Difference: Spey Fly vs. Fly


Stupid question, but here goes:

I will be fishing for Steelhead this summer for the first time- Love trout fishing- (moved over here from Montana for work). I am going to go explore next week, I am going to pick up some flies and cant seem to figure out the difference between a spey fly and a "regular" fly-

never figured that out-



p.s seems the staples for summer are muddler minnows, green b.skunk? any other "essential" summer flys?
The defining characteristic of a spey fly is long, palmered hackle, usually extending well beyond the hook bend. Originally the hackles were of heron body feathers, now as illegal as anthrax spores. There are suitable substitutes, including Whiting "spey" saddles, recently bred to fill the market, schlappen, extra long saddle hackles. (Obviously, it's easier to create the spey hackle proportions on a No. 6 fly than on a 3/0.)
Spey flies usually have wings of bronze mallard, or hackle tips (Syd Glasso's contribution). Dee flies are essentially identical, except that they have wings of long feather strips. Both styles are easier to tie than full fancy-winged Atlantic salmon flies. Operationally, they are just wet flies, no more or less effective than other steelhead flies. But they're beautiful, and ennobled by long tradition. p.s. Spey flies have nothing to do with spey rods, except parallel histories. They can be fished with single- or two-handed rods.

So the difference is in aesthetics and not function? Or rather the type of materials used to tie it.

I did think it had a more direct relationship with spey fishing (rods) but couldnt figure out a huge difference-

Good to know I wasnt that crazy... well thats debatable-


Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
Mac summed up spey flies pretty well, except for the details of how the spey hackle and tinsel are wound on the same path, and how these details make what I have heard refered to as the "illusion of bulk without the bulk".

As to the rest of your question, I would not limit myself to muddlers and GB Skunks. A couple of years ago the only fish that were getting caught out of the stilly during the low water of summer were on #10 Hare's Ears.

I would get some small marabous in black, purple and blue, some other traditional steelie flies like Skykomish Sunrise, Comet, Freight Train, and Max Canyon. I also would have one or two surface patterns like Sofa Pillow, Stimulators, or MacSalmon. I would then have a couple Bombers or Waller Wakers for skating. Buggers are great steelie flies.

What you will really want to do is learn about steelhead water and where they lay compared to trout. Most trout fisherman don't fish big enough water for steelies.

Thanks rob,

I have done all the classwork and now just need to hit it at full tilt- get out study, and just do it over and over, and over and over again.

This summer as I hit it what size "tippet to fly" rule would you use? (ex. #10fly to a 5x?) Im used to 5-6x maybe smaller (tiny flies)-I found a deal on a rio vesatip line on ebay and scooped it up so I should be ready for a multitude of situations with my 7wt-

I am probably just going to focus on holding water my first few times out though- Man I cant wait. Wish I didnt have to work-


Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
I fish 3x in most situations for steelies in the summer. Most of the files are sized for it too. If you are using small flies, scale down conservatively, because steelies aren't leader shy, but could break a fragile tippet.