Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing for Coho Salmon

Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge is one of the few places in the world that specializes in Saltwater Fly Fishing for Coho Salmon.  This unique fishery was pioneered in the late 90s and continues to offer exciting opportunities for fly fishermen from all over the world.

What makes it unique?

Our location positions us between the water of Dixon Entrance East and Chatham Sound, creating very sheltered and lake-like conditions, with little to no ground swell.  The North end of Dundas is one of the first islands that the coho pass on their migration to spawn.  They stop at Dundas to feed on the millions of migrating juvenile herring that hide in the expansive kelp beds surrounding the island.  The coho are feeding heavily as they pass through, gaining up to 1 pound/week.  These hungry fish create a washing machine effect as they push the juvenile herring towards the surface into tight bait balls and voraciously devour them.  The water literally churns as these aggressive fish move through.  These are the moments that a dry fly fisherman dreams of – be sure to have your floating line ready.

At Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge, anglers target these fish from the boat – either tied up on the edge of a kelp bed, anchored in the current, or at a slow drift.  The fly is fished similar to swinging a fly in a river – the main difference being that most of the fish hit the fly on the strip up.  The coho are primarily targeted with a full sink line and 8 weight fly rod.  The go-to fly is a sparse chartreuse clouser,  though when the coho are feeding heavily, they are not too fussy.  Many times anglers watch “wolf packs” of over a dozen Coho chasing their fly to the side of the boat where the fish will strike right before their eyes.
When there is extensive surface activity, casting dry lines and dry flies for coho is also a proven producer.  This cutting edge surface action is a testament to the aggressive nature of these feeding fish.  Productive patterns on the surface are white or silver Gart’s Gurglers and any other floating minnow pattern you can dream up.  Bucktailing, trolling a large fly on the surface at high speeds, is also a fun and productive way to target these coho if your casting arm gets tired.  This is an extremely high energy, sight oriented fishery which must be experienced to be truly appreciated.

Recommended Equipment

Fly casting to Coho salmon on the saltwater requires a 7 – 9 weight, 9 – 11 foot, fast action fly rod.  A rod in this range will allow you the flexibility to make fast casts with pinpoint accuracy, and cast upwind when required.

The importance of choosing a reel should not be underestimated.  Remember that saltwater is very corrosive so choose a serviceable, reliable saltwater reel.  A good quality, large arbour, saltwater reel loaded with 150 yards of backing and topped off with a sinking line, is the perfect choice when targeting these hard fighting, erratic fish.  A good reel can make a critical difference in the overall quality of your fly fishing experience.

Full sink fly lines, such as Scientific Anglers Type 5 or 6 Uniform Sink, work extremely well, however shooting head lines backed by full sink running lines are also a good choice when making deep presentations (40-50 feet).

Leader choice is also important.  A stiffer, abrasion-resitant saltwater type leader is recommended.  Bonefish leaders work perfectly and are readily available at your local fly shop.  Fluorocarbon is always a viable option as well.  An appropriate leader for coho ranges from 12 – 15 pounds at a length of  7 – 9 feet, depending on your particular preference and situation.

A variety of baitfish patterns such as clouser minnows, needlefish or herring patterns in a multitude of colours will all be effective at attracting Coho salmon in the ocean.   The chartreuse clouser is a proven producer, typically a sparse pattern.

The Lodge has a fully stocked fly tying bench where guests are invited to create patterns of their own. Also provided, for those anglers without fly gear, are a few fly fishing outfits for complimentary use while at the Lodge.