"Getting Ready for Great Lakes Spring Steelhead" with Rick Kustich, March 10 at 8 p.m. EST

Swing the Fly

Spey 101

Building a basic understanding of Spey casting, including techniques, equipment, terminology, and history. All Spey 101 content is free to view for non-members. Learn and Enjoy!

  • 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Beginner Spey Casters
    I’ve had the privilege of teaching several hundred new Spey casters over the last decade, and during that time I’ve had the opportunity to observe…
  • Learn How to Spey Cast
    Understanding basic Spey casting terminology will ease your learning process.
  • What is Trout Spey?
    As two-handed Spey casting has exploded in popularity over the last 20 years so, too, has the technology available in the manufacture of two-handed (Spey)…
  • Spey Equipment Basics
    When selecting your first equipment it is best to consult your local Spey shop. Below is some terminology so you have a little background knowledge of…


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Fly Tying

  • The White-Winged Akroyd
    In Eric Taverner’s Salmon Fishing (1931), when discussing the merits of the Akroyd he is quoted as saying, “This is a hard-wearing and killing fly, especially if pains have been taken to dress it neatly and sparingly, so that the body has the appearance of slimness, lightly clad with luminous filmy robes. I would cheerfully…
  • The Heisenberg
    Heisenberg” as a blue fly name should make sense to anyone who has seen Breaking Bad. If you haven’t, “Heisenberg” was the alias of the high school chemist turned meth cooker, Walter White. His meth was the best, and it was also blue. According to Brian Clemens, a northern California guide who spends a lot…
  • The Night Terror
    Don’t be fooled by this fly’s simplicity. Designed for movement, the Night Terror undulates and pulses in the current without losing bulk and profile – and to top it off, it is easy to cast!
  • Steelhead Fly Signatures: Hackle Tip Wings
    For me, nothing speaks more of steelhead fishing than a brightly colored, finely ribbed, steelhead Spey fly topped with a graceful set of hackle tip wings—a perfect example of form and function. These captivating patterns take us back to the days of Syd Glasso, whose tying would inspire untold scores of anglers to strive for…

Atlantic Salmon

  • The Last Salmon
    I sometimes feel as if Angler #1 (Dry Fly Guy) is perched on my left shoulder and Angler #2 (Bottom Ranger) sits on my right shoulder. Angler #1 whispers quietly in my left ear, “Dry or die!” Angler #2 mumbles simultaneously into my right ear, “Go deep or go home!”
  • Terminal Thinking
    Terminal thinking seems especially prevalent as we contemplate the changes to our lives in a post-COVID-19 world. It’s a tough time to be a swinger of flies. On the West Coast, steelhead guides and fishermen lost a good chunk of their season due to the closure of rivers and non-essential businesses. Here on the East…
  • A Handful of Flies from the Kola Peninsula: Part I
    The Belousiha River Lodge is a small fishing camp on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Great Lakes

  • Webinar: Getting Ready for Great Lakes Spring Steelhead
    Rick Kustich will be going live right here at 8 pm EST on March 10 to give you the lowdown on spring steelheading in the Great Lakes!
  • Down and Dirty
    "I call this scenario the “Down and Dirty.” If you can wade the river safely without going for a swim, you can still hook steelhead on the swung fly. The first thing you will need to do is change your gear. You’re going to need to fish the fly as slow as you can and…
  • Non-Typical Lies
    This article originally appeared in the 2019.1 issue of Swing the Fly magazine and is free to view. Enjoy, and if you’re not already a member, consider joining to get access to all the member content and the Anthology book. As Spey fishers, we dream of the perfect pool. At the head of the pool, where…
  • Going Short
    As we roll into a new decade, the options for short two-handed, switch, or even one-handed Spey rods has never been greater, and the interest in going short clearly on the rise. I have seen a consistent decline in the size of my “go to” rods over the last few years with lengths of 11…


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  • The Green Machine and the Rio Grande
    Last January, Michael and I finally stood on the banks of the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego. Like always, we booked on a relatively short notice, but we made it. We even man-aged to fill our fly boxes with all kinds of differnt flies, from Wooly Buggers to tube flies, rubber leg nymphs and…
  • Skjern Å: A Real Life Fairy Tale
    Like the ugly duckling from Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale, there is a hint of metaphor in my small story about a “ditch” that, after many years of mishandling, turns into a prolific and beautiful salmon river.
  • PHP: The Dream Team of Flies
    Admittedly, the effectiveness of a fly relies principally on the confidence that the fisherman has in it, but it also has to be recognized that the nearly-doubled rate of success kills any prior prejudice; the PHP flat-out works.
  • The Wind
    A reflection on life and a trip of a lifetime.

Spey Casting

  • Tension: The Key to the Spey Cast?
    Let's dive in further to the question: Is there a unifying component that all successful Spey casts have, regardless of casting or line style?
  • Anchor-Centric Spey Casting
    Is there a unifying component that makes all of the great Spey casters successful in their respective styles?
  • Are You a Reactionary Caster?
    This is a bit of a rhetorical question, but it needs to be addressed. At some point, or in some Spey casting situations, we are all reactionary casters. The real question is are the common casting mistakes you make based on a reaction to another sequence in the Spey cast? Let’s uses an example we…
  • Tips for a Smoother Snakeroll
    We all have at least tried the snakeroll; some have mastered it and some have given up. But, learning and knowing the coolest cast in Spey casting is something we should all aspire to. The snakeroll is a modern two-handed cast developed by Simon Gawesworth. The cast has since grown into use in all parts…

Trout Spey

  • Speying the Hatch
    The need to “match the hatch” was a facet of trout fishing with flies that intrigued me the most as a young angler and still abides as a source of entertaining and satisfying challenges. It’s an aspect of our game that separates steelhead and salmon fishing from trouting. Trout are actively feeding (more or less),…
  • Big Rods, Wee Flies
    As Trout Spey continues to grow in popularity we encounter information outlining the applications of two-handed rods designed for trouting. This info is fairly sound, except too often we are told the lighter weight Trout Spey rods are most suitable for presenting wee soft-hackle flies, while the heavier rods are reserved for larger, heavier flies…
  • What is Trout Spey?
    As two-handed Spey casting has exploded in popularity over the last 20 years so, too, has the technology available in the manufacture of two-handed (Spey) rods. This allowed for the development of lighter, more limber rods making two-hand rods no longer restricted in use to larger game fish.  ​ Missouri River, MT brown trout. Photo…

West Coast

  • Guide Gossip: What Fly?
    “A skater, unless the zombie apocalypse is happening and I need to eat, then a dirty black leech with an orange cone head.” -Dax Messett
  • Guide Gossip: To Fish A Loop?
    I asked fourteen EXCEPTIONAL guides from the most infamous West Coast steelhead rivers the same questions. Every guide was given the task of answering sixteen questions, some with a specific river in mind and others just as a general guide of steelhead tactics.
  • The Forbidden Fruit
    Superstitions and fishing go hand and fin. Some anglers have a lucky fishing hat that has been worn for years; others never wash their lucky fishing socks afraid to fade the mojo clean off. A long-time guide on the Rogue once told me that he would grease up his gunnels on the ol’ woody for…
  • Paris in Summer
    Over the years I have received pieces of fly fishing advice that seem to combine both time-tested truth and a devilish elusiveness. Near the top of this list is: “Always be ready for the moment when a fish takes your fly. It can happen any time your fly is in the water, even when you…