Fly Fishing for Chinook Salmon

Tip 1 – Pay Attention to the Flows

Fishing in the river for salmon is heavily dependent on the water flow.  During and after a heavy poor or good glow the fish may be about anywhere - in the pools, in the riffles, in deep water and in shallow.  It's both a crap shoot and a nice opportunity to fish in some places your haven't.  Once the flow slows and the water drop the fish run will tend to be in the pools or deeper water.  The exception would be during spawning when they will be found in the riffles.


Tip 2 – Choose the Right Weight Rod with Lots of Flex

Don't use to light of gear, it’s bad for the fish and if you want a challenge do so by reducing tippet strength.  For most anglers a  9 to 10 foot rod from 7 wt. to 11 weight with 9 and 10 being the most used. A fighting butt is a must. A 6 and 7 weight weight rod will not give you much backbone to land large salmon especially in rivers with structure. This is a perfect rod choice for this season or save a little and check out these great Scott A4 rods


Tip 3 – Sharpen the Hook Till it Pricks You

When fishing for salmon, it is imperative you have a sharp hook.  Can I say that again imperative.  Anglers should be taking a look and checking there hooks frequently and make them razor sharp.  Salmon have a very thick jaw that makes the hook set a challenge.


Tip 4 – Set the Hook

All salmon Chinook or otherwise have pretty tough mouths and a proper hook set is important to ensure the barbless hook is buried.   Hook with the tip and 3 quick jerks downstream will position you to start a good fight with the fish and increase your odds of landing.  At the same time don't overset, this will leave a large hole with a better chance of the hook coming loose.


Tip 5 – Keep the Tip Up

You hear lots of people talk about keeping the rod tip up, it is one of those things people say but don't execute nearly as well as the preach it.   When after this great fish it’s a must, probably the most important factor in catching a king salmon.  In this case it serves several purposes a rod that is held high, pointing upwards has a big curve that give and advantage to the angler.  Additionally the hooks set will be cleaner and will keep you free of tangles and snares on whatever the river is me the fighting Coho, pink, or sockeye is already going to test you, no sense in making it harder on yourself

Tip 6 – Be Grateful

“It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy” enough said  If you want to do some more 


Tip 7 – Heading Out When You Have The Right Lighting

Visibility is key, both for you and the fish.  Head to the water and wade on in when your get poor cloudy and overcast.  Additionally early morning fishing is awesome with low light level and you won't have to ask how to catch fish. 


Tip 8 – Change the Rules

Don't be afraid to change the depth of water your fishing.  When success isn't immediately had try varying the split shot or weight your using to change your fly position.  Use indicators of choice and get the fly in front of the fish.


Tip 9 – Understand the Fish

While this topic is one up for debate.  Many people believe that the salmon in rivers are striking out of predatory response instead of feeding and the further up the river the fish go the more that behavior overtakes actual feeding.  The theory goes that when salmon are in the open water...lake or ocean...they are feasting and storing energy.  They are aggressive almost insane eaters, prepping for spawning.  By the time they are in the river they have a whole other agenda.  Jumping, migrating, and spawning.  The strikes you’re getting are from pissing a fish off or getting the conditioned response.  Regardless of what school you belong to what is certain is that tail strikes and swipes are the norm.  Choose your fly and set up accordingly.


Tip 10 – Net That Fish Right

When you are netting these fish it is really exciting....and very stressful.  Fisherman who lose a lot of fish may not be doing things right, including horsing in a fish that’s not been tired and ready to come to the boat or shore.  When you do this you start doing the net grab, reach out, splash around, tangle you hook thrashing fish situation.  This does not need to happen and can be disaster if you get too aggressive.  A tired out fish is an easy net.

Once the fish is exhausted if you’re on a boat it will slowly swim behind or to the side.  Slowly and steadily. Whoever’s on the net should take the bag of the net in one hand and the handle in the other.  The angler lift the rod tip and directs the head of towards the net. Lift by the frame not by the handle.