Tackling Fly Fishing in Alaska
By Gary Lewis
Tackling Fly Fishing in Alaska
Advice for the experienced fly angler headed North.
The varied home waters and favorite techniques of experienced fly anglers traveling to fly fish in Alaska, can be as diverse as the number of lakes, rivers and saltwater experiences found in the Last Frontier.
Fly fishing has many areas of discipline and experienced fly anglers have their favorite techniques; from pure dry fly fishing to skating flies, indicator nymphing, Euro-nymphing, casting/stripping flies, to swinging wet flies, Spey casting and so on - an experienced fly fisherman's background can go a long way to helping them find success on Alaskan waterways.
Every fly fishing technique you can think of can be deployed in this great state at many different times of the year. If you consider yourself an experienced fly angler and want to learn other, unfamiliar techniques, Alaska can prove to be a great place to try new methods. The sheer number and size of fish in this great state will give you plenty of chances at success and you'll possibly find a new way to fall in love with fly fishing all over again.
One of the most exciting things about being a guide in Alaska is the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and all experience levels. Nothing is more rewarding than meeting or exceeding people's expectations of fly fishing in Alaska. Many visitors want to just have the experience of fly fishing up here, some want to catch lots of fish and others want to go on the hunt for "that" trophy fish of a lifetime. The exciting thing these people have in common is the fact that they could conceivably accomplish all of these things on any given day on their trip to Alaska.
For the experienced fly angler, research is the key. Are you looking to find the best time of year to dry-fly fish for trout? Is your dream to catch a big king on a Spey rod? Do you want to experience the heart-stopping action of skating mice for big rainbows? Would you prefer to hone your skills on the still water or salt? Or would you like to find that special time of year where you can take both trout and salmon using many different techniques on the fly?
The answers to these and other questions can come from a variety of sources: outfitter websites, Google searches, YouTube videos, speaking with experienced guides/outfitters and so on. The best advice I can give is to do research, ask questions and repeat. Chances are that you have a fly fishing friend or a local fly shop that has experience in Alaska and you'd be well-served to pick their brains. We spend a great deal of time online and on the phone answering a myriad of questions about fly fishing in Alaska. If you can find a guide or outfitter who is willing to offer up the information you seek without trying to sell you something, you have found someone who you should probably fish with.
Once you have gathered intel, it's time to make your plans and head north to Alaska. While you're here, will you hire a guide, or go it alone?
There are many advantages to hiring a professional guide - namely, access to areas that are otherwise impossible to reach on foot. Guides can also help with some technical nuances within their respective fisheries - from fly selection, to line systems to presentations, guides well-versed on their home waters can definitely give you a big advantage. Guides are also up-to-speed on the potential daily fishing regulation changes that could affect you. If you decide to go it alone based on the information you've received, there can be many other resources within the state to help you along your journey. Depending on where you fish in Alaska, there are local fly shops and retailers willing to help get you set up and point you towards some awesome fishing spots.
Fly fishing in Alaska can be very rewarding for the experienced fly angler. Alaska is truly home to some of the last wild strongholds of Pacific salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, arctic char, arctic grayling, sheefish, northern pike, steelhead, burbot, lake trout and cutthroat trout among others. Not only is this one of the last great places on earth to chase these species, catching a trophy-class fish is not out of the realm of possibilities. Couple this with the seemingly endless geography of lakes, rivers and ocean, it's easy to see why Alaska is a fly angler's paradise.