Trout Spey Chronicles

Trout Spey Chronicles is a compilation of articles, reviews and other how to's of two hand fly fishing adventures for Trout.

Last Updated: 3/6/2018

In The Beginning...

Enjoying a couple IPA's named "Clothing Optional" at Izaaks in the remote fishing town of Craig, Montana located on the banks of the Missouri River something occurred to me after an awesome day of fishing. I Felt that I had fished the future of fly fishing! That statement is difficult to explain in a short sentence. My point is while I am using techniques such as swinging flies, stripping streamers and fishing soft hackles, all of which are nothing new to the trout scene the two hand trout spey rod has enabled me to reach farther, fish deeper and have more control over my fly. That day on the Missouri I felt as if the fish I caught were fooled by my presentation because it was so different than anything they have seen before.

Now with a few years worth of articles I have decided to flip the format into reverse chronological order putting the latest article first.

3/6/2018 - RIO's How To, S2 E5: How to make a Single Hand Spey Cast
In this Short Video Simon explains the ease and value of single hand spey cast. Definitely worth watching.

2/15/2018 - Single Hand Skagit - How to get started
This Winter season of Trout Spey I've chose to reach into the really cool topic of single hand skagit. I've two hand trout spey fished a good variety of trout water across the US and while the Trout Spey or Micro Spey, whichever you prefer, hits home in many waters throughout America, I've also come to realize that there is a multitude of great trout streams in which this long rod just becomes too cumbersome and unnecessarily long. What I have found is small streams are ideal places for single hand skagit casting. It allows you to make casts in places where traditional overhead casting is not possible and trout spey rods are just over-kill.
 Single Hand Skagit - How to get started
Single Hand Skagit - How to get started

5/4/2017 - Scientific Anglers Spey Lite Micro Skagit Review
Are you into mini micro skagits? Read on...Not into the micro skagits? Could be time to reconsider. Do you swing flies or want to swing flies? Are you interested in spey but hold back due to the many facets of gear acquisition and/or line confusion? Read on!!!
Scientific Anglers Spey Lite Micro Skagit Review

6/6/2017 - OPST Single Hand Micro Skagit Recommendation Chart

3/9/2017 - Sage One Trout Spey 2109-4 Review
I've always felt a yearning to downsize my gear. The fives, fours and three weights in progression have always led me to seeking smaller, lighter sticks. Light, balanced, smooth, without hesitation the power exhibited from the 2109 would go unnoticed if it weren't for your fly landing on the other side of the river. Effortless is an understatement!
Sage One 2109-4 - Sage 4650 Fly Reel

Video from Redington
Find Your Water: Season 2, Episode 6: Movember
This is a great video the guys at Redington put together on the Missouri River in November..."Movember".

Find Your Water: Season 2, Episode 6: Movember

9/27/2016 - Trout Spey - Why Do It
To be honest normal trout tactics really don't much appeal to me. Of course dry fly fishing is one exception to that statement...
In this article I explore many reasons why I pursue Trout Spey...Read Article

8/16/2016 - Trout Spey - New Line Options
It's great to have such awesome rods available to us but the best rods really don't mean anything without lines to do what we need them to do!
Last year at this time I was writing Trout Spey Lines - No Perfect Answer. This year I am stoked to say I have some perfect answers. Maybe not all the answers but the two hand trout angler is wading up a better creek than ever! New Line Options...

7/18/2016 - Airflo Skagit Scout
I just received my samples today of the Airflo Skagit Scout. If you can't go Commando than maybe Scout is a little more your've been waiting to say this and now wondering how long it will be before someone says something to! Is that a boy scout or a cub scout? I joke but really the name means nothing. Will it be the end all to skagits...heck no! But if history has taught us anything Airflo does build a great skagit and I'm sure this one won't disappoint. I'll get a full report up soon. Airflo Skagit Scout is available now!

4/9/2016 - Winston Microspey vs Sage Trout Spey
Sage or Winston? I get asked this question all the time, "Greg which rod do you like better?"
Maybe trout spey isn't new!
In this article I explore what I like about each of these top brands and specific details about all available sizes. Drop me a message and let me know what trout spey rod you're fishing and what you like about it. I'd like o hear about it. Back to the question, Winston or Sage? Find out...

2/11/2016 - Winter Troutin' 2016
Silence is deafening! By now one must wonder is he trout angling or hung up his microspey?
Icy Guides and Frozen Hands
Did the bass addiction grab hold and not let go? OR am I secretly reinventing the the wheel at night while sitting at the tie bench and wearing camo on the river during the day hiding some new secret from the trout masses. Whether it left or right, this or that, is he or isn't he I can assure you the truth lies somewhere between sides! Yeah I've got a few secrets I'm holding back on. Hang in there for I'm about to let em fly...Meanwhile here is a little proof that I am out there, stalking trout with my two hand. Winter Troutin! Why do I do it?   Continue...

6/30/2015 - Fishing in the U.P. 
I know! This is not a trout or a two hand article but I think you might enjoy it anyway. I know I sure enjoyed writing it and living it. I'll get back to more Trout Spey Chronicles after I get my fill of bronze fish. 
A break from Trout
On a cold winter day while sifting through the hundreds of Columbia River bass photos obtained throughout the years of guiding and fishing the big water an overwhelming need to get back to the bronze kind had finally surfaced. I felt this day coming long ago. It was just a matter of time until the right opportunity surfaced.  Continue...

5/13/2015 - Trout Spey Reels
Reeling in success!
So what makes a perfect reel for a two hand trout spey rod outfit? While line capacity, drag performance and weight account for most of the answer ultimately we still get to make our own decision based on pure personal preference. Continue...

4/6/2015 - Trout Spey Lines - No Perfect Answer!
Lines...I have answers!
I have put off writing this article for months now. It's not that I don't want to write it but I know as soon as I do some new switch line will hit the market and already this article will be old news. I know many of you are reaching out looking for this info so therefore I will wait no longer to publish what I know and we'll tackle the new when it gets here! Continue...

3/4/2015 - San Juan, Animas, Durango - January 2015
The Animas River is a beautiful freestone mountain stream. Middle January and this river is cold! No surprise that these fish aren't going to move far for a fly. About an hour after four of us probing the water Tom hooks up on an awesome Brown. That one fish validated all effort! Continue...

11/21/2014 - Rio Chama gives up Her Gold
Rio Chama Gold
Fall colors come out on this fall day. It's hard to believe the beautiful brown trout that come out of this little river. At 21 inch this brownie was a good test for the Winston Microspey 4110. As you can see it passed with flying fall colors! Continue...

10/16/2014 - Winston MicroSpey takes on the Mighty Missouri
Swinging Soft Hackles
On this outing not only did I have my loved and trusted Sage ONE 4116 switch rod but was fortunate enough to also have the new stick on the scene the Winston Microspey 4110. Both these sticks deserve the highest honors. Continue...

4/3/2014 - San Juan Chronicles: All in One Day
Deer xing
Summer came too soon and I went on to tease the Columbia River Bass, throw some dries to some Deschutes River Resides and Swing for some summer Steelhead all the while my two hand trout rod remained at home. It wasn't until that fall that we would once again become one and get back on the river that it all started...

2013-2014 - Through the Winter
I continued to fish a trout spey on my almost home river the San Juan. It's a magical time of year on this tailwater fishery. Very few anglers and plenty of active fish gave me the peace I needed to refine trout tactics. Equipped with a Sage ONE 4116 Switch Rod and a desire to conquer this "new to me" fishery, the course was set that would forever change my view of a two hand rod. By the spring of 2014 I had many incredible days of fishing. Sure I spent a lot of time chipping ice from guides but never was there a day that wasn't worth it.
Sweet Release
April 2014 was to be my last trip of the year to this little amazing fishery. Anglers and fishing pressure were starting to increase. I'm more of a solitary angler, probably why I don't do much summer fishing. On that day conditions were tough but the two hand still came through.

To kick off this Trout Spey adventure let me take you back to were it all started many years ago...I was born...(ok, not that far back!). Just back to...

10/14/2013 - Rio Fishing Trip - Missouri River, Montana
Thanks Rio
While I had some experience with two hand spey for Steelhead this would be my first adventure using a two hand for trout. On this trip in October, I caught fish on streamers and dries but it was the two hand catches I remember most. I owe credit to Mr Simon Gawesworth for this experience. He came on this trip with his Sage ONE 4116 Switch rod and when I showed interest in what he was doing he unselfishly shared it with me. After a few catches I quickly agreed with Simon that there is something about swinging flies on tight line and feeling the grab that makes our adrenaline flow. It's a sense of connection to the water underworld. Continue...

Follow along with my success and failures...encourage me or criticize me makes no difference, (actually your criticism would just empower me more to prove my point). But what is my point? Well that's a long subject that will take time to unfold. We have all of 2016 to unfold it.

More Stories to come such as...

Single Hand Spey - What are you waiting for!

Micro Skagit

Trout Spey, Microspey, Switch - What's the difference?

Sink Tips - T-what, Poly-what?

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Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"


  1. Great blog... Keep the posts coming! I'm seeing a lot of buzz about the OPST Commando lines with trout spey set-ups. Interested on your take if you've had a chance to try them.

  2. Thank you David...Yeah the OPST Commando's have been super popular with sales. I have my samples but have not been on the river with them yet...Coming soon! I did get to test the New RIO Skagit Trout Max last year before they came to market. Similar Concept as the Commando head. Short! The beauty of these heads is they load right off the tip of the rod so the whole concept of sweeping into a D-loop for rod load is completely simplified. Simply put you can keep your rod loaded all the way into your casting position and never really need to worry about your timing/load. Great for touch and go. What we all will find this year is we now have a true Skagit for any rod we want to two hand with whether it's a 5wt trout rod, 7wt streamer rod, switch rod or all the way up to todays 13' steelhead two handers. More to come on this subject soon...Thanks David, Best Greg

  3. Hi Greg. How about flies (color and sizes included) you find useful, presentation tactics (casting angle, speed, movement, etc), types of water that are good or bad to fish, and comments on your use of tips and versa/poly leaders in different situations. Your experiences are helpful to adapt to ours! Thanks, Ed

  4. Ed,
    All Good Questions. I'm not prepared to have good answers for you on the spot but give me some time and I'll get all this info together soon. Fall is setting in and I'm about to put full attention into trout spey. Thanks for helping by giving me some ideas to write about. I appreciate you letting me know what area you want my input in.

  5. Greg,

    I read your post Winston vs Sage Trout Spey and am thinking about the Sage 3110. Have you tried the Scott T3H 4106 and if so, how do you think it compares.


    1. Hey Mark, Thanks for the question. I wish I had an answer for you. I have no experience with the Scott. Scott builds some great single hand rods but they just don't seem to get traction in the two hand market. In the future I might reach out to them and see if they have a demo rod I can try. If I have any valid reason to recommend the Sage 3110 over an untested 4 weight it would be under the recommendation to go smaller. The more I trout spey the smaller rod I want to swing. Now I don't know where you will be using this and there is rivers with good reason to have a 4 weight and in some cases a 5 is not too big. But the trend has been to reach for smaller. The Sage 3110 is simply incredible and even the little 2109 is an amazing stick. The skagits today are really harnessing the power from these smaller rods. Unless your in alaska or fishing big windy Montana rivers I almost can't even recommend a 4 weight anymore and if you fishing smaller stuff the little 2 weights are not under-gunned at all. Hope this helps

  6. Thanks Greg. I actually own that Scott and have found it a little wimpy (and I have a Radian SH 6 weight and absolutely love it). I just wanted your unvarnished opinion. I live in New England and will be using it mostly on smaller rivers and streams. I liked your review of the 3110 versus the 4110 and I get what you mean about being over-gunned with the later, as I have owned larger/longer One Switch and Spey rods. I like fishing small streamers and soft hackle teams and I like to change up from sustained anchor to T&G to keep things interesting and adjust to conditions, so you're comment that the 3110 will do both well leads me to believe the 3110 will work just fine for me. Thanks for getting back to me. I look forward to following this blog.


    1. Mark, Thank You for your kind comments and interest in Trout Spey Chronicles. I don't like wimpy rods. With the length of a spey rod there is no reason why the tip can't be soft and the butt harness power. Plenty of length to build a progressive taper on. That's one of the reasons I favor the Sage One trout Speys. Just an fyi, I am preparing a review for the 2109. I've been fishing this little stick all winter and it really is quickly becoming my favorite. I'm using it exactly as you described with small streamers and soft hackles. It's not been line picky at all with heads or tips. It seems to just dial in with whatever you favor. I wouldn't try to persuade you away from the 3110 as both rods possess the same actions. They are clearly siblings. But when I think about the New England waters your fishing I automatically think 2109. Either way you can't go wrong. Review should be live here in about a week. Best, Greg

  7. I'll keep an eye out for that review. Thanks again.


  8. Hi Greg and thanks for these TS posts. I really enjoy them. I took up 2 handed casting for steelhead about 4 years ago and became addicted. Been interested in 2 handed rods for trout for a couple years but just haven't made the commitment. Last year I added an Wulff Ambush shooting head to a 5 wt single hand rod and boy, it REALLY opened up my experience on the Deschutes as a walk & wade fisherman. This year I am really committed to making the move to a 2 handed TS rod. I wonder if you could shed some light on a few questions I have that are all centered on the same theme. What can't you do with a 2 handed trout spey rod and set up? I assume it would not be a very good tool for a delicate upstream dry fly presentation. Beyond swinging, stripping and jigging, can you effectively throw and drift a nymph under an indicator? A dry hopper and dropper set up? Mend well enough for a dead drift? etc? Any insight you have on the breadth of utility and limits would be appreciated. All the best, Rick

  9. Hey Rick, Thanks for the questions. I certainly don't have all the answers but I'll try to shed some light. Concerning dry fly presentations, delicate might be reaching but with a good single hand line and a little practice, trout spey rods actually overhead cast very well. One line that comes to mind is RIO's InTouch Single hand spey line. It's basically a trout taper line and it's fully integrated into the running line so no loops to get in the way. This line is also very similar to the Scandi Short Taper. If you go with this line since it is designated a single hand line you will need to oversize it by 3 line sizes. If you have a 4 weight TS then go with a 7wt Single Hand Spey line. I have the grain weights listed on product page to help understand that better. The big thing with overhead casting these rods is the need to eliminate the loop system. It just gets in the way. I should also note that integrated lines like switch chucker and streamer switch don't overhead cast well at all. Your Ambush line is better overhead casting then those so called switch lines. You need that trout or scandi taper line to get decent presentation. Nymph/indicator is not something I have even tried to master but I know guys that do it and do it quite well. It all comes back to the line and the lines that work well spey casting and swinging (skagits) don't work well for casting and mending nymph rigs. The line that plays the part of nymph indicator is RIO's InTouch Switch Line. It has a very long head length much like a single hand steelhead line. The head is much longer then you will likely be casting and that leaves you with plenty of rear body to mend with. Maybe someone can chime in here and give us some first hand experience. I certainly am no expert in this area. I have no issue with the technique but have spent like no time actually doing it with a TS. Working a Hopper/dropper rig is pretty easy again with a integrated trout taper line and overhead casting, provided you have the room to cast an 11 foot rod. One point I should make is the the shorter and smaller the TS rod is the easier it is to accomplish single hand tactics but the trade off is of course is can you get the power you want/need from the smaller rods for the heavier sink tips and flies you will want to swing. Such as the Sage 2109 and Winston 3106 both single hand extremely well but will they still be enough rod when you have a weighted fly and 10 feet of t-11 that you may need to swing the big Deschutes River. A 4 weight is a much better tool for heavier sink tips on the Deschutes fishery but now you are into a 11 to 11.5 foot rod and now making presentation abilities more difficult. Too late from keeping this reply long winded so I'm going to cap this off with some personal opinion here...what I've noticed among anglers is once they start swinging flies they pretty much devote themselves to it. Now I wouldn't pass up a hatch opportunity but as far as indicators and rigs go I see two hand anglers turn their focus to swing and strip opportunities. These tactics may not always produce as many fish but the ones it does produce can be pretty special and most of the time downright aggressive striking and hard fighting fish. No, not for one minute would I discount the challenges of the Big D. This is not your average western trout stream but the beauty of this wild river and swinging flies is in the fact that I think there is still a lot to be discovered. I hope this helps and thank you Rick for following my post. Best, Greg

  10. Wow!!! Thanks Greg. I am blown away by the comprehensive and swift response. Lots to think about, research and learn. I wasn't so in tune with line selection (as I am now). This will be a fun challenge. And, btw, I tend agree that other than rising fish during a hatch, swinging will likely be my technique of choice. Simply too much fun and thrilling! All the best, Rick

  11. First of a big thank you (Greg) for a very nice blog and especially the Trout Spey Chronicles. Am completely and fully in to Trout Spey these days. Dry flies can be fun but Trout Spey fishing seems to fit me better. I like to be on the move and I like streamer fishing.
    With all the lines and Heads these days it makes things a lot easier. For many years I tried converting singelhander, small switch rods and WF lines with short Heads but it did not felt the way I liked. 2015 I decided to start selling of rods and make changes and for a couple of month ago I did received the Sage 2 wt trout spey and I love it! The rod has perfect balance fish fighting feel and ability to cast long if needed. Light and crisp but with power.
    My arsenal of rods I reduced but I got the rods I love the 2 wt, 4 wt and a 7 wt, all in the One se-ries of rods (and all 2 handers). The 2 wt is my sweetheart right now and the 4 wt is for bigger rivers and Scandi applications.

    Just rambling on above and no questions just wanted to send a thank you for a great blog!


    1. Mattias, Thank you for your kind words. I completely understand what your saying about, "trout spey fishing seems to fit me better". The other day I saw some fish rising to midge patterns so I grabbed my single hand and tied on a tiny dry. After countless attempts in multiple locations and frustrated with not be able to even see the fly I finally went back to my two hand swing game and when the next Bow yanked the rod out of my hands it reminded me why, Why I trout spey, it just fits me better. Best, Greg

  12. Greg,

    Thanks for the blog. It has been VERY informative when I was trying to decide on purchasing a 4116 or 3110 for my waters in Colorado. I decided on the 3110 ONE and have just begun to use it. It's kind of funny being the only two-handed fisherman on some of these streams. I'm curious, with your experience, have you found it to be an acceptable nymphing rod as well? I currently just have my rod rigged for micro-skagit with a Commando head and Lazer line. I tie and swing a lot of soft hackles. I find fishing this way much more enjoyable than hi-sticking but I'm curious if you've found a set-up that works or should I just stick with my single-handers for this job? If I could just take the 3110 to the river and leave the single handed rods in the truck, that is the preference. Pack a reel in the bag and press on. By the way, I decided on the 3110 over the 4116 because I already have a 5116 and have heard that the 4116 is a bit stiff but might make a better indicator stick for those applications.

    As always, your comments are highly regarded and appreciated. Make it a great day!

    Tight Lines,

    James Durden
    Parker, CO

    1. James, Thanks for your comments. In regard to nymphing I don't have much experience doing it with a two hander. I don't have an issue with nymphing and I keep thinking I will spend some time trying it but too often I just don't get to go to the river enough. When I do get to the river I tend to focus on perfecting my swing for better success. Sometimes it works and other times I start thinking about the next trip. One thing I can tell you in my limited experience is that the two hand handle will feel cumbersome. Maybe this goes away with time or technique. I would recommend a good nymph type of line and be sure to translate the size to single hand specs. Your 3110 should work well with a 5wt or even 6wt nymph/indicator line. Personally I wouldn't hold back and go straight to a 6wt line. Since distance casting is not an issue I'd go 6wt to get the extra benefit of easy turnover. You might even find yourself performing some simple double spey cast which can really help when casting a double nymph rig with indicator. I know guys are doing it but your experience, like mine, it's hard to even find another two hand trout angler let alone one that is nymphing.


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