Friday, March 13, 2009

Fishing the Russian, Part IV - The Gear

Countless Sockeye Salmon are caught on every kind of rig imaginable. The Russian River is a fly fishing only area, but the regulation only refers to the kind of hooks used. You can visit the Alaska Fish and Game web site to see the exact specs, but you will be able to purchase dozens of these flies at any grocery store in Alaska, so it's not something to spend a lot of time on.

Weight must be 18 inches above the hook.

As I have suggested, you don't need the latest, greatest Orvis rig in order to do well. People catch lots of fish with $35 spinning gear. If you're combat fishing at the confluence of the Kenai, it might be smart to get a very heavy spinning rod and very heavy line because there is no room for play and little patience among the regulars. This is harvesting, not fishing.

If you're interested in actual fishing, you'll want to stay upstream in the Russian proper, where its clear waters and relative lack of crowding will enable you to target a fish, play it and bring it to bank in a reasonable and sporting manner. And did I mention fun? For this kind of sport, it is nice to have a 7 to 9 weight fly rod of decent quality. First run Russian River fish (June) can be pretty challenging for lighter gear, but late run sockeyes (July-August) are perfect for 6-7 weight. Note that the reverse is the case for the late run Kenai spawners which are monsters.

There are various religions about the actual line configuration, weights, etc. Many of these work quite well. I personally have found my way to something that seems fun and effective and easily maintained. That said, the following description may induce vomitting in fly fishing purists. You have been warned.

I like to fish the first run with a 9 weight Orvis rod. I tie a swivel (!) to the end of the fly rod and a four foot leader onto the end of the swivel. This enables me to attach my slinky weights onto the lower loop of the swivel, such that the propellering of the weight will not twist up the fly line. It also allows me to use leader clips to easily snap on and off weights as I move into different waters. (It is the weight, after all, that is the key.) Finally, it fixes the weight in a legal position relative to the fly (rubber core shot on monofilament will tend to slide down to the fly.

I also find it worthwhile to buy Gamakatsu hooks and tie some bit of random yarn on them. It's cheap and easy and the hooks maintain their edge better than the prefabbed flies I've used.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

I would be worthless and, I'm sure, annoying tomorrow without your help. Thanks very much. Wish me luck!