So you want to fish for Kings? On a fly rod? While some may associate king fishing with heavy leaders, ounces of lead, and big gobs of roe for bait. I picture long two handed spey rods, sink tips, and gaudy oversized flies. Their willingness to take flies may surprise some, but the King Salmon is one of the ultimate prizes when it comes to the fly game.

The Fish

The King Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytschais the largest of the pacific salmon species. Ranging from Japan to Alaska and all the way to California they represent a diverse range of life histories. Some like the Kenai River fish may spend up to 7 years in the ocean before returning to spawn. The fish in the Nushagak generally spend 2 to 3 years at sea before coming back to their native spawning grounds. While the current line caught record weighs in at an incredible 97 lbs. Our fish average 15-25 lbs with some fish coming in over the vaunted 50 lb mark.

Your typical king.

The River

The Nushagak River remains one of the last strongholds of wild King Salmon runs in the world. At almost 300 miles long the “Nush” as those familiar with its fabled waters call it, holds an incredible amount of spawning habitat for all 5 species of salmon. The annual return of Kings are what set this river apart, averaging close to 100,000 fish a year. While that number may sound too good too be true, I can assure you it equates to some of the best fly fishing for kings anywhere in the world. With seemingly endless gravel bars and broad runs, the Nush lends itself perfectly to swinging flies. At AKSA we jet from run to run in large 20 foot fishing sleds allowing us to fish the best runs on the river regardless of the conditions.

A broad Nushagak swing run.

The Gear

In order to bring a 20+ lb. king to hand you need to have the gear to do it. We recommend 9-10 weight spey rods with matching large arbor reels. Longer skagit style shooting heads will offer you the most efficient way to cover the large runs. While kings prefer to remain in the deepest holes on the river, the Nushagak is generally a shallow river, allowing us to reach the fish with lighter tips than you would normally use. This ensures a broad range of casting abilities and styles get to enjoy our fishery. As far as the flies for kings go, the industry standards are all common place here. Large double stage intruders, bunny leeches, and more traditional maribou patterns all have their place.

A classic chartreuse/blue color combo.

The abundant salmon runs and the unique nature of the Nushagak combine to make our fishery one of the best places in the world to target kings on the fly. Here at Alaska King Salmon Adventures we take special pride in putting our clients on these powerful fish. If you’d like to experience them for yourself email us at or call at 253-347-4989.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.