Icons, a web series from Swing the Fly, looks at the most influential figures in spey casting and swinging flies from North America and beyond in the 21st century. In this installment, we visit with Simon Gawesworth, one of the greatest Spey casting instructors and authors to grace our sport. Simon talks in this article about his latest book, his favorite rivers in both the U.K. and the U.S., his memories of times fishing on his own, and the Miracle of Istanbul.
George Grant and Franz Pott were the best-known tiers of the woven-hackle fly with their Featherbacks, Black Creepers, Fizzles, and Sandy Mites.
To me, the real magic happened in places like the Shilo Inn convention center and old fly shops with the smell of coffee and moth-balls etched into the wood paneling, or pretty much anywhere an old timer has hot coffee, a hidden flask and time to tell you about the days gone by.
The Greenwells Glory is an old fly with a storied history. I won’t repeat that history here, as you can easily find it yourself. However, I can attest that it catches just as many fish now as it did in 1854 (the supposed year of its creation)
While other anglers are fumbling in the parking lot with size 24 flies on 6x drop-shot rigs, the swung fly angler can tie on a single size 18 fly to a gargantuan 4x leader and still have plenty of time to sit on the bank and drink coffee before the hatch begins.
There is no single correct way to hackle a wee fly, and there are a handful of ways to get the job done, but hackling is important to the proper construction. And some ways are better than others. Following is the most effective method of hackling I’ve found.
Casting a light skagit head made the fishing methodical – swinging the riffles and dropping my fly into seams produced a dozen or so fish, and before I knew it, the sun was setting and it was time to head home.
Controlling fly speed and depth through casting angle and line manipulation typically provides the presentation enhancements that result in success.
Our guide felt that anglers are more successful if they stick to one type of water and fish it well instead of trying to fish all of the good-looking runs.
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.
Of all the famed water available in Yellowstone, the Firehole is just about as pleasant as fly fishing gets.
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.