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Swing the Fly

Salmonflies: Swinging the Hatch

The memory of a Henry’s Fork rainbow cartwheeling multiple times over a waking muddler in the glow of a May sunset still has me grinning years later. And I can almost feel the warmth of the June sun as I recall working a flooded willow bank. The plump brown trout that I eventually landed nearly pulled my 3-wt. trout spey out of my hand on the grab.

Latest articles

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!

  • Spey Casting in A Nutshell
    I'm a firm believer in simplifying processes. First understand what we are trying to accomplish in simple terms and then break it down into steps…
  • 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)…

Conservation

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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

  • Scandi-Style Trout Tube
    Recently shifting a lot of my tying focus to Trout Spey, I realized that I still had an abundance of fur in the 2.5-3-inch range; perfect for the trout flies I desired. And the Scandi-style was the perfect recipe for a decent-sized, lightly weighted fly that would still cast easily on any light trout rod…
  • 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!

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

  • Book: Matching Baitfish by Kevin Feenstra
    Matching Baitfish is so much more than what the title lets on. In fact, I'm not sure any title could do justice to what lies within: incredible photography, an education on baitfish you won't find in a lifetime elsewhere, innovative techniques and tactics for the swung fly angler, and one of a kind fly patterns.
  • Webinar: Getting Ready for Great Lakes Spring Steelhead
    Watch the great recorded presentation by Rick Kustich here!
  • 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…

International

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  • The P.T. Slow Swing
    So simple and so effective, I cannot say how often it‘s saved my day, from my rivers at home, to along the classic rivers in England, where Frank Sawyer invented and published it in his book Nymphs and the Trout in 1958, to the wide rivers in Montana, like the Bighorn and many more.
  • 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.

Spey Casting

  • The V-Loop
    As it pertains to Anchor-Centric Spey Casting You might be expecting an article on how to create the magical “V-loop” and the ensuing super-charged Spey casts you have always heard of. My apologies. Instead you are going to get an article on why the V-loop is a bad idea and possibly even fallacy — a…
  • 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…

Trout Spey

  • Salmonflies: Swinging the Hatch
    The memory of a Henry's Fork rainbow cartwheeling multiple times over a waking muddler in the glow of a May sunset still has me grinning years later. And I can almost feel the warmth of the June sun as I recall working a flooded willow bank. The plump brown trout that I eventually landed nearly…
  • The P.T. Slow Swing
    So simple and so effective, I cannot say how often it‘s saved my day, from my rivers at home, to along the classic rivers in England, where Frank Sawyer invented and published it in his book Nymphs and the Trout in 1958, to the wide rivers in Montana, like the Bighorn and many more.
  • 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…

West Coast

  • Guide Gossip: Does the Fly Matter?
    It’s the question we think every time we open our fly box; the question we think of when you have been fishing all day with nothing to speak of; the question we think when your buddy hooks a fish behind you; the question we all lucidly dream about: Does the fly matter?
  • Leap Year
    What Happens When a Steelhead Season is Lost? Derek Botchford, owner of the Frontier Steelhead Experience, says it best: "Similar to good health—we tend to take it for granted until it's gone."
  • 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.