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Outfitters North

Long time Michigan guide Jeff Hubbard has been a pioneer of swinging flies on the famous Pere Marquette River, where tight, log-choked runs require a creative approach to the technique. He’s contributed several great articles to Swing the Fly (check the archives) and has been a wonderful supporter since early on. Thanks so much, Jeff, for being a part of Swing the Fly!

“I have always had a passion for pursuing steelhead on a swung fly. In my early years of becoming a steelhead angler, I assumed it was the only possible way to hook a steelhead, especially after seeing Lani Waller’s original 3M series of videos. I saw him hook those beautiful, bright, silver steelhead hens and those giant red bucks that were so crimson in color, almost as if they were painted with a brush. This intrigued me and I started to obsess about this magnificent game fish the videos and magazines called steelhead. If I was going to catch these fish, I just assumed we would need to use Comets, Green Butt Skunks and Popsicles for flies. So I swung them on a floating line, swung them on heavy sink tips and even bounced them off the bottom with shooting lines. I didn’t know any different and I was completely clueless. These methods weren’t very successful. Sure, I would accidently hit a bright fish when I least expected it. My line would be dangling below me or maybe when “fly flugging” in the front of the boat, one would roll on a giant Popsicle fly.

“After spending some time on some of Alaska’s greatest rivers as a guide, chasing giant leopard rainbows,  I started to learn the art of the downstream swing. Where I worked in Alaska, we were not allowed to fish beads under a strike indicator. We swung flies like leaches, sculpins and flesh flies. After spending time in Alaska and on our Great Lakes rivers, I was making friends with other guides who later became some of the most influential and innovative guides in the business today. They have become the pioneers of the sport of pursuing steelhead with spey rods and streamers.

Fellow Great Lakes guide Kevin Feenstra with a Pere Marquette steelhead

“It’s so great to see this technique for chasing Steelhead on a fly really growing in the Great Lakes Region. I remember the early days when we would get funny looks on the water by other Anglers, when fishing this technique. Spey fishing and swinging flies has come a long way with many new innovations. From improved flies we use here in the Great Lakes, to the lines and rods that have been specifically developed for our needs as Anglers. It’s great to see the fly fishing community putting more of a focus on us as Great Lake’s steelheaders and designing these products for the way we fish our Great Lakes streams and rivers. For a long time Great Lakes fly fishing for steelhead has been always frowned upon in the bigger world of Fly Fishing. We bounced the bottom with heavy lead, it was a great method and it brought success. We have now proved we too can pursue these fish with a more traditional tactic our West Coast anglers have done for years. I’m proud to say, I too have been a part of that.”

– Jeff Hubbard

Thank you, Jeff, and Outfitters North for your continued support of Swing the Fly!