Jeff Hickman, as you probably know by now, is a long-time veteran of fishing in the Northwest. He’s spent a whole bunch of years guiding at Alaska West, and he knows his way around Oregon pretty good too. Oh yeah, the Ross and Idylwilde Pro Staffs somehow let him in the door.
Want to know how Jeff rigs himself up to chase the incredible rainbow trout of Western Alaska? Read on.
If you’re interested in a whole bunch more information about Alaskan rainbow trout – including tips, gear reviews, expert rigs and more – you should check out our All About Rainbow Trout page.
- 30 pound Dacron backing attached to the spool with an arbor knot.
- Fly line attached to the backing with an Albright knot.
- Scientific Anglers Atlantic Salmon/Steelhead 6ft 16 pound tapered leader attached to the front of the fly line using the factory loops and a loop to loop connection.
- Non-slip mono loop to either a Mr Hankey or Egg Sucking Super Sculpin. “With these guys, the bigger the fly the bigger the fish. These are two must-have flies for Alaska.”
I like to use a 7 weight because it will throw the bigger sized flies with better accuracy and land the big boys. Also, hooking salmon on these rivers on trout flies is not uncommon.
I think the SA Magnum is the best taper for throwing big bugs, and the mist color won’t spook fish in low, clear water
My preferred method for rainbow fishing at Alaska West is pounding the bank both on foot in side channels or out of the boat while rowing downriver. This is best done with repetitive accurate casts as close to the bank as possible, keeping a tight line swinging and stripping with a mouse pattern or streamer.
Rainbow trout in the Kanektok and Arolik Rivers are one of my favorite species to pursue. To me the trout in those rivers are a lot like summer steelhead. They can be the same size, they eat swung flies both top water or subsurface and they fight hard with jumps and long runs when hooked. The biggest differences between the two is the rainbows are mostly non migratory, they are speckled with a lot more spots and they are really hungry…no fly is too big for them!
To deliver these big flies with accurate casts tight to the bank you need the right setup – a fast action rod with the accuracy to put the fly where it needs to be, but also the backbone and sensitivity to land the fish after its hooked, an aggressively weight forward tapered line to throw a giant fly and a reel with a strong, reliable drag to keep them out of the root balls!
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