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Best Flies for Chum Salmon

Chum salmon are arguably the hardest fighting species of pacific salmon. While chum are not sought after by anglers trying to fill a freezer, they certainly are pursued with fervor by catch and release sport anglers. Chrome chums are well known for their long runs into the backing and are equally esteemed for their bull-dog fighting maneuvers later into their run. 

The most popular tactic for catching chum salmon is using single hand fly rods with weighted flies that jig when stripped through the water. Another method that is gaining popularity is spey fishing and swinging flies for chums. Starlite leches, dolly llamas, and egg sucking leeches are some of the most commonly used patterns. However, we’ve decided to make a more extensive list of the best flies for chum salmon fishing for anglers stripping or swinging flies

Best Flies for Chum Salmon

Selecting the Best Flies for Chum Salmon

When pacific salmon enter freshwater their body begins a massive change with all cellular energy focused on developing their spawning characteristics. During this shift the salmon’s digestive system shuts down and literally begins to rot. In other words, they are not biting flies looking to feed – they eat flies out of curiosity or pure aggression. The best chum salmon flies trigger these ‘reactionary’ responses which is why flies that are flashy, colorful, and jig work great for chums.

Fly Variables

Fly flash: Most of the time, you can’t have a fly that is too flashy. Chums in particular have aggressive reactions to flash so dazzle them! 

Fly color: In Alaska, chums will eat flies of any color. Fishing conditions such as water color, sunlight, and phase of the chum run are all factors to be taken under consideration for finding the best color fly on any given day! However, some colors such as pink are usually much more effective than others, so it  can be difficult to start the day with any other colored fly.

  • Warm colors like pink or orange are usually the first go-to colors for chums. “Any fly will work as long as it’s pink” is a chum anglers motto!
  • Chartreuse flies are great in the early part of the run or for murky water or dark days. The chartreuse has a very reflective UV quality and is highly visible.
  • Black or purple are great for clear water and bright days (as is sizing down your fly in these conditions if the chums get picky). 

Fly weight: Chums love flies that jig when stripped, and in Alaska we find XL dumbell eyes do this best! Remember, the pause between strips is just as important to give the fly a good jigging motion. 

When swinging flies, we like lightly weighted or unweighted flies. This allows us to let our sink tips control depth instead. Oftentimes, chums are on the inside seams of rivers, unweighted flies swing into shallow water without getting hung-up on the bottom.

Top 5 Chum Salmon Flies

Whether you are stripping flies using a fly rod or swinging flies with a spey rod the fly selection is pretty much the same – the and all flies work for both methods. However, flies with big dumbbell eyes are not preferred for anglers trying to swing in the classic sense.

Starlite Leech

The go-to of chum anglers, the starlite leech means business. When the chums congregate in sloughs and eddies try pink, chartreuse, purple or black! Tied commercially by Solitude Fly Co this fly hits the checklist of color options, having flash, weight, and for the most part is fairly durable. Not only is it great for chums, but we think it is one of the best flies for coho too!

FlyTramp‘s favorite colors: pink, chartreuse/white, purple, black

Stinger Clouser

Like all good Alaska salmon flies, the clouser checks the right boxes; pink, 3.5” length and weighted so it swims with incredible jigging motion. We rate this fly number 1 for subsurface salmon flies! It gets down fast and, more importantly, is super durable if tied correctly.

While regular clousers work great, we find more fish are returned unharmed to the river when the fly is tied with a stinger hook rather than on a shank. Unfortunately, they do not commercially produce clousers with stinger hooks yet.

FlyTramp‘s favorite colors: pink/white, chartreuse/white, and fuchsia/black


The Kriller, or “Killer Krill”, works great as a swing fly or for stripping! Tied with dumbbell eyes, a stinger hook (so dull hooks can be replaced), and with a 3-3.5” body, this fly does it all! Not to mention, it looks incredibly fishy.

FlyTramp‘s favorite colors: pink, red, chartreuse, orange

Loop Leech

The Loop Leech, by Solitude Fly Company, is a lightly weighted string leech pattern. This pattern works well for all anadromous fish species, from steelhead to chum salmon. It can be efficiently stripped or swung. When stripping, guides often add a split shot in front of the fly to add depth and a diving motion on the retrieve.

FlyTramp‘s favorite colors: pink, purple/pink, and black/chartreuse

Hoh Bo Spey

The Hoh Bo Spey is a heavy hitter for any spey anglers box. For chums, we find this pattern incredibly effective for spey anglers. This is because it is unweighted and swings into the soft water chums often congregate in without dragging. Additionally, this pattern has a stinger hook making it easy to change out dull hooks without wasting the fly!

FlyTramp‘s favorite colors: cerise/black, chartreuse/blue, and orange/pink

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