03/24/11 – I like to cast. It’s as simple as that. Casting and line control were what brought me to fly fishing. I was already catching my fair share with my ultra-light spinning outfit and had long ago worked out many of the mysteries of trolling. But casting, man, that used a whole new layer of skill sets that I hadn’t dealt with.
I’ll admit it. I often went out more to cast than to fish. I wanted to know how to do it. In fact, I spent so much time casting that Linda started to chide me with remarks like “I thought you said you can’t catch a fish if your fly isn’t in the water.” When you get comments like that you know you’re spending to much time casting and not enough time fishing.
In my defense lawn casting, false casting and just plain practicing on the water if the fish weren’t biting were necessary things because learning to cast back then was a learn by doing process. You just had to keep trying until you found something of a casting stroke that worked and then you built on that continuing to learn by trial and error.
But now there are Video Tapes, DVDs, and wonderful books with crisp, clear, color photographs to help you along. And if you’re lucky perhaps a casting class is available in your area. All good things and using them while learning will save you hours of trial and error casting practice. With the help of these aids you can spend your practice time working on proper technique instead of wasting time searching for the proper technique. Just as I started to get comfortable with casting along came SPEY casting. Well, actually Spey had been around a long time but about 10-years ago I stumbled onto it.
Happily Jim Vincent had just released a Video Tape on Spey Casting when I started and that tape greatly reduced my learning curve. The a couple of years later I got Jim Rusher to teach Spey for the shop and I was one of the first students in line. It’s been great fun but the best part of learning Spey was that I found I could Spey with my 8 1/2′ single-handed rod just like I could with my 14′ two-handed rod. It’s something I suggest you think about. Spey casting was developed to address things like limited backcast room, wind and changing the direction of your cast and those are all things you have to deal with no matter what type of rod you use.
Kevin Devine (our Orvis rep at the time) was the guy who made me aware of single-handed Spey. I took him to Grand Lake Stream and he started casting to some fish I couldn’t reach and Spey was the way he reached them. It was a very limited backcast situation and he made the best of it with a Single-Spey casting stroke – using a single-handed rod – that got him to fish I couldn’t reach.
A couple of years later my single-handed Spey casting got a big boost when Simon Gawesworth wrote “Single-Handed Spey Casting” It’s a wonderful book and if you have a basic understanding of casting to start with you can learn Spey on your own with this book. Or, of course, you could hire a local guide like Todd Towle of Kingfisher River Guides to help you along. Either way Spey casting is worth learning.
An interesting thing about learning to Spey cast is that I found the two BEST explanations of a regular overhead cast that I’ve ever seen while learning two-handed Spey. One was in Simon’s book mentioned above and the other in the DVD called “Spey to Z” by Scientific Anglers. Both of these begin their instruction by making sure you understand the regular overhead cast before you begin the transition to Spey and they spell it out so well that you’ll learn just from their review of the standard cast or perhaps I should just say I did.
Topher Brown was one of the instructors on the Spey to Z DVD and Topher is conducting a class you might want to take advantage of. Actually two classes but the first one is sold out. The second class is May 1st and for $150.00 you can have a spot in it. Your contact is Jim at Eldredge Bros. Fly Shop and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a spot.
However you do it if you like to cast and want to cast – where no man has cast before – learn to Spey. You don’t need special equipment but you will need a bit of practice. It isn’t hard to learn and Spey casting will open up a lot of water that you simply can’t reach with an overhand cast.