The one and only Rick Kustich is ready to blow our minds today with all things modern spey fishing and some exciting updates, including his latest book. We’re diving deep into the spey game, uncovering the early players, and getting all the juicy details on how Rick works his magic with flies on the Lake Erie tributaries.

Rick and his crew will be our guides for the upcoming Steelhead Alley, so we’ll also get an exclusive sneak peek of what awaits us on this thrilling adventure.

Modern Spey Fishing with Rick Kustich. Hit play below!



apple podcasts

google podcast

Find the show:  iTunes | Stitcher | Overcast

Subscribe on Android
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe on Google Podcasts
Subscribe via RSS

(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


Sponsors and Podcast Updates

modern spey fishing

Modern Spey Fishing Show Notes with Rick Kustich

03:00 – It’s hard to believe it’s only been a short while since our last episode with Rick in January 2022. Today he brings us up to speed on his latest adventures and a brand new book on steelhead.

03:45 – Rick shares his insights on the unique steelhead experience in New York and what sets it apart from other Great Lakes locations.

05:38 – Rick Kustich aims to demystify spey fishing through his new book, Modern Spey Fishing. It covers everything from steelhead to trout and even smallmouth fishing. This book is valuable resource no matter your skill level.

08:39 – Rick paints a picture of what awaits us on our December trip to New York. According to Rick, New York’s unique advantage over Ohio is its access to tributaries on both Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

11:10 – Rick also provided a comprehensive rundown of the fishing techniques we’ll use at that time of year.

12:36 – Rick and his crew, along with Nick Pionessa, will be our guides for the upcoming Steelhead Alley. Additionally, Rick mentioned the potential participation of his good friend Vince Tobia from Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters as a third guide on the trip.

Q & A with Rick

13:06 – Our Instagram followers join the conversation with their questions for Rick, and he eagerly takes on the challenge.

What is the ideal water temperature for swinging for steelhead?

13:50 – The ideal water temperature for swinging for steelhead is between 42 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Rick says this temperature range is when the fish are most active.

Rick adds that it’s not solely about the absolute temperature but instead having more stable temperatures, where sudden overnight drops are avoided, which helps keep the fish more active.

What is the Spey Nation Event?


18:44 – The Spey Nation event was originally a one-day spey clave started by Geoff Schaake, which had to be put on hold due to COVID-19.

This time, Swing the Fly is bringing it back as a three-day event, scheduled from August 11 to August 13.

spey nation
Photo via

19:40 – Last year, Rick and Topher Brown collaborated with Swing the Fly to offer spey casting classes on the Salmon River.

This year, they plan to integrate those classes with the traditional format of the Spey Nation event.

How do you catch a fish on the fly in low clear water?

24:00 – When it comes to catching fish on the fly in low, clear water, Rick suggests employing a stealthier approach.

One effective strategy is to use a long monofilament or fluorocarbon leader and a weighted fly and cast the fly further away from the fly line.

What’s Rick Kustich’s gear choice?

39:14 – Rick Kustich prefers using rods 11 to 12 1/2 feet long, recommending brands like Scott Fly Rods, R.B. Meiser, and Echo.  Rick has also collaborated with Simon Gawesworth and RIO for several years, and he mentions that Simon wrote the forward for his new book. Rick uses RIO’s Elite Skagit Max Launch.

What’s next for Rick?

47:13 – After putting in much effort to write Modern Spey Fishing, Rick looks forward to taking a break from books. However, he has big plans and hopes to write a book about trout someday.

How do you detect the strike and ensure you don’t miss a fish?

57:24 – Rick adopts a more passive approach when setting the hook, particularly for steelhead. In his book, he extensively discusses hook setting, recognizing it as a challenge many anglers face.

1:03:00 – We wrap up the conversation with Rick with his “desperate salmon story.” This tale is also featured in his book, Reflections on the Water.


You can find Rick on Instagram @rickkustich

Facebook at Rick Kustich

Youtube at Rick Kustich Fly Fishing

Visit his website here:

Modern Spey Fishing Videos Noted in the Show

Modern Spey Fishing Resources Noted in the Show

Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 277 – Advanced Fly Fishing Tips for Steelhead with Rick Kustich

WFS 288 – Tying Dry Flies for Trout with Nick Pionessa

WFS 169 – Winter Dry Line Steelhead with Adrian Cortes

Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

modern spey fishing

Modern Spey Fishing Conclusion with Rick

What an amazing episode with the legendary Rick Kustich! We’ve delved deep into modern spey fishing with Rick, and I hope you’re as ready as I am to try everything we discussed today.