Gearing up for Winter: Skagit Casting

Gearing up for Winter: Skagit Casting

For many of us chrome-addicts, summer is the off-season. Sure we love to skate flies to eager fish, and who doesn't enjoy a evening session in short-sleeves, but when push comes to shove, we're out there biding our time until the real game starts: swinging flies for bright winter steelhead.

Part of the attraction is the fish: bigger, stronger, and less predictable than their summer cousins. And part of the attraction is the rivers: greener, wilder, and more plentiful. But for me, a big part of the attraction is adding a third dimension to the swing. Instead of controlling a swing on or near the surface, now you have to get your fly down to the fish before the swing starts.

Ten years ago, the prospect of casting weighted flies on winter rivers was intimidating. But now, thanks to Skagit heads and sustained-anchor casting techniques, weighted flies can be cast with the ease of a dry fly. The first step, then, to gearing up for winter steelhead is learning to Skagit cast. And if you already know how, your first step is learning to cast beefier flies in tighter quarters.  


Luckily we have help in the form of an excellently produced DVD called, Skagit Master with Ed Ward. Check out the trailer at:

The film can be found at your local fly shop, or at Highest recommendations.

In the film, you'll see Ed Ward casting both on a river and on grass. My two cents: skip the grass practice and so straight to your local pond or river. If you've been Skagit casting a year or more, charge out to waist deep under some overhanging branches--real winter fishing conditions--and become comfortable placing your fly, accelerating through the D-loop, and launching those Intruders. Practice now, hook fish later.

In the coming weeks, expect to see more posts in our "Gearing up for Winter" series. The fish are coming, and so are we.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


8 New Fly Lines for 2019


Here's a look at 8 new fly lines for 2019.

United States

Saving the Chattahoochee River

Ross Purnell - April 23, 2019

How an Atlanta craft brewery is helping to save Georgia's most important trout stream.

Fly Tying

Tying the Kamikaze Sculpin

Charlie Craven

The Kamikaze Sculpin is easy to tie, versatile, and smartly designed to get the job done.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Basic Fly Casting

When learning to fly fish, casting is the first thing to master. Lean what to do, and not do, to successfully make a short fly cast.

Bahamas - Bonefish

Conway casts for his personal best bonefish while fishing the Grand Bahama islands.

Basic Fly Tying Tools

Vises, scissors, hackle pliers, stackers, bucktail, gauges and more. Dave Bloom lays out the basic tools you need to start tying flies.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Alpine Lakes for Remote Monsters

Landon Mayer - April 18, 2018

You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones...


Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...


Top Drift Boats of 2019

John Fedorka - April 02, 2019

Drift boats help you search through miles of river quickly and effectively. Here's the top...

See More Stories

More Rods


Redington Butter Stick: Six Rod Series

Ross Purnell, Editor - October 23, 2013

Redington gets extra credit points for the best name for a fly rod with the recent...


Echo Fiberglass

Ross Purnell, Editor - October 23, 2013

The new entry into the glass realm, the Echo Fiberglass, has five classic-looking sticks from...


Orvis Recon

Ross Purnell, Editor - April 06, 2015

The Orvis Recon is an amazing rod for the price, available in many lengths and weights for a...

See More Rods

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.