Fall Coho, how to

Catching fall salmon on flies has long been a side show here to winter steelhead, and the reason is no mystery.

Although fall coho can fight as hard (or harder), then their cousins the steelhead, and come in vastly larger numbers, they are reputed to be less willing to eat a fly.

As is often the case, we as fly fishers have missed the point.

Salmon are far less likely to eat a steelhead fly fished for steelhead, however if you change your tactics a bit, they can become crazy aggressive.

double twofer (second double header)

double twofer (second double header)

Like winter steelhead, fall salmon have a strike trigger that is reasonably narrow.  If you do the exact right thing, a bite is almost a sure thing.  If you deviate even a little your fly will be left alone.

To complicate this, 19 out of 20 salmon bites are incredibly light.

So your presentation has to be adjusted not only to trigger a strike, but also to detect a crazy soft take.

This has got to be a little fun, right?

This has got to be a little fun, right?

Here are a few tips.

Broadly speaking your fly has to get right down into the fish.

This means not 6 inches above, not two feet to the near side, but right smack dab down into the front end of the school.

You will have to know how deep the water is and be able to judge the sink rate of your fly or sink tip accurately.

Your fly should stay as close to the fish as possible for as long as possible.

Once your fly gets in the school its fine, even good, if it rises right back up, but it should not speed away across the river too soon.

That means if you are swinging a fly steelhead style you want to position yourself way upstream of the fish.  This will allow you to hang the fly over the fish longer.

whatchu got?

Spey fishing for fall salmon

Your gonna have to pull it.

A standard steelhead swing sucks for fall salmon, remember, they are very light biters, and they like the fly to bounce up and down.  So a strip, rod tip twitch, lift and drop…something, will draw more strikes and aid in feeling the light bite.


Flies, small is beautiful.

In beautiful glacial green water with 3 foot a vis a big old flash fly will catch the hell out of them.  But as the water clears you are really going to want to size down.  A small fly will increase the number of bites, and hook ups.  I often fish for salmon down to a sparse size 6.

Bucktail, or calf tail, yellow,orange,red, and maybe a little chartuse

Bucktail, or calf tail, yellow,orange,red, and maybe a little chartuse

Once you get on a school of salmon expect it to take some time to get them to bite.

You will have to keep tweeking the presentation to find exactly what they want.  Once once you get it however the pay off is more than worth it.



Jim Kerr

Raincoast Guides

Forks washington

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