Announcement: Winter Steelhead Rigging Seminar

Swing the Fly Editor Zack Williams will host a live event about rigging for Winter/Spring steelheading.

Swing the Fly

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 feet or less being regularly matched with much of my home waters. There are many advantages to shorter rods – both tactically and esthetically – that drive this preference.

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…

Conservation

Passing on healthy rivers and fish populations to the next generation is a responsibility all swung fly anglers must be committed to. Keep tabs here on the latest news from our conservation partners and learn how you can help.


Fly Tying

  • 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…
  • Great Lakes Flies: Then and Now
    Part I It has been nearly 150 years since the ova were imported from a tributary of California’s McCloud River to the Caledonia fish hatchery near Mumford, New York, that initiated the Great Lakes steelhead fishery. And whether you consider these creatures steelhead or simply lake-run rainbows, there is clearly a shared spirit with their…
  • Prichard’s Western Angler
    By Sean Dahlquist I love my fly tying books. I’ve collected dozens over the years and am always seeking more. They are the first thing I reach for in my library; every so often I’ll be flipping through the pages of an old favorite for the hundredth time when, suddenly, I am struck by a…
  • A Handful of Flies from the Kola Peninsula: Part I
    The Belousiha River Lodge is a small fishing camp on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Atlantic Salmon

  • 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

  • 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…
  • Cold Water Strategies
    As the colder side of fall begins to settle in, occasionally an acquaintance or distant family member aware of my “fascination” with fishing will ask, “Is your fishing over for the year?” When I answer, “Nope, it’s just getting started,” I get that look of confusion. It’s an expression that seems to reflect wonder of…
  • Great Lakes Flies: Then and Now
    Part I It has been nearly 150 years since the ova were imported from a tributary of California’s McCloud River to the Caledonia fish hatchery near Mumford, New York, that initiated the Great Lakes steelhead fishery. And whether you consider these creatures steelhead or simply lake-run rainbows, there is clearly a shared spirit with their…

International

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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…
  • Winter Steelhead Rigging Seminar January 28!
    On January 28 at 6:30 p.m. PST (9:30 EST), Swing the Fly Editor Zack Williams will host a live event about rigging for Winter/Spring steelheading.
  • Exploring Summer Steelhead Fly Patterns: Idaho’s Clearwater
    Many rivers and their native fish have nuanced fly preferences. Sometimes it seems to be based on available food sources or prevailing river conditions; but sometimes it just seems like the fish – or anglers – have … well … preferences: cheeseburger over hotdog. Idaho’s Clearwater tests both of these potential explanations: Are the steelhead’s…
  • On the Water with John McMillan
    It is early January when I board the ferry crossing the Puget Sound. I’m on my way West to the coast, to the hallowed rivers of the Olympic Peninsula, to catch up with John McMillan and swing a couple runs. The trip is a welcome escape from Seattle’s traffic and high-rise construction projects towering over…