Waders-The waters, here in Alaska, are cold, brush lined and slippery which leaves several considerations when purchasing waders for Alaska fishing. Your main choices will be neoprene, breatheable and denier. Several things come into play when deciding on a pair of waders. There is nothing worse than embarking on a trip of a lifetime only to be uncomfortable while struggling with a giant King salmon or Rainbow trout.
You might want to ask yourself a few questions before deciding. Like what time of year you plan to fish Alaska, what part of Alaska do you plan to fish, will there be a lot of hiking to get to your spot, are the trails groomed or is it backcountry, will you be using a float tube to fish Alaska's stillwaters or are you just going to wade rivers and streams? All of these questions should be answered and lead to other questions you might ask. You may ask Rambling Angler a question, if you like, through our e-mail on our contact us page.
All of these questions are important. Of course money plays a roll when you talk about breatheable verses neoprene or denier, but keep in mind when you search forfishing wadersthat you might find some breatheable waders priced near the price of neoprene but the lower priced breatheable wader may be of lesser quality than neoprene. If your trip includes a lot of hiking you should consider breatheable waders. You might get away with hiking long distances in Southeast Alaska in neoprene but within interior Alaska the summers can get hot and neoprene can really make an otherwise pleasant trip down the river a sweaty dehydrating journey. Denier is durable and would also be a better choice over neoprene when hiking. Gor-tex or Dry-plus are not as durable but the breathing properties make them the ideal wader as it will limit the persperation levels inside the wader and thus makes for a more pleasant hike in. If you can not afford Breatheable you can also hike in and out with the waders and boots stowed in abackpackand slip them on when you reach that perfect spot.
Your next consideration is stocking foot or bootfoot waders. Again if you plan to hike a lot I recommend stocking foot with a good pair ofwading boots. Bootfoot waders tend to be less expensive than stocking foot waders because you do not have to purchase boots. Bootfoot waders will work fine for hiking but you must make sure they fit well as you have a much greater mass of fabric moving around your feet and if the wader of a bootfoot wader is loose fitting and the boots are a little big your feet are going to be blistered by the end of the day. Another consideration is how rough the trails will be. If your trip calls for bush whacking then neoprene might be the least favorite as they tend to get snagged much easier than the other fabrics.
There is a couple situation where Neoprene is a better choice over Breatheable waders. One is cold weather. Neoprene works great as an insulator against the water as well as outside air. If you plan to fish early spring or late fall neoprene will do just fine. Breatheable waders work great too but will require some fleece wader pants to keep out the cold. This will be another expense added to the price of the breatheable wader.
Another situation is if you plan to use a float tubeto fish any of Alaska’s wonderful lakes or estuaries. Again breatheable waders with warm under garments will do the job but there is one more advantage to the neoprene and that is the snug fit it provides. The reason the snug fit is desireable in a float tube is that sometimes the loose fit of the breatheable wader can chafe after hours of flippering your way around the lake and if the fish are biting you may not even notice this uncomfortable situation until you are walking back to the truck.
These are just some things to think about and maybe save you some heartaches I have felt while learning some of these things the hard way. Remember if you come to Alaska to fish, chances are you will be spending a lot of time inside your waders, take some time and answer these questions in your mind and make a sound decision on what you need. Thanks and happy angling.
Quick note: If you decide on stocking foot waders you will need gravel guards. Of course neoprene waders have neoprene stocking foot but even the breatheable waders mostly utilize neoprene stockings and they will not stand up to gravel rubbing inside your boots all day.
TACKLE-Fishing in Alaska offers a wide array of angling opportunities from Arctic Grayling to the Mighty King Salmon and deciding upon which to pursue is the first step in deciding what outfit to pack on your trip to Alaska. Most anglers, who make the journey to Alaska, plan to target more than one species during their visit. It would be mighty difficult to fish Alaska with just one outfit if you plan to chase more than one species. Here are some ideas on what to bring by way of tackle on you trip to Alaska.
King Salmon or Chinook Salmon
Fly Gear-The King Salmon, as you can imagine, calls for a heavy fly rod and reel in the range of 10 to 12 line weight. Some folks get by with a 9 weight but I would say only if you are a veteran of landing big fish on a fly rod, otherwise stick to the larger weights. Keep in mind there are many Kings that will go 40-50-60 pounds plus and the last thing you want to do is find out how small a 9 wt. fly rod can really seem. Match your fly reel to the rod and make sure it is a quality reel with a smooth drag. Some anglers, including myself in the beginning thought as long as it held the line it would do fine. Well two things happens. First you loose skin from your knuckles trying to slow down a big fish with a free spooling reel which is what most cheaper reels are. A free spooling reel is a reel where the handle turns backwards with the drag, not recommended on big fish like the King Salmon or strong fish like the Silver Salmon. Keep this in mind when searching for a good fly reel for your fly rod. As for flies the jury is still out as fly fishing continues to gain popularity more and more flies will be invented. From egg patterns to giant articulated flies they have all successfully landed King Salmon.
Spinning and Casting Tackle- Your spinning and casting tackle needs to be of the hefty variety. Heavy all the way. Heavy action rod spooled with at least 30 pound test line. In most cases I would go even heavier but if you do be sure to use braided line. The diameter of braided line is much smaller than mono, allowing the angler better casts while still having enough strength to wrestle a King Salmon to shore or alongside the boat. If you have never tangled with a King Salmon you are in for the fight of your life so be prepared for anything. Including that 75 pounder that just might attack your lure.
LURES-One proven bait is a diving bait called thekwikfish with strips of herring or sardines strapped on with rubber bands for taste and scent (where legal). Spinners like theVIBRAXas well as spoons such as the famous PIXEE land lots of King Salmon every year and you can’t go wrong with any of these lures. Another popular choice is the spin-n-glow.