Small flies for Coho

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Jim Wallace, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2004
    Messages:
    5,700
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Somewhere on the Coast
    I was going thru the archives of the newsletter at Rainland Fly Casters, generally perusing the interesting and informative info, and ran across a couple of patterns tied by Chuck Cameron (longtime, highly respected NW fly angler and master fly tier, from what I've read). One was a Reversed Spider, a searun cutt pattern tied in purple, and the other was a simple chartreuse Coho fly for the lower rivers and estuaries here on the coast. What i noticed was that the recipe for the reversed spider calls for hook sizes 10, 8, or 6 (standard sizes for the reversed spider), while the coho pattern presented calls for hook sizes 10, 12, or 14.
    I suspect that the flies I have been using, in my previous attempts to fool Coho in the lower rivers here, may have been too large. Maybe this is because I caught my first fly-caught adult Coho on a size 4 "flash fly" I had concocted. Remembering where I found that fish, it was in a shaded and deep run, in a creek with cedar stained waters, and the Coho were hiding under some logs. I really got lucky that day. I think the moon was right, or something, since I also caught my first fly-caught Chum that day (2 very bright hens), on a #6 pattern (had a green floss body ribbed with gold tinsel and natural squirrel tail wing/tail).

    I'm going to tie up some of those smaller Coho flies (on some extra-strong hooks) and give them a try this year. These Coho aren't those puny little Puget Sound "rezzies." I'm talkin' about hatchery spawned coastal berzerkers, typically in the 9 to 14 pound range. The bigger (mostly wild where I like to fish for them) Coho usually arrive later, mid Nov or so.

    I also noticed that Chuck Cameron has a fly shop down in Seaview, WA. There's a lot of good water to be found along the drive between Grayland and Seaview, so it looks like I'm going to have to make a trip down that way this Fall and check out his fly shop.
     
  2. g_smolt

    g_smolt Recreational User

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2005
    Messages:
    933
    Media:
    79
    Likes Received:
    188
    Location:
    58°19'59 N, 134°29'49 W
    Small flies work great for estuary coho, especially on brighter days. One of my faves is a sz 10 gami c14s double-wrapped with chartreuse floss, nothing else. Fish it at the end of a super-long leader on a floating line, just let it do its thing out there, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
     
  3. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2004
    Messages:
    5,700
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Thanks for the tip, g smolt. I'll give that one a try. Although I have a copy of "Fly-Fishing for Pacific Salmon II" (Les Johnson & Bruce Ferguson, Frank Amato Publications, 2008), I need all the advice I can get!
     
  4. DimeBrite

    DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Messages:
    999
    Media:
    51
    Likes Received:
    450
    Location:
    Marine Area 9
    Seems to depend on water clarity too. Bigger flies in murky water work well (purple egg sucking leeches) duing high water or in a silty river like the lower Stilly or Toutle. Twitching small tungsten weighted flies in black, blue, green, etc. with some flash-a-bou are the ticket in clear water salmon pools when they are spooky and less aggressive. Battles to remember.
     
  5. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    17,855
    Media:
    283
    Likes Received:
    1,670
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    See if you can find a photo of "The Precious" using peacock breast feathers. Tied small and sparse you'll find some takers.

    Some variations, the blue ones on top are tied without the final peacock breast feather in front.
    http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=38596&title=dscf2392&cat=500

    Thread about it here:
    http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com...r97-quot-The-Precious-quot&highlight=Precious

    Modificaion by Cougar97, the true creator of this magic:
    http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=17051&d=1226643171

    Sorry for all the words JAWS, just trust in Mumbles. Sometimes I'm right.
     
  6. Jordan Simpson

    Jordan Simpson Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Messages:
    864
    Media:
    3
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Tsawwassen, BC
    One of my all time favourite coho flies is a size 10-12 '52 Buick in Olive, or as I'm sure would work too, is a chartreuse body/throat with the peacock hearl head still. For low clear water, this little thing seems to always find one or two takers...
     
  7. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Messages:
    8,037
    Media:
    453
    Likes Received:
    795
    Location:
    Graham, WA, USA.
    Home Page:
    I think its all in presentation. Some of the lures I throw and troll for coho (non bait and non scented) use hooks bigger then that (2-1/0). My wiggle warts and wobblers are ginormous compared to just a size 6 hook not including the hook trailing behind. I think its all in your retrieve and getting it in front of the fish. All my coho flies are bright, flashy, and big. Fish mostly the Chehalis system and catch a lot of them on the lower Chehalis on the fly (which is still tidal influenced and heavily salt laden). All my flies are size 8-2/0. Have yet to have a problem hooking them and the hits are usually aggressive. I always do a fast strip-strip-strip-pause and repeat. Usually they hit on the pause (and you can feel them hit). I tie them up so they have action and flash.

    And know all about those fish down there. Even some of those "no name" creeks and rivers. ;) They are brutes.
     
  8. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2004
    Messages:
    5,700
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Thanks for all the replies.
    Mumbles, that fly modified by Cougar97 is beautifully done. Fly box shot has some beauties, too. Shot of your "earlier attempts" look like something I'd probably end up with if I tied 'em.

    Jerry, I always pay attention to your advice. I guess either you have to irritate Coho with big flashy flies and lures, or use something small that doesn't just spook 'em, depending on their mood (A small Dick Nite spoon in 50/50 or "frog" might be the hardware equivalent of a small Coho fly). In the past, I have mainly used spinners (#3 and #4 blades) for salmon in the lower rivers. You know, the standard Flash'nGlo and Vibrax that are popular here. Coho, Kings, Chums all hit 'em. I never really got into corkies and yarn, nor plugs (except for occasionally backtrolling 'em from a drift boat). Just shiny hardware, except for a couple of years in the late 90's when I clobbered the Kings with bobber and roe.

    So my plan might be to use big, flashy stuff in dirty water, and small flies in clear water. I have to know that the fish are present, first, though. I haven't seen any Coho in the lower creeks here at all. None. No rain in the forecast, either. I'm sure some Kings have been nosing up the bigger rivers for a while now, though.

    I really need a new reel and line for my 8 wt. just so I can fly fish with confidence for salmon. My old line is trashed, and the Okuma Sierra I had it on is a piss-poor excuse of a reel for salmon, due to its inferior drag system (drag "goes away" if even slightly wet). I think I'm just going to get a cheap rim-control Medalist and a new line. At least the Medalist has a drag that still works when its wet. I was "making do" using my 1594 RC with a 6 wt line on an 8 wt rod when I caught my first Coho and Chums on the fly, and the drag worked fine, along with easy rim-control. Can probably pick up the Medalist at Dennis Co in Aberdeen or Raymond, and support a "local" merchant.
     
  9. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Messages:
    8,037
    Media:
    453
    Likes Received:
    795
    Location:
    Graham, WA, USA.
    Home Page:
    I never used corky and yarn much either. Usually with a gob of eggs. LOL. But I use spinners in size 3 to 6 (you don't find the 6's much). Flashnglos of course are money down on the coast. But with kings and especially silvers, we've always had great success tossing wiggle warts like spinners. Not actually "pulling plugs", but casting them out, quick yank to dive, then slow retrieve. I do the same with my salmon flies. But I will tie up my coho muddlers, my chumbugs, and my sandshrimp (or shrimp depending on color I use to tie them) on the Chehalis system ALOT. The muddlers though I cast out, let sink, then do the strip strip strip pause. They'll crush them. The chumbugs (a plastic ribbed comet) are my smaller flies I use for coho and kings (and chums especially). Tie them smaller and darker when it's clearer conditions. Let them swing. But I always want some color in the fly, rarely just go straight black. Kings I want it super deep. I finally had to toss out my flylines, got brittle and started to crack finally. But I used modified full sink lines. Mostly used them as depth charges to get the fly down deep fast (since some kings were stacked 40' deep in those channels near the mouth).

    Dennis company is a great store. We shop at the Montesano store alot. Definitely get that "old town" feel shopping there. My Dad and I made it a point to shop there to support them (since we do have our cabin down there), and only hit Montesquare in a pinch (and want to spend 100X's more then it normally retails for lol).
     
  10. BRYORS

    BRYORS Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2007
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Camas, Wa
    I use Clousers tied on sparse small hooks. Also, Teeny nympths work well. The common factor is sparse. Big flies equal big refusals. I anticipate fish about 1\3 the time I am out. Sometimes it is better.
     
  11. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    17,855
    Media:
    283
    Likes Received:
    1,670
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Coug97 tied the original and then the later modifications. I've tried a few color combo options and have had some success. My early ones got fished, but only one of them got fish. Later ones, much cleaner ties, caught ample numbers of fish.
     
  12. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Messages:
    8,037
    Media:
    453
    Likes Received:
    795
    Location:
    Graham, WA, USA.
    Home Page:
    Jim, I should add this. These big flies the fish follow cautiously towards the boat. Can't recall how many times over the last 30 years I've caught a Coho next to the sled on the Chehalis while we were on anchor near Sand Islands all the way up to the pumphouse. Just when the fish hit, they HIT. It's not a "maybe I flossed them" scenerio. But is cool to watch them follow the flies to the surface, and up they come and crush it. No worries about flossing/snagging here. Now upriver, it's up for grabs. I've had mixed success, probably why I use 50/50 spoons alot, and smaller #3 blue foxes more then anything. Flies are usually sparser and small. But takes are no where near as noticeable as the ones closer to saltwater. I will say, I do get some hard hits though on some of the fresher fish (of course). Where some of the bigger flashier flies will come out (if I'm getting those heavy hits off a spoon or spinner).
     
  13. skyrise

    skyrise Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Messages:
    611
    Likes Received:
    56
    Location:
    everett, wa.
    no hard and fast rule for coho. on the snoho we fish anything from the smallest dick nite to big plugs with double hooks. they just dont stay on any one thing, fly or lure. its funny to fish a big river using the smallest dick nite for fish that run from 6 to 20 pounds. have yet to find a fly that works for em on the snoho. and when they get lock jaw, forget it.
     
  14. Mark Buick

    Mark Buick DryFly1

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    sammamish, washington
    OK what is a '52 Buick? Being a 48 buick myself if there is a fly with my namesake i want to fish it? Or was that a joke? And I missed it because of my enthusiasm to find such a fly. Hey if there is a Ray Charles who knows what might exist.

    Mark Buick
     
  15. Mark Buick

    Mark Buick DryFly1

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    sammamish, washington
    I used to do a lot of sea run and coho fishing with small epoxy head baitfish in a mulititude of greenish colors. Introduced to me by Seth at creekside, no longer working there and a shame. And i tied small streamers for candle fish. Once they hit the river does any of this stuff work?
     
  16. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,904
    Likes Received:
    359
    Location:
    Bellingham Wa.
    There you go
     
  17. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    2,980
    Likes Received:
    938
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    As some may recall I spend a fair amount of time chasing sea-run cutthroat on the various "S" rivers (for decades) and one thing I noticed was I was getting a fair amount of coho by-catch on my cutthroat flies. Have taken coho on virtual every cutthroat flies in my box. Have had some multiple fish days and even some double digit days of coho as cutthroat by-catch. So it is only natural that when I want to target coho I do so with mostly cutthroat flies. Have found having cuttrhoat flies (spiders etc) in a couple sizes in a variety of colors as well as handful of flashier flies (both small and large) as a change of pace presentation and I'm good to go for coho.

    While I have taken coho with floating and sinking lines though I usually open for a sinking line; usually some sort of slower sinker. That is due in at least part to my general dislike of fishing with weighted flies though such flies flished on a floating line can be effective and provides additional presentation possibilities.

    Skyrise -
    While I don't often fish the Snohomish for coho any more when I did I had reasonable success with smaller flies - mostly spiders. The fishing has gotten so popular it is now pretty hard to find undistrubed coho to throw flies at hard.

    Had best success along migration edges that concentrated the moving fish, the frog water and the wood. The last few times (up until 3 years ago) I fished the river had reasonable success by fishing my flies from an anchored boat on the last of the flood along a sand lip where the moving fish were flunneled as they move upstream out of deeper water. As with gear don't be afraid to fish your flies when the river is off colored. It seems to me that you get better reaction bites (the key to the Snohomish fish) in poor visibility conditions.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  18. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    2,980
    Likes Received:
    938
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    I posted the above on my way out to a local river to chase some sea-runs.

    In the process of the morning's cutthroat fishing I managed to connect with two chrome coho. Both fish crushed black spiders and after a spirited fight and several leaps both were released to conitnued their journey to their spawning grounds. Further testimony to the effectiveness of small/drab flies for in-river coho. While this morning wasn't typical it does happen often enough I'm never surprised when one of my cutts morphs into a coho.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  19. flyrod2

    flyrod2 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    hoquiam, wa
    Love this thread. I still am without my first coho on the fly. this should help me.
    thanks!
     
  20. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,354
    Media:
    45
    Likes Received:
    627
    Location:
    Kalama, WA
    I've tied up a ton of Last Call's and Silvey's Sno-Cone's this past few weeks in anticipation of coho to come. Can't wait!
     

Share This Page