Sunday, March 27, 2016

Swing The Fly Review

Swing The Fly Magazine
   The Voice of Spey

Though I do read stuff online, it’s not my favorite mode. I still prefer the tactile, portable book or magazine enjoyed from a favorite recliner, posted in the bathroom, or toted off to bed.

I hesitate to believe that free digital media is entirely to blame for the diminishing titles of print magazines. I suspect diminishing quality of the medium is more to blame. When a magazine devotes two-thirds of its thin volume to advertisements readers eventually tire of it & drop subscriptions. Yet I’m fairly certain there will always be a niche for quality magazines – The Drake, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, California Fly Fisher, & Gray’s Sporting Journal come to mind. And also a bright new one, Swing The Fly, which began as a free online journal & moved to print in winter, 2016.

Upon receiving my first issue of Swing The Fly, I was immediately impressed. Square-bound, not stapled, at a half inch thick, printed on excellent quality, heavy recycled paper, it more than met tactile requirements. (Makes a handsome coffee table book.) Inside I was welcomed, in photos & real ink, to an unabashed celebration of things that are authentic & rooted in the soul of our game – & with no trace of didactic expert-ness, onanism, or market-driven kitch. Advertisements are sparse & understated, not in your face.

Along with an old master, Trey Combs, Swing The Fly offers a strong line-up of fresh voices. I was particularly impressed with Mia Sheppard’s writing chops. Mia is an Oregon mother, fishing guide & writer whose succinct article, The Great Public Land Heist, sheds light on the dominionist movement chipping away at the idea of commonwealth in the form of accessible public lands. Sheppard compresses this fractal issue admirably, & has the sand to present it for what it really is, a social/ideological issue our times are compelling us to confront. There is an important message clearly evoked yet tactfully unspoken at the nexus of Mia Sheppard’s article, regarding what it actually means to be an American, as well as an angler, participating in the Public Trust. A heavy lift for an angling writer (speaking for myself), & a controversial subject for an angling magazine to present considering the current political/ideological lines being drawn.

Unique to any magazine I’ve read lately, or within memory, there is a decided rhythm & pace to the overall presentation of Swing The Fly that is almost organic, like the metered pace of casting a two-hander, swinging a fly down some lonesome run. It is immersive. I’m not sure if that is intentional or if it just seems to fall together that way, this magazine being the creative offspring of editors who are, foremost, hard-core anglers & guides. In either case, I'm fairly sure any who love two-handed rods & swinging timeless fly patterns for steelhead, salmon & trout, will find Swing The Fly an experience well worth the price of admission.


  1. Subscribed. That makes you a pusher, right? Like passing out "candy" in the parking lot by the practice football field? That's where the drop out junior hung out at my school. Hey, look: fish porn!

    Pretty nice mag. Had to subscribe. I've been buying a few coffee-table rags one by one from my local fly shop. I recognize some of the gear. I don't have any of it but I recognize it in the same way I'd know a Silver Shadow if it pulled into the drive.

    Snow this past weekend. Not much but enough. We're indecisive about a spring this year. Odds are, we don't get one. That's what the old guys in the coffee shop say, anyway.

    Good thing I've got a new bag to sleep in as I use soft hackle nymphs. It's going to be a while here before the shift from the bottom 1/3 of the water column to the top 1/3. Good thing there's zen in fishing deep. I need to develop a little better touch (I say that every year - doesn't everyone?).

    My latest trick - a section of hi-vis stren in a section of my hand-build leader before the flouro section. It doesn't really help much because fish are faster than any "indicator" or "sighter."

    Feel. You must "feel" the fish.

    Funny I do better with peripheral vision when I'm tamping my pipe than I do when I'm staring at the thing. Funny bird on the bank? Take. Stick or dead fish floating over there? Take. Do I have any of those little wax balls of gouda in my bag? .....Take.

    Hope all is well. Thanks for the heads up on Swing the Fly. Hope you find one of those wax balls of gouda in your side bag. They're still good even after the long winter hang behind the door. It's cheese, after all.

    1. Spike, think I missed my true calling. Poor D. We face the world, back to back, me, handing out the candy; she, manning the 50 caliber.

      Snow? Could be a good sign. It is spring. Weather is only a condition. Trout have to eat.

      Sleep in the big bag. Fish the wee flies.


      Deep play. Develops the intuitive muscle.

      Your second to last para defines the technique.

      What are you smoking in the pipe?

  2. Pipe? I'm a Squadron Leader or Frog Morton on the Town fellow. I'm also partial to some of the Pease blends. Westminster. Maltese Falcon.

    My evening after fishing pipe has become Briar Fox though I cannot describe why precisely. It does remind me of a certain blind pig where treason against the crown was the usual conversation but for no reason I can pin down. It is unlike anything I've smoked.

    I enjoy the slow pipe outside around the fire after fishing all day. I seldom smoke when not fishing. I'll be wearing a waistcoat on the water, next.

    1. Was going to ask if you have a waistcoat yet. Waistcoat & shoulder bag makes perfect sense when one outgrows the spaceman vest.