|It was cold and overcast with snow expected
in the late afternoon as a small group of fly fishermen made their
way to an appointed location on the South Platte River. Our objective
was to attend a spey casting clinic that was being conducted by a
qualified expert, Dan Wright of Blue Quill Anglers.
During the last two years Front Range Anglers had received a number
of inquiries about this technique and was launching an initial set
of classes. The surge in interest has been largely fueled by an expanding
number of current articles in popular fly fishing magazines. In addition,
this form of angling is showing up with increasing regularity on large
rivers in the Rocky Mountain West.
Spey casting originated along Scotland's legendary Spey River for
Atlantic salmon. Two handed rods and specialized casts were developed
on the river because backcasting was hindered by rocky outcroppings
and trees. The original spey rods were sometimes eighteen to twenty
feet long, heavy, and made of Greenheart wood from British Guiana.
Such rods are a far cry from the light graphite two handed rods of
12 to 17-feet used today.
Over time spey casting spread across the British Isles into Scandinavia
and Canada. It began appearing in the Northwestern US on large steelhead
and Pacific salmon rivers some 20 years ago. Now it is spreading across
the US for trout fishing on large rivers where distance casting is
a must and to saltwater fishing where getting the fly out over the
surf in strong winds is required.
||Once learned, spey casts can produce,
without a backcast, consistent casting distances of 75 to 140-feet.
In addition, the degree of line control is tremendous. You can place
the fly and execute mends to keep it in the target area much longer
than with a conventional fly rod.
Dan started the class by explaining what we were going to be taught
over the next four hours - overhead casting switch casting, the single
spey, snap T, and double spey. In addition, he discussed the finer
points of the equipment that each participant was about to use.
The group was composed of experienced and serious fishermen who were
anxious to add spey casting to their fishing skill set.. Each realized
how this technique would open a whole new range of angling opportunities.
Its important to note that becoming proficient requires a lot of practice
but getting started on the right foot with a knowledgeable instructor
gives you a tremendous advantage. Videos and books are great but they
can't take the place of hands-on instruction.
The Spey Clinic gets under way as Dan Wright talks about equipment
and demonistrates proper form
|We had an assortment of rods from various
manufacturers but the lines were all 130-foot 8/9/10 WindCutters from
Rio Products. These lines have a short head that helps to load the
rod for long casts. Just as conventional single-handed graphite rods
have different actions, two handed rods offer various actions. Spey
rods are generally categorized in two groups, traditional (slow to
medium action that causes the blank to bend into the butt section
under load), and European (faster action with a stronger butt and
lighter tip), There is a third style developed in the Pacific Northwest
called the Skagit (named after a River in Washington) designed specifically
for heavy sink-tip lines. While many spey rods are expensive, $600
or more, a number of very good quality lower-priced rods have recently
come to the market at half the price.
Dan explained and then demonstrated to the class that gaining control
over a 14-foot rod is really about technique not strength. If you
try to overpower a long rod the end result is a mess of tailing loops
and misdirected energy. He made it look easy and effortless as he
flicked out 90 or 100 feet of line.
Jim Hanley (left) contemplates the steps involved in executing
a Snap T cast as Dan Wright demonstrates each of the moves.
|Experienced anglers fishing in a traditional
manner don't think about the casting process or the various casts
they regularly use. But spey casting is such a departure from one-handed
approach and your lack of familiarity forces you to concentrate on
the various steps. Getting out of synch is easy. Dan has two answers
to this dilemma. First, go back to a basic cast that you have already
mastered and work your way back to the cast you're attempting to execute.
In other words, get comfortable. Second, practice constantly until
you can make each cast without thinking about it.
There is no doubt in my mind that spey casting allows an angler to
cover considerably more water with less effort and fatigue. On larger
rivers you can reach areas that are virtually unfishable with a single
|Here are some pictures of the event which
may shed additional light on what happened.
I've got it?
Not even close
The light goes on
You can improve your casting and fishing by keeping the line over
The face of determination or resignation.
It's is so simple, Just pretend the rod is attached to your body!