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Ask the Pro's: Fly Patterns for the Nushagak River

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  • Hi, I am booked on the Nushagak River with 2 friends mid June 2019. I'm am on the lower reaches in tidal water but wish to fly fish most of the time. I tie all my own flies and we are bringing our own gear.

    Any tips please on specific patterns colours and size of fly would be much appreciated. Secondly tippet sttength and colour please. I normally use flurocarbon.


    Martin - Ireland

  • Yes, catching King Salmon on the fly is by far the most rewarding salmon fishing experience in Alaska. The kings on the Nushagak really like Blue and Chartreuse color patterns. They also like the standard pink/white combos and we also like to use orange/red on hot sunny days. Here is a link to some of the patterns we prefer but please note that some bunny tail patterns really work well too. Tie some really big, and tie some on the smaller size. Hard to go wrong with big patterns though.

    John Perry - Head Guide & Owner at Angler's Alibi
  • Hi Martin,

    The lower reaches of the river are tough to fly fish, as it's big deep water with a lot of boats. If they can run you up river, you will find some great swing water for Kings. As for color's, pink, pink/orange, chartreuse, chartreuse/White, Chartreuse/Blue, Black/Blue and chartreuse/kelly green all are great colors for the Nush. I would tie my flies with sz 1 to 1/0 hooks. Marabou and Intruder style flies work great. As for leader, I am a 15 - 20lb Maxima Ultragreen fan. The problem with fluorocarbon and Kings is the lack of stretch, Maxiam UG has good stretch and tends to not break off so quick.

    Hope this helps. The Nushagak River is a fantastic King fishery and some of the best King Salmon fishing in Alaska!!


    Mike Brown - Owner of Mossy's Fly Shop in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Hey Martin!

    So glad you'll be in Alaska and the Nushagak River is an excellent river for early season King Salmon, espcially fish fresh off the tide! My all-time favorite fly is the "Rambulance," an original fly from Bruce Berry. Traditional king colors of chartruese and blue work well - also consider pink/orange and black/purple. Though the fly is originally designed for steelhead, a slightly bigger version tied on either a tube or shank will prove to be not only a beautiful fly, but also a very effective one as well.

    I hope this helps!


    Dave Lisi - Owner/Guide for Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC located in the small mountain town of Cooper Landing, Alaska where he is a year-round resident, guide, carpenter and trout bum. On any given day, you will most likely find Dave on the banks of the Kenai swinging for trout with his best friend and future wife, Jackie. Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC was built in early 2017 with the goal of sharing the love and passion Dave and Jackie have for the Kenai Peninsula and the fish that live there.
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