Known as the Super Bowl of freshwater fly-fishing, successfully landing a King Salmon on the fly is no easy task. These leviathans tout many characteristics that make them one of the most difficult sport fish to chase with a fly rod.
The challenge in successfully hooking and landing a King Salmon is two fold. First, the deep fast runs that Kings are most comfortable in often make the actual fishing and casting tasks more difficult than normal. Couple this with their sheer size and power, and you have a fish that deserves the respect they are given.
Generally, Alaska King Salmon range anywhere from 15-90 lbs., with each river offering its own set of averages. Any fish in the 25-45 lb. range is considered a great fish anywhere you go. Using body size to their advantage, these fish will often times hunkering down in deep fast pools, leveraging their mass with the current. Anglers can expect long, hard fought battles, challenging their strength and stamina both mentally, and physically.
Each river system has it's own distinct peaks in which anglers have the best shot at hooking and landing King Salmon. As a general rule of thumb, you can plan on peak runs happening in the months of June and July.
The range of Alaskan King Salmon reaches all the way from the southern tip of Alaska, North to the rivers near Nome and Kotzebue, with occasional reports of Kings being caught at even higher latitudes. Impressively, some of the Yukon River King Salmon in particular have been known to migrate over 1,840 river miles to reach their spawning grounds.
Because chasing King Salmon often requires the use of heavy sink tips, spey anglers frequently have an advantage over their single-handed counterparts. This does not mean that traditional fly rods will not work, but that anglers utilizing them should plan on plenty of casting with heavy outfits. Rods in the 8-12 weight categories are the standards, with the heavier of the bunch giving the angler a little more leverage when going head to head with a trophy.
When selecting fly patterns, make sure you have ones with larger profiles as they tend to work well in most conditions. Intruders, rabbitstrip leeches, and other large patterns are almost always staples in the King Salmon fly boxes of Alaskan guides. When the water is low and clear, however, utilizing a smaller, less intrusive fly often can bring more success than larger patterns.
For fly colors, look towards chartreuses, whites, and greens when fishing for fresh King Salmon found close to the salt. As the fish begin to move upriver, patterns in black, purple, pink, and blue will begin to shine.
The River and Lodges
When heading up to chase King Salmon on the fly, there are many lodges to choose from that have high success. Here are a few of the lodges that we would recommend for your next King Salmon expedition.