At Grizzly Creek Lodge, our list of favorite patterns for lake trout and northern pike fishing is quite short. This surprises some, but three decades of Yukon fishing experience has enabled us to identify the best patterns for our waters, in our conditions. Other patterns will certainly work, but over the years we have condensed our fly boxes into what works best for us. More is not always better.
The Clouser Deep Minnow
The Clouser Minnow, tops our list for Yukon fishing. Designed back in the 1980s by smallmouth bass guru Bob Clouser, this pattern is very, very, hard to beat. The Clouser Minnow was designed to imitate escaping baitfish, and it does it so well that I would feel completely comfortable if it was the only fly in my box. Anywhere in the world. As a matter of fact, it’s been reported that the late Lefty Kreh, actually named the fly, and caught over 80-species on the Clouser Minnow worldwide! The trick to this patterns success is the constant action it produces. Like all streamers, it swims during the retrieve, but the real advantage comes during the pause, when it darts downward or off to the side. This constant motion will generate strikes even when fish are lethargic and not feeding. The barbell eyes give it a realistic look that predator fish can’t refuse. Orange and yellow are my favorite color combination, with red and white a close second.
The Wooly Bugger
Not surprisingly, the Wooly Bugger is one of our favorite flies. I think most fly fishers will agree when I say that the Wooly Bugger is in a league of its own. This pattern will do it all, and then some. It can be used to imitate a variety of aquatic insects, sculpins, or small baitfish. Available in a wide variety of sizes and colors, this pattern is extremely versatile. Most guides agree that black and olive coloured patterns are best for Yukon fishing. Although it’s hard to present this fly wrong, one of my favorite techniques is to use a slow retrieve. This method is a great way to locate feeding fish. A stop-and-go retrieve with a weighted Wooly Bugger is a great way to fish deeper channels.
Rabbit Fur Strip Leech
Last but far from least on our list, is the rabbit fur, Strip Leech. Rabbit fur produces an undulating movement underwater that looks exactly like a real leech. I’ve tried leech patterns tied with other material, but none can match the action real rabbit fur produces. I primarily fish leech patterns fairly shallow. They seem to work best in the top few feet of the water column. This makes them an ideal choice early in the season when lake trout are still shallow. Northern pike inhale them. If you want some serious action, try dragging one across a pike spawning bed early in the spring!
That’s it. That’s our list of top flies for lake trout and northern pike. I like trying new things and because of that I’ve been known to cast some crazy stuff, but when the chips are down and I really want to catch fish, you can bet I will be casting one of these three patterns.