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7-Weights for Alaskan Trout

Posted on April 15 2016

Kyle Shea fly fishing for rainbow trout at Alaska West.
Alaska, rainbow trout, 7-weight. Photo: Ben West.

Ask any group anglers, “what’s your favorite trout rod,” and odds are you’ll hear of a wealth of different makes and models, somewhere in the 3 – 6 weight range. That’s because rods in the 3 – 6 weight range cover a whole bunch of trouty applications from presenting tiny flies on spooky spring creeks to banging the banks with big gnarly streamers.

However, many of our guests are surprised to learn that some of our guides actually prefer a 7-weight when fishing for trout in Western Alaska. Will your trusty 5 or 6 weight get the job done? Sure it will! But we think a 7-weight is the most versatile size rod for trout in our neck of the woods, and here are a few reasons why.

5 Reasons to Fish a 7-Weight for Alaskan Trout

  1. They’re Big Fish. Unlike trout in other areas of the world, Alaskan trout receive a steady diet of easy protein (salmon eggs, salmon flesh, baitfish, mice, etc.) throughout a short growing season. That means they get big fast. Each season we see trout from 12 inches to over 30 inches at our Alaskan lodges, and while a 5-weight will handle fish on the lower end of the spectrum, when Mr. Big hops on, you’ll appreciate the backbone of a 7-weight.
  2. We Fish Big Flies. From gaudy flesh flies, to articulated streamers, to wind resistant mouse patterns, our trout like big flies. A 7-weight makes easy work of turning over big bushy fly patterns, especially in windy conditions.
  3. We Fish Heavy Rigs. Along with big flies, when fishing subsurface (flesh, beads, etc.) we tend to use plenty of split shot to ensure our flies are riding at the right depth. Couple that with an indicator and you have a clunky rig that’s far easier to turn over with a 7-weight rod.
  4. Presentation Is Not Overly Important. There’s no doubt about it, the lighter the line, the more delicate the presentation. However, on our rivers, a soft presentation is not that important. In fact, sometimes we actually prefer a loud presentation (think slapping down a mouse pattern to imitate a rouge rodent that just fell into the drink). In the right hands, a 7-weight is able to present a fly plenty soft enough for our trout while still offering a number of advantages not available to a more nimble rod.
  5. More Than Just Trout Eat ‘Trout’ Flies. While targeting trout, it’s not uncommon on our rivers to hook a rouge salmon on the very same fly you caught a trout on only moments before. In fact, we’ve seen plenty of big chrome salmon taken on sculpins, flesh flies, beads, and even mouse flies! Unlike a 5 or 6 weight rod, a 7-weight (although maybe slightly under-gunned) is plenty stout enough to deal with the occasional non-target species.

Interested in trout fishing in Alaska? Click here to talk with an expert!

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