How to swing flies for trout? - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 10:11 AM Thread Starter
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How to swing flies for trout?

I've been swinging flies for trout for almost 2 seasons now, but I haven't been catching many fish, so I'm wondering what techniques you folks use when swinging flies for trout.

I fish wide rivers in western Montana. I am mostly using a 5ft T-8/5ft floating Mow tip.

I usually gently jig my spey rod up and down.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 10:33 AM
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before I have any real answers what rivers have you been fishing? what type of flies have you been fishing? what sort of water have you been targeting?
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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Big Woolly Buggers, but with a spey collar, or big wet flies on streamer hooks. Generally I am fishing slightly broken water, so there is some structure on the bottom of the river.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 11:12 AM
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my thought would be try smaller wets, I know when I was swinging in MT my most successful flies were size 10-14 soft hackles. not that I didn't get some grabs with the bigger flies but the smaller flies seemed to produce better numbers for me.i also found that swinging multiple flies worked better then single flies. when I was streamer fishing I always switched to the 7wt single handed rod with a sinking tip and stripped streamers right next to under cut banks.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 11:22 AM
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Swinging for trout

The past two years I dedicated to specifically swinging for trout on my local waters. I’ll share a couple general things I learned. Not all water is created equal for the swing. Not all fish take a swung fly. At certain times of the year fish are less interested in a swung fly. Certain stretches of river have fish that are more aggressive to the swing. My two flies of choice to swing, sculpin in olive or natural brown and caddis, dry or wet. Sink tip selection depends on water and fly but for the water I fish with a sculpin I use 10’ of T-11. I make two casts before I move. First cast is straight swing. Second cast I add movement. For caddis I use long mono leader or intermediate sinking tip. Straight swing to the reel with drag set light, like steelhead swing, so fish grabs and sets itself. Broken too many fish off setting the hook.
I’m no expert but I manage my fair share of trout on the swing. Sounds like you could get some good Montana info if you went to a fly shop and chatted with the bros. Or book a guided trip and tell them you want to learn how to swing for trout.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 11:27 AM
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I use my 4wt two-hander on rivers just over the divide in N. ID. Keep in mind that these are cutthroat rivers and they go after anything with a little red! I fish my two-hander almost like my single-hand rods. I use small buggers and muddlers, along with soft hackles and wets. I often cast into faster water with the plan that the fly gets under tension and rises when it is coming through the seam into slower water. I also like swinging through riffles with streamers and muddlers.

I use a rage with a 10' trout poly, usually float or intermediate. I do not T anything. I esp like using my two-hander early in the year when flows are 4000-6000. Also, I do not use it all day. Usually early morning or mid-day. I am using single handers when there are bugs out, drys, wets, and soft hackles.

Get Dave Hughes book on soft hackles, wets, flymphs and how to fish them. I had the old edition and bought the new one this summer, and it is worth it to upgrade. He has great patterns but also a lot of advice on how to fish them. Steve Bird has a great web site on fishing for trout with soft hackles and two-handers, and he fishes big water! SOFT~HACKLE JOURNAL
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randyflycaster View Post
I've been swinging flies for trout for almost 2 seasons now, but I haven't been catching many fish, so I'm wondering what techniques you folks use when swinging flies for trout.

I fish wide rivers in western Montana. I am mostly using a 5ft T-8/5ft floating Mow tip.

I usually gently jig my spey rod up and down.

Randy
I haven’t put in a lot of swing time in Montana, only in the summer, and only as a break from the dry fly fishing. But that said I was skeptical of the flies they were pushing in Craig for swinging on the Mo. They struck me as too big, but maybe they were for a different season. So maybe mix it up some with smaller flies. I think the soft hackle suggestion was a good one. I had a lot of luck with a “micro minnow” (pic below, maybe not the first thing people would try) which is a very small fly, but I got 3 the very fist time I tried one, stepping down a long run, including the biggest Rainbow I ever caught on the Mo by any method. I assume it looked like confused fry to them. For the very limited time and seasons I’ve been on the water swinging in MT I feel like my numbers have been very respectable and have caught both big rainbows and browns swinging.

Ironically, I have made several trips now on one of MY local trout spey spots, the lower Sacramento from Redding down to Red Bluff, and this is supposed to be certifiably quality trout spey water at times. Just apparently NOT the times I have tried. In fact a few of those days I would describe as some of my worst days of fishing of ANY kind for trout - so I feel your pain. This is supposed to be the ANTIDOTE to the austerity of winter Steelhead fishing for crying out loud!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 02:01 PM
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I can't speak to Montana waters, but here in Maine, I've had the best results on a two fly rig. The top fly is a large-ish streamer, often a sculpin imitation, but sometimes a smelt pattern (it is Maine :-) ), tied on size 1-3 AJ's. Trailing off that as a dropper, I will use a plain old soft hackle: thread abdomen, hare's mask thorax, and a turn or two of partridge, in sizes 10-14. I'd probably tie and fish a few smaller ones if my advancing age and failing eyesight would let me. I don't do anything too fancy with lines and leaders. Just a floating Scandi head, 10 foot sinking poly leader (either 4 ips or 7, depending on the river and flow), and a bit of tippet. Takes on the streamer vs the soft hackle seem to be about 50/50, but my local streams are dominated by browns and have almost no rainbows to speak of.

And I'd second what Coug said; check out the Soft Hackle Journal. More inspiring fly patterns there than you can shake a stick at.

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"
- Duke Ellington
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 02:01 PM
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I haven't fished the MO, or Montana for that matter. Most of my trout swinging was smaller streams in the east, the streams in eastern Yellowstone, and some in OR.

That said, my single most productive fly has been a small sculpin (2 in-ish), usually fished on a sinking poly leader. Second would be soft hackels, fished in tandem. I don't fish blind so much as fish structure/holding lies, and more often than not use a Leisenring Lift approach, trying to set the fly up for the swing from the original cast placement, estimate of the drift/sink path- which may or may not involve some mending- and then to present the fly swinging through my target zone, with tension, possibly some lifting, and probably about half the time with imparted action.Action can be in the form of tip twitches, arm pumps, a wiggling of the rod hand (most often with soft hackles on the lift).

If I wanted to catch a ton of fish I'd be euro nymphing. It has zero appeal to me. The approach above is so much fun to me I've fished through several excellent hatches, fish rising all around, a dry fly rig on the bank, me happily swinging some fish on the small spey.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 02:08 PM
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Stop swinging

Stop swinging. That's my advice.

Fishing for trout? Fish dries. Often, if not almost always. Mind you, I would personally prefer to take 2 trout on dry flies than 40+ trout on submerged flies.

If you insist on a submerged fly presentation, try one of the following:

+ cast up stream and high stick nymphs and other weighted wet flies. Use a yarn indicator if you are new to nymphing. Otherwise, do not bother.

+ Cast a good sized streamer/bucktail/large ugly wet fly to the bank/cover, mend downstream and strip like crazy. Strip fast as if you were targeting fast-moving saltwater fish.

+ both techniques should tempt larger fish than swung small wets. Both are seasonal and their success depends on relative water flows and temperature.

°

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 05:34 PM
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On my home river there are plenty of times where there is no surface action and swinging streamers is a productive and fun way to fish. I especially like fishing after dark, swinging streamers or mice patterns. Big browns are nocturnal. Just takes a while to get the hang of swinging at night, but if you pick a night with a full moon your eyes can get adjusted pretty quickly.
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