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!


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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

  • Sink-Tip Leaders
    How long should the distance be between the end of the sinking tip or sinking leader and the fly?
  • 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…


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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

Trout Spey

  • Hatches: Spotted Sedge
    Spotted sedge (Hydropsyche), with at least 25 sub-species in the West, as well as Midwestern and Eastern counterparts (all very similar), could be considered one of the most important, if not the most important, insect to practitioners of trout spey and swinging wetflies.
  • Opening Day: An Ode to the Firehole
    Of all the famed water available in Yellowstone, the Firehole is just about as pleasant as fly fishing gets.
  • 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.

West Coast

  • Guide Gossip #9: Setting the Hook
    hearing your reel scream and telling yourself, “Be patient…be patient”? I have heard it as “the 10 second rule” or “wait for 3 seconds” or “wait for 1-2 feet of line pulling off your reel.”
  • Spirituality and Steelhead in the Aleutians
    On that day, a fisherman was born; if it has fins and swims, I want to cast a fly in its direction and see what happens. 
  • Love Pink
    I’ve never been able to get a handle on the value metrics we attribute to fish. Why do we consider certain salmonid species more desirable than others?  Would we think that way if we hadn’t been influenced and acculturated with the prevailing notions of others?
  • Finding Hope
    Staying the Course with the Dry Fly Through the New Normal of Low Expectations.