Looking for Advice on Fly Gear for Fall Chinook [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Looking for Advice on Fly Gear for Fall Chinook

03-19-2006, 10:56 AM
I've been wanting to go after Chinook in the fall with a fly rod for quite some time. I've been saving up to buy an outfit just for chinook. I'm open to suggestions as though money was not an option. I'll be fishing freshwater and estuaries along the coast out of my boat. I'm thinking of using a shooting head setup. What are your recommendations for lines/heads out there and shooting line, rods, and reels? Any advice is welcome. Thanks.

Leland Miyawaki
03-19-2006, 11:53 AM
I don't have any suggestions. The only chinook I have caught have been while targeting coho and have been on my surface fly. Maybe someone else can help.


03-19-2006, 02:18 PM
Not all Chinook are created equal. Is a big one #15? #20? #30? More :Eyecrazy: ? One of my best pruchases was a 2 piece Sage Discovery II 12 wt many many years ago for about $120. It has caught a number of #30 pound fish and seems indescructible. for smaller fish I use a 9.5 foot scott STS 10 wt. It too has been a great performer and was also a closeout. So, I guess my answer is it depends on the size of the fish with a 10 wt being a good starting point. For a rod you aren't going to use much, I wouldn't hesitate to get a TFO or something similar in the $139 to $180 range and a unconditional warranty.

03-19-2006, 05:14 PM
I have a number of chinook days under the belt from 12 yrs in the Seattle area... and I would say there are three options:

1 - estuaries from a boat with a single hander... 9wt minimum, 10wt better
2 - tidewater with a two-hander... 14ft 9/10wt or better
3 - beaches with a two-hander... I would think the Atlantis is as good a rod as any for that task

In your case it seems a good solid stick like the ones Philster and others suggest would do the deed.

Shooting heads...

The new Outbounds come to mind. They come in a range of sizes. For kings off a boat I might go with a slick shooter running line looped to hi-density heads biting deep into tide rips with flashy herring patterns with a streak of purple and big eyes. It would cast like the dickens too.

A stripping basket is key. Check out Russell Chatham's book... he's done some serious damage in the estuaries.

Keep us posted... I miss having the chinookie on the side of my steelie obsession.

03-22-2006, 02:25 PM
The advice you've been given with regard to one-handers in the 9' 10 wt. class is spot on. Given your location I assume your intent is to fish the coast, e.g., Elk, Sixes, Coquille, etc? To add to the line recommendations that have already been made, you'll see that a lot of guys are successful with clear intermediate lines in the smaller estuary situations. Out of a boat, casting distance is not generally going to be as much of an issue as you might imagine. As such, I would not recommend Rio Slick Shooter for runing line; instead, using a bulkier running line that is less prone to tangle--like the standard Rio shooting lines in .30" or even .035"--is a better way to go. You lose some casting distance, but the improved line handling characteristics are worth the trade. You're also going to find that most who are successful use small, sparse comet type flies in various colors rather than large baitfish patterns--water clarity and the nature of the spots most effectively fished with a fly being a large part of the reasoning there.

One point about two-handed rods to remember is that the longer the length the more ineffecient the tool for fighting fish, and longer rods can make catch-and-release an excercise in futility. A 14' rod can be a death sentence for salmon the size of the average fall chinook on many of the rivers of the South Coast. If you're thinking two-handers, give Bob Meiser a call for recommendations. He's going to recommend something shorter than 14' and heavier than 9/10, though, and he's right given the need to make the fight as quick as possible with these fish.

There's a huge difference between ocean bright chinook fresh in from the salt--or still in the brackish waters of a bay or estuary--than a lot of what you see being caught on fly fishing shows and the like that has already colored. The guys that tell you an 8 wt. is enough rod are experienced in terms of the latter. A bright fish, even without much current, will leave you with a handful of graphite splinters if you target them with something that small. No kidding. I've had big, bright fish in current wreak havoc on even quality tackle. And, when you get into fish in the 40-50 lb. range--which is not as rare as you might imagine--even the 12 wt. mentioned is not out of line.

My personal favorite rod for fishing fall chinook is a 1090 RPLXi, but just about any good quality 10 wt. will fit the bill. I have a 10100 RPL+ that is nice for fishing from the bank, but it's a little long to handle in the boat when it comes time to land a fish. I have fished with two-handers for salmon a little, maybe a dozen or more days in the last couple years, and have not found one yet that I really like for fall chinook specifically. Just as an example, my T&T 1409, which I like for larger water winter steelhead, chum, and coho and the like, is really not enough rod for fresh chinook, in my opinion. Shorter and heavier, like Meiser recommends, would be better.

Anyway, hope that helps some. The rewards can be pretty great with chinook. The projected runs don't look good this year, but then you never know. Good luck.


03-22-2006, 07:11 PM
Thanks everyone for the advice. I'll see what I can do this fall.