What in the heck? Alaskan Fly-fishing, errr, snagging


Active Member
I was watching Days of a Sportsman tv show,in which they were "fly-fishing"? for Dollies. The set up they were using was 2 beads on a leader followed by a bare hook at least six inches below the last bead. Is this considered fly-fishing?
A friend of mine told me about this last year. He had just returned from a trip to Alaska, and a guide had them set up as you describe for steelhead. The hook sets in their cheek from the outside. He really questioned the guide who told him it was "standard technique" up there. My friend caught a lot of fish, but I think he felt a bit guilty.

mr trout

Trevor Hutton
I once read an article on this and the reason they do it is because with all the C&R they do, the insides of the fish's mouths get mega torn up. this way it keeps them from getting hurt, well worse than they already are. Just what I read, dunno anything more. As for the beads, I guess it all depends on whether fly fishing to you is fishing with flies or fishing with a flyline. I think we attach all sorts of crazy junk to hooks and they are still flies. just my opinion. :pROFESSOR

This is a common technique that i've seen used for sockeye and other salmon when they're in the river.
Practioners call the technique 'flossing' and the ones i've talked to about it consider it a skilful method of fishing.

If there's a vote - i'd, for the moment, abstain.



Ignored Member
One of the reasons this method is used primarily for dollies and rainbows. When using a traditional egg fly the fish feed on salmon eggs with such abandon, they swallow the fly. The method of tying the egg fly up a few inches from the hook prevents the fish from swallowing the hook making c&r of the fish much easier with higher survival rates. The bead is used for its durability. These fish are hitting the bead thinking it is a salmon egg.

Flossing is deliberately allowing the line to enter the fish's mouth and running through to a hook on the end. It is an acceptable method in Alaska and other parts of the country.


Be the guide...
KerryS is right on the money. I thought the setup was questionable until I saw how effect it was in the mandatory C&R rivers in both catching the fish and in releasing them safely.

As Kerry pointed out, it is much different than flossing. Flossing is just a snagging technique that allows you to snag a fish in the mouth easier. As we all know, snaggin a fish in the tail or back can make it much harder and less 'sporting' to land the fish. People employ this method on fish that are 'locked jawed' and stacked up or moving by quickly in schools. In areas where salmon are overly abundant, and harvest for meat is allowed and encouraged, then this seems like a reasonable way to get some food on the table and still make the event 'sporting', as opposed to just netting the fish or using dynamite... Unfortunately, too many use this (flossing)as a first option and don't bother finding out if the fish are in the mood to strike a properly presented fly\bait\lure. Just my .02 cents.
Hey Chad,

While the idea of a bead 6' away from a bare hook to avoid eager fish from swallowing the hook seems a bit excessive, I don't doubt the possibility that there are some anglers using it with this in mind. All the power to them.

However, it's not the fly or rig that determines if flossing is being practiced but rather the way in which the fly or rig is being used, eg. I use a nymphing technqiue with my favourite fly pattern for salmon and cutts in the Campbell River, the same fly is being used in the same run by flossers, and, concurrently, you can find a 'traditional' snagger using the identical fly in that run.

It's easy to identify what technique is being used and by whom - one is inside the mouth, the flosser is on the outside of the mouth and the traditional snagger is anywhere from the snout to the arse.



Ignored Member
I know well and have fished with the guide that was on the show mentioned above I have fished in a very similar situation as describe above. I assure you that the method was used for the soul purpose of protecting the fish. The bead is not positioned 6 inches above the hook. It is only around 2 or 3 inches at the most. As I stated before these fish are hitting the bead. The guide and the anglers were quite skilled for it is very easy to accidentally snag one of the many salmon milling about. They were taking a lot of time and effort to position thier casts to target the dollies feeding on salmon eggs. Snagging is easy. Targeting rainbows or dollies in the middle of hundreds of spawning salmon and avoid snagging the salmon is hard.


Be the guide...
I agree mostly. I would put it this way (as I think someone did above).

If a the fish volutarily takes your bait\fly\lure, and ends up getting hooked because of HIS actions - whether that hook finds purchase on the side of his mouth, or in his throut, then this is not snagging or flossing, and in most states, it is legal to keep. But if he goes for your lure\fly\bait, and misses, but your hook gets him below the gill plate - back he goes...

If the fish is minding his own business, and your long leader finds his open mouth and you let it slide along until the hook snags the outside, or sometimes the inside of his mouth - because or YOUR actions, then your are flossing (a subtle way of snagging).

If you cast out near a fish or group of fish, and YOU initiate the first contact by either blindy 'setting the hook' like a bass pro, even though you didn't feel a bite, just hoping your hook finds some fish flesh... Or you retrieve your offering, looking for some kind of bump to indicate a fish's pressence - then you yank hard hoping for your hook to find a home in the fishes body... Or, you see the fish, you let your offering pass just behind the fish, and then you yank your line trying to snag the fish...

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
In Alaska, as in most places in America, this rig is not"acceptable" as a legitimate sporting method. I know that the bead must be pinned tightly to the leader,(tippet), and about 1" or 1-1/2" from the hook for some special regulation areas in Alaska. Allot of fish are harmed by these rigs. Basically this so-called "technique" is "Lining", and it's a scummy way to "fish". It works for guides- some who only count fish but don't care much about the resource they are destroying- and makes it easier for unskilled anglers.As for it being fly fishing proper; thats almost a differant question. Is it really a "fly"?,( the plastic/glass bead).Well maybe, just barely, but it works!The question is how you use it.What you describe is typical of allot of Alaska guides who don't have the finesse, or the patience, to learn how to fly fish.It does take a long time and allot of experience, so we all move through things that we try and then move on from later. It's a process.In fairness to the guides, they are expected to produce fish, almost miraculously.And most of them are under the burden of unrealistic expectations due to overzealous sales efforts by the lodge owners.The magazines don't help the resource much sometimes either.How about "Sports Afield" this summer and their Alaska Issue, the front page headline was:"Alaska!, a fish on every cast!". We need to be happier with less and appreciate it more.Dropper rigs, tandem hooks, they work- but they do allot of harm.Allot more than single flys.It's all a matter of choice.
A snag is a snag is a snag! As far as I am concerned, if the fish doesn't attack your fly it's a snag. What fun is that? Flossing, lining, whatever...I guess it is not my thing...neither is dragging a big treble hook across a bunch of spawners.



New Member
Speaking as an alaskan,
It is ILLEAGLE in most parts of the state to peg a bead more than 2" from the hook. This is stll enough room for the fish to not see the hook, Id say its bettere to use an actual fly, because when using a pegged bead its alot easier to hook the fish in eyes, gills or bellies wich will hurt the fish much more than when hooked in the mouth.

Look on the editorial on www.alaskaflyfishingonline.com for more reasons not to peg beads

Another thing is trout that eat what looks and feels real and gets hook will become alot smarter and harder to catch;-)
Tight Lines From Alaska


Active Member
I was wondering if these fish key in only on single eggs? Or would they hit an eggsucking leach or a flesh fly? I've always wanted to go and fish Alaskan rivers for bows, but if the only way is to use the bead method, I'd rather catch a bunch of 10" put and take hatchery trout on a real fly, be it a size 18 dry or a size 8 bugger; than use the bead setup.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
One of the best Alaska trout I guided a fisher too was on a small flesh fly, a size 8 hook and about 1-1/2" long rabbit strip. He didn't want to use glo-bugs or beads.We used a "greased line" presentation and let it hang momentarily before retrieving. The trout took the fly on the hang,( allot of trout do that up there.).The fish was about ten pounds.Bigger, uglier, leeches are more popular and are used so much that a smaller fly might get more attention from the big-fly-jaded trout. I usually drift a flesh fly the same way I might nymph or drift a glo-bug, just tumbling it along in the current, bumping the bottom. I like to use a unweighted fly and small shot as required to get it down there, longer leader and a floating line.I opt for the lighter weight leader/tippet sizes for better drift and sink. But always use enough strength material to and fish without overplaying it. About 6-8 lb test seems fine. In fast current I might go to 10 lb test.

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