Three Surprising Fly Lines for Application to fly Fishing for Chinook Salmon – – – in Oregon?
People who fly fish for Chinook often obsess over fly lines. in addition to the three Airflo fly lines listed in this article, the following fly lines are usually loaded on spare reels or spools in my boat: SA Shooting tapers in sink rates I, II, III, IV, and VI; Rio shooting heads in floating, I, III, and VI; Airflo shooting heads in sink rates from I to VII; SA Streamer Express; and SA Wet Tip Clear.
Airflo Tactical Steelhead Spey Line. Yeah. This is a Spey rod shooting head fly line that is rated by approximate rod designation (6 wt, 7 wt, 8 wt, and so on), instead of by grain wt. This is a compromise Spey fly line somewhere between Skagit and a Scandi Compact heads. This fly line comes with a floating tip for dry line Spey fishing and you can loop on a relatively light sinking leader (Rio Versileader or Airflo Polyleader) for fishing wet flies.
I have been counseled lately, by my friends, that a floating fly line just might be spot-on for presenting flies to Chinook salmon, given the right places and tides. On a whim, I looped a Tactical Steelhead Spey shooting head fly line on my Airflo floating ridged running line and gave it a go.
This fly line cast beautifully on my Burkheimer 995-4 fly rod. I fished the 6 wt Tactical Steelhead line, head only, and think it weighed-in at a little over 400 gr. The head is heavy by standards for a 9 wt fly rod, but the Burkheimer is more than up to the challenge, throws this line into a firm breeze, and turns over a level leader and #2 Comet. The Tactical steelhead shooting head is a salmon pleasing pale green color right out of the box.
Airflo Speydicator fly line. Another surprise. This Spey fly line is perfect for use with two-handers, it is heavier than the Tactical Steelhead line, and it has superior line mending capabilities, as it was designed for looooong mends while indicator fishing in rivers. The Speydicator is a full Spey fly line that floats like a cork and is well suited to cross-tide presentations where more mending is required to slow the fly’s traverse and give Mr. Chinook time to consider grabbing the fly. The Speydicator fly line will chuck the biggest salmon fly you will ever want to fish here in Oregon, and probably anywhere. The Speydicator is designed to toss big strike indicators and weighted flies so it will more than do the job with any of the estuary salmon flies we tend to fish around our homewaters. Final note on the Speydicator as a salmon line: I fish one Speydicator fly line in its glorious pale-orange natural state, and fish one Speydicator that I have used Rit dye to create a nice camo-brown color. Silly, but salmon fishers do obsess over fly line colors.
Airflo Sixth Sense Slow Glass fly line. A real find, I think. This is a weird fly line, not normally considered a salmon line, but I really like the way it fishes. My friends at Airflo told me that the Sixth Sense fly line was not really suitable for casting some of the flies I fish, because it has a fairly long front taper and is better suited to smaller flies.
Maybe so, I said, and proceeded to cut-off the front twelve feet (I think it was about two arm spans, but jeepers, I’m not sure) of the line, add a 35# braided loop, and go fishing.
My reasoning, imperfect as it might be, is that sacrificing roughly two-thirds of the front taper would leave me with more weight concentrated in the forward 30’ or so of line after modification. By eliminating the slim, light-weight portion of the fly line’s front end, the remaining line should be able to turn over my Comets.
This modified fly line casts very well on my Burkheimer. Maybe that is a testimony to the versatility of the rod, since the front 30 feet of this modified sixth Sense fly line (originally the 8/9 weight designation) is under 300 gr.
Anyway, here’s what I most like about this modified Sixth Sense fly line: it casts well (given its light weight), turns my fly over, and sinks slowly – really slowly. Enough said about slow sinking fly lines. The “slow glass” Sixth Sense fly line is a translucent olive color, and my confidence putting this fly line in the water with salmon has been rewarded by the Salmon Spirits.
There ya go. More fly lines to consider. You’re welcome. Very much. Thank you too.