Get Started Spey Fishing for Trout
By Zach Lazzari
Spey rods open a new dimension of fly fishing for trout anglers. With the right gear, timing and techniques, spey casting is flat-out deadly and can be a game changer on wide rivers and areas with thick brush requiring tight casts. Plus, it’s just a ton of fun and a new way to enjoy your favorite rivers.
Ready to jump into the world of trout spey? Here are a few tips to get started…
Get the Right Equipment
Know your trout before selecting a spey rod. Most rivers in the lower 48 states call for a lighter rod like the Mystic 3-weight micro spey. This rod will still sling lines across the river with ease. The lightweight setup means you really feel the fight and will have no problems playing the smallest and largest trout around. This 3-weight is perfect for the large majority of spey applications for trout.
Trout fishing in Alaska, Patagonia and places where wide rivers, strong winds and trout that can fight more like a steelhead will call for a heavier rod. Rods in the 4-6 weight range are perfect for the large majority of big water trout fishing you will encounter. The 7-weight can function as a crossover for steelhead and trout or rivers where salmon encounters are common but lighter is often better and more fun when it comes to general trout fishing.
After choosing a rod, you will need a matching line. The line for a spey rod begins with the backing. This connects to the running line, which connects to the head. You have the option to purchase all three separately or to find an integrated system.
For larger spey rods, separating the lines is common but micro spey or switch rod lines are available with connected head and running lines. These will offer a simple matching system so you can simply purchase a 3/4-weight line to match your 3-weight rod. Alternatively, a 200-240 grain Skagit or Scandi head will load the 3-weight. Go 270-300 grains for the 4-weight spey rods.
After assembling your rod and matching a line, add a section of floating tip or slow sinking tip to the head and do some practice casting. Practicing on water is best for spey rods because they depend heavily on friction for the cast. The spey cast requires a setup to anchor the line and cast to send it flying. The lightweight nature of a trout setup is perfect for a single spey style cast or a quick snap-T setup leading into the cast.
YouTube videos are fine to get you started. But nothing can replace in-person teaching. Sign up for a spey casting class at your local fly shop and really cut down the learning curve.
Flies depend somewhat on the river and the season. During the colder months, covering deep tailouts and broad currents with a sinking tip and a bigger fly is a good move. Use the tip for weight and focus on lighter flies to swing cleanly through a run. Unweighted buggers are always a good bet and muddler minnows are a favorite among spey anglers. Muddler style flies push water but still cast nicely with little wind resistance.
During the summer months, switch to smaller soft hackles that imitate caddis pupae or emerging mayflies. Swinging soft hackle flies on a trout spey setup is a very effective technique, especially in the evenings. You can fish them in tandem to test different patterns or simply fish a single fly. Use a floating tip for soft hackles and add a tiny split shot to the leader if you want to penetrate just below the surface.
Recommended Trout Spey Rods
Our most popular rod for trout spey fishing is absolutely the 11’ 3” 3-weight Micro Spey/Switch Fly Rod. This versatile micro spey fly rod is perfect for targeting trout in western rivers. As mentioned above however, consider stepping up to a heavier line weight for larger coastal rivers or if you’re looking for a Salmon/Steelhead crossover rod.
If you have questions or need help please don’t hesitate to contact us. To track down a Mystic fly rod at a fly shop near you, please use our dealer locator. Support your local fly shops for the most knowledgeable information and advice!
Zach Lazzari is a fly fishing guide and an outdoor writer based in Montana. Zach has fished and guided in Alaska, Colorado and Patagonia. Zach is also the blogger behind The Busted Oarlock.