Recommended Fishing Gear for the Upper Kenai River

What Fishing Gear Should I Bring?

This blog is to help you with the overwhelming task of “what fishing gear do I need to bring with me? ”

If you are booking a guided fishing trip with Alaska Rivers Company we will provide you with everything you need but you are welcome to bring your own equipment if you would like.

Remember when on your own it is your responsibility to know the current sport fishing regulations for the section of river you will be fishing.

Salmon Fishing

Sockeye (Red) Salmon is the most prolific salmon run we have on the Kenai River. You must remember that sockeye salmon are an extremely hard fighting fish and are notorious for destroying fishing gear.  If you are going to use conventional rod and reel combos an open face spinning reel or a bait-caster will work fine.  A rod length from 6.5 ft to 9 ft with a line rating in the range of 17-30 lbs. with fast to medium fast action.  You should use 20-35 lb test line.

If you are going to use a fly rod you will want a 8-10 weight rod that is 8.5-10 ft in length.  This rod should be paired with a large arbor reel that has a very good adjustable drag system with 8-9 wt. floating fly line .  Sink tip lines will also work if you are familiar with them.

Sockeye salmon fishing is a unique bank fishery.  Red Salmon are running upriver on their way to their spawning grounds,  The best place to catch them is along a river bank that has deep swift water in the middle of the river  forcing them to run close to the shallower shoreline.  The most common setup is a 1/2 oz to 1 oz piece of lead that is trailed by a strong leader that is 18-48 inches in length that has a single hook unweighted fly.  See regulations for the size restrictions of the hook.

Silver (Coho) Salmon arrive on the Upper Kenai in late August and run through October.  The strength of the runs vary from year to year.  You can use the same rod sizes that are used for Sockeye salmon.  Silvers can be very aggressive or sometimes annoyingly closed mouthed.  They will bite spinners and spoons for conventional gear, or flashy colorful fly patterns for fly fishing.

Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden ( Arctic Char) are our year round resident fish. . Fishing for trout and char is one of our favorite fishing past-times. No stocking has been done on the river and ever fish is native and to preserve our healthy population we practice catch and release fishing for our resident fish. For conventional gear an open faced spinning reel or bait caster with 10-15 lb test line is best.  Spinners and spoons work okay on the Kenai, along with bouncing fly patterns or beads (salmon egg imitations) down the river which seems to be more productive.

For fly fishing a 5-7wt. rod paired with a reel that has a good drag is preferred (our trout can get very large) with floating fly line that is designed for roll casting.  There are a lot of different ways to fly fish nowadays such as Spey casting, Center-pinning etc. Fly patterns change with the season but standard nyphms such as copper johns, prince nymphs etc. are good to have.   Salmon flesh patterns in varying states of decay, sculpins etc.  When the salmon start to spawn trout fishing goes crazy.  You would want varying size and color plastic beads that imitate salmon eggs.