Over one third of the world’s wild Pacific salmon spawn in Kamchatka's rivers, and right behind them are the rainbows – lots, and lots of rainbows. Our access for the wilderness river floats is via MI8 helicopters, which carry us, our watercraft, and all of the gear we need for a six day, six night float trip down watersheds teaming with fish. Not only the rainbows, but also sea-run dolly varden and kunzha, plus both coho and chum salmon all swim these waters in incredible numbers.
This is not Alaska; there are no float planes, no lodges, and no other anglers. The rivers we fish on these float trips get fished a maximum of once a year, period. Some of them in fact (if you elect an exploratory mission), have never been fished before.
And another big difference between Alaska and Kamchatka is that here we have absolutely no need of nymph rigs or egg patterns, ever, at all. Most days we exclusively fish dry flies, with mouse patterns (yes, seriously) being the most common go-to flies in the arsenal that work pretty much anytime, anywhere.
When we're not fishing dries we throw streamers, which would also work anytime but in most anglers' opinions are not as much fun as the dries. Honestly, there is almost no way to describe what it is like to fish mouse patterns to outsized rainbows all day long, in a place where the frequency of their vicious surface attacks soon make it feel more normal to have a fish on the line than to retrieve a cast that managed to sneak by them without a hit.
Single handed rods should be between five and seven weights, nine to nine and a half feet long. Our wilderness float rivers for the most part are not wide enough to warrant the use of switch or spey rods, although these can certainly be used if it is a matter of client preference.
We recommend bringing at least two rods to insure against breakage, and at least two reels, one with a floating line and one with a sink tip. Reels should have good quality drag systems, and a fresh layer of backing beneath the line. Kamchatka rainbows are strong!
What they are not, however, is leader shy. Seven and a half foot leaders with 0x or 1x tippet are as light as we fish with the mice and streamers, and 3x would be the lightest we would go even with the smaller dries.
Get in touch with a Hemispheres Unlimited trip planner today to receive comprehensive lists of the recommended rods, flies, and sundries you'll need for this trip, and to get started on putting together your Kamchatka Wilderness Float adventure of a lifetime!