The Imitation Salmon Egg is one pattern that every fly fisherman and woman should have in their Alaska flybox. Its a versatile producer for many species of fish. Rainbow trout, arctic char, Dolly Varden, steelhead, arctic grayling, and whitefish are successfully taken on this fly during times when spawning salmon are also present.
Salmon spawning time on a stream ushers in a period of increased feeding activity for trout and other resident species. With the approach of winter only a short time away, loose salmon eggs which have washed out of redds are a valuable source of protein and carbohydrates for those species who need to fatten up quickly.
|This pattern can be found in any tackle store and is manufactured in a variety of colors and shades. Those flies which are hand-tied usually come in more realistic colors and often include a dab of offsetting color to imitate the oil drop in an egg for more realism. The astute flycaster should realize that naturally-spawned salmon eggs are not bright colors. On the contrary they lean toward the more pastel shades of orange or red. So lighter colors will mimick nature more closely.
One should include a few selections in an offwhite or cream color. Eggs which are not immediately fertilized during the spawning process quickly turn a milky white indicating a dead egg. When other color patterns are not proving effective, switching to a "dead egg" color may quickly change your luck. A version of "matching the hatch" I guess.
Salmon spawn in anything from inches of water to ten feet deep. Much depends on the stream's physical properties. This pattern is best used on spawning riffles where you may be able to see where spawning salmon are located. Rainbows and Dolly Varden will hold directly below any spawning activity waiting for their next meal.
When the water is a bit too deep or murky for sight fishing, a strike indicator attached to the leader or flyline will aid in determining a take. If you are fishing where high concentrations of spawning salmon are present, expect to lose a lot of flies on foul-hooked salmon. Often the best presentation requires getting your fly right in the thick of things.
This pattern should be fished "dead drift" on or very near the bottom. Getting the presentation down to the proper depth may pose a problem in deep or fast waters. A swipe of dish soap on your leader will remove any oils and other build up and break the surface tension to allow faster sinking. Fast sink tips may help when fishing the bigger rivers and a tiny split shot might be necessary under some conditions.
Regulations Note: Alaska sport fishing regulations are specific in how near the hook an attached weight can be for some fisheries and streams. For example, the fly-fishing-only area of the Kenai & Russian Rivers on the Kenai Peninsula requires any weight to be at least 18" above the hook. Please check for any restrictions for the area you intend to fish.
P.S. The largest recorded rainbow trout taken in the state in 1993 was taken on this pattern. You can see it in the Alaska Outdoor Journal's Hall of Fame.