Fishing Tips

Flies -- Lures

Flies and Lures - What Are The Fish Hitting?

Everyone wants to know what they need to catch fish in Alaska. These are some of lures and flies we use around Cordova, but there are a few disclaimers so you can’t blame us if you don’t catch anything.

Seriously, even in Alaska where there are plenty of fish, the fishing can be tough. Sockeye and chum salmon are notoriously soft, subtle biters that won’t move very far to hit your offering. You need to get the lure or fly at their level and keep a taut line so you can feel the bite and set the hook before they spit it out. Even the famous sockeye brassy orange won’t catch a fish when there's too much slack in the line.

Coho salmon, pink salmon, cutthroat trout, and Dolly Varden are generally more accommodating. They don’t care about name-brand lures and they’re aggressive biters. However, these fish may get sluggish if the water’s too warm/cold or if a horde of anglers have been tossing lures at them all day. Even with the right lures and flies, you still have to put them where the fish are holding.


Recommended fishing flies

1. Bunny fly for coho
5. Zonker for coho
2. Egg-sucking leech for coho and pink salmon, Dolly Varden and cutthroat trout
6. Mickey Finn for sockeye, coho, and Dolly Varden
3. Flash fly for coho, cutthroat trout
7. Brassy for sockeye
4. Sparkle shrimp for chum
8. Sockeye orange for sockeye (Use a copper wire body for a sockeye brassy orange)

More recommended fishing flies

Assortment of flies used for trout and Dolly Varden

1. Marabou girdlebug
5. Alevin
2. Green caddis
6. Lake leech
3. Black gnat
7. Scud
4. Mosquito 8. Egg pattern
9. Orange comet (also good for sockeye salmon)

Coho salmon: Hook size 1-4. Colors: Red, silver, flashy materials. Olive bunny flies and zonkers work well.

Sockeye salmon: Hook size: 6-8. Colors: Yellow, orange, red. The late Tony Route, Alaska fly fishing guru, said to tie sockeye flies sparsely.

Pink salmon: Hook size: 2-8. Colors: Pink, flashy-sparkly materials. The pink tail on the egg-sucking leech above is a variation for pink salmon.

Chum salmon: Hook size: 1-6. Colors: Pink, chartreuse, flashy materials. The polar shrimp and pink-tailed egg-sucking leech are the local favorites.

Cutthroat trout: Hook size: 4-10 wet flies, 12-18 dry flies. Colors: Red, silver. The marabou girdlebug slew the ocean going cutthroat at Shelter Bay. Scuds and the green caddis are good stream flies, as well as the muddler minnow (not shown). Match the hatch in Alaska? Mosquitoes.

Dolly Varden: Hook size: 2-8. Colors: Yellow, red, flash. A local favorite is the Mickey Finn. Egg patterns, of course, when they’re following the spawning salmon. Alevin patterns imitate the newly emerged salmon fry in the spring and early summer.

Purple egg-sucking leeches are the favorite all-purpose fly. Sockeye are about the only fish that won’t hit them, probably because they are usually tied too big and full.



Examples of lures used for salmon and trout

Examples of lures used for salmon and trout fishing

Any of your basic spoons and spinners will work. Coho salmon tend to like red or green bodies, spinner sizes 3-6, and spoons 2-3 inches and 3/8 to 7/8 oz. Pink salmon like pink lures in slightly smaller sizes. The cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden usually hit small (size 1-3) spinners or other flashy lures that may look like juvenile salmon. Sockeye and chum salmon aren’t usually caught on lures, but sockeye occasionally hit small spinners, and sometimes chum are caught on a small green spoon.

Coho salmon will hit almost anything when they’re in the mood. The rattley big-lipped plugs are good for a change of pace when the coho have seen everything else thrown at them. The spinner with the fat blade is good for a lot of flash and a slow retrieve in murky beaver ponds. The spinner at the far right has a fluorescent bead that glows after you expose it to light, and the guy that makes them has a big fan club.