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The 3 Most Common Flaws Of Spey Anglers In Alaska

on Wednesday, 04 March 2015.

If you are wanting to catch more fish with your spey rod, here is what you need to avoid.

Steelhead Fight

Sweeping the nation faster than "Beiber Fever," spey fishing has taken over the fly fishing community. Every season there seems to be more and more long rods lining the river banks, and with good reason. Simply put, spey fishing is fun. It's fun to cast, fun to learn, offers up some exciting strikes, and is just another effective tool to have out on the water. Effective when used properly, anyways.

The complexities in both casting styles and gear selection that spey anglers need to sort through is mind boggling. Sink tips, versi-tips, scandi lines, skagit lines, long belly, short belly, running lines, and shooting heads are just a few of the choices that clog the mind of the angler, distracting them from fishing effectively. Here are the top three faults that many spey anglers are challenged with.

1. Continue To Fish Only One Type Of Spey Line
Undoubtedly, Skagit lines are extremely versatile. They are a great tool for throwing heavy flies and sink tips effectively, and allow for decent casting even with imperfect technique.

While there are many situations where Skagit lines shine, do not get caught in the mental rut of thinking that it is the best line for all situations. Often in soft or shallow water a sink tip or heavy fly is not necessary. Can you use a Skagit line in these situations? Yes. Is it ideal? Not necessarily. Scandi lines generally suit these water conditions better. The presentation is softer, you can make long distance mends easier, and controlling the swing is simpler.

Fly lines should be seen in the same light as your tool bench. There are tools specifically made to be effective in certain situations. You wouldn't use a hammer to put in a screw, would you? Diversify your line selections, and find yourself putting more tails to hand.

2. Never Adjust Your Cast
Repeating the same cast over and over, without adjustment, is the deadliest of the spey casting sins. Not adjusting your drift is a common flaw amongst beginners and experienced anglers alike. The mental concentration required to make the cast can be overwhelming and distracting, taking focus away from the drift itself. Fishing through a run using only one type of cast is rarely an effective option.

Take a few seconds before you cast and analyze your last drift. Did you feel confident that it was in the zone? What can you change to get it there? Do this after each step downriver, or be doomed to repeat the past. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Don't be an insane angler, be an adaptable one.

3. Always Use A Spey Rod
At one point in time, all anglers are faced with a choice; fish a method that is more effective, or fish the way that you like the most. Sometimes, the desire to fish with a spey rod is overshadowed by the desire to actually catch a fish. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that all river conditions are not created equally. Spey rods are not always the most effective way to catch more fish. If it is success in numbers you are searching for, remember that there is often more than one way to skin a cat.


Lee Kuepper is professional guide now calling the Kenai River home. He is a co-owner of Alaska's Angling Addiction, chasing the Kenai's fabled rainbow trout on a regular basis. He is also a member of Loop USA's prostaff and a Certified Fly Casting Instructor through the FFF.


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Fly Fishing For Silver Salmon Without A Rod

on Monday, 02 March 2015. Posted in Video

Sometimes increasing the difficulty means leaving some critical gear at home.

We are very fortunate to have such spectacular fishing opportunities here in the 49th state. Silver salmon are some of the most acrobatic and hard fighting species swimming in our rivers. Successfully hooking and landing an Alaskan silver salmon without the use of a rod has always been on Lee Kuepper's bucket list. Watch how it turned out.

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Vintage Alaska Fishing Video For Your Friday

on Friday, 27 February 2015. Posted in Video

This classic Tikchik Narrows video is filled with great Alaska fishing footage and advice

We found some vintage Tikchik Narrows Lodge fishing footage floating around the internet. It's always great to see that despite all the changes over time, our Alaska fisheries are still going strong.

Video courtesy of Tikchik Narrows Lodge

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5 Common Traits Of Productive Flies

on Wednesday, 25 February 2015. Posted in Article

Be picky when deciding on which flies get to take a swim. Here's what you want to look for.


Whether you are tying your flies, or buying them, there are 5 traits to keep in the forefront of your mind when making decisions on which flies are worthy of getting wet. Patterns that take advantage of each one of these 5 traits are both effective and easy to cast. Here are the top 5 traits that the flies in your box should always have.

It is important to use colors the fish are interested in. Resident species such as trout and dolly varden generally prefer more natural, earth tone colors. While salmon, on the other hand, are normally willing to chase around bright, vibrant patterns in pinks, purples, and chartruse.

During dirty or high water conditions, you can do especially well using multi-colored, high contrast flies. Black/White, Green/Yellow, and Purple/Pink can all produce during these adverse conditions.

Hook Orientation
The direction that your hook bend is facing should depend on where you are fishing in the water column. A fly fished near the bottom should always have the hook point facing up, as a downward facing hook will snag up and require sharpening more often. You will find this in numerous sculpin patterns, so beware.

Materials and Movement
Choose a material that moves the way you want it to while being fished. In slow to moderate currents, natural materials like rabbit, maribou, and arctic fox have a silky, smooth flow. Other materials such as deer hair, calf tail, and schlappen hackle have stiffer fibers that hold their shape well, even against heavy current.

Many flies recently have trended towards being very large and bulky. While they may look impressive, they are a burden to cast. Natural materials like rabbit fur provide great movement, but they also absorb a lot of water. This usually makes them heavy and cumbersome to cast. Synthetic materials, like craft fur, not only give a fly good underwater movement, but also make them easy to cast.

Stability relates to how the fly tracks when underwater. Flies that are unstable tend to roll or flip over when pushed on by the current. Lead eyes are often used in many trout and salmon patterns. If the lead eyes are on the wrong side, the fly will roll to the wrong position. Make sure that your fly tracks the way it is supposed to. It will result in more fish.

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Mega-sized Monday: Rainbow Trout Edition

on Monday, 23 February 2015. Posted in Photo

A monster emerges from Alaska's Naknek River.

Naknek trout

There is no doubt that the Naknek is one of the greatest trophy trout rivers on earth. Here's your proof.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Sportsman's Bear Trail Lodge.

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Taking Kids Fishing

on Wednesday, 18 February 2015. Posted in Article, Video

The 49th state is the perfect place to instill a lifetime of outdoor passions.

A while back I was introduced to a video called "My First Fish." While not specifically filmed in Alaska, this video perfectly captures the excitement of introducing a child to fly fishing. Of all my years guiding anglers in Alaska, there are a select number of memories that I can relive by just closing my eyes. A few of them are about very large trout and steelhead, a few are of the epic battles that ensued, but many of them are simply memories of days spent fishing with kids. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, uncles and nephews, and all the combinations in between are among the most vivid fishing memories etched into my brain. 

Alaska is a wild and beautiful place filled with mountains, glaciers, salmon, and bears. This translates into being the perfect location for exposing your kids to the excitement of being outdoors. It will instill a lifetime passion in fishing and create personal bonds that will last forever. Do your kids a favor. Bring them up to one of the last "wild" places we have left and take them fishing. You will never regret it.

Kid Fishing Salmon 2

Lee Kuepper is professional guide now calling the Kenai River home. He is a co-owner of Alaska's Angling Addiction, chasing the Kenai's monster kings and fabled trout on a regular basis. He is also a member of Loop USA's prostaff and a Certified Fly Casting Instructor through the FFF.

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Making Wakes - Catching Silver Salmon On Surface Flies

on Monday, 16 February 2015. Posted in Article, Video

Silver Salmon can be aggressive topwater feeders if you can keep their attention.

pink polly banner

By Lee Kuepper

Found throughout nearly the entire state of Alaska, Silver Salmon (also called Coho Salmon) are hard fighting, eager biting, and acrobatic - making them a very popular sport fish among fly anglers. Not to mention, Silvers in some parts of Alaska push up to around the 20lb mark! And, Coho are generally "fly-friendly". Now, I am not saying that they are always easy and eager biters, but quite often chasing silvers with a fly is just as productive as fishing them with conventional gear. My final pitch for Silver Salmon is that you can coax them to take a top-water fly, and any species that can be caught on the surface will always get the nod from me.


cohowaterFrom the coastal rainforests of Southeast Alaska, to the waters of Western Alaska, and everywhere in between, the demeanor of the Coho (Silver) Salmon are always the same. They will always choose the path of least resistance, and if they can lazily mill around in "froggy" water, they will. With that in mind, you would be well advised to leave the heavy currents and fast riffles to those not in-the-know.

Now, there is an exception to this general rule in the tide-water areas. When fish are fresh from the ocean they will often enter in massive, sprawling waves that coincide with the incoming tide. As soon as they hit non-tidal water though, they take on the lazy-boy mentality and begin looking for couch water. Weedy sloughs, inside river bends, behind islands, or any other breaks in the main current will usually provide some spectacular Silver Salmon fishing.

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Ryan Peterson's New Movie "XBoundary" Flows Strong!

on Thursday, 12 February 2015. Posted in Video

Filmmaker Ryan Peterson's new video "XBoundary" highlights the the open pit mining boom in B.C, and follows the impacts and concerns for Alaska. Filmed for Salmon Beyond Borders (

From The Filmmaker - An open-pit mining boom is underway in northern British Columbia, Canada. The massive size and location of the mines--at the headwaters of major salmon rivers that flow across the border into Alaska--has Alaskans concerned over pollution risks posed to their multi-billion dollar fishing and tourism industries. These concerns were heightened with the Aug 4, 2014 catastrophic tailings dam failure at nearby Mt. Polley Mine in BC's Fraser River watershed.

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I Am A Flyfisher - The Story of Alaska's Pudge Kleinkauf

on Wednesday, 11 February 2015. Posted in Video

After surving cancer, Pudge Kleinkauf decided to spend her life doing what she loves: fly fishing.

By Lee Kuepper

Part of the Indie Alaska series, "I Am A Fly Fisher" follows the story of one of the most well known and respected female anglers in Alaska, Pudge Kleinkauf. I have met Pudge up here a few times, and can tell you that she is quite an amazing woman. More so, I have run into many of the women she has taught and touched along the way, furthering the respect I have for her passions and pursuits in the fly fishing world. 

Find out more about how to go fishing with Pudge.

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Alaska's Mountain Kingdom - Ski Video

on Tuesday, 10 February 2015. Posted in Featured Video, Video

Get a glimpse of the skiing and winter experience with Ultima Thule Lodge

Truly an incredible project working with Ultima Thule Lodge, Chris Davenport, and the Claus Family. This isn't heli-skiing. This is genuine winter adventure in one of the most awe-inspiring places on planet Earth.

Book your trip today!


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