Skip to main content Skip to main content

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.

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

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

How to Tie the Black Beauty Fly

How to Tie the Black Beauty Fly

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discusses the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty fly.

Tying the Perdigon Fly

Tying the Perdigon Fly

Charlie Craven shows how to tie the Perdigon Fly, step by step in this video guide.

How to Choose the Right Hook for Fly Tying

How to Choose the Right Hook for Fly Tying

Charlie Craven talks in-depth about hooks for fly tying, specific sizes to use, why certain hooks are used over others, and more.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Fly Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Get the top Fly Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Fly Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now