Pound for pound Reds are the strongest and hardest fighting of the five Pacific salmon. Their flesh is an almost florescent red color that is firm and considered the best eating. But there is a misconception about the supposed reluctance of Reds to take a fly. Many fly fishermen believe the only way to catch Reds with a hook is to drag a fly through a thick pod of fish and snag them, which is known as the "Bristol Bay Twitch." It's much more rewarding and exciting to catch them when they take the fly. When they take the fly, they make quick slashing runs with astonishing power for their size that will excite any angler. Best of all, you can turn their head out of the current when trying to land them. You will experience the true fight of a red instead of just feeling the wagging of their tail at the end of your rod, not to mention how many rods I've seen broken trying to land a foul hooked red. Snagged fish are difficult to beach because they're head is still positioned to run back into the water. A salmon can only run in the direction their head is pointing! Put their head on the beach and you've got them
On the banks of the Kenai River, at the confluence of the Russian River, anglers stand literally shoulder-to-shoulder and drift buck tail flies through the thousands of Reds running upstream at their feet. I've watched this comical process for hours. The bucktail flies most of them use wouldn't make my top 100 list for the best patterns to catch Reds, and their techniques, however limited space there is, leaves much room for improvement. They do indeed catch fish, but there are better fly patterns and techniques to optimize their fishing time.
Reds are very prolific. The commercial red fishery in Bristol Bay, on the southwest coast of Alaska, is not considered a success if the numbers don't exceed at least 15 million fish. They are the only pacific salmon that will run in any great numbers through lakes and up to the rivers or small streams above where they will spawn. They change color from the bright silver of the ocean fish to a bright red body with an olive green head after they enter fresh water. This change takes a few weeks. I've seen streams packed so tightly with the bright red fish that I would swear you might be able to walk across it on their backs. Bears are drawn to these rivers and streams for the same reason anglers are. You want to be cautious in such places. When the fish have made there long journey to these locations bears will congregate. They don't seem to mind how they taste, but the flesh isn't of a very good quality. This isn't to say that you can't find fresh fish a long way from the ocean, because the fish can cover many miles in a day. Most of the fish however will be "changed" and not worth eating.
Find a river where the fish are fresh and bright and you'll enjoy a stronger fish to fight and a much better tasting meal. If you're going to Alaska to fish, take the best flies with you, surprisingly the fly shops and outfitters just don't seem to have what you really need for most species of fish. Many anglers travel a great distance and spend a lot of money to get there. Purchasing the knowledge and flies you need is quite a small investment to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime. Even when you live in Alaska, you usually have to travel some distance to fish, make the most of your fishing time and be prepared with the best flies. I've guided at many lodges, been in many fly shops, and fished lots and lots of waters in Alaska, I always take these flies with me because you usually can't find them there. I'll show you the best flies (the sizes you need) and techniques to catch Reds. For Reds there are eight proven flies you need to have. ($19.95 for the tying instructions and fishing techniques, or you can get the eight personally tied flies and fishing instructions for $29.95). Both packages come with clear, vivid pictures of the flies, tying instructions, knowledge and techniques from ten seasons of guiding in Alaska, and a list of recommended equipment needed for your trip. Each additional set of eight flies is $15.95. Being a guide for so many years I know you need to have plenty of flies with you, especially when you have the hot fly and everybody else wants some, and you can't usually find them there. If the fish are in, you will catch them with these packages. Click here to order