Machete’s Guide Gear Talk – SAFARI Fly Rods
Welcome back to another round of gear talk. Now that we’ve shifted focus from our first remote wilderness camp to our second location let’s talk about some fly rod considerations for the latter. (Click here for OUTPOST fly rod recommendations.)
Our first camp, OUTPOST, has a wide diversity of fish species to pursue on the fly. For this reason the rod weights for the prospective angler to consider range from a 4 – 5 wt to a 9 – 10 wt. While our second camp, SAFARI, offers a generous array of water to fish – river, tidal flat, beach and bay – the fly rod selection is a much more simple affair.
What’s on the menu
Basically SAFARI camp breaks down into two fly fishing arenas: Dolly Varden up river, or salmon in the lower stretches of the drainage, in the tidal flat, or in a way that blows even the most seasoned Alaskan fly fishermen away, chasing them down a sandy beach and casting directly into a calm surf break.
Now, without complicating things too much it’s worth noting that there are many exceptions to the rule. There are always salmon to be caught on the long hikes we take up river, and there can be great Dolly fishing lower down, but by and large the two worlds are distinct and separate from one another. This is especially poignant when making a play call for the day’s fishing before leaving camp.
It’s worth noting SAFARI camp offers some excellent saltwater fishing opportunities in the bay, but most of that is done using provided conventional tackle.
If you are headed up river for the day with your guide you will want lighter tackle for the trout-sized dollies that frequent the enumerable pools and riffles that course down the cobbled banks of our small coastal drainage. The preferred rod weight is a 6 wt. This is an excellent choice especially when considering that you will in all likelihood be targeting larger salmon at some point during your upriver excursion. That extra backbone will pay big dividends if you suddenly find yourself roped into a hard charging silver salmon! The further your guide marches you up the weaving banks of the creek, the thinner the numbers of salmon. Once you’ve reached the place we call Lion’s Head, you will have entered what feels like another world.
Here the fog lorn coast seems like it’s a hundred miles distant. Now you are surrounded by high ridges and looming mountains topped with snow. The creek braids more and more frequently, becoming more compact the further you go. This is small water fishing, shorter casts covering smaller features of the river. A perfect venue for a trout rod. Although the Dolly Varden population is numerous, typically the largest fish are going to top out at 20 inches (some seasons 22 to 24+ inches). Most of them will be anywhere from 14 – 18 inches in length, making them great sport on a 5 – 6 wt stick.
……to be continued