Successful flies for staging silvers?

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Roger Stephens, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. By mid-Sept. through Oct. silver salmon should be staging along esturaries/shorelines on the Sound. They can be easy to catch or tight-lipped(like some people about giving out fishing locations ;)). From my experience, fly fishing for them can be very successful if you can find a location where they have just arrived within the last day or so. They can be biters for up to a week if it is the first part of the run.

    There are three flies which have been very successful for me during the early part of the silvers staging period. They are: Olive/white clouser minnow, chartreuse/white clouser minnow, and Ferguson green(charteuse)&silver. All these patterns are tied on #6 4XL hooks. The Ferguson green&silver was developed quite a while ago by Bruce Ferguson and is an overlooked pattern in this day and age for silver salmon. Cerise colored flies have worked at times.

    This year I am going to try a Mickey Finn pattern tied as a clouser style fly and a couple of shrimp patterns.

    What are your favorite patterns for staging silvers?
  2. Depending on the density of fish, I'll go with smaller hook (and I'm a big fly guy) to try to minimize snagging. I've done well with chartreuse/white Clousers down to size 8. I mentioned in another thread about silvers, if it's an open flat with good vis, and not too many fish packed in close quarters, and more of a cruising scenario, I'll use a Clouser tied with yak hair on a 1/0 or 2/0 that's about seven or eight inches long in all. They cast easily, are easily seen from a distance, make a lot of "noise" underwater, and you can tie them sparse and with little flash so they don't overpower the silvers in skinny or bright water.

  3. Jeff's notion of noise is spot on in my opinion. In the salt I am a gear guy but there are some things one can learn from this. On staging silvers by far and away the best thing I ever found to induce strikes has been a white bodied with red head hot shot that rattles. The same hot shot without the rattle only produces about 1/3 the number of strikes.

  4. Small “traditional” hackle flies work very well (small Spider’s etc.). Additionally (as already mentioned) small Clousers and Shock and Awes have been productive for me. When retrieving these small flies, I have had much greater success with a variety of slow retrieves. There are some excellent small patterns pictured in the classic book “Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon.”
    Did I mention that they should be small???
  5. chartuse spider.. or a peacock spider are about the only 2 flies i fish for staging silvers.
  6. Also, search for "popper" in the forum, as it seems to be a favorite of many people.
  7. I have had some positive results with purple egg sucking leeches and space creature....a weighted round chartrues green head and rubber legs w/purple bunny leech body and a hint of tinsel....looks like some kind of squid in water when stripping.
  8. Totaly in agreement with Anil and D3 on this. Small spiders. For me nothing has come remotly close to Mike Crofts spider. Its a show stopper 3 times over.
  9. Do any of you guys have a link for Crofts spider? I found one pic online but couldn't tell what materials were being used. It looks fairly simple though. Thanks in advance!
  10. The one I tie is based on a rather hazy memory of watching Mike tie it over a couple, well maybe a dozen or so, beers. A bead head, I like gold or copper, a gold tinsel body a turn of Pumkin orange saddle, and a turn or two of golden pheasant crest. To this I add one strand of pearlecent flash. I am sure Mike uses some great glue and stuff. Also mike uses alot of spit on his flies, his saliva is particularly ropey, if you ask him he will probably send you a sample, maybe via airmail. Here is a high quality digital image of what the fly looks like completed.

    Attached Files:

  11. Uncle Jimmy...Is it true that you that you catch numerous shiner perch on the fly? I'd give a steak dinner to see that!! Also...does whiskey count as beer? :beer2:

    That Croft Spider is really hard to beat. A must have.
  12. This can be an unnerving process of trying to catch the staging silvers. We fished these today with literally dozens upon dozens of sizable silvers moving around and flopping out of the water completly, rolling, etc.

    We threw everything at them including most of what was mentioned above, big, small, surface, you name it. The fish didn't stop their activity despite us being near them in the boat and they came through numerous times with only one real take and no fish landed.

    I am sure we could have done something better, but for the hours of effort and number of fish, I would have thought we'd have more to show. I guess we need to make certain to have the 'Croft Spider' and see if that works.

    - South Sound estuary -
  13. I'm assuming the ticket to retrieving a spider is short, quick strip and pause to get the reversed hackles to pulse. I've been tying up a few and would appreciate some feedback.

  14. Here is the best way I have found to make them bite this or any other fly, and its a pain in the A$$. The most important thing is to determine which direction the fish are swiming right now, from a boat this is easy as you can often see them, in any case you want the fish to be moving straight at you so they do not have to turn out of the school to take your fly, and so it stays in front of them for as long as possible. You want to make a really long cast, so the fish are unaware of the boat and so, once again, they get a long look at the fly. I often spend twenty or more min. between casts trying to get the boat and the fish and the stars alighned. When the fly lands corectly let it sink along time and then start a short (1 inch) slow to med retrive. As the fly gets closer to you speed up the retrieve incrementaly, this is so any fish that has tuned into your fly and is following, will be more likly to bite. It really helps to see the fish, so you know what to do with your fly and so you can see the bites, wich are often too light to feel. The bites are often very light. The bites are often very very light. Somtimes they don't bite very hard. For god sakes be ready to set the hook because they are gonna push the fly towards you, not pull it away, so the bite will feel very light
    Good Luck,
    Jim Kerr
  15. silverfly -
    Think the guys are talking about the basic Knudsen Spider or variations of that pattern and not Kenny's reverse spider. I have had success by changing colors and once in a while throwing a larger fly in the mix (usually some sort of bait fish streamer). Since these fish aren't actually feeding having a "stinger" hook on the larger flies will help convert tentative strikes to hook ups

    Regarding the retrieve. I prefer fishing full sinking lines or long tips to keep the fly at the level I want and found that mixing up the retrieves changing speed and strip lengths until you find one that fits the fish's mood. Other things to try include - when you see following fish dramatically change the retrieve speed, strip length or direction. Also if fishing with a patner try to cover the jumps of any hooked fish with a quick cast - amazing how many times that can be converted to a "double"

    All and all these staging coho - whether in terminal salt areas or lower rivers can be one of the most frustrating fish in the region.

    Tight lines
  16. Jim and Curt,

    Thanks for the feedback on retrieves and the correction as to Knudsen vs. Reversed Spiders. I mess around with silvers at a stillwater fishery off the Columbia River that can be very frustrating. The intermittent success I've had there is using small sparse patterns with a dead-slow strip/pause retrieve. I've tried fast stripping clousers etc.. but never even had a follow that I know of (typically the fish are not visible).

    I may have been missing some takes and not knowing it because I've been expecting the hard grabs I usually get from steelhead at this spot. Now that you mention it, some of the coho takes there have taken me by surprise (as in, - "that doesn't feel right" - (lift rod) - "WTF!!!"). This may take some practice to determine what a real "fly-pushing" bite is because I typically avoid setting the hook hard due the risk of foul-hooking fish there.

    I agree that full sinking lines work better in "still" water, especially if the fish are suspended. My personal preference is the Clear Camo lines made by Cortland.

    While silvers can be extremely frustrating, I think that's what makes it so rewarding when you finally connect with one (that and the aerial acrobatics!).

    Great info, thanks again!

  17. After more than thirty years of casting to salmon that are staging, often called the "waiting period" a term that came up in Canada years ago, I only know one thing for sure;Staging or Waiting Period salmon are through feeding to any great extent and you do not know what they might hit. What is important to know is that given enough water clarity and good numbers of staging salmon that a small, sometimes very small and sparse pattern is the answer. As for favorite patterns, I've looked into a whole lot of fly boxes during the writing of "Fly-Fishing for Pacific Salmon II" and noticed that the more experienced the staging angler is, the more patterns will be in his/her fly box. At times every one of the flies listed on this thread will work. The reason for a large selection of patterns is that you don't always know which one it will be.
    British Columbia fly fishers who work the estuarine areas and mouths of rivers have absolutely incredible selections of flies for this purpose. As an example of selection, Tyee Marine and Tackle in Campbell River has fourteen trays of
    beach flies to peruse.
    So, if you have a fly that was a killer for a time and then went on its lips, don't toss it out. Stash it in a corner of your fly box. At some desperate moment it might again save the day.
    Good Fishing,
    Les Johnson
    Cougar Zeke likes this.
  18. Uncle Jimmy,

    LOL, Hi Jim Kerr !!! Tom Wolf told me to check out this thread and I want to thank you for the kind words about the spider. Your tying instructions are fine except you left out tying the pattern on a bronze high carbon hook. In the dark mornings of early fall and especially the overcast days the dark carbon hook will make the hook itself all but dissappear. tying all you waiting period flies on bronzed hooks will add about 10% to your catch. I like a Mustad 3399 (yes I said Mustad !!! because when I bought them in lots of 1000 they were .03 cents each and this is a sproat limerick bend that is one of the few great hooks that Mustad makes) The problem with high carbon is that they rust, so on the way back to the dock I pop them into my mouth and suck the salt off then dry them in the visor of my car. Who ever said that the fish quit eating was right and large flies will no longer work. Other good patterns for me are Bow string spiders, a peacock spider(a dark fly with a peacock body and Brown hackle), a Wolf Spider (gold body with a Badger hackle). I tie them all two ways, with and without bead heads.

    My own theory is that as the waiting period salmon smell or taste the fresh water and remember where they need to go, thid also triggers memories of the small things they ate in the esturaries when they were smolts. Things like ampipods. They are not hitting out of hunger, rage or curiosity so it must be something else.

    It is the retrieves that are critical in the waiting period. there is a very slow and usually deep retrieve that works well when the fish are too deep to see from a boat. I check in shallow water to see how fast my fly sinks then count down in multiplies of ten. My retrieve is about 6 inches and pause for a second (a second is a long time) then another 6 inches. A hit is felt and not seen and often when you reach up to grab the line you feel it is going the other way but before you can set the hook he is gone. Oh well !!!

    There is amphipod hop, which is a very fast retrieve 10 or 12 inches at a time as fast as possable.

    The there are time when I use the fastest of retrieves, the two handed retrieve where you throw the rod under one arm and use both hands to bring the flyin as fast as possible.

    I like to fish where there are leaping fish, but that doesn't mean that they are in the mood to hit. When you see the silvers doing head and tail rolls like trout do when they are midging, hold on to your hat, because it means that they are ready to play. Usually once during every tide the fish will turn on. Sometimes only for 10 minutes and sometimes for the whole tide. If you are casting and nothing is happening don't worry it is part of the game.

    Be aware, too that warm estuary water will stress the fish and stressed fish don't bite as well. In cases like that you need to hit them in the first minutes of light or you have missed the boat.

    Good luck guys,

    Mike Croft
    Tacoma Red likes this.
  19. I've gotten some of the most hard hitting, exsplosive, eats I've ever seen while fishing waiting period silvers TOPWATER!!!
  20. A O T, what fly produced these explosive takes? I love fishing the surface. I would like to test your pattern this weekend. Steve

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