Fly Fishing for Sockeye Salmon (Red Salmon.) Print
Brian O'Keefe Photo


Meet the Fish: Sockeye Salmon
The second most abundant salmon in Alaska, the sockeye is also referred to as the "red salmon" due to its distinctive fire truck-red spawning coloration. Sockeyes are found in lake-fed river systems from May to September, with the best fishing to be had in July near the mouths and lake inlets of their spawning streams. Most abundant in the Bristol Bay region, the sockeye is also available in Kodiak, the Kenai peninsula, and to a lesser extent Southeast Alaska. Tipping the scales at 4-8 lbs with the occasional brute going 12lbs or better, the sockeye is an exceptional fighting fish, known for its blistering runs and tremendous leaps.  Click here to view photos of sockeye in our photo gallery.

Gear and Flies
The word that best describes the fight of the sockeye would be "explosive". Capable of ripping off high-speed runs liberally sprinkled with meteoric leaps, the sockeye demand the use of a 7 or 8wt rod to handle them. Reels with a large arbor and a good drag are a must-have to be able to keep up with the sockeye both coming and going. Effectively fishing for sockeye means putting the fly right on their nose. Depending upon the method of presentation, fly line choices include sinking tip fly lines or a weight forward floating line with a long leader and plenty of split shot. Perhaps the most "lock-jawed" of all the salmon, these plankton feeders often respond well to small, sparsely dressed flies such as Sockeye Lanterns, Sockeye Brassies and Red Hots.

Winston BIIm-x 9' 8wt
Sage One 9' 8wt
Sage Flight 9' 8wt
Winston B3x 8 wt

Abel 7/8 QC
Nautilus NV 8/9
Galvan Torque T-8
Lamson Velocity 3
Sage 4280

Scientific Anglers Wet Tip V
Rio VersiTip
Rio Indicator Floating Line
Airflo Ridge Delta Taper Clear

Sockeye Salmon Selection
Copper Swan
Sockeye Fly
Sockeye Lightning Red
Red Hot