Our Alaskan season is just around the corner (71 days in fact, but who’s counting?), and that means it won’t be long before we’re chucking big flies for even bigger Alaskan rainbow trout.
We’re really lucky to be able to target trout effectively using a whole bunch techniques from stripping and swinging streamers, to skating mouse patterns along the surface, to dead drifting egg imitations. However, one of our favorite (and most productive) ways to target rainbows in Western Alaska is with flesh flies – Yep, fly patterns designed to imitate big chunks of decomposing salmon flesh.
We fish a lot of flesh flies over the course of a season, and here a few reasons why.
7 Reasons We Like Flesh
- We Like Matching the Hatch. There’s something really cool about imitating nature to fool your quarry, and while we’re not imitating a particular species of mayfly, salmon flesh is very much a natural part of the Alaskan ecosystem and has been an important part of our trout’s diet long before people people were fishing for them.
- It’s Fun to Fish Big Flies for Big Fish. Our rainbows have a short time period to pack on enough weight for the long winter to come. That means they’re constantly on the prowl for a big meal – you know, like a big ol’ chunk of flesh. Watching big fish hammer big flies (tied with small, fish friendly hooks of course) is super fun, and something we get to do a lot of.
- It’s Available All Year Round. Although there are certainly times of the season when flesh is more productive than others, salmon flesh is always available throughout the year. In fact, salmon carcasses stuck in snags all winter still provide protein for trout in the following spring. That means, when in doubt, a flesh fly will probably get it done.
- Less Missed Strikes. Most of the time when trout take smaller dead-drifted subsurface flies (beads, nymphs, etc.), the fly is immediately spit out the second the fish realizes its not the real thing That means the angler must be able to strike extremely quickly for a good hook-up. The beauty of flesh flies is that often times trout will hold on to a big meal like flesh, or even go so far as to chew on the fly for a few ‘chomps’ before spitting it out. That gives the angler a longer window of opportunity to set the hook – And that’s a good thing.
- They’re Cheap and Easy to Tie. An effective flesh fly is extremely quick and simple to tie. That makes for less heartache when you break one (or twelve) off in the snags.
- Fishing Flesh Can Be Very Visual. Most flesh flies are tied in very visible colors – white, cream, peach, etc. They’re also big (by trout fly standards). Therefore, even though you’re fishing them deep, in clear water you can sometimes still see the take, and that’s really, really fun.
- You Can’t Fish Them Wrong. Salmon flesh is not alive.. It breaks off the carcass of a dead salmon and tumbles down the river willy nilly until it ends up in a trout’s stomach. Therefore, dread drifting a flesh fly is the most natural imitation possible. However, we also swing and even strip flesh flies from time to time too! Our trout aren’t overly concerned about presentation.. That means, as long as you have flesh in the water, you’re probably in the game!
Interested in chucking big flies for big wild rainbow trout? We still have a few prime-time spots available! Drop us a line for more information.
Folks save their pennies and vacations to get out and catch fish. Flesh flies just plain work. I fished the White River two weeks ago, we had a shad kill and most of the group switched to a jig and I tied on a flesh fly. All caught fish, but it seems a little more like fly fishing when the fly is made of fur and not lead.
Keeping posting – folks are reading.