Spey Casting

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FFF Certified Master Spey Casting Instructor, Leroy Teeple performing at 2005 Sandy Clave.  For information about classes featuring Leroy, Click Here!

Spey Casting
Most commonly defined as change-of-direction-roll casting. Most commonly used on steelhead and salmon rivers and most commonly applied with two-hand fly rods.
Reading the "salmon fishing classics" from the British Isles reveals that authors defined the Spey Cast and Spey Casting as remaining relatively un-changed for nearly 150-years.  During this period, lines changed from braided horse tail hair to braided silk.  Then from braided silk to braided "oiled" silk.  Rods changed from carved tapers in single single pieces that were fastened together without metal connections to multi-laminar sections joined with metal ferules.  During this same period snake guides replaced ring guides; a vast improvement in line control.  Over all, rods became slightly shorter and lighter in weight.  Line speed increased and casting distance also increased proportionately.  The most popular lines were tapered on the ends, but the middle stayed a constant diameter.  It also appears that basic casting theory and approach became somewhat dogmatic and hidebound.  This is probably because Spey Casting was practiced only by the socially elite and it is usually in their interest to seek sameness.  The sport was confined to small numbers of anglers fishing the same water over and over again.  Spey casting became a precious gem stored in a vault. 
About 1990, Pacific Northwest steelhead anglers discovered the Spey Rod and Spey Casting.  By nature these people are more innovative than their predecessors because they are living on a newer frontier. American rivers have remained open to the general public.  Even poor boys can fish for anadromous fish in a wide variety of rivers...many days a year. Spey casting had been introduced to the masses.  Now there were many more minds working on similar casting and fly presentation problems. 
During this same 25-year period Scandinavian anglers gained wide access to rivers with salmon. Both the Americans and the Scandinavians copied the British tackle and techniques for a period of time.  Then divergent approaches started to appear.  All innovations in style have are being  supported by quantum leaps in high modulus graphite / boron and polymer technology development.  Production fly rods and fly lines have changed dramatically since 1990.  And the last 25-years have established a continual acceleration of "fly-line-speed". 
Fly casting is the generation of fly line speed.  The faster the line-speed the further and the more accurately one can cast.  Every angler yearns for more distance and accuracy.  Speed is most useful when it totally controllable. Rods are becoming more and more controllable because newer materials and tapers are eliminating tip wobble. The newest/most expensive rods will massive amounts of energy and release it in very sharp bursts. Fly lines are becoming smoother and slicker.  Fly rods and fly lines are developing so rapidly that many casts are preformed with line speeds that were unmanageable just a few ears ago. 
We are also finding that when less of our own energy is used in creating this line speed, the more controllable and directable the fly line becomes, resulting in superb casting accuracy.
The English and Scotts have pretty much stuck with long rods and long belly floating lines.  They can cast tremendous distances with small to medium size flies.  Long rods and long lines have great following on the West Coast of the U.S. as well.  American anglers such as Steve Choate are continually pushing the long distance casting envelope and have had influence on both sides of the Atlantic.
Along the Pacific Coast of North America steelhead and salmon fishing is a popular pastime.  Many Pacific Northwest two-hand fly-rod-anglers had fished anadromous salmonids with bait before they became fly fishers.  During this part of their angling education they learned that most of their fish stayed near the bottom of our fast flowing rivers.  Large flies fished deep often produce more strikes than would small flies fished near the surface.  While some steelhead do get large, most average slightly smaller than Atlantic salmon.  To keep the tackle scaled to the fish, the most popular steelhead rods became shorter and lighter. Now instead of casting small flies with large rods, the tactical approach shifted to casting larger flies with smaller rods. To manage this radical change in casting dynamics, fly lines were built with more mass concentrated in a shorter length. Weight forward tapered spey lines have become more popular than double taper designs by a wide margin. Long belly designs are most popular with anglers who fish smaller flies near the surface for summer steelhead.  But longer belly lines have nearly disappeared form the "big-sunk-fly" scene. 
Lines with changeable sinking tips have become very popular everywhere anglers fish for anadromous salmonids.  It is possible that the "Launcher Line" named by Brian Silvey and manufactured at The Fly Fishing Shop in Welches, Oregon was the first commercially produced changeable tip spey line sold in the Pacific Northwest.  It was made from a Cortland 444SL long belly WF12F fly line with the tip taper lopped and .070" where a braided mono loop was attached for changeable tips.  The 12' tips were made from different densities of 444 sinking shooting heads. The overall head-length was 49' and weighted about 600 grains.  It was a very successful design and a couple hundred were sold in a five year period.  It was copied from designs attributed to Harry Lemier and Mike Maxwell who used them in Northern Washington and British Columbia. Jim Vincent took the short-head weight-forward spey line a step further when he introduced Rio WindCutter.  These lines were designed from scratch instead of modifying an existing fly line.  The diameters, tapers and loop system was built for a purpose. Even the 15' density compensated sinking tips were designed special.  The WindCutter has a 54' head and is sold in six sizes.  It is easy to cast and is very adaptable to a wide range of fishing situations. It became an instant success with thousands sold. Rio also produces the MidSpey weight-forward line which has a head length of 65'.  It is popular for fishing small flies, but not for fishing large ones. 
In the meantime the Scandinavians also found that many more salmon could be caught from their cold rivers if their flies could be fished at depth.  Sinking shooting head lines became popular and casting techniques evolved that could present them easily at long range with minimum back-cast clearance behind the angler.  The most popular head lengths on these lines is 40'-45'. These  "Scandinavian" heads are most often attached to flat mono shooting lines. Predictably, the "Scandinavian" shooting heads have recently evolved with 15' sinking tips.
Weight forward spey line heads are still getting shorter and fatter. This is the year of the "Skagit-Spey" line.  It is to spey casting what spinning reels were to monofilament in the 1950's. As Simon Gawesworth stated in his last Sandy River Clave presentation, "Helen Keller could cast one of these lines."  They are very, very easy to cast. And as Mark Bachmann says, "There ain't nuthin' the matter with easy".
The "Skagit Spey" design is the culmination of many hours spent on the water by Ed Ward, Mike Kinney, Scott O'Donnell, Mike McCune and many others.  The design is kind of a cross between the American weight-forward and the Scandinavian shooting head.  It has replaced all other lines for throwing big flies on local rivers.
The internet and various on-the-water events such as the Sandy River Spey Clave have established an exchange of huge amounts of casting/fishing/design information across wide geographic areas and amongst thousands of anglers.
In every aspect the "sports" of Spey Casting and spey rod fishing are continually evolving. 
I've attended (5) Sandy River Spey Claves.  Each has been better than the last.  I have been able to watch some of the same celebrity's on-water presentations several times.  The casting skills of each "presenter" is still evolving.  New casts are continually appearing.  Some will be discussed at length in future articles. 

Next Sandy River Spey Clave: May 13-14, 2006 !!!

Spey Clave 2005A personal Thank You!
Bob Larsell 

As it has been every year for the past four years, the Fifth Annual Sandy River Spey Clave, held May 14-15, was without doubt, the best one ever.

From the standpoint of the host trailer occupants, Laura and I couldnít have asked for more.  The clubs and individual volunteers were careful and diligent in helping from our arrival at noon on Friday until we wrapped it all up Sunday afternoon.  A heartfelt thank you goes out to you all.  The Park personnel also deserve thanks and congratulations for a job well done.

This is no small endeavor, and a little help goes a long way to making it even more successful. As always, the demonstrators and vendors did their very best to educate and entertain.

By my best estimate, nearly 600 attended Saturday, with a smaller crowd on Sunday, perhaps another 400, (these numbers are from the lunch crew).  Many folks attended both full days.  "To each of you, I hope you found everything to your liking and learned all you wanted to know".

One thing I do know, the lunches provided were very well received, as they have been every time.  I took a couple photos of the line as we announced  LUNCH!  I couldnít get everyone in the shot!  The same went for the Saturday afternoon Bar-B-Que given by the G Loomis folks.

Iíll repeat myself here; Thank You one and all, new friends and old, for this event was truly, AS GOOD AS IT GETS!


Pictures from The Clave 05/15/05
Text by: Mark Bachmann

Fred Evans Picture by: Bob Larsell
"Sultan of Spey"
Fred Evans first proposed the Sandy River Clave to Mark Bachmann and Bob Larsell in 1999.  Bob proposed The name "Sandy River Spey Clave".  Mark said, "Yes, I will help."  About 50 people attended the first Clave.  Fred was one of the first regulars in the International Spey Pages Forum.  He has organized a very popular Charity Spey Event each year for the past several years.
Picture by: Mark Bachmann
"Lunch Angels"
These four ladies prepared and served hundreds of lunches, both days.  Unless you have seen it from the inside, you have no concept of what a tremendous amount of preparation this takes.  I have seen it.  They pulled it off without a hitch, even when the crowd was much larger than anticipated and two days food was consumed in one day.  They restocked and and carried on.  "I was in awe."
Patty, Laura, Tilda & Ashley, we love you all...
Mr. Smooth talking to Mr. Smooth... Picture by: Marty Sheppard
"One on One"
George Brown and Andy Murray are getting re-acquainted.  They were camp mates during the last "Steelhead PHD Class"  September, 2004 on The Deschutes.  Andy is the "point-man" for House of Hardy and journeyed all the way from United Kingdom to entertain and inform us. The "Clave" makes experts like Andy accessible to anglers like you and me.
Picture by: Marty Sheppard
"In Front of The Crowd"
Ed Ward performs a Skagit Cast as Steve Rajeff narrates.  Short-head Skagit Spey lines enable anglers to more easily fish large flies deep.  Because they concentrate a large amount of mass in a short area, they are very easy to cast, which allows more anglers to participate in the sport of two-hand fly rod fishing.  The Skagit Spey was the most popular new item at this "Clave".
Performing in front of a crowd can make you feels small...
Every kind of two-hand casting was explored at the "Clave"... Picture by: Mark Bachmann
"The Man From Speypages"
Dana Sturn demonstrates under-hand casting to an enthusiastic crowd.  He came all the way from British Columbia to entertain us.  Dana's discussion board on speypages.com has become the information epicenter for world wide communication about casting and fishing with two-hand rods.
Picture by: Marty Sheppard
"300' Cast"
Steve Rajeff amazed the crowd with his 17' tournament rod.  One of the experts available at the "Clave",
Rajeff has dominated the world of competitive casting for over three decades.  He has no less than 29 national and 13 world All Round Championships on his casting resume. Steve holds the current National single and two hand fly distance records at 238 feet and 295 feet respectively. 
Hauling in line and pushing the envelope...

My Picks for whatever it's worth:
A guy/gal should never have to be stuck with one spey rod to cover all of the water conditions that are encountered when fishing for steelhead year round.  I enjoy having a 9/10-weight outfit, an 8/9-weight outfit, a 7/8-weight outfit, a 6/7-weight outfit.  I have used many rods/reels in each category and these are my current favorite outfits:
9/10 Outfit: Winston B2X8914 rod,  Sage 3600D reel,  9/10 Skagit Spey w/5' Cheater & 15' sinking tip
8/9 Outfit: G. Loomis FR1688/9-4 Grease Line GLX rod, Abel 4N reel, 8/9 Skagit Spey w/10' Cheater & 15' sinking tip
7/8 Outfit: C. F. Burkheimer CF8139-3 rod, TFO 475 reel, 7/8 Skagit Spey w/10' Cheater & 15' sinking tip
6/7 Outfit: T&T DH1307-3 rod, Tibor Riptide reel, WindCutter 6/7/8 w/tips

R.L. Winston   


Length: 14'       Line: #8/9     Pieces: 4


An extraordinary lightweight fast-action big water spey rod.
The more I experiment with this rod, the better I like it.  Rated for an 8/9 line, it has excelled when loaded into the butt with a stock 9/10/11 Windcutter wit/tips system.  At the 2005 Sandy Clave my on the water demonstration was performed using the B2X8914 combined with a
9/10 Skagit Spey w/5' Cheater & 15' sinking tip.  This outfit makes for easy, powerful command of rivers the size of the Sandy where big flies sunk deep are the rule.  The three big assets of this outstanding rod are its extraordinary light weight which allows the angler to feel the cast, its extraordinary ability to store huge amounts of energy and its ability to stop without tip wobble after the cast is thrown.  The transition of power from the rod to the line is so smooth that there is a minimal amount of energy drain on the caster.  To me the stark appearance of this rod is appealing. Every detail was designed to cut weight.  Lighter, stronger, faster is a very practical design plan.  I might have sacrificed this code with two more corks in the fore grip and a larger first stripping guide.  It is perfect enough in the stock form and is my first pick for sunk line work.
Rod weight: 7 3/4 Ounces.
Item Series Line Wt Action Handle Price To Top
8914 B2X 8/9 Fast Spey $795


G. Loomis   

FR1688/9-4 GLX

Length: 14'     Line: #8/9     Pieces: 4

FR1688/9-4 GLX
Traditional style spey casters have long enjoyed covering water with floating lines, making long casts without retrieving after each cast. This 14 foot #8/9 is a medium/light rod within this category. It has a comfort casting zone of 65 to 85 feet, and is light enough to make playing fish in the 10lb. range a joy. The rod action is moderate, and powerful. Anglers fishing the Gaspe' Peninsula in Quebec rivers from a canoe, may find this model just the answer to cast to both sides with minimal effort. It handles casting all but the largest flies with comfort.
I can cast slightly further with this outfit than with the one listed above.  It has been used with both 8/9 and 9/10 Skagit and WindCutter lines with all sizes of Cheaters and tips.  Eight/nine and eight/nine/ten lines win out over their heavier counterparts.  The consensus of all casters who have used it, is this one hell of a fine stick for casting most of the flies you will use with either floating or sinking tip lines. The handle shape and size are pleasing and very functional.  This is an incredibly well balanced rod.  The handle weight fits the blank and guide weight.  When comparing the G. Loomis FR1688/9-4 GLX to the Winston B2X8914; if they were riffles you could compare a .270 to a 30-06.  They both do the same thing.  One does it with a smaller bullet traveling faster. The other does it with heavier bullet for more power.  Your choice might depend on how big are the bullets you want to deliver or your particular shooting style.  It's nice to own one of each.
Rod weight: --  Ounces
Item Series Line Wt Power Taper Handle Price To Top
11477-01 GLX 8 - 9 Stiff Med 1005 $815.00


C.F. Burkheimer

CF 8139-3

Length: 13' 9"    Line: #8     Pieces: 3

  CF 8139-3

Description:  Rated for 7/8/9 lines, this is an all around summer/winter steelhead rod for medium to large rivers and average size fish and flies. Much of the weight of this rod is concentrated toward the butt which gives it a feel of lightness.  For sunk fly work both a 7/8 and 8/9 Skagit have been used effectively.  An 8/9 Skagit with a 5' Cheater was fished for several days followed by a 7/8 Skagit with a 10' Cheater.  Both lines work well with this rod.  Perhaps the 7/8 combo is smoother.  The CF8139-3 has long been a favorite with Deschutes River anglers and is a good choice for anglers who want to fish both sides of the Cascades with one outfit.
Rod weight: 8  Ounces
Item   Length Line Wt. Price To Top
CF8139-3 C.F. Burkheimer Fly Rod 13 ft. 9 in. 8 $795

Thomas & Thomas


Length: 13'     Line: #7     Pieces: 3


This is a very lightweight fast taper, high performance rod for fishing smaller flies.  It has been my favorite Deschutes rod for several seasons, and that isn't likely to change in the near future because it allows me to buck the wind better than any other.  My favorite line is a 6/7/8 WindCutter with the clear intermediate tip.  This tip grips the water with more authority than a floating tip so that the rod can be loaded more deeply.  This results in a very thin diameter line traveling at high speed.  Fish to 15-pounds have been handled with no problems. 

Rod weight: --  Ounces

Model Length Line Sections Price To Top
DH1307-3 13' 7 3 $780


The Art of Spey Casting

A film by Jeffrey Pill

The Art of Spey Casting Should someone who only fishes a single handed rod be intimidated of the spey cast? If you have ever felt that intimidation then this DVD was made for you. It is packed full of the fundamental ingredients to get you going and will help you comprehend the use of the spey cast with double and single handed rods.  This film is hosted by steelhead legend Lani Waller, who narrates and interviews the 17 presenters from 7 different countries. It was filmed from 4 angles in this high quality documented event at the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club. With so many contributing demonstrations this film seems very redundant in their goal of covering the basic aspect of the spey cast. The nice thing about a DVD is the ability to navigate easily through the different chapters at high speed.

This DVD has a bonus scene selection that includes Mel Krieger, Behind the Scenes, GGACC History, Awards, Casting Competition, and Sponsors. 
This is a fun and entertaining part of this film.

With an introduction and final wrap-up by Simon Gawesworth this film is packed with many of the top casters in the sport. Highlights were the ability to watch the different casting styles from around the world as well as the on stream added footage. Downfall for me was superfluousness of similar concepts displayed.

Reviewed by:  Marty Sheppard  littlecreekjd@earthlink.net
Item Description Price To Top
000696 The Art Of Spey Casting DVD $34.95 SALE ENDED

Salmon Fly Hatch Selection Salmon Fly Hatch Selection
This kit will prepare you for fishing the Salmon Fly Hatch.  It contains the right flies to fish in the the big hatch as well as many of the small hatches that are found along with Salmon Flies. 
This assortment contains: (2) Robotic Salmon Fly, (2) Bullet Head Salmon Fly, (2) Fluttering Salmon Fly, (2) Yarn Body Stonefly, Orange, (2) Norm Wood Special Salmon, (2) Robotic Golden Stone, (2) Bullet Head Golden Stone Female, (2) X Stone Golden, (2) Norm Wood Special, Golden Stone, (2)Stimulator, Peacock Body, (2) Stimulator, Olive, (2) Flint's Stones, Olive Chloroperlidee, for a total of 24 flies in all - in a clear 6-compartment box.
Item Description Price To Top
06521 Salmon Fly Hatch Selection from FlyH2o $49.95


Lake Fly Selection

Lake Fly Selection
This kit will prepare you for fishing the Lakes for trout with wet flies.  It is also a good idea to have this kit when fishing for bass and panfish.
This assortment contains: (2) Zug Bug, (2) Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph, (2) Gold Rib Hares Ear, (2) Olive Scud, (2) Bachmann Damsel, Olive (2) V-Rib Chironomid, Black, (2) Water Boatman, (2) Lake Bait, (2) Bachmann's Leech, Black, (2) Bachmann's Leech, Brown, (2) Bachmann's Leech, Maroon, (2) Black Fash-A- Bugger, for a total of 24 flies in all - in a clear 7-compartment box.
Item Description Price To Top
06522 Lake Fly Selection from FlyH2o $43.95


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Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes

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