trolling bucktails

I've been invited out tomorrow for some salmon fishing from a boat, so I was reading my copy of flyfishing for pacific salmon and it seems that my best chance of landing some is to troll a bucktail, does anyone out there have any suggestions on what might be the best way to do this flies:colors sizes, depth, speed you know all the usual questions a person whos never done it would like answers to.
I, will tell you what I know.
1. bucktailing is not true flyfishing its topwater trolling.
2. It is very effective for coho and humpies, and alot of fun.
3. This is how I was taught to do it.
4.A 6-8 wt. rod with a reel that has enough drag to keep the fly trolling without slipping line out.
Fly line has no advantage in this type of fishing,in fact it just cuases unwanted drag.I strip the line off my reel and knot on 100-150 yds of mono such as maxima or berkly big game in 10lb.
5. I like flies tied on plastic tubes about 11/2 in. long.Olive or green over white with a little peacock herl on top has always been my favorite. I put some pearl flash under the white, silver on the median line and chartruce under the olive,black krystal flash for a head stick on silver with black eyes and epoxy for the head.
Try and keep youre flies sparse about 51/2 in long has always worked for me.
I rig my flies by tying on a bead chain swivel then 4-5feet of same material for a leader, 1/0 gamagatsu siwash hook wich comes with an open eye I squeeze it closed around a good quality barrel swivel slide about 2 or three plastic beeds on behind my fly then tie to the swivel so my hook is behind my fly. I feel I get more hook ups than if my hook is right up to my tube.
I'll probably catch hell for this but like I said it aint really fly fishing.Some days you can really increase your catch rate by adding a small strip of herring to the hook (sorry) also a spinner blade the size of a dime on a plastic clevis in front of the fly will just kill them(really sorry now).
If you are fishing in the sound you will have to create the action to bring fish up with the motor and or rods.
4-6mph.and lots of almost 90 degree turns around a rip or where bait is on top. I like my flies to cuase a wake and occasionally pop clear out of the water, then go completely under then wake, yadda yadda...
good luck, hope I didnt confuse with my advice or rambling on and on. Doug P.
Read all the articles you can find but Douger has it nailed. We have had hundred fish days together this way.
Try it , You'll like it
LT :beer2


New Member
No real reason to be sorry doug, if you are salmon fishing with someone from a boat that does not salmon fish, ie target shorelines etc. I dont see anything wrong with that at all!! It will be more fun than a spinning rod! Nothing tastes better than a fresh bbq'ed salmon and a cold beer!! At least youre not hooking up to a downrigger!!!:thumb
Well I didn't get a chance to read your reply before we went out this morning, so we tried the best we could without any action but I'm sure we'll give it a try well except for perhaps the strip of herring, it was pretty funny I fished from the beach on fri. no luck my friend did the same on sat. same results so he suggested the boat thing, we headed over to where we were fishing over the past couple of days and wouldn't you know it the rain must have brought the fish in here we were getting blown around unable to really fly fish and the guys on shore were killing them we saw 3 different guys limit out and leave, sure they were useing bait but the fish were there catchable from shore and we couldn't get close enough and he couldn't get his anchor to hold so we were blown off. We had dropped crab pots on our way out went back and pulled them up all empty not our day, it sure was beautiful out so at least it was a nice day.
thanks tony

Richard E

Active Member
lefty tailing loops said:
I, will tell you what I know.
1. bucktailing is not true flyfishing its topwater trolling.
Doug, other than the means of locomotion (flippers vs. motor), what's the fundamental difference between trolling a woolly bugger behind your pontoon boat, or trolling a bucktail behind your boat? I'm thinking trolling is trolling.

Is a clouser a fly, or is it a jig? Weight added to a fly still a fly? Is a fly rod flatfish a fly, although it is designed to be cast with a fly rod? I have friends who think using strike indicators is abominable, but think trolling is OK. I also have friends who love strike indicators, but look down their noses at those who troll. So, I guess it all depends on the perspective.

I think bucktailing is a hoot, and though I prefer to cast, it's not always the best or most effective method.


Active Member
lefty tailing loops said:
I, will tell you what I know.
1. bucktailing is not true flyfishing its topwater trolling.
Doug P.

well now, saltwater fly fishing is not the same as standing in a spring creek softly presenting dry flies to stationary fish. finding the fish in salt water is usually the first order of the day. all of you src fisher folks already know this is the first order of business and usually the most challenging.

trolling a bucktail is a great way to find fish. after that it's your call what to do next. if you have ever fished baja, you already know this is the exact technique everyone who fly fishes employees to find the dorado.

if you are really a dry fly purist, the salt water environment may not be your cup of tea. i know i have very strong feelings about bobber fishing for steel and choose never to use an 'indicator'.

but, if you are trying to expand your horizons to include salt and areas to fish, you learn something new and deploy it when appropriate. and on top of that, it's tons of fun to see the top water grabs.

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
i'm going to disagree a little bit. in my experience bucktailing is not the best way to find fish. the best way to find fish and learn the structure of saltwater fly fishing (whether that be a shoreline for src or open water structure such as rips or mounds of floating kelp) is to cast flies. i have bucktailed quite a bit (i never liked it, so i am biased) but have mostly found that some of the best bucktailing water is not the best flyfishing water. often, bucktaling will bring up fish that are scattered, and learning offshore saltwater flyfishing requires recognizing where salmon concentrate.

i had one trip in sekiu about 3 seasons ago (neah was closed). not being as familiar with sekiu and not finding the water structure i like to fish, i put out the bucktails.... and trolled... and trolled... and trolled... and trolled... for hours with one grab. since i really don't enjoy trolling (sorry, bucktailing) i broke out the fly rods with sinking lines and killed the engine. the fishing never really got great, but we hooked many more fish drifting and casting than trolling for hours. casting sinking flies can be a great searching technique also... and you will actually learn about casting flies, working to get a deep drift, different retreives, and you might figure out water types that salmon concentrate in. finding concentrations is the key, and bucktailing imo increases the time spent finding these special spots.

the same can be said for trolling shorelines for src. what do you learn in finding fish this way. have you learned a retreive, found a fly that worked, or have you just driven over an aggressive fish. you might never know, where if you cast over the same beach and hooked a fish, you would have learned something to put in your memory for future trips.