Saturday, February 3, 2018

Swing for Trout

For the Baked Goods Illustrated portion of today's entry: blueberry muffins.

George, thinking of you here. I make a respectable cup of tea so if you happen to get over here on this side of the pond, let me know.

I've got berries secreted in the freezer.

Beargirl thought these were so good last Sunday morning ( I  made mini-muffins out of the same batch, too) that I think she's planning on making them for me in the morning. They'll be snow and snow blowing so I'll have muffins after clearing the drive.

Not a bad gig if you can get it.

I've been at the bench. Actually, I've been putting in a great deal of effort on the day job here the past couple of weeks. I've need the stress relief of the vise.

Trout dreams.

Some flies are posted below.

I say that  though really one should read Steve Bird's great pieces on trout spey suitable designs over on the Soft Hackle Journal (link right) and some of Alan's recent numbers at Small Stream Reflections, also linked at the right.

I'm looking forward to more soft hackle swings throughout the water column and less bloody nymphing come ice out. I'm not a fan of nymphing but will, if pressed.. Swing will help my outlook and make me less grizzly on the early water.

On my mind has been the need for a solid selection of soft hackles to use throughout the water column when swinging trout spey and for use with conventional single-hand 5wt, 4wt, and 3wt rods.

Michigan is ideally a 4wt state. 5wt and 6wt outfits are great for serious -- modern Galloup-style --streamer action, mousing, and the great Hex hatch. A twelve inch brown (still above the state average by 4 inches) does well on a 4wt rod.

A 3wt  does fine when the wind is down -- as it is most evenings.

Top Layer: 

Last year at some urging, I tied a few CDC based soft hackles to use in dry-fly season right on the top-water boundary film. These work well. I'll be tying many, many more this year. Dry fly hooks pinched barbless; thread bodies; CDC hackle.

Steve Bird has a class of dabblers he's recently outlined and will be featured in an upcoming article in Swing the Fly (a Magazine I heartily endorse. Get the three-year subscription. It's worth it.) I have to work these up.

Also, there are a class of long-hackled Scottish flies fished dry that are in the same design pattern as wet flies but are finished with soft hackle alone as opposed to Jinglers which seem to have stiff and soft hackles blending our American Catskill dry fly with the traditional loch fly design. I have a Davie McPhail example and will be working it up here in the coming weeks  .


This is the top eight to twelve inches of the stream. Classic soft hackles work great for me here on slightly heavier hooks tied with conventional grouse, pheasant, partridge, India hen neck, and starling hackles. I like lightly dubbed bodies on these flies but "lightly" can take a little work for me. I have to remind myself to use half as much dubbing as I'd want to use on almost every fly.


Here I have had some trouble. These are the two-to-four foot depths.

 I've tied lightly weighted soft-hackles (the Coug -- a red floss and herl bodied dun-hackled fly with 4 wraps of non-lead ) with good results for brookies.

I've had less success with browns. I suspect my drift is unduly influenced by the weight. In gin-clear water, the fly clearly moves differently from a natural nymph in the same strata of the water column. Life is insufficiently imitated.

I'm going to  work on managing my "intermediate" drifts more with flouro tippets and light sinking tips. I suspect that "contact drifting" these patterns with just the barest twitch from the twisted-hand retreive will give me the contact necessary to detect subtle takes.

More contact swing from larger size 8/10/12 3xl long flies tied expressly for the swing should also help.

I've used the Gamakatsu T10-6H salmon fly hooks this week to good effect. I like them.


Here, I am going with soft-hackled streamer designs. I'm looking at spade flies (outlined by Steve Bird again) coming from the steelhead side of the house and attached to true sinking tips in seven and ten foot lengths fished on tension.

[New Swing the Fly arrived today specifically discussing the swing under weight from tips. I'll read the article tomorrow morning over coffee. You read the NYT if you want. I'm reading about trout.]

Also, I'm tying soft hackle streamers such as the royal coachman plus a few hairwing patterns I tie so poorly I'm not going to mention them yet.

All in all, I'm satisfied that some techniques such as using dual-hackled heads,  more palmered bodies, and better attention to detail on some adapted Atlantic Salmon hairwing patterns will let me cover the big water and the deep holes.

I'm feeling confident I can relegate nymphing to a secondary effort.

I cannot completely give up the tight-line flymph. Indicator fishing (I like wool tuft indicators) is just not a desired option. I'm done fishing for catfish.

Maybe if I have to fish milkshake waters.

Some flies from this week. These are larger trout spey style flies in size 6, 8 and 10 in 3 xl.

Work to do. Work to do.



  1. Spike, I dont do Tea...YUCK I've never drunk tea since I left for the Army in 1983, Coffee monster and one or two of those muffins would go down exceptionally well with a nice coffee. Nice write up :)
    Best regards

  2. Coffee we've got. This morning's muffins? I'm doing my best to eliminate the unsightly build-up of muffins around the place. You know how it is ...

  3. For a muffin I'll drink tea or coffee or hot chocolate, postem.....

    Davie is a hell of a fly tyer, a bit difficult to understand but with the way he does his videos all you need do is look.

    The flies appear to be soft-hackles, and you know how I feel about them, that Royal is a killer.

  4. More coachmen in 10/12 micro-streamer size tonight at the Beer Grotto tying session. Also, hare's ear flymphs. in that same size for the lower water column. Extra flymphy so have top counter the excessive hackle. I'm working up something along the lines of a "natural buggar" for these. Pictures to come. Completely speculative fly. No idea if I'm off bsae or not. Might have to run out and ask a trout. Dataus Proper did just that.