Flies for freshwater cohos

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Nooksack Mac, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Nooksack Mac

    Nooksack Mac Active Member

    I'm rethinking some of my previous choices. What fly sizes do you prefer for cohos in rivers?

    Any preference between hairwing streamers, feather wings, maribou streamers?
  2. Don Freeman

    Don Freeman Free Man

    Whose preference, fish or fisher? Coho like flies that look like eggs. Anglers like ones that look like they belong in a art gallery.
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  3. Nooksack Mac

    Nooksack Mac Active Member

    Don, if that's true, I'm in a bind. I've never tied or fished an egg pattern fly for any fish, and I don't think I ever will.
  4. Pat Lat

    Pat Lat Mad Flyentist

    fish a sparse alevin pattern, then it looks like an egg, but you will be impervious to all the ridicule that comes along with fishing egg patterns
  5. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Hands down a Knusden spider has been my most consistent coho producer!

    I like them in a size 4 and find them in a variety of colors can be helpful. Typically fish them with natural mallard flank feathers for a hackle and chenille bodies of yellow, black, orange, dark olive or chartreuse. Have found that when I find a body of coho that shut down after a few fish a color change often will add another fish or two. While the spiders are my go to coho flies I would also add a few "flash flies" in 6s and 2s as well as a few baitfish and sculpin patterns (usually 3 inches long or so) in the mix.

    Pretty old school in my fishing approach. Fish unweighted flies on either a full sinking line or 24 foot sink tip. Fish my flies above the level of the fish with strips of various length and cadence. Like to fish slack water areas, back waters, sloughs and in the wood (logs, root wads and log jams). At times have had success with a floating line and unweighted spiders or my "fall muddler" (See Les Johnson's "Fly-Fishing Costal Cutthroat Trout") in some of the shallower holding water.

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  6. Greg Armstrong

    Greg Armstrong Active Member

    Not surprisingly, Curt is right about the muddlers - but it was surprising to me when I caught three coho one day earlier this fall on a muddler pattern while not even targeting coho. I've caught them on a muddler before, but never three in one day.
    For an up-river fish that's not known to actually feed, it just surprises me that they would eat one, but that they do.
  7. AlasKen247

    AlasKen247 New Member

    I like a size 6 Dali lama in flesh color but pink and purple works well too. I think the key is having something heavy enough to get down and lots of action on the fly.
  8. flyfishmt

    flyfishmt Active Member

    I fish the rivers on Vancouver Island every year for Coho and small (6, 8 & 10) rolled muddlers are my number one producer. I tie them very sparse with only 2 - 4 strands of Krystal flash. Blue, chartreuse and natural all work well and I use both gold and silver bead heads. I use gold and silver tinsel along with different colors of wrapped Krystal flash for the bodies. Over the last couple of years, I have been coating the bodies with Clear Cure Goo, as the flies hold up better against their teeth. I always use a loop when tying my flies on to give them some added action.

    The added bonus is the Cutties just go nuts over them as well.
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  9. JayB

    JayB Active Member

  10. Topstoy

    Topstoy Member

    I agree, Rolled Muddlers have worked well for me.
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    JayB -
    While I tend to mostly fish spiders for holding coho (their location is more predictable and consistent) I have also done well on traveling coho; especially those in and just above tide water.

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  12. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

    i do my best on flies that are big and colorful.. try to imitate a blue fox spinner...
    Don Freeman likes this.
  13. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

    I've had days where the only fly I could get to work was a purple egg sucking leach. Several days this year I had multiple fish days on white bunny leeches, after trying everything else in my box. I've had other days with intermittent success on larger flies like flash taco's, prom dresses, MOAL's. Usually, I can get them to only bite on one color/size. Once I figure out what that is its game on. But my biggest days are always on smaller, sparse flies in size 4 or 6. Sharp Steelies in various colors and smaller hairwing patterns like purple Last Call's have led to some of my most epic fishing days ever. I've had limited success with egg patterns. Never an epic day but if I hit them early or late in the season with eggs I can get a few. With Coho I prefer flies that appeal during the dead drift, swing and strip. While I've hooked fish with egg patterns on the strip, it's a pretty rare occurence :)

    When Coho are in the river I try to bring a large array of flies. You'll see the jacks jumping in the run, swing and strip through the run repeatedly without even a bump. Or you'll see a pod rolling below structure in deeper water. Or moving around in the bucket prepping to move up. Then you try the next fly and suddenly you're hooking fish every cast on the strip.

    After the last thread someone brought up Jim Kerr's observation about pressured coho reverting to ocean feeding patterns where they eat smaller-shrimplike looking things (I forget exactly what they're called), leading him to have a lot of success on smaller bright size 4 and 6 patterns, which mirrors my success in pressured waters.
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  14. Josh Stroud

    Josh Stroud Active Member

    Dolly Llama all the way. I was swinging for Bows on the Kenai this Fall and could not keep the Silvers off my fly. Olive and white was the ticket.

  15. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

    I did a search for Dolly Llama and this is all i came up with. Anyone have a pic of the fly?

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  16. Josh Stroud

    Josh Stroud Active Member

    Well, that is pretty much what it looks like. Just maybe articulated with a little extra flash.
  17. g_smolt

    g_smolt Recreational User

    'Borg -

    Here is the REAL Dolly Llama...


    I kid...
    For those that HAVEN'T seen it, here is JJ's fly in all its glory.
  18. ten80

    ten80 Active Member

    Euphasiids. Funny thing is I have yet to repeat the fishing success I had with Jim in clear, low water. Perhaps OP rivers have more aggressive fish; Sky fish have me pulling my hair out in frustration most days. I certainly owe some credit to Jim who is a great guide for Salmon on the fly.
  19. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    It long has been the case that your success with flies (and by extension your fly choose) depends on whether you are fishing for aggressive coho or not. The sad reality is that with a few exceptions (more about that later) in the Puget Sound area (and especially so in my home north sound rivers) the heavy pressure found on those rivers we are mostly fishing for non-aggressive/lock jaw coho. My earlier post on my fly selection reflects that reality.

    There are a number of fly patterns that fit the bill for targeting those lock jaw coho and the subtle presentations that are most likely to yield consistent success. I have found that much of my success revolves fishing around wood. Getting down and close to that cover means losing flies (and sometimes lots of them) is part of the game. The simple spider fit the dual bill of subtle presentations and easy and cheap to tie. If you are willing to put your flies at risk of getting hung up you will fish them more effective.

    While one can increase your likely hood of success by fishing both subtle and aggressive approaches I have found in typically have my best success fishing reserving those larger/flashy aggressive flies as a follow-up to my spiders rather than what would typically be thought of as the more traditional approach of using the subtle flies as the follow-up.

    If you are looking for aggressive coho there are several options that might provide you some success. In tide water there often is a short window of coho activity as the tidal push reverses the river current; you want to be in a good spot as that upstream current picks up and you will often be fishing on moving fish. Another option is to seek out the water that is not commonly fished by other anglers - such spots include: heavy wooded areas that but the angler's gear at risk or out of way areas (small pocket water or the shallow back end of slack water areas. Finally as the coho mature the become more aggressive as they approach spawning; while those fish often respond well to an aggressive presentation I skip fishing for those fish; they have more important tasks than providing sport to me and they are poor fighters and even poorer table fare.

    Any way some additional thoughts on the coho game.

  20. Nooksack Mac

    Nooksack Mac Active Member

    I've dabbled at fishing for coho for a long time, but with little understanding, and my usual poor results reflect it. In sum, the replies in this threat amount to a symposium on the subject. My thanks to the participants; I feel like I've learned a lot.

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