Huge Fly Sale, About Spey Rod Actions, Winter Steelhead Schools, Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes, BC Steelhead, Kispiox River

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How Spey Rod Actions Influence Your Casting
Mark's Favorite Two-Handers
Fly Rod Actions Defined
World-champion caster Steve Rajeff, who designs rods for G. Loomis, describes rod action as a combination of taper (“which determines where the rod bends”) and stiffness (“how much it bends”).

A fly rod is a tapered lever that turns into a spring at the smaller diameter tip end. For the sake of this article, we will call the butt part of the rod that is too thick and strong for you to bend during a casting stroke the “lever.” The smaller diameter tip part of the rod that you can deflect with the speed and weight of the fly line during a casting stroke is the “spring.” How much of the total length of the rod is lever and how much is a spring determines the action of the rod. By definition, a rod with a long lever and a short spring at the tip is a fast action rod, a rod that has a medium length lever and a medium length spring is called a medium action rod, and a rod with a short lever and a long spring is a slow or moderate action rod. Every maker has their own formulas for arriving at their own definitions.

Today for convenience of storage and travel, most rods are built in four pieces. If the bottom ¾ of the rod is a lever, and the top ¼ is a spring, the rod has a fast action. If ½ of the rod is a lever and the other half is a spring, it is a medium action. If the bottom ¼ is a lever, and the top ¾ is a spring, the rod is a moderate action.
During a casting stroke, an angler controls the bend in the spring with the lever. It is important to know how much of the rod is designed to bend, and how much of the rod used to control that bend. Fly casting is all about generating fly line speed. The faster you can make a fly line go, the farther it will go, and the more accurately it will arrive at its destination.
Part of the line-speed is generated by the motion of your hands directly as they manipulate the lever in rod to pull on the line. This lever gives a mechanical advantage to the caster by extending the length of his arms. With the extra length, a caster can move his hands only a few inches and move the other end of the lever several feet while it is pulling on the fly line.

The spring part of the rod deflects (bends) with the speed of the lever and the weight of the fly line.  This deflection serves a couple of important functions. Most notably, this spring stores energy as it deflects. This is called loading the rod.  This loading process continues as long as the rod tip is moving faster than the fly line it has in tow. Any time the rod moves slower than the fly line it loses deflection and the line starts to pass it and the loop in the fly line begins to form. The best casts are a result of smooth acceleration to an abrupt stop. These kinds of casts allow the stored energy in a rod to be applied to the fly line in a short/sharp burst. Executions of this nature give the caster the most efficiency resulting in the least amount of energy expended by his/her body to generate the highest amount of line-speed.

In order for this combination to give the maximum line-speed advantage, the casting stroke must accelerate to a complete stop. The very tip of the rod itself must do the same; accelerate to store energy and stop to transfer that energy to the fly line, which extends itself by rolling down a loop. In order to build the perfect combination of line speed and accuracy, the tip of the rod has to end the power stroke in a near perfect straight line. The best casters are able to build acceleration effortlessly and then stop precisely.
How much the rod deflects determines the length of the casting stroke. The longer the bend in the rod, the more of the rod has to be controlled, and the longer it has to remain under control during each cast. Rods with long levers and short springs seem to generate beautiful narrow loops easiest for most anglers.  Even the butt sections of the fastest fishing rods do deflect a small amount.

The shorter the spring, the quicker it can come back to straight. Remember if the line comes to maximum speed in one foot of rod travel, it is still up to speed. And no, I have never witnessed anyone who can generate a seventy foot long fishing cast by moving the rod tip only one foot.  Casts of that length are normally made with a foot long power-stroke preceded by five to twenty feet of constant acceleration to keep the line tight while a change of direction is being made.  The length of this acceleration is dictated by the length of the rod, the action of the rod and the length of the fly line being cast. A faster action rod, or any rod casting a short line needs the most compact casting strokes. Rods with the most bend and/or long lengths of line being propelled need the longest casting strokes. The further a rod bends, the more energy they can store. Big heavy long lines need a lot of energy to propel them long distances, which is why full length actions are preferred by many Spey distance casters.

At the end of any casting stroke the line extends itself by flowing down a loop. The narrower the loop, the more efficient it becomes. That is because when the rod tip stops at the end of the power stroke, there is a finite amount of energy available.  The shorter the stop, the more that power is condensed into a smaller space, which results in narrow fast loop. A narrow loop concentrates that energy in a smaller space than does a wide loop. You can prove this easily with the example of a big truck pulling a small trailer. The wheels on my pickup truck measure 32” in diameter. The tires on my pontoon boat trailer measure 26” in diameter. (26x3.14=81.64 vs 32x3.14=100.48) This means that to cover the same distance the smaller tires have to turn 20% faster than the larger one. In the case of the fly line loop widths corresponding to the diameters of the tires, a 26” wide loop will travel 20% faster than a 32” wide loop if the same amount of energy is applied to each.

Line-speed and loop-width are also dictated by the path of the rod tip. Every Spey Cast, Scandi Cast, and Skagit is a change of direction Roll Cast. During any of these casts, the change of direction should be accomplished before the forward stroke is begun (unless you want your forward cast to change direction). A perfectly straight cast results from a rod tip that is able to be finished on a single vertical (or near vertical) plain. This doesn’t affect the width of the loop, but it does help maintain the line speed because everything travels in a straight line than in any other path. If a person could make the rod tip follow a perfectly straight horizontal line that would also be the most efficient path, except for one small problem: the line would run into the rod tip at the stop. The rod tip needs to be lower than the path of the fly line when the stop is made, in order for the line to pass over the tip of the rod. The rod needs to travel in an arc during the power-stroke to accomplish this. It is the width of this arc that dictates the width of the loop that forms in the forward cast. A one foot wide arc produces a one foot wide loop, etc.

The more a rod deflects during the casting stroke, the shorter the distance becomes between your casting hand(s) and the tip of the rod. That changing distance affects the path of the rod tip and also the width of the forward loop. The more a rod deflects, the more this has to be compensated for by the caster by controlling the path of his/her hands. Normally, rods with fill length actions need more of a rise is the stroke as the rid is deflected, which adds slightly to the complexity of the casting stroke. This is why most casters believe that softer rods throw wider loops.
The faster the rod action, the easier it is to control the width of the loop, but the harder it is to accelerate and stop correctly over a short distance of overall rod tip travel. A moderate action rod needs a longer stroke, which gives the caster more opportunity to accelerate a stop correctly, but since the stroke is longer it is harder to maintain control over the path of the rod tip and the width of the loop.

Most beginner anglers think that reaching long distances is their first priority in learning how to cast. Distance is always an important consideration, because you can only catch a fish you can reach. But, as most anglers become more experienced, they find out that being able to generate casting distance from very tight quarters is also very handy. Short belly fly lines combined propelled by fast action rods need the least amount of operating room, when you are wading deep while surrounded by half submerged willows.
But anglers who fish big rivers that are bordered by wide gravel bars, and the most successful distance tournament casters use rods that bend clear through the handle. That is because the more of a rod you can bend, the more energy it will store, and ultimately the more line it can throw. Anglers in these situations use Spey lines with long heads, which need to be accelerated over long distances to throw the most efficient casts.

Because of the variables in fishing terrain that may be encountered in any day, the most popular two-hand steelhead rods in this era are designed with medium-actions. This kind of action appeals to the widest range of casting styles, fly line types, and rivers fished. It is also the easiest action for beginners to learn with, because it is user friendly.

There are a lot of different types of Spey Casters, with many differnt thoughts on what the key points are in forming a good cast. There are just as many ways to explain how the process works to other anglers. Spey casting is, and always will be evolving. Anyone who wants to make their thoughts read by our readers needs to email their perspective to us, and if those thoughts add to our over-all knowledge, they will be published in our newsletter. MB
Mark's Favorite Spey Rods, Which Appear in FlyFishUSA Defined By Action
Fast Action Rods Medium Fast to Medium Action Rods Moderate Action Rods
Sage 7126-4 Method Sage 7136-4 ONE Sage 7130-4 MOD
G. Loomis 1567/8-4 NRX Sage 8136-4 ONE Beulah 7137-4 ONYX
Beulah 5124-4 ONYX Sage 6126-4 ONE Echo DH (all)
Loop 8130-4 CROSS S1 G. Loomis 1445/6-4 NRX  
  G. Loomis Pro4x1567/8-4  
  G. Loomis Pro4x1568/9-4  
  Beulah 1327-4 PLATINUM  
  Beulah 1266-4 PLATINUM  
  Echo TR (all)  
  Echo3 (all)  
  TFO Deer Creek (all)  
Winter Steelhead Schools
Open Dates: December 17-18, January 14-15, February 18-19. Space is limited and filling.
Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes
The Pro 3D tabbed eyes are the latest innovative product, that takes benefit from the latest cutting edge 3D printing technology to create an ultra lightweight and strong solution when tying baitfish or squid imitations. Use it alone or as a “mould” if you are looking for a UV resin head. The edges on the tapped eyes serves as stopper walls preventing the resin to run off the eye, making it a breeze to tie uniform flies. The size range spans from the smallest 5mm size for small trout streamers, to 10mm for winter steelhead flies, to the monster 16mm size for the biggest pike, musky, billfish flies. 
Tabbed Eyes are super easy to tie with. The back of each eye is sticky so it naturally wants to stay in place while you are tying. Just stick the eye to the fly and wrap down the tab with your tying thread. Fly samples (above) by: Frank Day and Mark Bachmann.
Item Description Size Amount Color Price To Top
10500093 Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes 5mm 24 per pack Silver/Yellow $6.95
10500094 Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes 6mm 24 per pack Silver/Yellow $6.95
10500095 Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes 8mm 22 per pack Silver/Yellow $6.95
10500096 Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes 10mm 20 per pack Silver/Yellow $6.95
10500097 Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes 12mm 18 per pack Silver/Yellow $6.95
10500098 Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes 14mm 16 per pack Silver/Yellow $6.95
10500099 Pro Sportfisher Tabbed Eyes 16mm 14 per pack Silver/Yellow $6.95
BC Steelhead Adventure - The Kispiox River - Episode 2 of 3.

  We arrived on the Kispiox on Saturday evening. We had set up camp and headed for the main stem of the Skeena River. Because of the Kispiox being a classified river we could not fish it on the weekend.  Staring out at the main stem of the Skeena River you feel intimidated at the sheer size and strength of this river. I had to shift gears from the smaller rivers we were fishing to breaking the Skeena down into finding the smaller river inside this vast river where the steelhead hold. Our plan was to fish a couple runs on the Skeena, head back to camp and pump up the boats to prepare for our float the next day. We ran into two gentlemen in the first run we came upon, two nice guys from Sweden. We asked how the fishing had been for them and they said they had hooked 4 and landed 3. Not a bad day at all I replied. They had their fill for the day and said that we should jump in and finish the run where they had left off. I took a quick water temp reading, 7 degrees Celsius which is about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Should be just fine for a dry fly, we flipped a coin for who would fish first, and Darcy was up. 
  He made a nice crisp off shoulder single spey cast with a small upstream mend and proceeded to let his fly skate through the run. As his fly made it down to about ¾’s of the way through the swing it picked up a little speed and then it happened, the water exploded, the fly disappeared and the line came tight to his reel.  His Farlex reel was screaming and he was already at the end of his shooting line and headed for his backing when the beautiful 10 pound buck exploded out of the water and proceeded to Tail walk back across the river directly back at him. The fish made two more blistering runs before Darcy had tired him out. He tailed the chrome 10lb buck, gave a little steelhead smooch, and off he went back to the river. We fished through two more runs without any more fish brought to hand. None the less it was a good way to spend a day where I didn’t even think we were going to be able to fish.
  We camped at a wonderful spot on the Kispiox called  “The Rivers Edge” camp ground. Excellent camp sites and showers, also, how can you beat free fire wood? The owners Doddy and Allen are two of the nicest people you could ever meet and for 14 dollars a night it was pretty damn hard to beat, oh, and did I mention it sits right on some of the best swing water the Kispiox has to offer?
  We loaded up the boats and headed up the Kispiox river road. It was a cool brisk sunny morning and I was itching to get on the river. We went to our sink tips for this river because of the colder water temps. I stuck with my trusty 7129-4 Beulah Onyx and a Beulah Tonic Skagit head at 475 grains, 12’ of T-8, and a sparsely tied red and olive Rambulance tied by Mr. Bruce Berry. This is one of my favorite flies for low, clear water. It moves and pulses well in the currents, and being sparsely tied easy to cast and is not to obnoxiously big for those picky kispiox fish.  

The first run we fished was just below the put in. The three of us split it up, as it was a very large run that would accommodate all of us. Eric took the top, Darcy Took the middle and I took

the bottom. It felt good to throw a big heavy fly  and a tip again. A couple upstream mends to slow the fly down and I was in the juice. All I had to do now was let her swing and wait for the grab, but to no avail.
  We hopped in our boats and made are way down a nice looking run about 1/2 a mile from the first run we had fished. This run was on river left and was on the high bank side with a large deep inside trough. Eric stepped in while I sat and had a nice warm cup of coffee at my boat. He had made about five casts into the run when I looked up and saw his line go tight and just stop. The loop he was holding was now tight to the reel and the fish peeling line off the reel downstream at a high rate of speed.  This fish was an ass kicker! Didn’t jump! Just 4 huge blistering runs that lasted for a good 10 minutes, Eric tailed her and we were looking at an awesome 14 pound bright doe that was by far one of the prettiest fish I have ever seen. All steelhead are beautiful but it was something about this big girl that really got my blood going. Just laying my eyes on her I felt privileged. Eric is a very humble guy, and even he was humbled by that fish. We went to our boats had some whiskey and off we went down river.

  We met up with Darcy a little further down river and told him about the beautiful doe that Eric had landed over a couple nips of whiskey, and we were off to the next run. We fished the rest of the day with no more fish, ran our shuttles and headed for camp. The river that day had a lot of pressure on it and it was only about to get worse. We pulled into camp and the large camp next to us had filled up with 15 guys from Oregon and Washington that were staying for a week and they were planning on throwing spoons. We sent Darcy down to their camp to see what floats they were planning on doing the next couple days. Darcy came back to camp with bad news. They were planning on breaking up into 5 groups of 3 and each group was planning on doing different floats each day. We made a fire, cracked some cold beers and talked about our game plan. We had had a few friends tell us about some good fishing being had on the main stem Skeena. We also could fish weekends on the Skeena as it is not a classified river. So we decided that in the morning Darcy and Eric would get up early and would fish a few runs from the road. I was going get up early and fish camp water and when I was done fishing would start to break camp and get everything cleaned up for our move to the Skeena. Well! My morning of fishing had paid off. Camp water had produced a beautiful 10lb doe for me in my first five casts in the run. Great way to end the morning and time to start getting geared up for the Skeena.


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