My buddy Lightnin’ always says that when someone is being uppity or sophisticated that they are carrying themselves with their “pinky out”. It is a reference to the posh tea drinker that sips all snooty like, with one pinky out, straightened and off the handle of their cup. There are many things besides tea drinking that one can call someone out as being pinky out, but only one that I will proudly claim I am dead guilty of.
I swing flies for steelhead. Period. There is no other method of fishing I will consider to target steelhead, ever, but the swing. I don’t nymph, I won’t throw bobbers, and I sure as hell ain’t stooping to any lesser forms than the fly. In this regard, I am a pinky out Steelheader. Swing only, nothing else is worth my effort, I just can’t be bothered.
I came about this elevated attitude of the swing the honest way. I’ve done the other stuff, so I know. I grew up trout fishing with bait and lures, eventually graduating to fly fishing. When I started fly fishing and wanted to chase steelhead, they put bobbers and eggs on my single hander and said have at it. I had a lot of fun doing it too. But soon later I befriended some hard-core steelheaders, some real characters who showed me the swing and taught me the ways of true steelhead fly fishermen. They taught me the finer points of what made this method tower above all others as the way forward, or back to steelhead fly fishing’s roots, however you want to look at it.
Spey casting was beautiful, crazy fun and extremely efficient at covering the water, and produced the hottest and most aggressive fish, left the lazy ones on their lies. The boys explained the addictive nature of the steelhead’s freight train like takes on the tight swung line, and after I gained some confidence in the less productive swing method, I understood all this talk about “the grab”, after I hooked a few. I was still going back and forth some, but as my confidence and love grew for the swing I dropped all other methods like a hot rock, especially after I began to feel I was just wasting time when not swinging. I realized I loved the quality of my angling, not just the quantity I could land in a day. The challenge and extremely rewarding endgame of swinging was what swallowed me forever. I was literally dreaming of swinging, I couldn’t even throw bobbers in my sleep. I was a hard-core swinger now, never to go back to other less glorious methods. This was it.
I am a pinky out Steelheader, but let’s not get carried away. I don’t wear a tweed jacket, I still rock hoodies. I don’t give a shit how old the Scotch is, I prefer Bourbon and Canadian blended whiskey anyway. I can’t explain the finer points between a Cuban and a Dominican, I smoke Camels. But when it comes to fishing for steelhead, I will not bend. You will only ever catch me swinging flies, looking down on all other lesser methods…. With my pinky out.
I really don’t care what you do, that’s just how I roll.