What are the must have flies for your Spey arsenal?

As a person new to Spey casting and fly fishing in general, I am pretty overwhelmed by the variety of flies, literally thousands. So I am trying to harvest the combined knowledge and experience of you all.

I know this is broad question so I'll narrow it a bit to flies for Steelhead.

Thanks for you help.


Well-Known Member
Late summer and fall: Spade, size 6. A steelhead caddis or some such for skating dries, size 6.

The rest of the year, streamers that strike my fancy, some bright colors, some dark, size 4, 2, maybe some larger.

Remember we're talking here about a fish that is known to strike everything that has ever been tried, including cigarette filters and butts.

The fly can be the least important factor, so don't sweat it.

Winter - make a bunch of marabou flies of different weights. Easy to tie and no concern losing them. You can try to tie all kinds of flies, but in the end it is all about confidence. Look how it swims in the water. Chose the swimmiest fly and have confidence in it. Select fly weight for depth you want to fish.

Summer - I like to tie very buggy looking flies in small sizes size 8 through size 4. I often tie an undertaker or a variation of a green butt skunk. Have one extra small fly of a different color as a possible change up fly after a grab.

I recently read the comment that true steelheaders carry remarkably few fly types. I can relate to that.

I like black, or black and red wooly buggers in summer, and bunny leeches in winter, usually black and blue. I've been tying up some intruders for this winter though, just for shits and giggles, and they are easier to toss.


Ignored Member
What ever my fishing partner has in his fly box.

A good one for winter fish is the general practioner. I like to carry orange, purple, black and red.

Evan Burck

Fudge Dragon
I'll be focusing mostly on Winter Steelhead to start. I'm just looking to get a general sense of what works so I can work on improving my casting rather worry about the type of fly I'm flinging.
It REALLY doesn't matter honestly. Color might matter a little bit, but that's about it. It's anyone's guess what a winter fish is going to hit on the swing. Sometimes it's anything, usually it's nothing at all. But they're not feeding, so it's not like you can key in on something. I've had awesome luck swinging black egg sucking leeches. I see no reason to change that.
I can most often be found swinging shrimp patterns like the General Practitioner, but my short list also includes flys such as the Metal Detector, Green Butt Skunk and Hoh Bo Spey. Orange, red, blue and black are my favorite colors.