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Thread: Advice on a do-all fly fishing set up for salmon

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Advice on a do-all fly fishing set up for salmon

    Howdy! I'm new to the forum and was wondering if I could get some advice from yall concerning a decent set up for salmon fishing in Alaska. The wife and I moved up in May and hopefully will be staying around for a while.

    Would it be better to go with an 8-wt or 9-wt? What lengths should I look into and what leaders and tippet do yall recommend? Also, what kind of flies do you recommend? I'm new to the salmon fishing game and don't really have anyone that is helping me out.

    The reason why I ask, is that I went up to Montana creek and was screwing around up there and ended up hooking two kings on a 5-wt. This wasn't the brightest of ideas. I ended up fighting one for more than five minutes with him just sitting there in the current not doing much of anything since I couldn't get him to budge. The only way I could move him was by pulling downstream, which promptly pissed him off and sent him rocketing back upstream. Needless to say both fish ended up breaking off and I was lucky that I didn't break the rod.


  2. #2
    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Default No one-size fits all really . .

    Hotdiggity, if I were going to pick one setup for for salmon in this state, I'd probably go with a 9' 2-piece 9 weight, probably a GL Loomis GL2 ($205 at Sportsman's Warehouse), mated with an Orvis Battenkill Mid-Arbor Reel ($129 at Mountain View). There are certainly MANY more options to choose from, but the price/quality equation is certainly very good for these choices.

    I'd choose the 9wt because you can use it for reds and silvers (I'd buy a second spool and put an 8wt floating line on it for these) and chums, yet you can still use it for kings on most of the rivers where it is possible to fly fish for kings (Montana, Goose, Caswell, Sheep, Ninilchik, Deep Creek, Anchor, etc).

    The number of variations can literally push you into paralysis by analysis, which leads to synapse collapse, untimately resulting in complete brain drain.

    As for leaders/tippets, I tie on a straight 25# leader for kings, and 20# leader for reds and silvers (in the Kenai). For other calmer waters, I'll use a 15# leader for silvers. Flies, there are untold numbers of books about flies for salmon in Alaska. My personal preferences are:

    Reds: Sockeye Willie
    Silvers: Flash Fly (sometimes called the Karluk Flashfly)
    Kings: Babine Special

    And never forget the Alaskan favorite, a small piece of yarn above a Gamakatsu octopus hook!

    As you build your collection of flyrods (it happens to us all!), you'll eventually end with with 7 or 8wts for reds & silvers, maybe a 10 wt for kings (or maybe even a spey rod). Once you put them in the rack together, they breed . . making little new rods! (At least that's what I tell my wife!)

    Welcome to Alaska, and enjoy the best fishing on the planet.

    Tight lines,


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    If I had only one rod? An 8 weight, definitely.

    The best bang for the buck? My Lamiglas G-1000. It isn't my favorite rod, but it's the one I use when I break my Sage....again. The Lamiglas has never let me down.

    Reel? Head over to World Wide Angler or Mt. View and take a look. Both places have excellent customer service and good inventories to browse.

    Sage now makes an under-$200 rod, too. The Launch series.

  4. #4

    Default Lucky you...

    One rod?....don't think so. First rod, yes, the 8 wt. for the silvers and sockeye, then a 5 wt for the pinks, then a 3 wt for the grayling, then a 10 wt. for the Kings, then a 6 wt for the Bows. Oh man, a lot of great reasons for a collection. Best advice as to brand, make, model, is to go to a real fly shop (independent) not a big box store or catalogue. Tell them what you intend to do with your new first rod and where you will be most likely to be fishing. You will receive expert advice, some coaching, and be able to at least dry fire a few different makes. It may cost you a dollar or two more than the discount route but in the long run you will be money ahead. Don't recommend a tippet of over 12 # on the 8 wt....saves on broken rods and lost fly lines!! Lots of good books on this available from this on "Alaska Outdoors Store" at the top of the page.

  5. #5
    Member big_dog60's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    between wasilla and palmer


    I use an 8 wt for all salmon except kings. I could use a 5 wt for pinks but since I rarly target them I don't usually take it for salmon. Only the biggest chums really cause problems. I have hooked in to some monster chums that would just bull there way down stream and can be very difficult to get back up stream.

  6. #6
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Eagle River/ Juneau


    8 wt with a floating line, kings are fine on an 8 as long as you use less than 20# test don't grab the rod above the handle though. Heck I wouldn't hesitate to cast to a king with a 7wt. My buddy caught a 15 pounder on his 3 wt once so basically know how to fight big fish and you'll be fine
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  7. #7
    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    For the one decent, but not too outrageously spendy (although it'll still set you back probably $350-$400 with rod reel, backing, line, case, etc) all salmon setup, I'd go with a 9 weight Lamiglas rod and Scientific Anglers System 2 10/11 reel.

    I've used down to a 3 wt for pinks, and also for bright red silvers at Delta Clearwater. I generally use the 7 wt for most salmon, but the 9 can handle big, fresh silvers and kings; although the only king I've actually landed with it was hooked in the tail.

    I'd get a 7 wt as my salmon rod if I wasn't planning on using it for kings. Also good for pike, and big char, Dollies, 'bows, etc. It'll work for grayling too, but not nearly as exciting as on a 3 wt.


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