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PACK LIST SPECIFICS
Fly-fishing in Southwestern Alaska can place great demands on your tackle and clothing. On any given day, you might find yourself fishing dry flies for 2-4 pound rainbows and char on a small wadeable river with 75-degree temperatures and blue skies. The next day could find you standing waist deep, with your guide at your side, in a large swift river casting sinking lines to 8-pound rainbows. In a matter of a day, the weather might turn to a brisk 40-degrees, with strong wind and rain. Your equipment should be adaptable and of the highest quality to ensure your comfort and enjoyment.
Unless you know the specific fly patterns that you want to use, we highly recommend our popular in-house fly program, which supplies you with the regionally relevant patterns for our streams and conditions. However, depending on the time of year that you join us, you may be fishing large articulated leeches, dry flies, nymphs, fry patterns or eggs. Feel free to bring your own if you have some special patterns you would like to try.
WADERS & BOOTS
Due to the variety of destinations we have and the methods we use to access the rivers we fish (e.g. jet boats, rafts, and hikes) we strongly recommend chest-high breathable waders. Gore-Tex or other similar alternatives are the best options. Simms, Redington, Patagonia, Dan Bailey and others all make excellent breathable waders that will serve you well during your week with us. Be certain that your waders have a good wading belt that can be cinched tight for your protection in the water. If your waders do not come with one they are easy to acquire at any fly shop.
If you are not aware of the fact by now, there is a new law that has gone into effect in Alaska this year, making felt soled wading boots illegal. Because of the suspected danger of bringing in alien species and/or microorganisms that may/or may not have an effect on our fisheries. This will also influence our wallets, as springing for a pair of new non-felt soled wading boots can be costly. We are sure we will have more to say after this season is underway and we have seen firsthand what works best. Explore new choices on the market, as everyone seems to have their own favorite. Mostly, Vibram-soled wading boots have replaced our old felt-soled friend. Remember, if you are tending toward studs, they do not get along well with airplane floats, unless they are retractable and your memory isn’t, best not deal with them. Here are just a few that are on the market at this time: Simms "Headwater," non-felt soled wading boot is a good one for under $150.00, also check out Korkers interchangeable sole. Patagonia has a boot with a small metal bar on the bottom, if you do not trust your ability to stand upright on slippery rocks. As I have said, we will explore all the alternatives on the stream this season and give you the full report. Remember, studded boots are not allowed on float planes, or in our boats.
A 7 or 8 weight graphite rod is your day-in/day-out best option for the rivers around the Katmai region. These rods will allow you to throw big flies and sinking lines, as well as have the power to play big fish in a reasonable and safe manner. Even on some of the smaller rivers we fish you will find that a 7 or 8 weight is essential on windy days. A second rod to consider is a 5 or 6 weight in the event that you chose to do some small stream fishing for grayling or small trout. Particularly because of our hiking destinations, 4 or 5 piece rods are very nice, though not essential. Most rod manufactures offer many options in 4 pieces.
We are also big proponents of 2-handed rods as many of the rivers we fish, particularly through July and again in September, can be fished much more effectively with the big rods. Again, if you chose to bring one, a 7 or 8 weight is a great option. Though many rod manufacturers offer 2-handed (or “spey”) rods these days, Sage & G. Loomis remain at the forefront of the technology.
With so many good reels available on the market today there are just a few things to be certain of before you arrive at Royal Wolf. You will want to make sure that your reel has enough capacity for the lines you wish to use as well as a reasonable amount of backing. We tend to recommend a good “disc drag” reel. However, if you prefer more traditional “click-pawl” types, and are adept at palming your reel, these will also work fine.
A good floating line is a must for your week at Royal Wolf. However, depending on the time of year that you are here, it is very likely that you will also use sink-tip lines for a good portion of your week. 15’ with sink rates between 3-6 inches are the best. For instance a Rio 15’ type III or type VI is an excellent option. In all but the highest of water, 24’ “Teeny” type sinking lines tend to be too heavy to be fished in all of our sinking line destinations. If you have a 24’ sink-tip line that you really want to use, we recommend cutting the tip back to approximately 12-15ft to make it fish more effectively under normal conditions. A good line option to consider for your week is a Rio Versi-Tip. This system includes a floating tip as well as several sinking tips that are quickly interchanged using a loop connections system. The obvious benefit of a Versi-Tip system is that you need only 1 reel and no extra spools to accommodate all your possible line needs for the week.
For your 2-handed rod we strongly recommend Rio Skagit lines for a variety of reasons. Your local fly-shop should be able to help you match a Skagit line to your rod but if not feel free to contact us for assistance.
UNDER WADER CLOTHING
As we all know there is nothing more uncomfortable under our waders than a pair of jeans or pants that chafe and bind. We recommend that you wear mid-weight long underwear bottoms and/or fleece pants under your waders. For warm days, you will want to wear only the long underwear bottoms and the colder days will require fleece pants, or both. On the upper body, we recommend a similar system, a mid-weight long underwear top with a fleece jacket for colder days. Avoid cotton as it retains moisture.
2 sets mid-weight Patagonia Capilene or similar product.
1 set Fleece pants.
2 sets mid-weight Patagonia Capilene or similar product.
A good fleece jacket is also an excellent idea. Simms Windstopper fleece or Patagonia R-series jackets are a great choice.
Just as with your waders, your rain jacket is extremely important and should be made of a good breathable material. Gore-tex or similar alternatives are the best choice by far. They do breathe and keep you dry, even in the worst conditions.
A daypack is extremely useful allowing you to consolidate the basic essentials for your daily trip, i.e., camera, raincoat, bug spray, sun block, etc. Vests, or chest packs are optional unless you are interested in taking care of your own rigging, fly selection, etc. Most of the time, our guides prefer to control the rigging selections, which we provide with our fly program so that they may stay in contact with the changing state of the fishery.
SUNGLASSES (A MUST HAVE)
Since a large portion of our fishing is to sighted fish, you will need a quality pair of POLARIZED SUNGLASSES. The best lens colors for our conditions are yellow and amber or copper. Yellow is best in darker, cloudy conditions as they brighten everything up and amber or copper lenses are best in bright, sunny conditions. Besides assisting you in spotting fish and helping you to ‘read’ the river bottom, they also provide necessary safety while casting.
Forceps or Pliers – for pinching barbs and releasing fish.
Split shot – Sizes B and BB
Spare Tippet Spools – MAXIMA Ultragreen in 6 through 12 pound test.
Collapsible Wading Staff – If you have a difficult time wading.
Gravel Guards – Worn with wading boots to keep gravel out.
Camera – waterproof is best.
Water bottle – we will be supplying you with a complimentary RWL water bottle.
Insect repellent and head net
Gore-Tex or fleece lined fishing gloves. Please bring enough clothing to last your entire stay, as laundry facilities in this remote area are limited. You will need casual, comfortable wear for around the lodge. A pair of slip-on low boots, or shoes would come in handy for walking from your cabin to the main lodge.
THINGS NOT TO BRING
Firearms, landing nets, large tackle boxes, hard-sided luggage – weight is an important factor with floatplanes, try to keep bags to 30 lb. each, cleated wading boots of any kind, or metal spiked bottom wading shoes – as these damage aircraft.