The team at Headhunters refers to the time from November to April as “swing season”. We devote most of our efforts towards chasing Montana trout with Spey Rods and swung flies. Why? Because we like it, and we live on one of the best “swinging” trout rivers in the world. It’s also an effective – often deadly – method during the fall, winter and spring months on the Missouri River. Headhunters has become the primary source for information and education regarding Montana spey fishing. We’re out testing new gear and flies nearly every day.

Spey fishing during the off season is often done on foot, and offers solitude that has become difficult to find in the west. A quiet hike out to your favorite run with nothing more than a fly cup and a spool of tippet is a great way to spend a Winter afternoon. Chinook winds pummel the front range during the off-season, but with them comes warm air that can make fishing very comfortable. When the weather gets nasty, we’d prefer to wear gloves while swinging a spey rod, rather than freeze our fingers trying to tie up tiny double-nymph rigs in a slouch filled drift boat.


The Missouri is a big river, and actually gets bigger when you approach it with a spey rod. At least 100 yards across in most places, it’s bigger than most trout and steelhead rivers. Our trout tend to hold in the middle of the river, and this is especially true during “swing-season”. This makes the Missouri River an incredible venue for spey casting and fishing.

We approach each run in classic down-and-across fashion, starting at the top of the run and taking a step (or 3) between each cast. We never step in front of another angler. While we stick pretty close to the old Steelhead rules, we might move a bit quicker between buckets, and hang around a little longer when we’re on the fish. There’s rarely someone behind you anyway.


“Trout Spey” rods in the 2-4 weight range (150-350 grains) are our preferred tools. This new breed of trout-specific spey rod are a blast to cast and fight fish with, and protect lighter tippets when we swing small soft-hackles. Recent introductions of new Trout Spey lines mean that anglers finally have access to the right Spey gear for chasing resident trout in Montana and beyond. While these ultra-light spey rods are perfect for most trout applications, don’t feel like you cant bring your heavier 6 or 7 weight rod to the wide and windy Missouri, especially if you are just getting your feet wet.

We also use these smaller rods on freestones in the region, typically in the late fall and spring. There small size adapts well to rivers like the Blackfoot or Big Hole. Skagit heads allow us to adapt quickly to changing water temperatures and depth. Some folks love to swing tiny soft hackles on these rods as well, though that is more commonly done during the summer months.


If you want to learn more about the techniques, gear and flies we use to target trout in our region with spey rods, click the link below and it will take you to all of the articles we have published in the spey category. You can also read some past spey fishing reports to pick up a few seasonal tips.


We have a large selection of demo Trout Spey gear at Headhunters. Whether you’re trying it for the first time, or looking for the perfect rod for your specific application, let us set you up with the right rod and line system. Manny customers try line sbefore they buy, grabbing a couple of the latest heads to try on their favorite rod. Please call ahead if there is something specific you want to reserve.


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