Get Your Gear On

What you need for pursuing Steelhead on a swung fly on smaller rivers like the Pere Marquette


When swinging for steelhead, the longer your rod the more effortless the fishing will become. With a longer rod, you will be able to efficiently cover more water, in less time. With any type of fishing, the more water you can cover, the better your chances are at finding a player. Longer rods allow you to mend the fly easier. This will allow you to get the fly down in the strike zone faster. You will start to fish the water with more confidence.

I prefer a Switch or Spey rod from 11′ to 12 1/2′ long. I choose my rod based on the type of water and the depth. If you’re just starting out,  you may want to go with an 8wt. An 8wt will help you cast heavier tips and big flies with greater ease.  As your casting improves, you may find your quiver of rods begin to grow like mine. You may want to tackle the river with a lighter rod, like a 6 or 7wt. This will allow you to experience the fight like you’ve never experienced before.

fly reel


The fly reel is an important factor contributing to a great day of swinging. If you’re on a budget, invest a majority of your budget into a great reel. You want a reel which matches the weight of the rod. Don’t get something too heavy for all the casting you will be doing. The most important factor in a good reel:  A good drag. When fishing small, tight, log-filled rivers like the Pere Marquette, you’ll need to stop the fish and show who’s in control. If you’re winter fishing, you’ll need reel with an enclosed drag. You don’t want your drag getting wet and freezing up.  Get a good reel which will withstand the elements.

Lines and Sink Tips

Line choice will vary based on the conditions of the river and your casting style. Some Anglers prefer Skagit Head’s because they fish a heavier tip or fly. Some enjoy the softer and smaller line of a Scandi Head’s and Tip.  As with the line, your tips can change on a day to day basis. Tip style will depend on water level, water temp, and the style of flies you’ll be swinging. Spending the money to hire or chatting with a guide can really help you grow in your knowledge of this sport. They are on the water on a regular basis. If they swing flies, they will know what works.