Posts Tagged ‘spey’


In the latest Alaska Fly Fishing Goods newsletter, Mark Hieronymus cracks open the mind of George Cook.

Well ok, here we go…I got a month and a river, and I’ll describe the scenario to you and you can fill in the blanks. Mid-July on the Kanektok river, bright kings are holding, you’ve got the perfect run, and you’ve got it all to yourself. What is your tackle set-up as far as rod, reel line, and three flies?

Three flies, the flies are easy. We’ll start that one in reverse…for kings, there’s a fly from Solitude Fly Co. called the Jumbo Critter which is an Intruder-style fly, and I think when you are in the tidewater regions of these rivers, you can’t go wrong with chartreuse, chartreuse and blue, or black and blue, so if you gave me a chartreuse Jumbo Critter Intruder-style fly, a chartreuse-blue , and a black-blue , I’m set. Gimme 6 of each and turn me loose for the week. In terms of a setup, I’d probably want two different spey rods, one kinda smaller one and one sort of big one. The smaller one would be a Sage 8129-4, a 12-foot, 9-inch 8-weight – don’t be fooled by the 8-weight designation, as it’s a really powerful 8-weight and it makes for a nice, comfortable rod to cast, and often times in the wind, the smaller rod is more effective. If we got some wide-open stuff that we really wanna bomb ’em out on, could be the Kanektok, could be a Nushagak-type situation, a 10150, a 15-foot 10-weight, both these rods set up with [Rio] Skagit lines, cheaters where appropriate, particularly on the 15-footer. Generally for kings you’re fishing t-14 or the new t-17 – these are sink-tips that sink at 9 and 10 inches per second [respectively]. You can custom-cut ’em, I suppose my favorite length for that setup is 13 feet, but you should certainly have yourself some 11-footers, and 15-footers, you’ll end up fishing them all, but if you had to just pick one, a 13-foot chunk of t-14 is gonna get down into the living room and get some work done, Mark.


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This latest trip almost didn’t happen. Driving when it’s dark outside is always sketchy. Mix that with highway speeds and a pallet left in the middle of your lane and well…it was close…too damn close.

Prior commitments kept half of the crew home bound. Tuber has been officially grounded until early July [self imposed…a commitment he made to himself he can’t compromise]. Good luck to you but don’t think I won’t torment you with pictures. Jay decided he had too much work and would pass this time. Tuber/Jay…you guys missed out.


Stats on the local showed it holding steady. That brief interruption of winter seemed to have slowed things down a bit. With the flows holding and temperatures on the rise, it made me feel confident more of the residents would be out and about.

Armed with ice cleats this time, the hike didn’t take nearly as long. The pace was furious but it had to be. A late start insisted on it. No talking…just one foot in front of the other – over and over and over again. You would never catch me just hiking around in the woods. Let the destination be some water with a fly rod in my hand and no matter how far…piece of cake.

The plan was to start at The Run. Me and The Run had a thing going the last time and I was sure I had her dialed in. The numbers said holding steady but the looks of the water said otherwise. Water was definitely up. Plan B…work it from the opposite side. After about an hour and a half I quickly got the feeling she wasn’t going to give it up. Is it my delivery? Not like the flowers? Come at you from the wrong side? What? Maybe she liked older guys because she flashed Old Guy a quick look see. While he was messing with his line a big rainbow decided to leisurely swim by. Tease.

Not wanting to stay and wait for her to warm up I decided to take my game to some more receptive water. Why waste my best moves on a lady that won’t dance. I knew of a nice piece of water but it required a crossing. Fishing it from the far bank was out of the question. Even with the water up I decided to cross anyways. I figured early on I was going to have to work for it. It took me a while to figure my way across. Old Guy decided to stay on the other side and play it safe.

This particular stretch just has that feel about it. Good looking water. Tuber and I fished it heavy last time but I don’t think we came at it right. Spilling over a slight drop the stretch is very wide and stays that way all the way to the tailout. The stretch of water is also very long and can comfortably handle two. The depth and speed is consistent. Just fast enough to let the current do all the work once you rocket a cast out there. One mend and settle in…the current will do the rest. The depth is perfect too. You can’t see the bottom and what lies beneath. You are fishing by feel.

Starting out at the very top I fired a couple of casts midway out. My cast just wasn’t grooving right. Working too hard to get one out there. What’s the deal? The night before I switched out the 400gr for the 450gr. The 6126 should be liking it. Some streamside diagnostics and I come to a conclusion – it’s the fly! With a lot of speed around and on the forward stroke I can rip that squirrel out of the water and put it way out there. Not liking the feel of that I decided to switch to a fly with a more slender profile but with all the same triggers. Ohhh…that’s nice.

Three casts later and the tip of my rod dives into the water. A quickly haul back and immediately feel the head shake and panic. I look up to see where Old Guy is. He is waaaay over there. I call him over and see him quickly make his way over. Stuck on the other side all he can do is watch. A few quick runs and I have it in the shallows. A hen shaped like a silver bullet but slightly scarred on the sides, from what I don’t know. I fumble for my camera and am able to take a quick picture before she decides she doesn’t like the attention and leaves.

Silver Bullet

At that point I realize I’m smiling because I can feel it all over. That take was what I’ve been waiting for. It was unmistakable. She hit the swinging fly with everything she had. Right after the mend as the line was settling into the swing and the fly was starting to swim was when she decided to take it down.

I checked the fly and worked my way back up to the top. Stripping line from the reel I start quartering casts lengthening them out until I reach my limit. My cast is grooving now and I start the ritual. Cast…mend…settle into the swing…take a step. Repeat.

I make my way downstream about 5 steps and about half way into the swing my line stands up and the rod tip dives into the water. I set the hook and immediately the fish turns and heads for the other side toward Old Guy. I palm the reel hoping to slow the fish down as I watch running line disappear from the spool. I make my way downstream reeling up as much line as I can putting sideways pressure the whole way. I finally get the upper hand and I slowly work the fish into the shallows. Landing fish is always easier with someone to help. Solo is always tricky especially on bigger fish.

Not wanting to injure the fish and no time to tape I just laid my rod next to her and snapped a quick picture.

Long & Lean

My number must have come up because I would go on to repeat this 4 more times. The fish were scattered throughout and each one hammered the fly on the swing way out there and headed for the horizon at a burning pace. One sizeable fish I wasn’t able to land. The fish and I parted ways as I was easing it in. It was funny. We made eye contact and like that…the fly slipped from the jaws and the fish turned slowly and swam away.

Heavily Spotted

Old Guy managed to capitalize and hauled in his first of the year. Sorry about the picture. Tough when the camera is way over on the other side.

About Time

Not wanting to overstay our welcome we decided to move on and work our way back. With me being on the wrong side I was dreading the crossing. I scoped it out longer than I’ve ever scoped a crossing out before. I could see the bottom but knew from the previous trip it was already waist high with some cfs. It looked a lot deeper and faster standing there on the wrong bank. My backup plan was to walk all the way back to where I had crossed earlier, a good half hour out of the way for sure. That was the safe play. I opted for the other. I made my way to the very top of the crossing and slowly made my way across using the current to help move me along. Safely on the other side I looked back and realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

With the first half of the day going the way that it did I was content to sit back and watch Old Guy work the water. We later sat down for lunch. A short while later I managed to catch a glimpse of Old Guy in the distance, rod high. Packed up and ready to go I caught up with him and asked what that was all about. He told me he had managed to hook and break one off. I wish I would have been there to see his reaction.


This setup is carrying some mojo for sure. The force is strong in this one. I hope I haven’t burned it all up…still a long season ahead.

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