Introduction to Trout Spey Fishing

Introduction to Trout Spey Fishing in Montana

A fun and effective method of trout fishing is the down-and-across streamer or wet fly swing. The popularity of trout spey fishing in Montana has grown exponentially over the last few years. The simplicity of spending a day stepping down a run casting and swinging is a refreshing change from the usual day of trout fishing. Presenting flies on the swing is often a new look for trout that can often produce strikes when other methods fail. The electric “grab” while swinging is also a big part of the excitement with swinging flies since takes are always on a tight line. The down and across presentation is done under tension, while passively swinging a fly through likely holding water. Then out of the blue a trout will aggressively grab the fly in a satisfying and exciting take! Most of our staff and guides at Montana Angler are experienced spey fishermen and spend our fair share of time fishing our Southwest Montana rivers with a two-handed rod. 

As trout anglers, we tend towards bringing everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to fly selection and accessories. Trout spey fishing is a great change because you can leave all the extras at home and just head out with your rod, a sink tip or two, some leader material, and a small assortment of spey flies.

Today’s trout spey post focuses on what makes a day of trout spey fishing a fun break from the usual trout fishing activities.  

Why should I try trout spey?  
Swinging flies through a run on the Madison
The lifetime learning curve associated with fly fishing means there’s always something new to try. Learning to cast a two handed rod is one of those things that should be on every anglers list of skills to acquire. Whether it’s in preparation for a big BC steelhead fishing trip or just a new way of catching the fish in your local stream, becoming familiar with two handed casting is a great new challenge for every fly fisherman. Even the most skilled and experienced anglers enjoy the challenge of learning something new. 

Another great reason to try spey fishing for trout is that it will make you look at holding water a little differently. We’ll go into greater depth in a full post at a later time, however we will say that water that’s ideal for swinging is a little different than water that you’d want to nymph. Both are fun and effective ways to catch trout, however swinging may just open your eyes up to different types of water that will hold fish. Most anglers planning on nymphing a run would head right for the deep, defined transition zone at the head of the run and would likely cover that small section of the run very thoroughly with drift after drift. An angler looking at a run with swinging flies in mind would likely start out standing near the top of the run but would focus their efforts a bit below the defined seams at the head of the run, rather focusing their efforts through the more consistent flow of the middle of the run and all the way to the broad, flat tailout. 

Swing fishing is also a great way to cover the water in many of our larger Montana Rivers. The longer casts that can be obtained with the longer rods and different casting technique allows the angler to fish their fly through holding water that likely doesn’t get fished by the angler with a singlehand rod. The Missouri, Madison, and Yellowstone Rivers are all examples of large rivers that lend themselves to the swung fly. The long, broad runs of these rivers give the angler a lot of room to continually cast, swing, step, and repeat as they work their way down the run as well. The typical rule of thumb is to take a few steps downstream after making each swing, thus fishing downstream rather than typically working your way upstream while nymphing a run. 

A two-hander makes covering big water like this easy!
The simplicity aspect is another great reason to occasionally go out and just swing flies. Once you’ve got your trout spey rod set up and dialed in all that’s really necessary for a day’s fishing is to bring a spool of leader material and a small assortment of swing flies. It’s nice leaving the fishing vest or pack at home and just heading out with waders and a couple small items in your pocket. 

Swinging flies for trout also forces the angler to slow down a bit and fall into a slower fishing rhythm, focusing on fishing under tension while the fly swings across the current. The short drifts and frequent casts while nymphing a run makes for a very active and fast-paced day of fishing. The long slow presentations while the fly swings across a run forces the angler to be deliberate and patient, and gives the angler a chance to daydream or look around and enjoy one’s surroundings a bit more than when you’re just focused on a dry fly or a bobber bouncing along the current. 

Experience Montana’s world-class trout fishing from a new angle! 
Many of our Montana Angler’s guides and shop staff are experienced trout spey fishermen and we would love the opportunity to share our knowledge of swinging flies for trout. Stop by the shop, shoot us an email, or give us a call at 406-522-9854 if you have questions about getting into trout spey or if you would like to set up day of spey fishing on the water instruction here in Southwest Montana!
A big rainbow like this on a light spey rod can be exciting!

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