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Thread: Getting a red to bite...?

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    Member AK A's Fan's Avatar
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    Default Getting a red to bite...?

    Any flies that seem to work better than others when it comes to this matter? I know they're the most lock-jawed things around, but there has to be something that they can't resist striking, right? Flossing in slow moving water like Cottonwood is tough, so I'd love to go after them with something they might hit. I am able to tie flies, too, so I'm open to any and all suggestions!
    Ryan from Wasilla

  2. #2

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    I've caught a lot of reds using just about anything that is sparsely tied. They don't seem to like big, gaudy, and flashy flies like other salmon do. Sometimes nothing more than a bare hook with yarn or some sparsely tied bucktail works the best for me. Or you could take one of those russian river flies and clip off some of the excess so you only have a few hairs left on the hook. I've found less is more with reds. Sometimes a small pink and purple bunny fly works really well for me as well.

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    First get away from the flossers. Reds are pretty well lockjawed when anything they see in the water is likely to snag them. Second, find fish that are holding for awhile rather than moving. Third, stand back from them a bit and swing your flies across in front of them, much like swinging for steelhead. Fourth, there are general color preferences from one day to the next so it pays to try different combos. Sparse is good. My all-time best producers are small, slender black Woolly Buggers with a single strand of copper Flashabou down the side on sunny days, pink and cerise Glo Bug on cloudy days. But I always go through a range of colors to find what they want for a day.

    Want a mind blower? Get those same relaxed fish in 2' or less of water and wake a dry Steelhead Caddis or any other waking dry over the top of them. Want to really blow your mind, take that same pink/cerise Glo Bug and dip it in good dry fly floatant and wake it. Heck I've even caught them on waked muddlers. Their "aim" isn't so good, and they might have to make several passes at the waked dry before they get it in their mouth, but you won't lack for fun as you watch that white mouth popping at your fly. Overall, if you know how to catch steelhead, you can do alright with relaxed reds.

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    Thank you guys both for the input. I had heard that sparse was definitely better than a big, full, fly. I'll be sure to do some experimenting with them tomorrow, it's exciting to hear some tactics that work!
    Ryan from Wasilla

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    I caught two reds last year at cottonwood on eggs of all things. I seen some guys walk out with a few silvers they cought on eggs so i put some eggs on and ended up catching two reds shortly after. First time i had EVER seen them actively go after eggs. Might have been a total fluke. Either way though I watched them hit the eggs so I know it wasn't an accidental flossing. Sure had me scratching my head lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllAlaskan View Post
    I caught two reds last year at cottonwood on eggs of all things. I seen some guys walk out with a few silvers they cought on eggs so i put some eggs on and ended up catching two reds shortly after. First time i had EVER seen them actively go after eggs. Might have been a total fluke. Either way though I watched them hit the eggs so I know it wasn't an accidental flossing. Sure had me scratching my head lol.
    There are guides that absolutely slay them using roe under bobbers. Find the holding reds, adjust your leader so the eggs float at the same level as the reds on the drift, and hold on. I was camped on a remote river a few years back and one guide service flew in clients every day to walk downstream a ways for kings, then come back upstream to the slack water to wait for their plane. The reds were holding in the slack water, and the guides would set up their clients with roe and bobbers while waiting for their plane. I don't think I ever saw a client leave without a limit of reds on top of their king catches.

    Crowds and flossing go together, but free-biting reds want neither.

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    Was down fishing Cottonwood for an hour and a half this morning. Got there at 5:30 only to find most all of the holes taken! Fish were extremely spooky, wouldn't hold for more than a few seconds. Ended up leaving after getting tired of trying to chase them and not being able to find any holding.
    Ryan from Wasilla

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    I've caught many sockeyes dead-drifting small flies under an indicator while targeting trout/dollies on the Kenai and Russian.

    Most recently, about two weeks ago, I took my 6 wt down to the RR Ferry to target trout downstream of the cleaning tables and ferry landing on the south side of the river. Not a single person was fishing from the ferry landing downstream for at least 100 meters. The early run was waning and everyone was up in the sanctuary. I fished a small two-toned orange/pink flesh fly that, retrospectively, looked sufficiently like a small shrimp to warrant sockeye attention.

    The water I was fishing was relatively deep, about 6 ft. There was a beautiful seam separating the clean Russian water and the blue-silty Kenai water. My casts were placed 30-50 ft upstream on or within a few feet of the seam.

    I caught 3 trout in about 3 hours, none notable. Well, ok, one was 16" but still not what i was after. I may have caught more if it weren't for the SOCKEYES. I could not keep them off my line! The water along the seam was slow enough that these reds fish were holding, probably waiting for the chaos in the sanctuary to pass so they could sprint upstream. I hooked 16 fish in 3 hours. The problem was I was fishing a 6 wt rod and had no intention of catching sockeyes. It is possible some were "flossed", but 16 of them? The indicator would sometimes dip or barely hesitate, whereas others times it disappeared in a blink.

    At any rate, my experience mirrors those who have posted in this thread. These fish were rested, holding in deeper, slower water, and responsive.

    By the way, I lost most of them, but only 3 broke off. The rest pulled out after several minutes of fighting. The small hook (size 10 TMC 2487) wasn't designed for these bad boys, nor was my rod...but again I wasn't targeting them either (had plenty from previous trips already).

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by okisutch View Post
    ...a small two-toned orange/pink flesh fly that, retrospectively, looked sufficiently like a small shrimp to warrant sockeye attention.
    Hmmmmmm. Now ya got me thinking, and that's good at my age!

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    I was at them 07/16 at the Bedsprings Hole in Kodiak. I took down 10 in two hours with nothing more than a red hook tied with a strip of green yarn. During those takedowns one of them spit the hook and it got stuck my shirt and I had to cut it out. The newly designed lure was now a red hook with a strip of green yarn and a piece of shirt.

    I took down 2 sockeye out of the 10 with that lure...

    Rosenberg; Kodiak, AK / Sarasota, FL / Zhengzhou, CN
    "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


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    Quote Originally Posted by AK A's Fan View Post
    Any flies that seem to work better than others when it comes to this matter? I know they're the most lock-jawed things around, but there has to be something that they can't resist striking, right? Flossing in slow moving water like Cottonwood is tough, so I'd love to go after them with something they might hit. I am able to tie flies, too, so I'm open to any and all suggestions!
    Use a 8-10ft. sink tip with sparsely tied flies on a #6 saltwater hook!


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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    There are guides that absolutely slay them using roe under bobbers. Find the holding reds, adjust your leader so the eggs float at the same level as the reds on the drift, and hold on. I was camped on a remote river a few years back and one guide service flew in clients every day to walk downstream a ways for kings, then come back upstream to the slack water to wait for their plane. The reds were holding in the slack water, and the guides would set up their clients with roe and bobbers while waiting for their plane. I don't think I ever saw a client leave without a limit of reds on top of their king catches.


    Crowds and flossing go together, but free-biting reds want neither.

    I always heard "Reds never bite" but after my experience and what you just said I may have try it again with eggs. Trick is finding a river where there are Reds and not every one and their brother is there trying to floss em lol.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllAlaskan View Post
    Trick is finding a river where there are Reds and not every one and their brother is there trying to floss em lol.
    There ya go! I can usually find hidden small pockets away from the crowd, but beware of being seen there with reds. The flossers will close in on you in a heartbeat, and your fishing is through.

  14. #14

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    I have caught reds on size 3 & 4 vibrax spinners. Like most have said it's best to find good water without all the flosser's around.
    Last edited by Steelieguy; 07-21-2013 at 17:01. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by D Ray View Post
    Use a 8-10ft. sink tip with sparsely tied flies on a #6 saltwater hook!

    That looks familiar to what I use. I fish away from the crowds as much as possible and that little fly kills em. Reds really hit like a freight train with the proper tackle. Some people were standing down stream about 100 yds with their mouths open after I caught fish after fish while they were hooking nothing all thanks to that little fly.
    Makin fur fins and feathers fly.

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