Starting to spey

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by Paul Huffman, Dec 24, 2004.

  1. Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Posts: 1,402
    Yakima, WA.
    Ratings: +114 / 0
    I just got my birthday spey rod for Christmas. A little too late for the steelhead season on the Klickitat, but I'll be able to use it other places this winter.

    It's a 8 wt. 13.5 ft. It was made for me by a friend in Toppenish. Completion was delayed about 8 months because the builder's wife started fighting breast cancer, so he understandably had other priorities. She's doing better, but not out of the woods yet.

    The builder complained about the price of cork now. He said half the cost of materials was in the handle of this rod.

    I took it out on the Yakima yesterday afternoon to try it out. It was almost 50 F and there were clouds of chironomids along the road, so I sort of wanted to grab my 5 wt. instead, but I stuck to task and tied on a trout leader and a #20 griffith's gnat. The combination of the gigantic rod and the tiny fly looked ridiculous, but, hey, no one was watching.

    I lined the rod with a WindCutter 6/7/8 with interchangeable tips. I was confused by the purpose of the "tip 2 weight compensator" until I got back home and read the back pages of the pamphlet again. The pamphlet says it's to compensate for stiffer rods. I used it with the floating tip to start out and, not knowing any better, thought it worked all right. Then I tried the heaviest sink tip, the type 8, with and without the tip 2. I thought it worked better without the tip 2, but I guess I should have tried it with the "sink tip compensator" instead to the tip 2. What does the "sink tip compensator" compensate for? Is in the same weight as the "tip 2", but sinks?

    I'm a beginner spey caster. I've only had a couple hours of coaching last summer. There I was with this big rod in two hands and the Rio spey casting pamphlet in my other hand, so it was quite a handful. It seems to me that Jim Vincent has a lot of needless complexity and hocus pocus in describing the sweep when he describes lifts and dips and arcs. It seems to me that you just need to sweep however you need to to get the fly up to just downstream of you, given the ever changing conditions of wind, current, tips and amount of line out. And it the fly sweeps too far so it lands upstream of you, just whip out a single spey.

    It seemed like a lot of work to me, not the relaxed motion easy on the body and shoulders as advertised, but I hope that it will become easier with practice. My top hand got tired. I think that I was gripping much harder than I needed. It seemed like a long tiring reach up to the top grip, but I found out that I didn't need to grip it so high, and I could hold the rod more along side while the fly drifted. But even at my worst, I could manage 65 ft. casts, and at the best, more than 100 ft. With the heavy sink tip on, I had some trouble getting the lift and sweep to clear the fly out of the water. I found that I could strip in 20 to 30 ft. until just the head was outside the tip, get a better sweep, then usually shoot it all back out. Then I took the wrong path back to the truck. I thought it was a shortcut, but I ended up all tangled up in the rose bushes with 13.5 feet of rod. Going handle first wasn't working, but once in the brush, there was no way to turn it around.

    The builder added these little ferrule limiting thread wraps. A nice touch with tiny white dots to help line up the rod sections, but they limit how hard the sections can be crammed together. The spey casters I know tell me that a lot of torque is generated in a spey cast, and they tape their ferules. I think that Jim Vincent also says to tape your ferules in his video. (Is that a basketball down the front of his waders in his video?) I taped all my ferrules and didn't lose anything.

    Maybe I'll get a chance to practice again over the holidays over on the Spokane. Lots to learn.
  2. fishmagnet Bent rods and tight lines!

    Posts: 107
    Monroe, Wa., USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I would think an 8 wt spey rod on the Yak would be like using a salmon net to get a goldfish out of a bowl. :confused:
  3. Obsessed Member

    Posts: 105
    Shoreline, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    Wow! A custom built spey rod for a birthday gift. Now that's a friend.

  4. Jim Kerr Active Member

    Posts: 684
    Forks Wa
    Ratings: +119 / 0
    Might help a little. Run the rod with your bottom hand. That is push and pull at the but instead of the forgrip. This is probable the hardest thing to get used to. Then once you have made your cast, make your mend and release with your bottom hand allowing the rod to hang naturally at your side as the fly swings. Sadly this will not allow for a very natural presentation with your griffiths nat, but it will swim your orange heron perfectly and alow you to stretch and rest your arms between casts. I think your right, many make spey casting more dificult than it needs to be. Check out Derick Browns little lift and loop trick. Seems to be a great key to clean effortless spey casting. Good luck getting it bent this winter.
  5. Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Posts: 1,402
    Yakima, WA.
    Ratings: +114 / 0
    I did catch one rainbow with a sculpin on the sinktip.
  6. Joe Brown New Member

    Posts: 33
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +0 / 0

    The "sink tip compensator" can be used instead of the floating "tip 2" when using a sink tip, but I've never bothered with it.

    I don't tape the ferrules. Instead I put a layer of candle wax on the male ferrule, and this seems to lock it pretty well.

  7. Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

    Whether it be a two-handed or a single-handed rod, fly casting is about rod control as it is the force that controls the fly line. As silly as it can sound sometimes, the fly rod tip ALWAYS controls the fly line. It is for this reason that authors spend such a great deal of time explaining what may initially seem either to be too in-depth or maybe even trivial. It is often the small details that make a good cast or a sloppy one.

    In general, most people suffer from over-working and/or not correctly working a fly rod and this becomes even more exagerated with two-handed rods. Realize that with such a long lever and with the added power of using a second hand, these rods can really cast some line. In addition to their power, the lines themselves are generally heavier and that allows more inertia to carry out the casts to greater distances.

    There are two types of spey casts, Simon Gawesworth calls one the "water born anchor" and the other the "splash and go". Depending upon which spey cast your trying, the anchor falls into one of these catergories. Knowing how and where an anchor lands or should land is critical to the casts. If the anchor does not land how it should or where it should, the cast will most likely fail.

    For "waterborn anchor" casts, there are essentially 3 parts. The first is the set up of the line on the water. The second is the motion of lifting line from the water and loading the rod AND making a change of direction. The third part is the final delivery. There are many details to pay attention to on each of these pieces so study them carefully. (Double-spey, Circle-spey)

    The second type, "splash and go", as the back cast begins and there maybe a change of direction, the line lands briefly and is then cast forward. Too much anchor and the cast will fail. Anchor placement and timing are critical. (Single-spey, Snake-roll).

    Spey casting (and casting in general) is an art and I do not believe it is best learned while you're fishing. Take some time and go practice before you fish. If you'll study the casting and then practice, you'll have a wonderful fishing experience because you'll have the necessary skills.

    The first part of learning to spey cast is to understand the basic priciples that allow a cast to succeed or fail, and then practice, practice, practice. If you're looking for a reference, Rio's spey casting video (International spey casting) is nicely done. Simon Gawesworth's "Spey Casting" is another nice reference. Each year, on the Sandy river in Oregon, there is a spey clave. Its a free, great event. I would suggest going! check out for details. I would strongly suggest finding an instructor, spey casting is hard to learn on your own. Many people offer casting lessons inexpensively and these are exceedingly valuable.

    The compensator is basically a type two tip that is put on before your sink tip. The combination of the two(sink-tip an compensator) will really get your fly to the bottom. At the end of the swing, because so much line sinks with the combination of the compensator and the tip, you may have to roll cast a time or two down river to get the line back to the surface of the water where and then begin the spey cast of your choice to change directions.

    As for the compensator, I would suggest not using it until you become proficient with your dry line. As you become better, add in sinking tip section. Then, after you can cast with the sinking tip, add the compensator. If you're having trouble casting a dry line, you'll really struggle with the tips and the sinking compensator.

    I'm in the process of studying for my Two-handed certification through the Federation of Fly Fishers and it's been alot of the above.

    Hope that helps!

    Posts: 3,903
    Ratings: +531 / 0
    I think you are in for a lot of fun and some new friendships in the spey casting, fly fishing world. One very helpful thing is to pay attention to our calendar,(see toolbar above), as there are often several spey related events per month offered by some of our sponsors and others. Spey Claves, clinics and get togethers are held frequently.

    The Pacific Northwest is a hot-bed of research and development in spey rods, lines and casting techniques. Some of the best and most recent product developments have arisen from the ongoing efforts of regional PNW spey experts. The major line and rod manufacturers are listening to these people.

    You can get some solid help without spending a lot of money. I brought an interested friend over to Aaron Reimer's River Run Anglers "Spey Day", on the Tolt in Carnation, and Aaron gave my friend hours of personal support and coaching on the spey. Aaron holds these free events often. There is something about this side of the game that has created a real sense of community amongst spey enthusiasts. All of the best things that I have ever learned from fly fishing were given to me freely. All the more it seems from the spey experience.

    That is a beautiful rod you have there. I hope you enjoy learning how to use it. A good coach will help you along the way and save you years of struggle and bad technique habits. Go for it!
  9. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,149
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,412 / 0
    Yeah,but if you are a klutz like me all the coaching in the world didn't/doesn't help :( . I've had the best try to teach me but it never took so I just stay with the little rods.

  10. Big K1 Large Member

    Posts: 538
    Duvall, WA, U.S.A.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    100' single spey is impressive for most and from a beginner no less. :thumb:
    I would suggest you go to River Run and get some instruction before you develop bad habits.
  11. suckegg Active Member

    Posts: 353
    Ellensburg, WA,
    Ratings: +87 / 0
    I've been considering one for the Yak myself. I can think of plenty of good lies where you can't reach or get a good drift with the regular rodEven from a boat many spots are one shot and that's it. Now you can toss a substanial tip a ways that will get you down to the bottom of the deepest holes. When you add improved mending with the extra 4+ feet of rod it gets even more interesting.

    Next time you hook a silver on the Yak you won't have to chase it now :thumb:
  12. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,149
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,412 / 0
    I'm a beginner spey caster. I've only had a couple hours of coaching last summer. There I was with this big rod in two hands and the Rio spey casting pamphlet in my other hand, so it was quite a handful. .

    So Paul,when did you grow another hand :rofl:

  13. Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Posts: 1,402
    Yakima, WA.
    Ratings: +114 / 0
    Like I said, Jim, it was a handful. I was really juggling. I figured since I have three legs, I could,...oh never mind!

    I fish with some spey casters, and have tried their rods, and I plan to be peppering them with questions this week. So I have some support, but I have the Spey Clave on the calendar, and keep thinking about how I can get over to Carnation to see what they think of this rod and my casting. I keep practicing, but I'm already throwing it out there far enough to fish with it.

    Yesterday morning, I was in Spokane and the new wife wanted to go jogging out at Maribeau along the Spokane River, so I went down there too with the new rod and played around with the tips and the casts. The river was really booming, high but very clear. With the floating tip 2 and tip, I was having a hard time keeping the correct sweep with the double spey. I could really see why Jim Vincent says it's easier in faster water. In slow water, the slightest flip would send the fly way upstream of me. It took a delicate touch to get the right sweep. With the sink tip and compensator, I'd lift and jerk, and still couldn't get the fly to sweep, and I'd end up with way too much anchor. But reading a little further in the Rio manual, I came to the snap-T and what a cool cast! I was on the left bank, right hand on top, and all I needed to do with the floating tip was to flip the tip straight up from the water surface to 10 O'clock and back down and the line and fly would float upstream in front of me. I'd chase it upstream and flip out the cast like a single spey. With the sink tips, I'd just have to add a little reverse C motion to the lift and the line and fly would pop out of the water and come sailing past. However, I have no idea what he's talking about in the pamphlet when he describes the snake roll cast.

    But back home in Yakima, I checked the regs and, shit fire, bubba, that section of the Spokane River now closes October 31! I should have gone below the Upriver Dam. I actually tried to check on that but it was Christmas morning: all the WDFW offices and all the fishing supplies stores were closed. I didn't have the print version of the regulation pamphlet and I had no access to the on-line version. I called the WSP non emergency number and they told me they were too busy to look it up. I was told to call WDFW Monday. On the way over to Maribeau, I pulled into a Seven-Eleven but they didn't have any regulation pamphlets. I'm lucky I didn't make some WDFW agent real crouchy about dragging himself down to the river Christmas morning to ticket some bozo fishing in a close area. Then I'd have to drive back to Spokane to appear and try to explain that I wasn't really fishing, I was just practicing with my new steelhead rod, and draw some Judge Judy that would tell me, "You can't fish for steelhead in the Spokane River!"
  14. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,149
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,412 / 0
    This is something that I don't understand. And I'm not knocking you Paul,but how come people don't get those fishing rules pamphlets. They are free and they are available almost anywhere. I have one in my car and one buy this stupid computer for any and all questioms the might come up. Like the area you were fishing. That whole river is open except above the upper dam to the state line.

    Besides it is something that I tend to read as much as I scan over maps for areas to fish.

    Some more usless info from an Old man.

  15. Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Posts: 1,402
    Yakima, WA.
    Ratings: +114 / 0
    Me too, Jim. I have the printed regulations for several states in my truck and at my office and on my fly tying desk. I have the PDF versions on my office PC and my home PC. I tried, but can't fit the PDF version on my PDA. But my situation Saturday morning was I was in the wife's car, visiting Mom in Spokane, so no internet connection, everything was closed, and the WSP wouldn't help me. I hoped that I'd find a "Bubba's Gas-N-Bait" shop open Christmas morning but no luck.
  16. Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Posts: 1,402
    Yakima, WA.
    Ratings: +114 / 0
    I got out Sunday, January 23, on Hood River with the new rod. It was my first time with an actual steelhead leader and fly, casting on water where a steelhead was a possibility. A remote possibility since the visibility was still only 1 foot, although the level had dropped to mean for this date. But there were definitely fish there. The ODFW checker said bait fishermen were doing well up by the dam, and I saw a bait guy catch and release a native right across the river from me. It's probably a good thing that I didn't catch anything because I had an ugly big temporary knot between the line and the backing that probably wouldn't clear the guides.

    I picked up some Skagit Cheaters just the day before and tried out some combinations. The 10 ft. floater and the 5 ft. sink compensator seemed to work the best on this 13.5 rod. Rio says the opimum head length is 3.5 times the rod length. I think the 5 ft. section shortens the head of the Windcutter from 10 ft. to 45 ft.

    I started to feel like I was really in the zone with the rod, casting long and consistently without gripping too hard with my top hand and relaxing with the rod by my side when letting the fly drift. I was doing better at salvaging bad sweeps. Because I was fishing the left bank, I tried to get better at a left hand on top double spey, but didn't do very well. There wasn't a wind factor, and right hand on top double speys were working just fine. Casting the floating tip with an indicator was pretty easy. To make practice harder, I put on a sink tip and a lead eyed leach. I found I had to strip in the sink tip pretty short, holding some of the head in my hand, to get the sink tip to pop out of slow water with a snap-t, but it would shoot back out most of the time. But it was great how a right hand on top double spey could rip the sunken sink tip out of the water and blast it across the river, even when I didn't get it swept enough. A spey rod makes Hood River seem so much smaller.

    I was surprised how I could still hit brush behind and upstream of me with a single spey or its variations. I bashed an indicator all to bits and hooked a tree I thought was way out of range. When I'm single handing, I'll look for a hole in the trees behind me, throw the backcast into the hole then haul hard into the forward cast. But the hole needed for the single spey is a whole new geometry. It needs a disk shaped space upstream and nearly 8 ft. behind me with the top somewhat tilted toward me and I don't know how high. I always thought a spey rod would be great for the brushy "Long Hole" upstream of the pipeline bridge, but I bet the overhanging limbs will still be a problem.

    I'm jazzed. I just want to get out there and do it some more. And still interested in getting some professional coaching.