I am heading to AK next summer to fish for river Kings. I have a couple of Thomas and Thomas 10 wts and would like to know a good leader formula for casting big weighted articulated bunny leeches (Big Uglies).
BigDog: When I lived in AK and fished for salmon, my standard setup was 30lb backing and my leader consisted of approx. 3 ft of 25 lb mono on a heavy sinktip.
Hopefully, Ard or one of the other AK members will see your post and chime in.
In the link below I describe an incident that has helped evolve my king fishing set up.
Having lost a big fish and most of my tackle in the process. So I might go a bit heavier than some but I have caught many kings since and have not had a line or knot failure since(that does not mean I havent lost fish )
Using three separate arbor knots I connect roughly 200 yards of 50lb braid in a hi-vis color. Then using 3 separate but close nail knots to a full sink 10wt flyline. Then a footlong or so of 30lb mono butt section that is nail knoted to the fly line. That has a loop on the end, where the looped end of the leader which is generally also 30lb mono.
Leader is about 3 feet long.
I think your choice of fly is sound, pink and chartreuse have been the most productive in my experience. Flash in moderate amounts helps and use plenty of lead. Of course this is only my opinion and others will chime in.
when i was younger and fished kings every spring on the kenai peninsula streams, (ninilchick,deep creek and the anchor), my leader of choice was 10 feet of maxima ultragreen. thats all. never let me down ever,easy to tie knots with and, hands down, my all time favorite line.
I use 36 lb saltwater micron for the back line and do the 16" lb butt nail knotted to the line. I make this butt with with Amnesia in chartreuse with a perfection loop on it. To the loop I add anywhere between 4 - 6 foot of 25 lb level leader. This is for floating lines. You use that chartreuse amnesia as a sort of depth gage when you are drifting the fly and it will also act as an indicator if the leader stops moving.
I have made a real effort to get away from weights so I am using 15' Hi density sink tips now. The weight thing just doesn't register for me with a fly rod. If I need to fish a load of weight I will feel right with a spinning rod and reel and a lot of lead. You can still use a big bunny fur lure this way. With the sink tip I have never had to go past 3 BB size shot to get down and I can still roll a loop 60' across the river with this rig. Leader length is all about where I am at but never under 4' or much over 6'. I use this set up on a 13' 8 weight rod. I just needed to find a way to get away from all that "chuck & duck" business and this works. That 60' cast I mention happens without a backcast and this is real handy where I fish most.
Thanks for all the information, guys!
Actually, what I have decided on doesn't seem much different from these recommendations.
I am using 150 yards of 30# backing, connected to the reel with an arbor knot. It is connected to the line with a nail knot. At the other end, I have attached a 6" piece of 25# Maxima Chameleon to the line with a nail knot. The other end has a perfection loop which I can attach to another perfection loop on a 4 foot piece of 20# Chameleon.
Is the 20# Chameleon too light? My idea is to make sure the leader fails rather than one of the knots or the backing. Maybe I should shorten the leader to 3 feet?? Also, is 150 yards of backing enough? I can't imagine keeping a fish on for long if he is more than 150 yards downstream from me!
Also, a question on hook size. The lodge where I am staying recommends size 4 salmon hooks. Are these too small? What is the logic on hook size and penetration?
Hooks? I get a lot of fish on #2 single salmon but then that's me.
The permanent butt: I went with the 30 lb Amnesia so that I could use 25 lb leader and the sight thing helps too. My thinking is an order of strengths of a sort. The first link: Knot to fly; Second link leader to butt; Third link butt to line; #4 is line to backing. All are a steepening of the torsion strength and hopefully will avoid either breaking a rod or loosing a rig like Nerka describes in his story 'The One That Got Away'. I have been real close to that scenario myself.
20 lb is light because small kings weigh 18 - 20 pounds. Big ones can weigh 55 - 85 pounds. The lighter the leader the more time it takes to get the fish to shore. The more time it takes to get the fish to shore the lesser your chances of accomplishing that task. Control is the key and operative word. These will not be like any trout you ever hooked. If you stand there whooping and exclaiming while an AK. king peels line off your reel until you see the backing go through the tip top you are way behind the curve.
Gaining as much control as possible as quickly as possible is a very useful strategy for this. in the short article I mentioned I tried to give a reader the idea of what I mean by hydro physics being important. Once you have all the wrong things happening most of the big salmon I ever hooked will get away.
I have caught a number of Steelies to 15# and Chinook to 25# in Michigan rivers, but when you talk about 50# Kings you are out of my league.
The trip is exciting and frightening at the same time, if you know what I mean! On the other hand, there is a first time for everything and I expect to screw up on a few fish.