Spey Tips Video Series #1: Mia Sheppard’s Short Game Puts More Fish on The Bank

Mia Sheppard’s Short Game Puts More Fish on The Bank The close-in swing works well on trout and steelhead, as evidenced by this "last light" catch on a coastal British Columbia stream.

As a guide, I’ve said it hundreds of times—start short and don’t wade past your ankles until you work the close water first.

Why you might ask? Well, there are times when the best holding water is in close. I like to say the fish often hide in plain sight, right near the shoreline. Invariably, anglers want to wade right in, often standing in water where they should be running a fly. I mean, you’ve got these expensive waders and you’ve learned how to cast 90 feet. It’s go time. Wade deep and throw long. Swing for the fences, right?

I’ll say it again. Start short. This is a general rule that applies to all angling. Don’t pass up fish that may be resting close to shore just because you want to cast far. Not only will you miss your opportunity on fish that are lurking close, but if you spook them, they can scatter out and spook fish that are hanging in the deeper water. You might have just blown the whole run.

The trout spey game opens up lots of water and increases both the distance and efficiency of an angler’s casts. And, it’s just plain fun to huck big. But as you’ll learn in the following video with Mia Sheppard, good anglers don’t neglect any water.

In fact, Sheppard demonstrates how to maximize our water coverage by working out line systematically. With a longer rod and leader, you are already working at some distance even when you just have a leader and head out of the rod tip. Start with 15 feet and flick it out. Make your first swing right off your rod tip. Then pull out line in two-foot increments. Keep casting, lengthening and repeating until you reach your maximum distance. Then you can start to move, stepping down after each cast. Make sure that you fish your swing all the way back to shore. That way, you continue to play the short game all way down the run. You might just find that you catch 15-to 20-percent more fish when you start short and fish your swing all the way back in, even when you’re throwing far. Throughout a season, that can add up to a lot of fish.

When you’ve got the systematic distance game figured out, don’t forget to give your fly a little action along the way. Mia likes to provide little pulses, makes the fly dance a bit. Get jiggly with it.

Intro by Fred Telleen

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North 40 Fly Shop got its start in Great Falls, Montana when a couple fishheads snapped up a pile of closeout items and offered them for sale on a single pegboard wall. Today, we offer the largest selection of fly-tying materials in the area, along with a broad range of high-quality rods, reels and lines, plus gear and apparel, from dedicated fly-fishing specific brands. We spread our love of fly-fishing through fly-tying classes, spey claves, and community outreach, and run our shop with this motto: Beginner or expert—you’re welcome here. We love Montana and are proud to call the Missouri River our home water. While we always keep our finger on the pulse of the mighty Mo, we are surrounded by many other great rivers, streams and lakes and offer insider tips on these waters. Beyond Montana, we host destination trips to Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Christmas Island and Belize.

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