Trout Spey: Tight Loops vs. The Swing

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a much better “fisherman” than I am a fly caster. That being said, I may be a little biased in my opinion that how you fish the fly is much more important than how you get it back into the water.

Perhaps being a marginal fly caster drew me into the world of spey casting, where aesthetically pleasing casts are coupled with heart-stopping grabs on a tight line swing.

Probably the most fun aspect of swinging for trout or any species for that matter, is the the grab, but how do you get there? And what do you do with all that time between grabs?

For many, the answer lies in the intricacies of the various casts: the single spey, the double spey, the snap T, the snake roll and so on and so on… Trust me, I am very intrigued and motivated by all these casts, the various shooting heads and line systems, the click/pawl reels, the fiberglass, bamboo and $1,500 super techy rods. Most importantly; however, I am intrigued by the tiny nuances of the actual swinging of a fly.

You see, the only thing that has anything to do with whether or not you’ll actually catch a fish (aside from maybe a little distance), is how to get the fly fishing as effectively as you can.

So, is it short leaders, long leaders, heavy tips, unweighted flies, weighted flies, casting down and across, casting upstream, using T-14, throwing floating line or one of the other million variables that you could tweak that makes all the difference?

The answer is yes to all of that. There are factors like depth, water speed, water temp and about a dozen other variables that require you to know exactly how your fly is fishing at all times.

So how do you know when to use a really short leader with a really heavy tip and an unweighted fly? And when the heck do you use a 2.5 floating/7.5 T-8 MOW tip?

The answer lies in a combination of experimentation, experience and gaining some common “shop knowledge.” The only way to get experience is to get out there and experiment with the help of guides, fly shop rats and experienced swingers. Heck, YouTube is an excellent resource to get to know the ropes and some common strategies.

I see so many “like new” and “lightly uses” spey and switch rods for sale out there. It makes me wonder if people are giving up on spey because the casts are too hard or they can’t figure out all the line systems or they simply aren’t having any success (which isn’t very fun).

If you’re thinking about trying spey and are already a trout fisherman, there is no better time than right now to start learning. You can use your current trout rod to experiment with single hand spey casting and swinging. There are tons of great lines you can throw on your trout rod that will get you spey casting and swinging in no time. When you’re ready to graduate to longer casts and better line control, you’ll be much better equipped for success when you decide to purchase that high end Death Star.

Just remember, don’t worry about the pretty casts. It’s all about the swing and what your fly is doing! Get it swinging in the sweet spot and hold on tight!

Good luck out there and tight lines my friends!

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