Trout Spey Fly Tying Contest

As part of our new 2019 Trout Spey Camp, Headhunters will be holding a fly tying competition for the best Trout Spey Pattern. We are looking for some great new Trout Spey “Swing” patterns for the Missouri River and beyond, and we want to see if there are some cool proven patterns out there. In fact we are certain that there’s some really cool patterns out there we have not seen!

So what’s a “Trout Spey” pattern? That’s a good question, and we don’t really have an answer. It could be a big attractor, or a tiny imitative soft hackle. It could be weighted for use on a floating line, or unweighted for swinging on a sink tip. You could design a fly to target that one big fish you’re looking for, or a pattern designed to catch as many fish as possible. I’ve even sat down to design a fly specifically for Walleye.

To give you an idea or what we use for Trout Spey fishing – and maybe a little inspiration – here’s a list of our current most popular “Trout Spey” flies:

  • Gartside Sparrow
  • Pig Pen Leech
  • Carey Special (shown above)
  • Stinger Sculpin
  • Fruit Roll Up
  • Shock & Awe
  • Foxee Clouser
  • Improved Soft Hackle
  • Thin Mint

The fun here is that the category doesn’t really exist, so you’re creativity can really go wild. Every material, style and technique will be in play. And we won’t have time to test them, so no one can say “that fly doesn’t work”!

(Heres some other categories that didn’t exist when I started guiding: Bead-Head Nymphs, Steelhead Intruders, Pike Flies, Czech or Euro Nymphs, Foam Attractors, CDC Patterns, Carp Flies…)

Now, we’re really just streamer and soft hackle fishing, so you could argue that there’s no reason to define a streamer (or a soft hackle) as a “trout spey” fly. But where’s the fun in that. And we’ve already discovered that certain flies work better for swinging on foot than others.

The only “rule” here is that is must be designed to fish on the swing. We DO NOT Nymph with spey rods around here.


To enter you only need to:

Send 3 copies of your fly submission to the following:

  • Headhunters Fly Shop
    c/o Ben McNinch – troutspey contest
    145 Bridge Street
    Craig, MT 59648
  • You’ll also earn extra points if you throw an image of your entry on Instagram and tag @headhuntersfly #troutspeyflycontest
  • You’ll also earn extra points if you’re actually here and registered for the event! (But for this one competition we will allow entries without being present).
  • Remember, flies need to be designed to fish “on the swing”, not dead drifted!


Judging will be done by a combination of our staff and manufacturer representatives present at the event. The flies will be on display during the entire Trout Spey Camp, and we will also be awarding a “People’s Choice” award. Again, you do not need to be present to win. But it helps.

PRIZES – We don’t have this nailed down yet, but it will be some good swag (we like good prizes). We will post the awards on the event page when finalized.


Things John thinks about while spey fishing that might help inspire you…

I’ve always wanted to design a good “swinging scud”.

Lots of juvenile Burbot in the Missouri and other Montana streams.

I’ve always liked “low-water” style wet flies.

October Caddis are very important.

How small can “string” style flies get and would there still be an advantage?

How can you incorporate jigging action into a heavy sink-tip/short leader rig?

Kinda hard to beat “bugger” style.


competition, contest, fly tying, Trout Spey
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1 Comment.

  • Carey’s and Sparrow’s are some of my Favorite patterns, and not just for “Speying about”. Far back as the early ’90’s (1990’s you smart ass, ha) I used these 2 patterns on Eastern (Brookies) Streams on Long Island & Connecticut.
    During “spawn seasons” (Spring & Fall for most Trouts) I “convert” the standard-kind into the Egg-Sucking” kind – using (usually) blood red glass or metal beads. In fact, last year – Dam to Craig – I used many of these even a bit early (late August/early Sept.) with Great success – I have most of the photo proof ! I might tie some “stuff,” but I have a “new” attractor, wet fly pattern tied by another, that I will be using in hopes to show him some Nice Rewarding Fish Pics come October on the Mo . . . !? Yes Mark & John, I will show and perhaps share one or 2.

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