Swinging for Steel

Written by: Shawn Brillon

In all they years that I have been going to the New York’s Salmon River, I always spend a day or two swinging big junk waiting for that magical tug. Well, last week I not only got that tug, but I brought the fish to hand—and to make the success ever so sweeter, it was done in the presence of my fishing buddies. Every fly fisherman has had those days: you hooked up and landed a beauty, only to share that epic moment with…uh, yourself. No pictures and no witnesses, so therefore it never happened in the eyes of your fishing buddies.

This time was different. One of the boys was skeptical about the swing, arguing that you catch way more fish running egg patterns under an indicator. I didn’t try to dispute that fact, but I knew that a really big fish coming to the swing was a great possibility. I also knew that if I were to hook up on a hog with 1X, I had a better chance of getting the fish to hand than my friend with his 3X.  In fact, as we were discussing the merits of both styles of fishing, I hooked up on a fat brown of 10 pounds or more. After I released the gorgeous trout, my buddy commented , “Well, bro, you’re off to a good start.”

This 16-pound steelhead was caught on a traditional Spey fly swung on
a 550 Skagit-taper line with 10 feet of T14 sink tip.
photos by Mike Daley

It wasn’t more than 20 casts later when the big boy grabbed solid, and the game was on. This time, the whole crew was in attendance to share this epic moment of nailing a hog on the ultimate way to catch a steelhead…on the swing.

In three days of hard fishing, I swung up four steelies and four browns over 10 pounds. To my friend’s point, he caught more fish with the egg, but the BIG boys came to the swing.

Shawn Brillon is an Orvis Rod & Tackle Product Development Specialist.

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