In any avenue of fly fishing, one thing that separates successful anglers from not-so-successful anglers is complete, undivided, fully engaged, focus whenever your fly is in the water. Many fish are lost (or perhaps never hooked at all) from anglers who’s minds were wandering or whom were not expecting a fish to eat the fly in the first place.
Spey fishing is no exception, and we feel a lot of fish are lost from this very lack of anticipation of the inevitable – when the fish eats the fly! Therefore, its important whenever your fly is under tension to be in a position to properly set the hook (low and towards the inside bank, please). It’s going to happen eventually, so you might as well be ready for it!
When explaining the ideal ready position during the swing, Alaska West guide, Ben West, utilizes a simple saying; Don’t block your hook set. In other words, during the swing, position both your feet and rod hand accordingly so that when it’s go time, you’re able to make a good, firm, efficient set. Most of the time, rods tucked under the arm during the swing, or held all the way down at the side (see photos below) don’t allow enough freedom of movement to provide a firm hook set, thus ‘blocking’ your hook set.
Instead, try positioning your feet at a slightly downstream angle throughout the entire swing, with your rod hand tracking the fly slightly in front of your body (see photo below). That way, when it’s time to hit ’em, regardless of which side of the river you’re on, you have full range to rotate your torso and swing your rod hand in front of your body to really drive the hook home.