Within a few days I’ll be launching the boat and begin searching for the tip of the king salmon returns. This is my favorite time because while there may be few or no kings far enough up river for me to fish the flies with Spey rods there will also be few to no other fishermen out. I’ve found them as early as May second and hope springs eternal with the salmon fisherman in me.

The flies I will use are all variations of a pattern I discovered within my first week in Alaska in 2004 as a resident. If you are planing to come to AK. to fish for kings it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have something like this with you.

This is pretty much what the original pattern I found looked like and it caught plenty of kings for me.

The thing about doing the guide business was that I could no longer live in the Stone Age with regards to my flies so I changed with the times. I began making tube flies and tying on Shanks as well. Below is what the AK. Assassin looks like today.

I have a hard time tying identical flies so all of mine vary to some extent but they all possess the same basic shapes and colors. The fish don’t seem to notice the subtle variations and with that in mind just tie whatever you can make that looks similar.


All of these share some common traits, all are tied on Pro Tubes, all are weighted to some extent, and they all possess the chartreuse butt – white middle and hot pink front collar.

The materials I use are Arctic Fox – Burnt Goose – and Senyo Chromatic fibers wound into a dubbing brush. The collar is a mix of schlappeln and marabou with a small cone behind the feathers to support them. I add trailing fibers from Amherst Pheasant and dyed Rhea feathers too. There’s no right or wrong but I do believe in the color combo due to the number of fish taken with these flies.

The next article down the stack here on the blog page is about hooking and landing the fish who bite on these flies. I hope you will enjoy or benefit from some of the observations I describe in the article and as always, I appreciate you stopping by this website.


  1. April 25, 2017
    rick granstrand

    Love yourwriting style, Ard. Picked up your blog from speypages. I have fly fished for steelhead since the early 70′s but am just getting excited about chinook so am very interested in your articles on salmon. Thank you, Rick

  2. April 26, 2017
    Ard Stetts

    Hi Rick,
    And thank you for leaving me a comment! There are many articles about the salmon here on the page, some are pretty far down the stack.

    I’ve used a bunch of patterns for kings but the one featured has caught more than all others combined. I’ve sent them to guys who fish in BC. for them and they reported that the pattern on standard hooks worked well there also. As soon that I find some fish I’ll start making daily reports here :)

  3. May 6, 2017
    rick granstrand

    Where did you happen to buy those cones on your flies, Ard, I really like them.

  4. May 8, 2017
    Ard Stetts

    Hi Rick,
    The flies are tied on Pro Tube components and those cones / discs are all available wherever Pro Tubes are sold. I believe they are now called Pro Sportfisher Tuubes. Caddis Fly Shop has a good supply of them and I have ordered from there in the past.
    They also have solid metal in many colors and a selection of drop weights if you need to get down.

  5. July 20, 2017
    Larry Steinbrecher

    Wondering if you’re
    still on the planet.
    Haven’t seen any
    recent posts. Working
    on the book?
    Larry S
    San Diego

    • July 21, 2017
      Ard Stetts

      Hi Larry,

      I’m alive and well, the lack of new content has to do with the season so far. I had to cancel fishing for Kings due to the worst return in memory. Throughout May & June I was unable to find more than a couple fish on any given day. I began communicating my concerns based on daily sightings to the office of F&G and was truly perplexed as they allowed the season to remain open until nearly the end of June. The rivers that have weirs for counting fish never made their ‘minimum’ escapement numbers until we were well into July but throughout this time fish were caught and killed by an Army of anglers. I was totally puzzled and honestly saddened by the situation. With so few fish obvious the charter boats continued their daily slaughter as if we were experiencing a glut of King Salmon!

      With the failure of significant numbers of salmon to show the trout were virtually nonexistent as well so the entire situation was horrible. I’m hoping the Silver / Coho salmon will come in a decent number but as of Wednesday July 19th there were very few in the river. The Charter boats are taking 2 loads of anglers each day to the river mouths to harvest what fish are forming up down there but few have came upstream at this time. ass of yesterday ‘Thursday July 20th’ there were a total of 14 Coho salmon counted at the weir on my home river. This river acts as a fair monitor for many others in the area but some may do better. At this time we wait for a push. I did catch several Kings accidentally on Wednesday while swinging for a silver – trout or Chum. Along with the kings I caught 2 Chums in very fresh condition and a good sized rainbow trout hen. All were released quickly with little wear from their experience.

      I am a “No Kill” guide, I don’t do meat runs for people and to see the fisheries being managed for “The People” rather than for the good of the species is so very depressing I am wondering how best to become an influence for a change in management tactics here. This is South Central Alaska not Bristol Bay, these rivers and their strains of fish have had about all the harvest pressure they can stand in my opinion. Given the current management practices I can see nothing positive in the future. I have already refunded my Coho trips and am headed to the cabin tomorrow.

      I’ve decided to develop the lodging out there in order to host anglers who wish to fish for pike. We have more pike than can be counted and so if you get Lemons you make lemonade, right? I will still fish Salmon and trout but the primary focus in the years ahead will be to provide a comfortable lodge environment for Pike fishermen and when there is a decent salmon run we can easily run out of the lake to fish salmon and trout.

      @017 looks to be a failed season from where I am at buddy, I’ll try to produce something positive to enter onto the pages here but may resort to telling the truth about what I am seeing. I have been telling people since 2005 when they express a desire to come here the same thing for 12 consecutive seasons now. I’ve said “I don’t advise waiting until retirement because this is not like a bottle of fine red wine, it isn’t getting better with age”. I could not have been more correct when I consider those words at this time.

      Sorry if that sounded like a cry of desperation but those are some current thoughts.


  6. November 5, 2017
    Sergey Martynov (argail)

    Hey Ard.
    I got an answer to my question…


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