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Thread: Coho flies for near Cordova

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    Default Coho flies for near Cordova

    I'm an absolute salmon newbie. It seems like each river or area of Alaska has variations of standard flies for silvers. Me and my girl will be north of Cordova chasing silvers for 5-6 days starting August 26. We will be stationed in one of the bays (Simpson I think) with a small boat, unguided. I'm guessing a lot of our fishing will be done at the mouth of rivers and streams where the fish are stacking up.

    We have never fished in the ocean, river mouths, or anything similar, so....I was hoping some folks here could help me out with some tips on techniques and flies. I keep hearing it will be easy, but I don't want to sit out there catching nothing on the trip of a lifetime!!

    We have floating lines and I already plan on picking up plenty of beads, flesh flies, flash flies, and purple ESLs. I'm wondering what else would be good for that area? Would it be worth it trying some pollywogs to get some topwater action?

    What about techniques? Do we need to get our flies down really well or will they chase them/come up to them? Are they more agressive when they're still fresh in the salt? Do you burn streamers by them or set them on the fish's nose?

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2

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    a few wogs wouldnt hurt. I dont get much action on them though occasionally they do work. It's awesome when it does...see a big ole hooked kype coming out of the water gobbling it up!

    Definatly tie up some fuschia bunny flies, weighted and un weighted. They work very well for coho's! IMHO you cant have to many of them. I prefer to tie them up with just lead eyes, but you can add more lead on some too (might not be a bad idea considering your line choices. Dunno never fished there.

    You can use yarn too...it'll work just fine if you know how to eggloop a hook. Good backup knowledge incase you run out of flies.

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    I can't believe I forgot to ask....

    How many flies would everyone recommend for 5-6 days of fishing?

    Both me and my girl are pretty die hard and expect (weather permitting) to be fishing as long as it's light enough to see. I'm guessing...5 days, 5 flies per day, so 25 flies each? That seems like an awful lot though.

    Thanks TradBow, I'll have to lookup the yarn and eggloop technique. Always good to have backups. The beads and flesh are for any upstream bows/dollies that we might find, but the main focus will be on the silvers.

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    to answer your first post... the answer is yes/no/maybe

    typically I'd say you need to get your flies down for salmon, but if silvers are pooling they may be anywhere in the water column. and if any salmon is likely to move up to take a fly, it's going to be the ol' coho. my advice is to be diverse in your presentations, and if something's not working, try a different retrieve. sometimes you need to burn it by them, sometimes the dead drift is the way to go. they can turn off and on like a switch - one minute they'll hit anything you throw at 'em and the next they've all got lockjaw. if you know there are fish around and you're not hooking up try a different fly/presentation until you hit on something that works.

    i'd say bring as many flies as you can. it doesn't sound like you're going to be anywhere close to a fly shop while you're out there, and you definitely don't want to run out of flies on the trip of a lifetime. i'd say plan on bringing twice what you have planned, and then some more. plan on loosing flies to the rocks, logs, fish and whatever else is in or around the water.

    bring some wogs. the fuschia bunny fly tradbow mentioned is a silver killer and i would bring plenty of them. i also like bunny flies in purple, black, chartreuse and yellow. i'd bring some other standard silver flies like ESLs, flash flies, alaskabous/prawns (maribou flies), and clousers. flesh flies (size 2 and 4) can also be the ticket on silvers shying away from the more standard offerings.

    a couple bags of yarn and a pack of hooks are cheap backups with an egg loop. good advice tradbow. egg loop knots are easy to tie - search youtube or google "egg loop knot" and you'll figure it out
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
    I can't believe I forgot to ask....

    How many flies would everyone recommend for 5-6 days of fishing?

    Both me and my girl are pretty die hard and expect (weather permitting) to be fishing as long as it's light enough to see. I'm guessing...5 days, 5 flies per day, so 25 flies each? That seems like an awful lot though.

    Thanks TradBow, I'll have to lookup the yarn and eggloop technique. Always good to have backups. The beads and flesh are for any upstream bows/dollies that we might find, but the main focus will be on the silvers.
    "Better to have to many bullets than not enough"

    You can never have to many in my opinion.

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    I would have to second that you may never have enough, especailly when you are fishing anything with hangups and snags in and all around it. I would pack at least a dozen of each size for each pattern you are planning on bringing or bring along a fair amount of tying gear.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
    I'm an absolute salmon newbie. It seems like each river or area of Alaska has variations of standard flies for silvers. Me and my girl will be north of Cordova chasing silvers for 5-6 days starting August 26. We will be stationed in one of the bays (Simpson I think) with a small boat, unguided. I'm guessing a lot of our fishing will be done at the mouth of rivers and streams where the fish are stacking up.

    We have never fished in the ocean, river mouths, or anything similar, so....I was hoping some folks here could help me out with some tips on techniques and flies. I keep hearing it will be easy, but I don't want to sit out there catching nothing on the trip of a lifetime!!

    We have floating lines and I already plan on picking up plenty of beads, flesh flies, flash flies, and purple ESLs. I'm wondering what else would be good for that area? Would it be worth it trying some pollywogs to get some topwater action?

    What about techniques? Do we need to get our flies down really well or will they chase them/come up to them? Are they more agressive when they're still fresh in the salt? Do you burn streamers by them or set them on the fish's nose?

    Thanks for any help!
    hmmm-my first thought is you booked one of those "wannigan" floating cabins at a fish show - - - gee - - - simpson bay - - - that is somewhere to the north of Cordova, and I know jack about that specific spot. So - please post a report when you get back.

    1. Flashflies (silver and purple), and ESL's and bunnies in purple and pink should be fine; if the fish are there. The salmon dry fly fishing with pollywogs works only under certain conditions of water (relatively still, "frog" water), with a fairly good size holding school of fresh fish); probably worth taking no more than one or two such flies.

    2. You do not use floating line for salmon; it is sink tip - standard is type III, ~10-15 ft. The technique is swinging the fly, it is not drifted.

    3. No, the salmon are not more aggressive in the saltwater, at least in my experience; they become aggressive as they school and bunch up entering freshwater. In salt water the fish are taken with trolling and bait and other methods.

    4. No, you don't snag the fish or have to come that near the fish; they will bite the fly - or they won't.

    5. Late August? that is a bit earlier than the peak of the silver run for the mainland but with good rain the some fish will be there, and they won't be there if it is bone dry. No matter what, there will be slimy pinks a plenty, since they come in early.

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    Awesome guys, I agree about having more than I need, looks like I need to sit at the tying table for a couple of weeks

    Wyo2AK, you are correct about no fly shops once we're off, if we run out or need more, I doubt we could get any more and really don't want to take any chances. I've been missing trips to WY this year saving for AK. I bet you miss those monster browns! First river fish to take me into my backing was in WY. I guess all the drag screaming awesome fishing up in AK makes up for it though!

    Jarred, I am going through my tying materials this weekend hopefully to get everything I need for AK stuff seperate, I'm glad at least some of these flies seem fairly easy to tie and sparse on materials, whew...

    stevesch, I don't know the forum rules about putting up outfitter's names so I haven't, just trying to give out as much info as I can to gain more specific feedback for that area. Really, the only way I can thank all of the people that have and are helping is to post when I get back, I'm pretty handy with reports and big smiles so no worries I wasn't sure about the wogs, I'll take some for sure, but keep my expectations in check and maybe spend some time trying to search out the pooling slow water. I'll investigate those sink tips that you can swap out too, hate to be there and need to get deeper and not be able to. #3 is what we'll be fishing as long as the fish are there...as they school at the mouth(s) to head into the fresh water.

    Thanks everyone!

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    Default Best fly bar none...

    I have fly-fished many of the most famed AK rivers for coho and their is one fly that stands out more then all the others.... Cherise Bunny leach... Tie it in any variation that you choose.... They are all good...

    Personally I prefer unweighted, that gives me more flexibility to how it will be fished....

    All the other mentioned fly's are good and faily dependable.... Really hard to beat rabbit fur for a fly material, gives a very natural action, steelhead, coho, chum, chinook dollies, and rainbows simply can't resist it!

  10. #10

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    cerise, fuschia same diff LOL It's a coho/king/chum killer!!!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
    Awesome guys, I agree about having more than I need, looks like I need to sit at the tying table for a couple of weeks

    Wyo2AK, you are correct about no fly shops once we're off, if we run out or need more, I doubt we could get any more and really don't want to take any chances. I've been missing trips to WY this year saving for AK. I bet you miss those monster browns! First river fish to take me into my backing was in WY. I guess all the drag screaming awesome fishing up in AK makes up for it though!

    Jarred, I am going through my tying materials this weekend hopefully to get everything I need for AK stuff seperate, I'm glad at least some of these flies seem fairly easy to tie and sparse on materials, whew...

    stevesch, I don't know the forum rules about putting up outfitter's names so I haven't, just trying to give out as much info as I can to gain more specific feedback for that area. Really, the only way I can thank all of the people that have and are helping is to post when I get back, I'm pretty handy with reports and big smiles so no worries I wasn't sure about the wogs, I'll take some for sure, but keep my expectations in check and maybe spend some time trying to search out the pooling slow water. I'll investigate those sink tips that you can swap out too, hate to be there and need to get deeper and not be able to. #3 is what we'll be fishing as long as the fish are there...as they school at the mouth(s) to head into the fresh water.

    Thanks everyone!

    1. The forum is not mine - but as I read the rules, they do allow outfitter's names; they do not allow "negative" posts.

    2. I have tried but never liked any of those interchangeable tip arrangements; due to the connections hanging up on the guides in short casts and during a retrieve, and "hinging". Other people use them, and there is the advantage of requiring no extra spools.

    3. The method of fishing is a swinging fly with short strips on the retrieve, so the depth can be varied by adjusting the pace of stripping. You can also just put some lead on the leader just above the fly (I use lead coneheads, aka, "worm weights", in 1/32 to 1/16 oz for this. Remember, for salmon flies - especially if you have anything strung on the line like weight you will need a fairly stiff, abrasion-resistant leader material, to turn it over; Maxima ultragreen is the brand of choice. For silvers I go with 12# generally, sometimes lighter or heavier depending on size of fish and fly.

    4. Don't set your heart on getting a salmon on a dry fly. It's been years since I got one like that. (you would need a floating line for a wog, as with other dry flies)

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    Default Topwater will be available for sure....

    Quote Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
    I'm an absolute salmon newbie. It seems like each river or area of Alaska has variations of standard flies for silvers. Me and my girl will be north of Cordova chasing silvers for 5-6 days starting August 26. We will be stationed in one of the bays (Simpson I think) with a small boat, unguided. I'm guessing a lot of our fishing will be done at the mouth of rivers and streams where the fish are stacking up.

    We have never fished in the ocean, river mouths, or anything similar, so....I was hoping some folks here could help me out with some tips on techniques and flies. I keep hearing it will be easy, but I don't want to sit out there catching nothing on the trip of a lifetime!!

    We have floating lines and I already plan on picking up plenty of beads, flesh flies, flash flies, and purple ESLs. I'm wondering what else would be good for that area? Would it be worth it trying some pollywogs to get some topwater action?

    What about techniques? Do we need to get our flies down really well or will they chase them/come up to them? Are they more agressive when they're still fresh in the salt? Do you burn streamers by them or set them on the fish's nose?

    Thanks for any help!
    Couple things... While cordova is not one place that I have fished coho in Alaska, I have fished them from the middle and lower of the Kuskokwim, Bristol Bay, Both sides of Cook Inlet....

    All these places topwater action was available... Distance from the ocean doesn't matter as I have had fenominal top water action houndreds of miles from the ocean. The key is lower pressure area's... Find a school that has not been disturbed and get your polywog groove on!! Depending on their dencities will determine how aggressive they are, the more fish the more available on top water... After they switch off top water got to a unweighted fly just under the surface, then go weighted... You get the idea... There is one common theme for my success catching coho on fly's all over AK and that is fushia or cherise colored bunny leach's or popcicle and being able to cast long distances to increase retrieve distance.... Strip 6"-18" and vary the pause's between untill you are succussful.

    Another key is casting... Did I mention that already? I use to tell my clients if you can get out there 40 ft... You can get a fish almost every cast.... So start practicing on the lawn now and build up your arm muscles and casting distances... At least be able to single haul w/ wind from all directions, top water flies are tough in the wind....

    Don't let anyone tell u that the topwater fly has to be a pollywog made a particular way... It is all about the way it "pop's" on the surface... Hard bodied and foam diver/ popper bass flies a are the best of course in pink w/ some flash on them helps too. In a pinch I have taken the largest corkies and split them in half and put them above a fly and had great success... I have also used steelhead foam rags on snelled leaders and crushed them on the su.rface.

    More often then not the fish will prefer to take you fly under the surface and some of the best area's you can fish are color lines between murky glacial water and clear turndra water.

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    Cool! Thanks guys.

    Tynmon, I will make sure to have a ton of those colors and of course the standard purples/pinks/flashy/reds/etc and stuff too. 40ft is all we have to cast?!?! Holy cow, I've been targeting a lot farther than that....so 40 should be doable. We use our 8-9wts for pike in lakes out here. I figured the salmon are just like trout, easier to catch subsurface, but possible on top in the right conditions...man I can't imagine a big silver smashing a big popper or something similar. That would be a sight to see I'm sure. We'll probably just take a few and give it a try but not depend on that method for dinner

    stevesch, yeah we will spend that part of our trip on a wannigan from Alaskan Wilderness Outfitting Company. They came highly recommended from family members who used them in the past and I like the idea of having such easy access to so many different fishing options. Interesting about the sink tips and hinging, another reason to try them out before we get there. I don't have extra spools, so that might be the only option for getting deep. Thanks for the tip about the stiffer lines too, sounds like the pike tapered fly line I have might work well up there too. It's the RIO pike taper, I think it's nice for turning over big stuff.

    Great stuff guys!

  14. #14

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    Well - while I generally agree with Tynmon on many points, but I must say the fish I have fished for are just more aggressive, better fighters and in much better condition closer to salt than 100's of miles upstream. And I didn't mean you couldn't get the fish on dries. It does happen. When it does, the silvers will follow a skated/jerked wog like a shark and smash it and run for japan. It is very cool. More commonly it does not occur at all.

    As to tapered leaders, you don't really need tapering at all, although many people make a short taper. Bring a couple different spools of maxima. Tie on 6 feet of something. If you want to get fancy, you can make a tapered leader. I woudn't be futzing with pike tapers, whatever the heck that is.

    Please post a report when you get back. I'm interested to hear how the wannigan fishing is, and how those multitip systems worked for you, if you get one. It would definitely be better than being stuck with a floating line and trying to cast and swing flies in 6 feet of running water with a bunch of lead.

  15. #15

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    straight mono...maxima is spendy LOL! call me cheap but dang it works.

    I've also had limited to low results on top but man when it works it's a blast! I've had them on top waaay up here up north..dead nasty fish but still fun to catch before winter gets in. (delta clearwater).

    Wine bottle corks split and glued to a hook shank make a great dry fly also One that last quite awhile for pike!!! But also will work great for wogging.

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    I won't mess with tapering leaders...This is the fly line I was talking about:
    http://www.riverbum.com/Rio-Pike-Floating-Fly-Line/

    Not the leader or tippet, but the fly line itself I have had good luck with so far, I tend to use straight 20lb mono as a leader for pike, sounds like this setup will work well for the salmon using a little lighter leader. Assuming floating line will get the flies deep enough.

    I'm hoping being in the salt still, or potentially not far from it, the fish will be super agressive. I'm not really sure what to expect since we've never caught real salmon. TradBow, thanks for the tip on using corks, easy (and cheap) enough!!

    I should have a report up near mid september or so! For sure keep an eye out in this forum for it.

  17. #17

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    well, phil - back to a few basics here:

    Floating lines are intended for dry flies or natural drift nymphing with or without an indicator. Hence the term "floating".

    Floating lines are NOT used for fishing for salmon, or for that matter, pike or any other fish with flies that are below the surface.

    This is because the line will cause the fly to rise when it is swung or stripped. What you need is sink tip line. The sinking tip will keep the fly near the bottom where the fish are when it is swung or stripped. Floating line will NOT do that.

    I think I know what's on your mind.....you will bring a bunch of lead and sink the fly that way if you have to but it won't work effectively with casting or presentation. Unless you know for certain you are going to be in 2 feet or less of slow-moving water your entire trip, don't bother with that line of thinking. If floating line had ever really worked for salmon, and it doesn't - fly line companies wouldn't be making 50 thousand kinds of sink tips of various lengths and weights, or hawking you to buy multi-tip systems for a hundred bucks. Fly reel companies would never sell extra spools.

    Fact of the matter is - most of us have been there/done that. That's why we have extra spools, or multi-tip systems. Floating line won't cover your potential fishing situations. You may need short, or lighter - intermediate sinking tips for below the surface, and heavier tips for deeper, and floating lines for on top, or all of the above.

    The option for floating a dry fly is floating line. Similarly, the option for a swung or stripped underwater fly is sink tip. If you want to do both, you will either need several spools, or a multi-tip system and deal with the various loop connections. It's my understanding that the manufacturers have worked on these systems to reduce the guide friction and hinging issues so it probably is not that huge of a deal - but honestly - I don't use them.

    As for TradBow's comment about using straight mono instead of leader; uhhhh - hmmmm, yes that could be done - and some people do it, but no - leader and straight mono are not the same product, no - straight mono will not perform the same way as leader, and no, spools of leader are not spendy - you are talking $3 for a spool. I suppose one could go to a fishing store and sift through various lines of mono and get something that works like maxima, but seriously, why bother? Going to Alaska is spendy - a couple thou for a week of fishing - so why skimp on $10-15 bucks for the proper leader materials?

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    stevesch, thanks for spelling it out for me. I see what you are saying now, for my lake fishing for pike that floating line works for me because of the behavior/retrieve that you describe, I don't fish for them deep, it casts large flies really well also. But I see it's limited use and what you are saying makes perfect sense.

    I have no idea what the water will be like so I would like to be prepared for everything. I'm used to nymphing deep and/or fast moving water with enough weight using floating line, but swinging and stripping like this are pretty unfamiliar to me. I guess you're right in that I figured it would be pretty similar. I appreciate you taking the time to give advice!!

    I agree 10-15 bucks isn't much in the scheme of things.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesch View Post
    well, phil - back to a few basics here:

    Floating lines are intended for dry flies or natural drift nymphing with or without an indicator. Hence the term "floating".

    Floating lines are NOT used for fishing for salmon, or for that matter, pike or any other fish with flies that are below the surface.

    This is because the line will cause the fly to rise when it is swung or stripped. What you need is sink tip line. The sinking tip will keep the fly near the bottom where the fish are when it is swung or stripped. Floating line will NOT do that.

    I think I know what's on your mind.....you will bring a bunch of lead and sink the fly that way if you have to but it won't work effectively with casting or presentation. Unless you know for certain you are going to be in 2 feet or less of slow-moving water your entire trip, don't bother with that line of thinking.
    Sorry can't agree with Steve on this one. I have all of the fancy sink tip/sinking lines lines, but what I use most for salmon is a floating line and split shot. Sometimes a lot. About a 12-14 ft leader is what I use. Shorter casts with split shot about 2 ft above the line and chuck and duck. Wear a hat and eye protection. I point my rod at the fly and make short strips keeping in constant contact with the fly. The hits are often jarring in nature. I've caught HUNDREDS of silvers this way.

    The fact of the matter is that one most of the rivers that I fish for silvers even a super fast sinking line isn't fast enough to get down as fast as I want. Think road system here, with an occasional boat or plane trip. When I fish with a certain friend who insists on using his sinking lines I often have up to 10 times as many hookups.

    I catch silvers this way in rivers up to 8 ft deep. (The floating line sinks some too) Usually it's about 3-5 feet in depth.

    There is a time and a place for sink tip/sinking lines but, bottom line, don't rule any technique out. So much depends on the water you'll be fishing.

    It ain't pretty casting like in a "River Runs Through It", but I know it works.

    Good luck!

  20. #20
    Member TYNMON's Avatar
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    Default Spot on!!

    Quote Originally Posted by AKGunner View Post
    Sorry can't agree with Steve on this one. I have all of the fancy sink tip/sinking lines lines, but what I use most for salmon is a floating line and split shot. Sometimes a lot. About a 12-14 ft leader is what I use. Shorter casts with split shot about 2 ft above the line and chuck and duck. Wear a hat and eye protection. I point my rod at the fly and make short strips keeping in constant contact with the fly. The hits are often jarring in nature. I've caught HUNDREDS of silvers this way.

    The fact of the matter is that one most of the rivers that I fish for silvers even a super fast sinking line isn't fast enough to get down as fast as I want. Think road system here, with an occasional boat or plane trip. When I fish with a certain friend who insists on using his sinking lines I often have up to 10 times as many hookups.

    I catch silvers this way in rivers up to 8 ft deep. (The floating line sinks some too) Usually it's about 3-5 feet in depth.

    There is a time and a place for sink tip/sinking lines but, bottom line, don't rule any technique out. So much depends on the water you'll be fishing.

    It ain't pretty casting like in a "River Runs Through It", but I know it works.

    Good luck!
    Couldn't have replied better myself!! Floating lines are where it is at.... Of the last 12 summers that I have spent fishing all over the state of AK, I would bet less then 1% of the time I have ever fished sinking lines, and believe me I have them and keep lugging them around the state thinking there will be this one time that I need them.... Just doesn't seem to happen.... Maybe, If I fished w/ a spey rod where hucking a 500-800 grain shooting head was more pratical and I actually fished somewhere that required casting more then 60 ft was required I would actually use a sinking line.

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