An Article by Fly Out Ambassador Mark Rutherford
A Fly Selection for BRISTOL BAY, ALASKA
the Greatest Trout & Salmon Fishery in the World
Flies for 1 person for 1 week on a float trip or fishing with the region's best lodges. This is a multi species list, with an emphasis on June Rainbow Trout and Arctic Grayling, plus all of the other sport-fish in the Bristol Bay watersheds including Arctic Char, Lake Trout, early Kings, Sockeye, and Northern Pike. A short discussion follows.
First, don't leave home without these 5 items in your carry on luggage.
- Your best Polaroid glasses.
- Your Rx medications.
- Your favorite waterproof/breathable wading or fully waterproof rain jacket with retractors for hemostat and line nipper and 2 large pockets for fly boxes.
- Waders you completely trust which will get the equivalent of a full year of normal use during your AK trip.
- Wading boots that fit. Felt soles were outlawed in AK in 2012. The sticky rubber soles are now quite good. No "cleated, nailed, or studded" boots in rafts or cabins.
Why? In case Alaska Airlines loses you're checked bags with your clothing, rods, reels, and flies. You came a long way! Improvise and go fish!
Flies FOR Trout, Char, and Grayling
The Trout, Char, and Grayling flies below are proven in Bristol Bay, which is the finest completely intact, functional salmonid fishery in the world. When possible, tie or buy your patterns articulated or with stinger hooks for a significantly higher ratio of total fish landed (with less damage to fish mouthparts than traditional streamer hooks.) In the Bristol Bay region, please release ALL RAINBOW TROUT regardless of whether the Alaska Department of Fish and Game allows retention. It takes 10-15 years in cold Alaskan waters for a trophy trout to grow beyond 22 inches. Sockeye, Lake Trout, Char, and Grayling in June all provide great eating.
Your fly line(s) will determine to some extent how heavily weighted your flies should be. Cover your bases by bringing both a floating line and a sink tip. A full-sink line is not needed for our rivers and creeks.
Use your floating line in the headwaters and for "searching" as you work down river until water depths in the channels along the outside bends regularly exceed 3 feet and then, perhaps, switch to the sink tip. As you move down river you'll be pitching flies using the floating line with a weighted fly and perhaps an indicator. You are targeting root wad structure, deep green channels, and sweepers. The quarry is Rainbow Trout. One loses a lot of flies using this method, but, in June, this is where the fish are and you must fish in the woody debris and among broken chunks of sod left from spring flooding! Use fly lines like RIO Clouser which help turn over the large weighted flies with an aggressive weight forward taper. Cast aggressively to launch the leeches with lots of line speed. The 3"- 6" sink tip is very effective on Bristol Bay Rivers. If you have the "gift" you'll fish the sink tip both when drifting in the boat or wading and reap the rewards. If you don't have the "gift" you'll lose lots of flies and leaders fishing the sink tip while drifting from the boat and go back to the floating line and do very well.
Your rod choices: A #7 weight fly rod does it all. Some of my clients or friends bring two #7 wts and never 'look back'. A #4 is a fine rod for Arctic Grayling and trout under "ideal" (but somewhat rare) June conditions. The #5 weight & #6 weight make all purpose Trout/Char/Grayling rods but when you start fishing the weighted cone head Sculpins & Leeches the #7 weight can not be beat.
48 Trout Flies
- Sculpin patterns. Choose among various Sculpin patterns: Sculpzilla, Cone head, Rag, Woolhead, Exasperator, Loop, etc. Colors- olive, black. Size 2-4. Bring 4+ of your chosen pattern(s), 2 in each color.
- Egg sucking leech patterns. Choose among: Loop, Articulated Bunny, Sleech, Lead Eye, or Starlight, purple, olive, white, all purpose attractor. size #4-6. At least 2 should be purple. Bring 4+.
- Starlight leech. All white, good attractor for rainbow. Great color for Lake trout at your "put in lake". Bring 2.
- Haymaker Leech Conehead Eggabou size #1 black or blue. Consider it.
- Conehead Eggabou size #4 in pink or purple. Bring 2
- Dali Lama, Black & White, #6 all purpose attractor. Bring 2.
- Dali Lama, Green & White, #6. An option to substitute for traditional olive Sculpin.
- S&B Super string leech, or Pink rubber worm Sleech size #4 pink. Cold water Rainbows bring 2. Consider a selection of S&B Super string leech colors. A very fine fly.
- Mice bring 4+, Mr. Hanky, Loco, Preparation H Mouse, Moorish Mouse, Blair, Darth Skater, Mercers Lemming. You should have small bottle silicone floatant (not dry silica) for Mice and Caddis.
- Wooly bugger patterns in Olive, Black, Brown, size #4-6 bring 4.
- Nymphs, Hares ear, Pheasant Tail, Copper John etc. Bring 4. Fished as dropper in upper river or in cold water under an indicator.
- Trout beads, 8mm, natural roe and gold roe colors fished as dropper with "Owner" egg hooks. Bring 6. Fish as dropper where legal.
- Smolt & Fry. Stinger Clouser, Strung out Thunder Creek, Neil Creek Dart, Neil Creek Slider, Bring 4+ can be fished as dropper, streamer, or dead drifted under an indicator! Green & gold.
- Dry flies. For headwater through mid river when Grayling are rising. Elk Hair Caddis, Royal Wulff, Parachute Adams, Stimulator. High floating, high visibility. Size 14. Bring 6.
Total trout flies 48.