Those who target king salmon on the fly often, have endured through much pain in there fishing careers. Throwing big heavy rods and fast sinking tips is usually key to success. The new lighter, high module, graphite rods have made life easier on the river while casting endless hours waiting for the saltwater wrecking balls to come into the river. Last summer our favorite rod was the 10130-4 Sage One. For a 13ft 10wt rod, it is phenomenal. Short, lightweight and powerful it launches tight, effortless loops even with the nastiest tips and flies.
No matter what rod set up you decide to use, our preference is intermediate skagit compact heads, 12 feet of T-17, and Trilene 40lb Big game running line. A lighter tip is nice for the shallow heads of runs but more often than not this setup has you covered
Although swinging flies for King salmon can be very difficult, for the most part in northern BC, if fresh fish are coming by in big numbers while you are fishing, you will have some success. Here are is our Fab 5 list for king flies. Keep in mind we highly recommend using 1/0 hooks for kings so if you are going to buy king flies from a fly shop you typically have to buy patterns where you can upsize the hook that comes with it.
#1 - Scott Howells Squidro sea food series is hard to beat for hot fresh kings rolling off a tide. It is sparse enough that it sinks like a rock, and has enough bells and whistles on it that is gets the attention of fish quickly. If you are buying these from the store you will want to switch the hooks out to a 1/0. We have the most luck on the pink/orange one.
#2 - Derek Fergus’ strung-out rockstar. The strung-out flies are always a great choice for any anadromous fish. Kings are no exception. I have always been a big fan of Fergus’ patterns. The rockstar on a 1/0 hook is deadly for kings. The cerise/pink works the best for us.
#3 - Scott Howell does it again with the guide intruder. A blue collar work horse for any king fisherman. It is quick and easy to tie, and is not over dressed like it’s going to a prom. This fly is sparse enough to get down fast and stay down. In deep, slow water a lot of pattern can be motionless but this guy still gets after it down there. Underwater it challenges every fish it sees to a fight. Black, chartreuse, and pink should be in your box.
#4 - Brian Silveys tail light. Long fly on a short tube gives this fly excellent motion in the water. Although many complain of getting the loop just right. Too long and it pipes the fish too deep, and too short it turns into an inchworm. It does take some getting used to if you want to get it right every time but this fly is worth the effort. Our best luck has come on the black one with either pink or chartreuse tipped tail.
#5 - Usually I have the comet here at number five. However after last seasons low clear water I have to give this fly some props. The Magic Winter orange. We had incredibly low water last summer in some of our coastal rivers and the fish were weary of everything the second they entered the river. For a while our only success was at first light and last light using this fly. A comet is typically more practical but this fly saved us several days last summer, so it found its way to our 2015 list.
If you are tying your own flies it is worth making some colour combos that are rarely tied commercially. Patterns with chartreuse and king fisher blue colour profiles light up a coastal pool like a neon sign. Another colour pattern that works very well and is rarely fished is yellow and orange (sparse). The key is to not over dress these flies so they actually sink. Lastly I enjoy fishing black egg sucking leeches (with much smaller hooks) for places where there might be coastal cutthroats. I really do love catching these guys on our remote coastal rivers.