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;
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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

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

 

 

 

 

Recent Fishing Results

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Recent Fishing Results

I’ve spent June at our cabin working on the property and buildings there. Even with all the work that must be done I had time for some fishing.

 

Although I’ve seen – hooked and lost some pretty large pike the 28″ fish seem to be every where. All of the fish I’ve caught this season took a Whitlock Sculpin on a # 4 streamer hook, brown or olive.

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As the summer continues I’ll keep trying to get one of those duck eaters to photograph. Yes, there are pike out there large enough to eat ducks. The problem is finding one when you are ready. I’ve had a few run ins with big pike but each time I was unprepared. It seems that I’ve had the bad luck of the pike waiting until I was sweeping the line and fly from the water to re-cast when they have attacked the fly. This timing has left me in no position to set the hook and all of these fish were lost.

After building a new privy at the cabin I drove the boat out of Hewitt Lake and down the Yetna River to reach the mouth of the Skwentna River. Here you turn up the Skwentna and drive 18 miles through some of the most incredible landscapes in this area. Actually, all the scenery is incredible but this seems more remote to me.

The Out House0001_5

The Skwentna is another large glaciated river with an imposing current and braided channels that will test a river mans skills at reading the waters for navigation. The Tordrillo Mountains which are part of the Alaska Range line your horizons as you ascend the Skwentna. In the last few miles before reaching the Talachultina River you pass through the Skwentna Canyon where the current speeds and channels make for an even more exciting trip.

At the end of the 18 mile ride you find the Tal as it is known to locals. The river is clear and teaming with rainbow trout & grayling. Of course salmon come here as well but I went to catch a few trout. below is an example of what was caught and I have no idea of how many I got. There was however only one grayling caught, that was easy to keep track of.

Rainbow trout from Talachulitna River

Unless I am guiding another fisherman or fishing with my wife, I fish alone out here. This makes it hard to take fish pictures. We have catch & release regulations for rainbow / steelhead trout and they are not to be removed from the water. Because of this rule, unless I catch something extraordinary I generally take a picture of a fish which is representative of all the fish and leave it at that. Actually, trying to handle a Spey rod, a fish, and a camera all at once detracts from the enjoyment for me.

Here’s a snap shot of the Tal.

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This river provides every type of water from tight rushing channels to broad Spey casting runs. As I fished the area in the picture I either caught or felt a trout on 50% of my casts. I fished this with a 15′ 7 weight and an Intruder tube fly as seen here.

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As I continue working to improve our cabin I will also take time to fish a bit, and post results here as the season goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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