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So you want to travel thousands of miles to go fly fishing in Alaska, home to giant flesh-eating Rainbow Trout, float planes, and remote wilderness. A trip to remote Alaska from the lower 48 is no logistical slouch; a lodge must be chosen, flights booked, and fishing packages decided on, often years in advance. Timing is important; fish behavior changes throughout the season and is drastically different in June than it is in July, August, and September (the summer angling season is usually limited to these four months). It is important to prioritize desired fishing tactics, species, and weather patterns before planning your fishy getaway. It is also important to arrive with a thorough fly selection. Fly patterns can make or break a trip to Alaska, and having the right patterns in your fly box is paramount. Here are a few pertinent fly suggestions for Alaskan Rainbow Trout and when/how to use them.

If you're ready to book your trip, visit our Alaska fly fishing lodge offerings here

This blog post has a strict focus on Southwest Alaska (the Bristol Bay Region), one of the most productive Rainbow Trout fisheries in the world. See a map of the focus region here. The advice given in this blog post is highly dependent on generalizations and is meant to provide an overview of top Alaskan flies and fishing seasons, not specific dates/times. All fisheries in Alaska are incredibly seasonally dependent and conditions and specifics change yearly.

Stimulator 

A Stimulator can be a killer pattern for Alaskan Rainbows during the month of June. Many rivers in the Bristol Bay Region see hatches of Stoneflies, Caddis, and other insects in the early summer season. Alaskan Rainbows act similarly to western Rainbows during this part of the season (think Montana freestone rivers like the Yellowstone); if you see fish rising, chances are pretty good they’ll eat a stimulator. Stimulators are a great point fly for a dry-dropper setup, too (although some rivers in the Bristol Bay Region are single fly only). The Stimulator is a simple pattern but can be very effective when fished for post-spawn Trout before Salmon crowd the rivers.

Dolly Llama

The Dolly Llama is an Alaskan staple for a good reason: Rainbow crush it! The Dolly Llama was initially tied to imitate leeches, but the streamer also imitates sculpin and various baitfish. The fly is most effective when fished on the swing with a sink tip, especially during the post-spawn weeks beginning in June. Alaskan Rainbows expend massive amounts of energy during their spring spawn yet consume minimal calories. This is good news for Alaskan fly anglers since rainbows are looking for big meals post-spawn. We like the Dolly Llama in sizes 2 and 4 in black, olive, and white colorways. 

Egg Sucking Leech

Besides the Dolly Llama, perhaps no other fly personifies Alaska fly fishing like the Egg Sucking Leech. Whether you are targeting steelhead, salmon, trout, or dolly’s, you won’t want to head to Alaska without several in various sizes and colors. For trout, sizes 4-6 in black or purple with a pink head are sure to pick up fish post-spawn.

Bead Head Prince Nymph 

The Prince Nymph is another general attractor pattern that successfully imitates various subsurface nymphs, including caddis and stoneflies. Fishing the Prince Nymph under an indicator can be productive in late June and early July when bug activity increases on Alaskan rivers. Like the Pheasant Tail, be sure to have these in sizes 10-16 tied up.

Pheasant Tail

This nymph is fished just like the aforementioned BH Prince Nymph. These nymphs are most productive in shallow riffles where insects are likely found rolling over rocks or gravel, carried by the river’s current. I often find fish holding both in riffles and just downstream where the riffle dumps into a run or a pool. Tungsten helps sink the nymph quickly so you can maximize the time your fly spends on the river bottom.

Flesh Fly

Purists might want to turn away from this one, but it would not be a blog on Alaska trout fishing without mentioning flesh flies. After all, Alaskan rainbows tend to focus primarily on sockeye flesh after they begin to die off post-spawn. Salmon meat offers the trout a protein-filled meal, and the protein provided by the salmon is part of why Alaskan rainbows get so big. Flesh flies can be swung or dead-drifted and are most productive during September in sizes 2-8.

Morrish Mouse

The opportunity to go ‘mousing’ is one of the major pull factors for Alaska trout fishing and many anglers visit the state for this reason alone. The Morrish Mouse is one of the more well-known mouse patterns, and it still reigns supreme. The foam on the Morrish Mouse helps create a life-like wake in the water, and trout often find it irresistible. Mouse patterns are most effective when fished in the early and late season with a slow swing or stripping technique. You will not want to have plenty on hand! It’s a good idea to pack a mouse-specific box filled with sizes 2-8.

Parachute Adams

It’s not all streamers and egg patterns in Alaska. The Parachute Adams is a great dry fly to target ‘bows ‘sipping on the surface before keying in on eggs later in the season. The fly works equally well for grayling and char too. Be sure to bring several in sizes 12-14, with black & white and olive & while being the preferred colors.

Elk Hair Caddis

Trout fishing in Alaska is generally less technical than western tailwater and spring creek fishing. We like using attractor patterns for this reason, and the Elk Hair Caddis is one of the best options out there for early-season dry fly fishing. Be sure to have plenty of them in sizes 12-16 in various colors ranging from black to olive.

Beads

While dead drifting beads under an indicator may not be exciting as mousing, it is a quintessential Alaskan trout fishing experience. Beginning in August, spawning Salmon enter Alaskan rivers. When eggs are in the river, you can toss any other fly out of the raft because rainbows are not eating anything else. The TroutBeads Alaskan Selection is a must-have for imitating the different stages of salmon eggs found throughout the spawn. We also sell Troutbeads Beadhooks in sizes 8-12 as well.

Already looking forward to the Alaskan summer fly fishing season? Yeah, me too. I hope to see you up there.

If you're ready to book your trip, visit our Alaska fly fishing lodge offerings here

Questions about Alaska Rainbow Trout fishing? Call the Trident Headquarters at (888)-413-5211 or email us at [email protected] and one of our expert customer service reps will gladly answer any/all questions about fishing, gear, and more!