning to the radial swing. This cross current action is what was known as the Grease Line Technique. Remember you & the rod are the fulcrum point in this angler velocity exercise, everything else is moving much more than either of you. You do have the control tool in that rod and floating line if you learn to utilize them to their fullest degree. With each ‘small’ downstream mend the fly will seek to realign itself with the new radius you have created in the floating line. I have found over and over that this slight variation in speed and direction is the trigger for many a grabbed fly as I near that last portion of the swing. 

Getting to the ‘D’ or Dangle point, that’s what this has been leading up to. Everything you’ve done since you made that unconscious strong mend before the fly landed has been designed to slow the swing and to keep the fly in the water as long and as effectively as possible to this point. Let us not be hasty once the fly has reached point ‘D’ okay? When the fly has reached it’s destination directly bellow your position without a bump that doesn’t mean the cast is over, not by a long shot. Depending on the depth of the water directly downstream a curious but not sold fish may follow the fly from any point of its journey to the point of the dangle. Let’s for the sake of finishing this discussion that the water straight down below ‘you’ in the diagram is at least 18″ deep OK? Remember, don’t be in a hurry if the water bellow is not so shallow that you’ll get stuck. You are not done with fishing this cast. 

Here’s that work of art one more time;

Image 20181 

Considering that the ‘you’ is you, when you look past your left shoulder you see there is a significant amount of water between the straight down dangle and shore. It never hurts to make at least a couple mend flips with your rod tip to your left and shore. These are the ‘E’ mends and I like to make them in both directions before I sweep up the line. E stands for extra fishing on a cast and if you flip a loop toward shore then one back toward the straight down dangle you’ll see how the fly follows your leading loop. Be patient and allow the fly to make its course and not only might you get a bonus grab you’ll get some fly to fly line reference material for further use. If there is a fish hanging just below your fly trying to figure out just what the heck it is this may be all it takes to get commitment and a grab. Whenever you are in fishy areas every cast should be played until you start feeling stupid about it. Another good habit is; while on the dangle release about a foot of line to allow the fly to drop straight down a bit. Then gently lift the rod tip to move back upstream. I have caught enough trout doing this that it is part of my cast at least 75% of the time. 

The hookup; generally when a fish gives an honest effort to grab and escape with the fly anywhere between 11:00 and the dangle they will hook themselves. You feel the pull and all you need at that time is to lift making sure it’s really there. At that point I like to keep tension with my free hand on the line and point directly at the fish. Tighten the line tension with the free / line hand pulling firmly back and lift that rod a little harder. In many cases that will finish the job and the fish is on solidly. 

When you are using articulated flies or any pattern having a long tail being jumpy when you feel a tap will not lead to more hooked fish. Quite often it’ll be less and you may very well spook them from even trying again because of your abrupt reaction to the tap or bump. Consistently hooking and holding trout or steelhead on a streamer fished as I have laid out here requires good nerves and self control. I have caught fish after feeling them tapping repeatedly on my swimming fly as many as 3 or more identical casts and swings. The fact that they finally got hooked alone is testament that I never flinched and struck back.  

I will write a thread about hooking fish soon. There’s more to it than luck, believe me. What we call the come back fish, one who follows again and again tapping and bumping but not hitting hard enough to become hooked could be an article on its own. Knowing how to judge where they go after a failed attempt to capture the fly is another part of the catching puzzle. Do I always catch fish? Well…………….. I can usually raise something unless they are just plain shut down so I actually believe my experiences could be useful to some folks.

Ard

The Outlook For King Salmon In My Region 2014;

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There have been changes to the salmon regulations regarding the Susitna and Yentna River drainages for 2014. I see all of them as being positive especially for those who are seeking only to catch some of these most beautiful and strong of all the salmon species. For the local crowd many of whom are strictly looking to catch and kill the season limit the new regulations may not be so attractive.

In previous years the department of fish & game has delayed setting harvest ratios until they had determined that the fish were in trouble as far as the numbers of returning fish go. In my opinion the delay allowed for many of the precious stock to be caught & killed before there was a closure. Not true for 2014; my home river will begin the season with the rule set to harvest allowed only on Saturday – Sunday and Monday. All fishing will be single hook, to quote from the F&G website; [" Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure is allowed. Single-hook means a fish hook with only one point. Treble hooks and more than one single-hook are prohibited. The use of bait is also prohibited."]

What this means to a fly fisherman / Spey caster who is looking for the challenge of the kings is that there will be virtually no one fishing the rivers on days when the killing of king salmon is not allowed. Myself, I have stopped taking this species three years ago and prior to that time had never killed the 5 fish limit allowed by law. The most damaging facet of the harvest is that when the use of bait was allowed it was the hens which were the most sought after of the species. This was so that the eggs could be taken and cured for use as bait for the taking of more kings……….. Is it just me or does that sound a little short sighted?

My experience last season with rivers during the ‘no kill catch & release’ regulations was that I was virtually alone while fishing. Very few if any boats out and just me and the fish. It doesn’t get much better than that. My best day resulted in hooking and releasing 8 king salmon inside a 4 hour period and all were unharmed to the best of my knowledge. If you would happen to end up fishing with me as your guide I have stocked a good supply of the fly that has proven for 4 straight seasons to produce and produce multiple fish.

The regulations are also affecting the commercial fleet which fishes Cook Inlet with the big nets. Due to the restrictions of the 2014 commercial fleet we may see a dramatic increase in our salmon returns on all species. As soon as our ice goes out and travel is safe on the rivers and creeks I will begin scouting new destinations.

The new destinations will be the result of a new means of transporting fishermen to remote stretches of our waterways. This ‘new means’ does not have a dramatic impact on the price of guided trips and can be discussed at length with any and all people who contact me in regarding setting up dates. There are still some windows open for scheduling but they are filling quickly. I know that a real time calendar showing available dates would be helpful but I have not found one that works for me at this time. The easiest way to determine availability is a simple e-mail request and I will be happy to either call or reply via e-mail as to weather I am open during your trip to Alaska.

In a nutshell the king salmon season is looking good. At this time we are behind on snowpack throughout this region of Alaska. This may result in some of the best water conditions seen in years for the early season June – July. There is always a chance of three foot falling between now and the breakup but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. A deep snowpack results in high and discolored waters with the warming weather. As fly fishermen and women you know that a river running at normal of just below normal levels is a very desirable thing as opposed to the other……….

I’m ready to fish :)

Ard

Fly Fishing for Salmon in Alaska;

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I tie many fly patterns some of which are my attempts at creativity, an artistic expression of sorts. Because I live here and fish whenever I’m not guiding others to those fish, I have the time to experiment. Wild rainbow / steelhead trout will take almost any fly I can tie, if you have the time to work a pattern until a fish gives it a go. You on the other hand may be coming here on a short stay or perhaps a do it yourself road trip and you need to know what works. The 2 flies I’m going to start this off with are the ones I tie on; one for Kings and the other for Silvers. This is not to say that they will not take other species but I have found that there are very few days when a salmon does not hit these patterns.

Beginning at the end of May and continuing through June the Kings enter the rivers and they are an aggressive fish. A king salmon can range from a 3 pound Jack, which is an immature fish who has returned way too soon, to a 45 pound giant that will test your skills at landing a fish. This region sees runs whit fish of every size represented and when I go fishing for kings I reach for the same fly year after year.

Sky0366 That is this years AK. Assassin and I will provide the recipe used below.

Hook: Gamkatsu standard salmon size 2/0

Tail: Hot pink hackle fibers

Butt: chartreuse green chenille

Front of body: Hot pink chenille

Collar: Pink UV Polar chenille

Wing: White Polar Flash or any white poly fiber material with good light reflecting qualities.

Hackles: The wing is set on top of the Polar Chenille then the hackle, Hot Pink is wound full in front of the wing and tied back.

You’ll notice I use full long hackles on my flies. Our waters are often swift and can be colored by rain or snow melt. I believe in having a lure with size and for it to be visible so I put the feathers to them. This season will be the 4th year for fishing this pattern as the Go To king salmon fly. In the previous 3 seasons the fly has caught many kings. If you are a fly tier then this will be a simple one for you to whip up, I would bring at least a dozen with so that you are ready. Size 2/0 seems fair because the fish can be large. If you want to mix up some different sizes you could make a few in a size one but not much need for any smaller.

For Silver Salmon I have tried many flies and seem to end up reaching for a standard pattern for consistent results. The Skykomish Sunrise is I believe the fly I have caught the most silvers with. It has also gotten me all the other species of salmon as well as rainbow trout so it is an all round fly to have along here.
Sky0364                                        Sky0365

These are also a simple fly to make and what I reach for most often. I do make them smaller than a king fly, tied to a Gamakatsu standard salmon #4 hook works well.

Tail: 2 bunches of hackle fibers, one bright red and one yellow

Body: I am dubbing them with bright red Hairline dubbing, you can see how bushy they get if you pick the dub out a bit

Rib: Medium silver oval for flash and to hold the dubbing fast

Wing: White hair, these are made with Arctic Fox but any white hair will do, calf tail is a nice change up and very bright

Hackles: First a bright yellow then a bright red. These are schlappen hackles because I like long hackle.

I don’t lose many flies because I fish these without weight on the fly. I do however use a sinking leader and will be working tonight on an article to post here outlining the best system I’ve found for getting my flies deep enough to catch salmon.

Just for fun I’ll show what I meant by artistic flies that I like to tie and use.

I really enjoy my time fishing for trout and there is a simply wonderful thing about fish who will take my wildest creations. Every winter though I must tie the salmon flies for the coming season, I take time out to create some things that will be fun to fish. The flies here are just that, my way to have fun fishing.

Rainbow fly0368 Based on the Cains River flies

  Rainbow fly0367 This one I adjusted some things to suit my eye and maybe a trout’s also.

 Rainbow fly0370 Based on the Thunder & Lightening with some personal touches.

 I seldom fish double hook flies but enjoy tying them so I made this Red Butt Fitch to add to my doubles collection.

Rainbow fly0371

I tied so many of the Thunder & Lightening variants that I made some into intruder style flies. The weight is lead wire hidden in that orange dubbing at the hook eye. I don’t like the dumbbell eye look………..

Rainbow fly0369

My tying area isn’t elaborate but is efficient, it’s in a really large room so I don’t feel trapped when I’m working at the flies.

                                                        Rainbow fly0372

 

 

 

 

Let’s check our fly boxes………….

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One terrific thing about Alaska’s wild fishes is that you can very effectively make use of all those traditional fly patterns that you have been admiring & perhaps tying for years. You may have trouble finding fish who wallop a ‘Freight Train’ or ‘Skykomish’ Sunrise in your local river but they will take them here. That is the primary reason for my adhering to the traditional patterns and presentation methods in my fishing here.

In this opening salvo on the blog will list some patterns that have been proven to catch all the various fish that are in the waters I frequent. Your ties need not be perfect, mine aren’t……….. Therefor this post is meant to act as more of a “What should I tie or buy for fishing in AK with Ard” suggestion list. Original design patterns have the prefix – Ard’s along with their pattern name.

To keep the flies simple we’ll start with Hair Wing & synthetic patterns.

‘Click images for a closeup view of patterns, use your browser’s back button to return to page’

AK. Assassin

All 2011 Nikon Pictures Oct 30933

Species: King Salmon

Hook: 2/0 for Kings
Tail: Two bunch’s of hackle fibers one hot pink and one chartreuse
Butt: Chartreuse synthetic chenille
Body: Pink synthetic chenille
Underwing: Pink crystal flash, Make it long and lay it along the body
Wing: Opaque white poly yarn
Top: More pink crystal flash don’t be afraid to make it long enough so it will trail the fly.

[Please Note] The AK. Assassin has caught over 30 king Salmon in the past 3 seasons since I made it my first choice fly. I have no doubt it will catch again this season, 2013. They are sold in stores here but not this big and without the ‘bling’. I will provide these for King fishing.

Ard’s Freight Train Variant
All 2011 Nikon Pictures Oct 30780

Species: All Salmon – Rainbow / Steelhead Trout

Hook Sizes: 1.5 – 2 – 4  Your choice of hook brand

 Tied on a Diiachi 2051 size 1.5
Tail: Dyed hackle purple
Body: Rear half is golden yellow floss, front half red silk floss
Rib: Silver tinsel
Thorax: Blended dubbing – blue & purple sparkle dub
Under wing: Blue purple Crystal Flash
Wing: White hair your choice
Hackle: Dyed Shlapplin purple

Thor

SteelThor0001

Species: All Salmon – Rainbow / Steelhead Trout

Hook: Sizes 2/0 – 4 your choice of style

Shown on Daiichi 2055 #3 gold
Tail: Red wool yarn / per  preference
Body: Claret yarn or dubbing, I dub this body and build to suite
Hackle: A nice full Dk. Brown saddle hackle as a collar and swept back a bit
Wing: White calf tail

Skykomish Sunrise
Skykomish Sunrise0001

Species: All Salmon – Rainbow / Steelhead Trout

Hook: Single salmon #2/0 – 4
Tail: Orange & yellow hackle barbs, stacked
Body: Reddish orange wool, chenille, or spun fur ribbed with heavy gold tinsel
Wing: White buck tail or Polar Bear
Collar: Orange and yellow hackles wound in that order, orange first.
Head: Red or black

Ard’s Double Dare

Double Dare

Species: King Salmon

Hook Size 2/0 – 2 your choice of hook style

Hook: Here I use a 2/0 single hook
Tag: Heavy French Braid in gold
Tail: Two Gold pheasant crests dyed scarlet red
Tip: Rear section is scarlet red floss, front is black floss. This tipping makes up half the hook shank
Body: Black chenille
Hackle: A scarlet red Spey hackle is palmered over the black chenille body and then finished as a collar
Ribbing: Beginning at the black floss tip heavy French Braid brought forward and covering the hackle stem for strength
Wing: Up top place a full bunch of white calf tail

Max Canyon

Max canyon0001

Species: All Salmon – Rainbow / Steelhead Trout

Hook: Standard Salmon size 2/0 – 4
Tail: 2  generous bunches of hackle tips, orange on bottom white on top
Body: Rear 2/3 deep orange wool – front 1/3 black Mohair yarn
Rib: Medium gold oval tinsel
Hackle: Black Schlappen
Wing: Orange buck tail with some sparse Polar Bear or substitute over top, top it off with white buck tail
Head: Black

Ard’s Bush Doctor

Bush Doctor Spey Spey starboard view0001

Species: Silver Salmon

Hook: Single salmon #3
Thread: Black
Tag: Flat silver tinsel
Tip: Doctor blue floss
Butt: Dyed ostrich, red
Body: Wide flat silver tinsel ribbed with oval silver tinsel
Hackle: Silver Doctor blue Spey hackle
Wing: Silver Fox body hair
Head: Switch to 05 red silk and finish with multiple coats of lacquer to achieve a beautiful garnet like finish

That group of six hair wing patterns will make a decent selection for salmon fishing and often times a trout will grab onto any one of them, that’s why I listed trout & steelhead trout along with salmon as species specific for the patterns.

For targeting trout – char – and grayling I use patterns that are smaller and somewhat more delicate in both their construction and the appearance in the water when in use. Many of the patterns use more subtle color schemes and are designed to imitate the salmon and other various species who’s spawning produce large numbers of ‘fry & fingerling’s’ that fill the rivers and creeks here. So with that as an explanation I’ll go forward and display my very best patterns for the game fish other than salmon.

‘The Trout – Char & Grayling selection’

These first 2 patterns are by far the number one fish catching flies I have tied to a leader since making my first cast in Alaska’s rivers & creeks. They are based on the feather wing streamer “Nine Three’ which originated in Maine many years ago. I made certain artistic changes to the original patterns to the extent that I felt I could call them ‘Ard’s’ patterns, and I do. Almost every trout or steelhead picture in the photo gallery here on the web site was caught on one of these 2 fly patterns and I continue to use them every season with great results.

Ard’s Nine Three streamer style

Ard's Nine Three0001

Species: Rainbow / Steelhead Trout – Char – Grayling

Hook: Long shank ring or ball eye streamer hook size 2 – 6
Tag: Flat silver
tinsel
Butt: Black ostrich
Body: Flat silver tinsel, I like the old metal type for the weight factor
Throat: Sparse white buck tail hair
Wings: Two Olive saddles over which are two black saddles tied upright
Shoulder topping: Black crystal flash tied on both sides of fly, long
Cheeks: Jungle cock

Ard’s Nine Three, Spey dress style

Ard's Nine Three Spey Dress0001_1

Species: Rainbow / Steelhead Trout – Char & Grayling

Hook: A.J. Steelhead iron size 3 or any similar hook
Tag: Flat silver tinsel
Butt: Black ostrich herl
Body: Flat metallic silver tinsel ribbed with oval silver tinsel
Wing: Paired slips of goose shoulder feather dyed olive green
Collar: Goose shoulder, bleach burned and dyed jet black ‘choose long fiber feathers for this pattern’
Cheeks: Jungle cock

Ard’s Red Head

Red Head0001

Species: Char – Rainbow Trout

Hook: A.J. Steelhead iron size #3, or similar
Tag: Flat Gold tinsel
Body: Dubbed with blended opossum, claret & black, use what you can find that’s close
Rib: Heavy French braid gold, ribbed over all; tag and body
Hackle: Goose shoulder feather bleach burned and dyed rusty red (Rite Dye)
Wing: An under-wing of polar bear or similar white hair, veiled with brown mallard flank
Head: Finished with bright red / orange lacquer paint

Green Butt Skunk

Green Butt Skunk Spey0001

Species: Char – Grayling – Trout

Hook: #4 single salmon, I use a Partridge Bartleet #4 here
Thread: Black
Tag: Flat silver tinsel
Tip: Light green floss ribbed with flat silver tinsel
Tail: A bunch of red hackle fibers
Body: Black dubbing (choice) palmered with a black saddle hackle and ribbed with heavy oval silver tinsel
Collar: Guinea hackle
Wing: White hair, Skunk or whatever is handy, I use deer tail on most

Jock O’ Dee

All 2011 Nikon Pictures Oct 31300

Species: Grayling just Love this! Trout too

Hook: I tie on Partridge Bartleet #4 & 6 hooks
Tag: Oval silver tinsel
Tail: I use a small bunch of orange hackle fibers with a golden pheasant crest feather  topping
Body: Butt section is lemon yellow silk floss or rayon, the front is black silk or floss
Rib: Silver tinsel, flat / silver twist
Hackle: Gray hackle (long fibers) wound Spey style, I use Blue Eared Pheasant or gray Schlappen feather
Throat: Widgeon flank or similar
Wings: Cinnamon turkey or Brown Turkey (these are tied in the ‘Dee’ fashion, if you don’t tie I may have some for use)

Santiam Spectrum variation

Santiam Spectrum0001

Definitely not for the fly tying beginner but a great Char Catcher.

Hook: AJ. #2
Tag: Half silver, half gold, flat tinsel
Body: Rear is red floss, front is dark purple dubbed hair, your choice
Ribbing: Flat gold counter wrapped with oval tinsel
Hackle: Purple spey feather
Collar: Purple saddle with Teal flank
Under wing: 2 strands each of red, pink, and orange floss strands
Wing: Brown mallard flank
Good luck with that, I don’t find these easy to tie.

A Couple Feathered Salmon Specials, not as simple as a hair wing but will catch the salmon.

Ard’s Orange Amnesia

Amnesia Orange0001

Species: All Salmon

Hook: Daiichi 2051 single size 1.5
Thread: Black
Tag: Oval silver tinsel
Tip: Orange floss tied long
Butt: A black saddle hackle wound and angled back; over this is a bunch of orange hackle fibers as a tail
Body: Orange dubbing of your choice picked out a bit
Ribbing: Wide embossed silver tinsel
Wing: A sparse bunch of long black bear or dyed buck tail
Hackle: Goose shoulder that is bleach burned and dyed bright orange

Ard’s Chartreuse Amnesia

Amnesia 0001

Species: Salmon

Hook: Daiichi 2051 single size 1.5
Thread: Black
Tag: Flat medium silver tinsel, use metal tinsel not Mylar, the latter will not hold up well.
Tip: Chartreuse floss tied very long
Butt: A nice black saddle hackle wound and angled back toward bend of hook
Body: Chartreuse green floss
Ribbing: Wide embossed silver tinsel followed with a chartreuse green spey hackle
Wing: A sparse bunch of long black bear or buck tail dyed black
Collar: A bright yellow saddle hackle

That should do for a starter selection of traditional fly patterns for fishing in Alaska. I am a fly tier and so I make these to fish with, you do not have to have flies like what I have listed here. however, staying close to the sizes and color schemes would be a good thing. Many people are now fishing the Intruder style flies and I understand that they catch well. If you have flies already prepared for a trip then you are set to go.

You may have noticed that my flies are not weighted. If you wish, I can set you up with a leader which I make that will take your un-weighted flies to where the fish are. i will make an entry here regarding the leader and how it is configured so that you can build your own. They have been the staple of my wet fly fishing for 20 years and you may find them very useful also.

Ard