Rod in Spey casting action on wide river, photographed from behind fisherman
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Trout Spey :
How it all Began

Spey casting has its origins in the mid 1800s on the River Spey and large salmon rivers of Scotland.


Early 'practitioners' used long two-handed rods to fish for Atlantic salmon running during the warmer months, when fish rose to unweighted flies on or just below the surface.


The original lines they used were double-tapered floating, and later specific weight forward Spey lines with long more-or-less delta-tapered head were developed.

When Spey casting and using two-handed rods started spreading to other parts of the world, local anglers began making lines better suited to their particular fisheries.

In Scandinavia, the Scandi shooting head evolved to achieve distance and presentation when targeting salmon on rivers with little space for casting.

In the Northwest of the United States the 'Skagit head' was developed by steelhead anglers needing a line they could cast in tight situations, but that would turn over the heavy sink tips and flies they needed to get down deep.

Both the Scandi and Skagit lines were shorter and much easier to cast than conventional Spey lines. Commercial production of Skagit and Scandi heads began in the 1990s, with a focus on salmon and steelhead.


When double handed rods became shorter and lighter, Skagit and Scandi heads did too. By around 2017 both heads were available in lengths and weights designed for double and single- handed rods suitable for catching trout.


These micro Skagit and Scandi heads enabled the trout fisher to cover a wide range of trout angling situations when Spey casting, and created the impetus for Trout Spey to develop into a discipline of fly fishing in its own right.

Trout Spey is most often used for fishing streamers, swinging soft hackles and skating dry flies, but there's a growing following of enthusiasts who fish dry flies and nymphs (without indicators), especially on wide rivers.

It's fantastic fun. 


In the articles below I look at the gear available and resolve some confusion about Trout Spey, focusing on rod weight, single-hand versus double-handed rods and choice of line type.


These may assist others putting together balanced outfits for specific situations, helping them avoid some of the purchasing blunders and frustration I experienced at the beginning of my journey into Trout spey.

What is Trout Spey

+ How it all began
+ What is Spey casting?
+ Fly lines
+ Sink Tips for Skagit Heads
+ Single versus two handed rods
+ Effective Spey flies for New Zealand Trout and techniques for fishing them
+ Favourite Trout Spey outfits
+ Conclusions

Single Hand Skagit - Science behind the magic

+ Where it all began
+ Head design
+ Sink tips
+ Casting heavy sink tips
+ Running lines
+ Reels
+ Rods
+ Intermediate heads
+ Favourite outfits
+ Conclusions
+ Casting Notes for 12 Skagit Heads I tested
+ Table of Sink Tip Recommendations
+ Table of Lengths and Weights of Sink Tips

Single hand Trout Spey : Getting started with a 9 ft 5wt rod

+ Getting started
+ Rods and Skagit heads
+ Sink tips for Skagit heads
+ Tippet for Skagit heads

Intermediate Skagit heads

+ Hybrid heads
+ Floating tips for Skagit heads
+ Running lines
+ Cost effective approach
+ Learning to Spey cast
+ A final word

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