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King Flies – The Mikey Prawn

Posted on September 19 2009

Looks shrimpy, no?
Photo: John Ford

Brian Niska will be one of our spey instructors at Alaska West in 2010, for the third year running. Today Brian tells us a bit about one of his favorite king flies, the Mikey Prawn.

One of Brian’s spey weeks is sold out, but there’s still space in his combination king spey / trout spey week in mid-July. Drop us a line if you’d like to know more.

Anyhow, today we present Brian Niska and Mike Orlowski on the Mikey Prawn!

The Mikey Prawn

This year in week 4 of the Alaska West Spey Instruction sessions we had a super fun international group of anglers. King Salmon fishing was fairly consistent throughout the week but really seemed to pick up when the skies were overcast.

There is a saying about the weather in southwestern Alaska and indeed it sure does change fast. We had many misty mornings damp with marine fog that turned into bluebird afternoons giving us all racoon faces. While some of our group stayed focused on the Kings throughout the entire day, many anglers chose to spend afternoons taking advantage of the awesome trout fishing that was to be had in the Kanektok.

In addition to the shiny Kings and pretty leopard Rainbows, we caught dime bright Chums, Sockeyes, Pinks, Dolly Varden Char and Grayling. In salmon and steelhead circles the question of fly colour is always a popular topic. I have found this to be especially so amongst those of us that love to target king salmon in the special places where they are fresh from the sea. While at times the aggressive nature of these fish has them chomping every pattern in your box there are other times when certain colours seem to offer an edge.

Brian picked the right color this time.
Photo: Cameron Miller

While most anglers will agree that every colour will work, certainly some colours are more popular than others under certain conditions. As examples, I have noticed that the blue, black and purple combo seems especially effective under low light conditions. Seasoned anglers agree that chartreuse and bright green possess near magical qualities when fished near the salt.

Then there’s the very popular old saying of a bright fly for a bright day. This year in Alaska I had some good success fishing one of my favourite steelhead fly patterns from the Whistler area. The Mikey Prawn is a big orange beast and is a fixture on our wild steelhead rivers in the Whistler area. The pattern was developed by Mike Orlowski, shop hand at Whistler Flyfishing. The bright orange Mikey Prawn is was by far my most productive fly during the sunburn afternoons we had on the Kanektok this year.

Yes, it does produce fish.
Photo: Brian Niska

Here is Mike’s description of the fly as well as its dressing:

Everyone has their favorite steelhead shrimp/prawn patterns, and this is my favorite. Originally tied as a larger version of the General Practioner for Squamish steelhead, some major tweaking created this version that looks nothing like the GP but has the action and looks steelhead love. It is tied on a Waddington shank with a small octopus style hook rigged in a loop of slickshooter as to change up hooks when they get dull.

A small amount of dubbed Polar Bear hair at the back of the fly keeps the tail fibers flared out and in constant motion in the water, similar to an Intruder-style fly, and some lead tied onto the bottom of the shank keeps it right side up and gives it more then enough weight to get it to where you need it. The eyes are made melting 30lb mono into a ball and add a touch of realism to the fly.

Shank – Partridge double waddington shank, 25-55mm
Hook – Gamakatsu Octopus hook, 6-1/0
Tail – Orange amherst, orange rhea or ostrich, amherst tail or 2 dryfly grade Grizzly hackles, Krystal flash
Body – Orange seal fur or substitute
Hackle – Orange Mallard flank
Rib – Copper wire
Wing – Fake burnt orange spey hackle
Beard – Orange rhea or ostrich
Eyes – Burnt 30lb monofilament
Thread – Shrimp pink 6/0
Hook Loop – 35/50lb Slickshooter doubled over the shank
Weight – one strip Lead wire tied onto the bottom of the shank

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