Swinging for Fish Underfoot - Spey newbie


New Member
Hi all, I'm a somewhat experienced single-hand fly fisher but recently started taking a seven weight 13ft spey to the Skykomish. Line is Airlflo skagit head with a 10ft tip. I see a lot of fish activity close to my casting position and have a question about swinging streamers.

Is it typical to just swing the length of the skagit head plus tip, then let out line gradually as you work bigger swing distances from the casting point? Kind of a funny experience using a thirteen foot rod when a fish jumps from the same distance.

I tend to work close to far from a casting position with a single hand, then move casting position, but I'm wondering if I should use the same strategy with swinging a spey rod. Other two-handed flyfishermen around me seem to strip through the same line in the river for twenty minutes then leave. Maybe they have certain structure or a holding area in mind.


steve s

WFF Supporter
Yep, that's it exactly, start with just line and tip out. Gradually add more running line to your cast after you've fished in close. I try to start at the head of each run with just the sink tip and part of the head outside of the rod tip, cast and swing. Take a little more line off the reel, and do the same thing. Keep going until you have the amount off the reel that you want to cast. Once you have the proper amount of line, take a couple steps downstream between each cast. I like cast, step then swing, it allows a bit more time for my fly to sink. Keep going until you fish through the entire run.
Hope this helps!


Active Member
Adding to what @steve s said, it's also OK to fish shorter than your head. You wanna plop one out there with half your head out? Go for it. It feels counter intuitive, but there's no law saying you can't fish shorter if that's where the fish are. + getting the tug in close is a riot.


Active Member
Dec Hogan’s video has a good segment on starting short and not over casting. Also don’t add line AND step down at the same time. You might pass over a holding fish.


Ian Horning

Powerbait Entomologist
There's not much need to make casts more than a few feet further than where the fish are sitting- those few feet being the extra distance to let the fly sink and swing across their line of sight. Less line out= more control. Like any other fishing situation it makes sense to fish with the appropriate amount of line out rather than just hucking it as far as humanly possible every time.

It does feel clunky casting half of a spey head with a 13 foot rod- especially a heavier or unbalanced spey rod, both of which describe mine. If I'm fishing water that I know is all about casting short distance, like 30-40 feet or less I'll often opt for a single hander and a short/micro spey line.


Active Member
In summer I typically fish a 15' mono leader and often my first 'casts' are nothing but leader. They're not pretty with a 13' spey rod; more like swinging a string on a broom handle. But, it's more important to cover all the water in a run than it is to make pretty casts.

Bottom line for me, don't let the gear your fishing dictate the water you fish. Look for fishy water and do whatever it takes to cover it.


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