Original gangsta? I'll take that. For the first two years, I don't think I saw a single person with a spey rod on the Big Manistee, Muskegon or Pere Marquette. That changed when my soon-to-be friend Jerry Drake, aka jdfishbum, the bamboo rod builder who's a regular here, watched me throw a big rod on the St. Joe River in downtown South Bend. He promptly went home and rolled a Sage 9140 like mine.
At the time, there was very little out there in the way of instruction. Of course there was no Internet. I had a rudimentary VHS tape by Jim Vincent from Rio
, and a little booklet came with my Windcutter line. Those got me started. There were a couple of stodgy British volumes that were of little help, and included tips on working with a gillie who would hand me the appropriate rod for that famously named pool.
It wasn't until I found a new book by Mike Maxwell out of British Columbia titled "The Art and Science of Speyfishing" that everything clicked. I learned from Mike that I didn't have to do a single spey the correct British way when the river was flowing right to left -- that it was perfectly appropriate to do a double spey off my left shoulder all day long.
Casting a short Skagit head for the first time last winter was another revelation. I'm still trying to unlearn the muscle memory of aerializing a 55-foot head, and I blow my snap-T anchor more often than I care to admit. But I'm learning.