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Spey Fishing from a Boat

Posted on December 16 2015

Swinging flies from a Boat by Tosh Brown.
Reason number one to swing flies from a boat. Photo: Tosh Brown.

We really love working our way down a run on foot, swinging flies, and catching big fish like king salmon on spey rods. Who wouldn’t, right?

At Alaska West, we’re really lucky in that our fishery is about as perfect as it gets for swinging flies – long, lazy, low gradient runs made up of big gravel bars, most of which are the easiest wading we’ve ever seen. It’s a special river, and while there might be another river out there more conducive to swinging flies, we certainly haven’t seen it!

However, even on our river, depending on the conditions (think high water, early season run-off, and so on), sometimes you’re better off fishing from the boat instead. But, contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean you have to put down the two-hander! We swing flies from the boat all the time when conditions warrant it, it’s really effective, and a fun change of pace too.

How it Works

The general technique is pretty straight forward. The boat is strategically anchored, typically off sloughs or outside bends (you know, the ones you’re usually trying to hit when fishing on foot from the opposite bank). The angler makes the same downstream and across presentation as he/she would from the gravel bar, makes a mend, and let’s ‘er swing on through.

Sounds familiar right? It should! The fly is fished essentially the same as it would be from the opposite bank. The only difference is at the end of the swing, during the ‘hangdown,’ your fly is probably sitting right in the middle of the bucket.. In other words, get ready for the mayhem when stripping in (slowly we might add) your running line.

More on Fly Fishing from Boats

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