Swinging with Dick

Swinging with Dick

Swinging with Dick

Ed Note: An article today from Richard Magill, Dick, who works in the shop. Dick is headed into his 3rd year here on the Mo and has no intentions of leaving soon. He fishes a ton. When not on the water, and sometimes ties flies too. Other than a couple hours daily checking in at Joe’s, he is enjoying the benefits of living in downtown Craig. Literally. 

The Missouri River is where I do most of my fishing. Living at trout bum ground zero here in beautiful Craig Montana, I’m a short walk (90 seconds) away from one of the most iconic trout fisheries on the planet. So, I fish a lot. And am totally into swinging…the fly.

On any given day, you will see every type of fly angler on the water. People that are dry fly only, nymphers, the notorious streamer junkies, and finally the swingers. Like many, I enjoy every aspect of fly fishing however, if I had to pin down one technique for the Mo and stick with it year-round, I’m going the way of the spey.

Like I’ve said before, I enjoy pursuing and catching fish with just about any method. There’s just something different about doing it on a swung fly. The fish don’t just eat your fly, they smash it. I believe it to be one of the most fun methods of targeting trout.

Winter is a great time to utilize a swung fly as the fish will generally congregate in slow deep buckets. This is when I most often utilize a Skagit head paired with aggressive sink tips to get my fly to the strike zone.

Though it can easily be done on a single-handed rod, the emergence of trout sized spey rods has been a game changer. Most of these rods are somewhere between 10 and 12 feet long and ranging from ninja like 1wts up to a tackle anything 4wt.

My 2 goto Missouri River sticks include the Redington Hydrogen 11’3” 3wt. It’s a versatile rod that cast both Scandi and Skagit heads with ease. When our central Montana wind becomes a problem or if I just want to throw some larger flies, I opt to use the G-Loomis IMX PRO 11’11” 4wt. It’s a cannon with enough power to handle most trout streamers.

Line selection can be a daunting task with so many manufactures and variables to consider. I fish both Scandi and Skagit systems here on the Mo. When fishing my Hydrogen 3wt I pair it with either a 22’ 240gr Scientific Anglers Spey Lite Scandi Head along with a 12’ 4x tapered leader

For deep winter fishing with cooler water temps and when the fish slip into the deeper holding lanes I choose a 14’ 250gr Rio InTouch Skagit Trout Spey shooting head. With Rio’s InTouch Skagit Trout Spey heads, the use of some kind sink tip is required. I utilize the full range of Rio’s Light iMOW tips with the 5FT INT/ 5FT T-8 tip being the one I typically start my day with. Then if I need to get deeper, I add a heavier tip. Conversely, if I am dragging bottom too often, I go the other way. Throw about 36” of 1x or 2x Rio Fluoroflex tippet on the end of your tip and you’ll be ready to roll.

Running line isn’t as critical as your shooting heads, but still shouldn’t be overlooked. There are several options from monofilament lines to coated lines. The benefit of using a coated running line would be its lack of memory coming off the reel. Some believe coated running lines to be a bit easier to manage in the cold as well. Monofilament shoots extremely well but will have a fair amount of memory coming off the reel if you don’t fish often. This can be alleviated by simply stretching your running line before you start fishing. The use of a swivel between your shooting head and running line will also help. Another plus for mono is the fact that it doesn’t pick up as much water when your stripping it in, keeping your hands a bit drier.

The running line on my spey reel is OPST’s 40lb Lazar Line. I’ve got no complaints after fishing the stuff well over a couple hundred days. If you do decide to use a mono running line, it is best to use a reel with a fully enclosed frame. This is important because the thin diameter of monofilament will allow it to “travel” and escape the spool. If this has ever happened to you, you’re aware of how frustrating it can be. The new Sage Trout Spey reel is a petty sweet option that that has zero space for mono to escape. Another solid option would be the Lamson Remix, which comes with an additional two spools.

So that’s the nuts and bolts of my set up for swinging flies on the Mo. Try it some time. You might find a new favorite discipline for targeting trout.  If you have any other questions feel free to swing by the shop or give us a call.

Thanks Dick. A reminder that we have tons of Trout Spey gear from Loomis, Sage, Orvis, Echo, Douglas, Galvan, Lamson, Hatch, RIO, Airflo, Scientific Anglers, OPST, and more! Literally every Trout Spey Line in stock here at your Trout Spey Fishing Source in Craig Montana!

Echo, Loomis, Richard Magill, Swinging with Dick, Trout Spey
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  • Very nice Dick. Your essay gives me hope I can figure out the Spey.

  • Nice use of Journalisms “Catchy, gotcha Title” . . . and continuation into the writing. Sliding on down to the comments I passed thru the “ads” and a thought occurred to me, far as the Sparrow Black goes. No hot-spot. SO, I’ll be tying up a few with a hot spot head . . . numerous varieties, such as a simple Blood Red Glass bead, fluorescent metal bead and painting on various “hot” colors. Of course this could also be applied to many other Trout Spey / Streamer flies . . . hmmm.

  • Great article, but the problem with trout spey on the Might Mo is getting spoiled with all those fish per/runs, especially when going back to Oregon and “the fish of a thousand casts” (winter steelhead) ha!

    Great article. Love that river!

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