BlogNovember 2018

Coho Fly Fishing Techniques Explained

Coho Fly Fishing Techniques Explained

By Debbie Hanson

Nov 19, 2018

Is a coho fly fishing trip on your bucket list? Get coho fly fishing tips, learn about effective techniques, fly patterns to use, equipment for success

Photo credit Ashley Nichole Lewis

Is a coho fly fishing trip on your bucket list? Often referred to as the "fall prince" or silver salmon, the coho is a favorite among fly anglers due to its aggressive nature and fighting ability. If you hope to share a post-fishing tale of silver victory; however, you'll need to learn the techniques that earn the takes.

The Upper Kenai River in Alaska, Kamishak River in Alaska, and Hoh River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington are a few outstanding places to pursue coho salmon on fly. Check local fishing reports to get current information on run timing for each area.

Before picking up a few coho fly fishing tips and techniques, let's run through the gear. In most cases, a 9-foot, 8-weight fly rod with multi-tip line system will have you covered. You should also have a supply of 9-foot leaders in the 10 to 20 pound range, and make sure your reel has a backing capacity of 150 to 200 yards.

Stripping Streamer Patterns

Stripping streamers is one of the most popular fly fishing techniques used for coho. Streamers are baitfish patterns that are retrieved at a quick pace using a stop-and-go stripping action. If the fish don't seem to be taking an interest, change up the speed and length of your strips. The goal is to mimic the action of a distressed baitfish.

Dead-Drifting Nymphs

When fishing over uneven riverbeds or holding static, you can use a dead-drift technique with floating fly line and a weighted fly that imitates a local insect nymph or salmon eggs. Cast the nymph slightly up-current and allow it to drift downstream, generally close to the bottom. This technique can also involve the occasional use of strike indicators (small, brightly-colored floats).

Popping Topwater Flies

When coho stage in tidal rivers and creeks, you may want to try topwater flies made out of foam or deer hair. Two surface flies often used in coho fly fishing circles are the Popper Wog and the Pollywog (try pink or purple colors). Use short, quick strips that cause the fly to gurgle or pop on the surface. Don't be surprised when a coho launches clear out of the water to pounce on your offering.

Using coho fly fishing tips and techniques like these, you'll be better prepared to catch a fall prince in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.