Fly Fishing for Coho in Freshwater 101

2Fall is here and Coho fly fishing fanatics know that there will be fish around now in local waters.We will look first at pursuing coho in freshwater with a fly rod and next week take a look at gear fishing methods. Fly rods for salmon fishing in freshwater are typically 9-10ft long in the single handed variety, 10’6-11’6 in the switch and 12’6-13’6 in a spey rod. Reels should be chosen to balance the type of rod being used we do want to try and select a reel of reasonable quality as we can have both chinook and chum salmon potentially grabbing our flies while coho fly fishing.

3Generally speaking our most productive coho fly fishing water is the slower moving “frog” water. Not to say flowing, walking speed type water won’t produce fish for the fly fisher, but that slower moving water is a better focus for us. This type of water allows us to cast a fly and retrieve it at varying speeds to try and elicit a strike from a coho. In this type of set up our lines selection should be a clear slow sinking fly line whether it be a traditional line weight forward line or one of the shooting head styles of fly lines i.e. a RIO Outbound. We want a long clear section of fly line as coho in freshwater can be spooky, moody and difficult little devils. We should be using fluorocarbon leaders or a long fluorocarbon tippet, the invisibility of this type of line is unbeatable when coho fly fishing. The nice thing about using fluorocarbon line because it disappears in the water it will allow us to use a bit heavier line than if using just a regular monofilament we recommend a 10lb-12lb tippet.

4Last piece of equipment necessary is ammo of course!! You pretty much can’t enough flies when chasing coho, they can turn on and off a particular fly pattern like a light switch. Once a couple fish have been caught on a certain fly, sometimes the recipe for another fish on is just a fly change away. Flies should be fairly sparse and sleek with a variety of sizes to cover different types of situations. An early morning, late evening or a low light day may require a bit “flashier” and larger fly than low clear water and a bright sunny day would. Good coho colours can be chartreuse, red, yellow, purple, blue, pink, gold, silver and copper these colours can be combined to create all sorts of fly variations. The use of UV materials and flash can also be very useful for enticing a bite.

5Coho can be spooky creatures so approaching fish should always be done in a stealthy manner, whether you are on foot or in a watercraft of some kind make, sure you approach fishy spots with a bit of stealth. Once you’re ready to fire at some fish throw out a cast and start your retrieve slow and work your way to fast always keeping your rod down low to the water. This low rod position gives you the best hook set and the best presentation of the fly. Vary your retrieve if fish are not cooperating, every day and every cast fish can have a different attitude so changing speed and lengths of your strip can be the difference in getting a bite or not getting a bite.

P.S. Learn how to tie some of Andrews’ highly effective Coho fly patterns!

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