Some thoughts re "spey culture" - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-21-2008, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Some thoughts re "spey culture"

Having just returned from this year's Spey-O-Rama I am totally jacked about... yes - casting and competition. The fantastic event that the GGACC puts on along with seeing the competitors from around the world has me thinking about what is going on around my neck of the woods.

Here in BC I see a lot of excitement and a general buzz about spey stuff. I find this reminiscent of what was going on in Washington State 7-10 years ago. Spey rods and casting were new, there was a core of guys who knew what was going on and everyone else wanted to find out. The first Clave at Fall River was a happening and it was the vanguard of a virtual spey-boom. The recent Michael & Young Clave on the Fraser with its 200 attendees reminded me of that Fall River day. Spey is alive and well in in BC.

I am not so sure I can say the same thing about Washington. I do not believe for an instant that spey fishing/casting is in danger of dying out. Far from it, it is here to stay and Washington is the heart of "Speydom" on this side of the pond. However, it seems to me that many of the things about Spey have become a little stale. The day of claves in Western Washington may be coming to a close. At least claves as we know them.

It may well be a function of a mature market. Most guys in Western Washington have spey rods and cast well enough to be dangerous on a river. As well, they have been to a number of claves and seen the Rock Stars and the Jedi do their spiels. How often do we want to listen to the same presentations - or variations of them. I think it is time for something new.

Clearly there are lots of guys interested in spey casting and fishing. The question is what do they want to see and do in lieu of the traditional clave? I would like to hear people's thoughts on this subject with the hope that we can take the next step in claves. I truly enjoy the social aspect of spey casting, I have so many good friends from speyland and look forward to sharing ideas and good times with them.

Personally, as I sit here in the after-glo of Spey-O-Rama my thoughts go to competition. Aaron's first competition at Carnation a few years ago was a blast and garnered a fair bit of interest. The problem I see is the danger that only a select few are willing (or brave enough) to enter contests. Therefore the challenge is to create an "everyman's contest" one that the average guy is willing to participate in. Enter, Marlow's Jimmy Green Memorial Spey Days. The winner of Marlow's contest is the caster who throws the "average" distance. It is very popular and virtually everyone there enters... it is fun. Marlow even manages to get some very cool (and valuable) prizes for the Average Caster and those near him. If this were to be coupled with an open contest where the serious guys (and ladies) could cut loose and measure their skills against the best, people would have a good time and there would be lots of interest. As Tim Rajeff said in the Spey-O-Rama debrief on Sunday - if the people are there that he and other vendors will come. Who knows, a keynote presenter could even be involved for all to listen to. It could create a lot on fun and interest.

As well, by having two or three (or more) "contests" more people would feel confident about competing and we would have a more suitable representation at Spey-O-Rama. Believe me, the hardest part about competing is doing it for the first time. And there are a lot of benefits to competitive casting. I cannot begin to tell all of what I have learned about casting since I went to my first Spey-O-Rama, I am light years better as a caster. What I gleaned from the other competitors, the ideas and suggestions that we shared and melded are absolutely priceless. Of course, most of this translates directly into my first love - fishing. What I learned about casting at these competitions has enabled me to improve as a fisherman.

So I would like to open the floor and find out what the spey public has to say about the "State of Spey" and what we should do to re-kindle the flame.

Tight lines - tyler.

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-21-2008, 09:57 PM
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I don't get into all the competition-grass casting-constant instruction-hero worship stuff that surrounds they spey culture as you phrase it. I just want to fish, and enjoy the activity and the relaxation sense of spey technique. I still say that spey casting is easier than proficiency with a single hander; and spey techniques really improve line control with any fly rod. I just like to fish. If we could all roll cast like Frank Moore with a single hander, we might not be using a spey rod as much.

Kurt
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-21-2008, 10:20 PM
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western washington is saturated!

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-21-2008, 10:45 PM
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Tyler,

Spey Claves are great .... I have only been to the one up on the Sky in March. So although I have been doing it for a few years, I haven't been able for various reasons to hit any of the claves.

I enjoyed the the presentations from the "rock stars" and also learned some valuable nuggets of information ... real stuff I can use.

I also really appreciated being able to try lines and rods ... I think this is the biggest advantage of a clave. To find THE line for your rod ... or to see what a long line is all about or a mid spey and why you would or wouldn't use them. Get exposed to stuff out of your "box".

There are a ton of great spey casters here in Washington .... there are also quite a few folks who have spey rods and have absolutely no idea how to use them correctly and have a hard time advancing their technique due to having the wrong line for the rod ... not enough time on the water to practice ... no friends that can help them figure out what is wrong ... no instruction or lessons available or whatever. Sometimes just getting the head out is enough for them so they don't try any harder.

Tyler ... I enjoyed your presentation up on the Sky ... that is the first place I've ever seen people long line casting. Great exposure out of my "box" of knowledge.

I'd like to throw a long line some day to see what it was like ... I think claves are the place to go to do that ... You just need enough time and find someone willing to help you out ... which is usually easy enough if you ask. We all tend to do what our friends and guides we fish with do. The claves give exposure to different techniques and applications.

Learning to cast "far and fine" is a good thing. I think the spey-o-rama is a great thing. It can only better the sport.

Looking forward to the Sandy Speyclave ...

Steve
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-21-2008, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Sparky, that is my point, what would you do to stimulate some excitement?

Tight lines - tyler.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 02:35 AM
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Kush.
As you know I share your passion for the sport as much as anyone.I to learn new and interesting things everyday that I am out with casters at Claves or just casting on local waters,The people I have met are amasing human beings being with people from other countries has really broadend my horizons.I don't know the answer to your question but I am willing to help.When I get together with friends on Sundays I am still seeing a lot of new people showing up and as a group we always encourage people to go to as many gatherings as possible.The economy is certainly playing a part in the slow down.But the other thing is the petty jealisy between shops this shop won't go to that shops get together or another shop won't invite good casters from other shops.I don't know how many times That I have invited other shops and casters to join us on the river but no one comes.I do know that as far as speycasting goes it doesn't work at the sport shows very well and neither does single handed as far as that goes.I think they should be done on the water some where and everyboby should be involved in that area.I also think people could get together in differen't areas for informal casting get togethers after a while they could form teams for friendly competitions.Please excuse my keyboard and writing skills that is one thing that I deffinately don't share with you my friend.San Fran was great I thank everybody for their kindness and especially Ron and Kristin for getting me there.MB Kinney
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 03:03 AM
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This was my first year at speyorama. I attended friday and saturday. Had a GREAT time. Met lots of great people, cast different rods and lines to my hearts content, had some great talks with people on rods, lines, flies, fishing and even non spey/fishing related life things, had a lot of good laughs, heard alot of great stories and left with a few new stories to tell myself.
I love to fish! If I could I would be out there as much as I could pursuing my fishing obsession. However because of life, work and the location I live local fishing opportunities are not that abundant at certain times of the year. Now some people get off work and they head home to there families, or they head to the gym, the golf course, THE BAR!, or whatever other hobby they pursue. For me (If theres no fishing to be had) its grabbing a couple of rods and a few lines and heading down to my little practice spot and spending an hour or two just casting. Its something I look forward to . Just because fishing season is over I dont tube up the rods and stuff em in the closet. While I love to fish I also enjoy casting very much. While being great practice for when it gets time to get to fishing its also just fun to get out there and cast.
At speyorama I was watching the competitors practice. I was not only impressed with how great of casters they were but also how great of friends they all seemed to be. They would talk among each other,laugh amongst one and cheer each other on. It was a good vibe all around for sure.
Granted watching the men and women cast out them long bellies 100+ was also quite intimidating! However I did sneak off to a far end of the pool with a 15 footer and a long belly and gave it a whirl. Needless to say I will soon be placing an order for that 15 footer!!!
Its kind of interesting that Tyler has brought up this question. Because as I was sitting there watching the qualifying it actually crossed my mind. What if there was like a series of spey casting competitive/clave events. I know there are probably some that Im not aware of but you know it would be like a year long series held at different venues. Whether it be at a place like SF on the casting ponds or at a river. I know I heard a lot of mention of how it would be cool to have a competition on moving water. I mean you could have several different types of casting categories, distance ,accuracy and probably with enough thought some really fun and challenging ones. As far as the willingness of people to compete thats a tough one. Even if you would have differnt classes of experience how would you determine ones experience?? Two casters with one year experience Caster A has taken three classes and spent XXX hours on the water while in the same year caster B has taken NO classes and spent XX hours on the water! That would be tricky. But I think you could allow people to compete and just pick an order of casters. No winners. Just there results. This would possibly lead to people being more willing step up and get out there and compete on a higher level. And while yes it would be a competition really it would just be a bunch of people who enjoy doing the same thing just getting together and having a great time. Friendly competitions always seem to include alot of good people, good times, good laughs and good stories. And those are things in life that you can never have enough of!
It would take a lot of time and work to do something like this I know. Just as it does to put on the speyorama, Sandy and other claves. But could be a fun thing for people. Anyway on that note thanks to all who were involved in putting on the speyorama. Thanks to all the companies and rod builders who worked hard and made the commitment to be there and let us all try out there equipment. To all the people I met , it was a pleasure and those I didnt theres always next year! Kevin
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 04:57 AM
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Kush, those are priceless observations. As I read, I was thinking: What kind of skill(s) should we be competing to demonstrate in a spey competition? Put another way, what are the demonstrable advantages to fishing with the two-handed rod?

The question sort of answers itself. We want to cast far - and then farther. And we want to have superior control over the fly once it's on or in the water.

The first idea I had started at the edge of rationality, and then devolved. What if we had a contest with a sort of hocky net-contraption anchored to a stream bed, several feet under water, where the object was to drift a fly-substitute into it, using the contestant's choice of sinktip or other fly fishing-compatable sinking device... with the net rigged with some sort of sensor... no, too high-tech... perhaps an underwater high-res. video camera... with screens where the judges and audience could watch the "fly" hit or miss the net... No, too expensive and unwieldy to be practical. What was I thinking?...

Wait a minute - how about a pair of poles, anchored to the bottom and three - five feet apart, cross-current? It wouldn't test successful bottom-probing; but if we can afford to give up that important third dimention, we could test accuracy, effective mending, and distance, as stringently as we deem practical. How about having the near pole 100 feet out for rods of 14 feet or longer, 80 feet for shorter rods? Too much? A judge would have to stand out by the poles, or perch in an anchored boat. But that course could be set up in even an ankle-deep river pool.

As another approach to education combined with competition, how about this: a cadre of the best locally available spey gurus teaching a class of students, of intermediate or higher skill level, specifically how to cast farther, and consistently. After a few hours of this group instruction (no point in exhausting the students with all-day training), finish with distance casting competition. Whether the results are announced or not, the students will presumably be delighted with their progress in one day.

Arright, stop snickering and pointing at me! Let's hear your ideas!
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Nooksack Mac View Post
Wait a minute - how about a pair of poles, anchored to the bottom and three - five feet apart, cross-current? It wouldn't test successful bottom-probing; but if we can afford to give up that important third dimention, we could test accuracy, effective mending, and distance, as stringently as we deem practical. How about having the near pole 100 feet out for rods of 14 feet or longer, 80 feet for shorter rods? Too much? A judge would have to stand out by the poles, or perch in an anchored boat. But that course could be set up in even an ankle-deep river pool.
I like this...


How about just having different classes...beginner....intermediate...open...

Different rod length classes...I was just thinking that i would love to compete but right now i dont own anything over 15'

how about scandi, skagit, etc...competitions
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 12:18 PM
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Heresy?

This is my take - probably spey heresy....

In my casting I strive for the following...
Consistency, Creativity, and Resourcefulness

In my fishing I search for Peace

Claves don't offer much of either

- and yes, we're saturated in Western Washington - which in one way is a good thing, because now most Spey casters you run into don't have the mindset that they are "terminally unique"

enjoy!
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 03:11 PM
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Kush,

Your thoughts are spot-on, in my opinion. Spey-O-Rama made me more interested in things like THCI certification and competition. People who haven't attended SOR, or certain other claves, may have an inaccurate perception of the events:

I abhor competition in fishing. However, the competition at SOR is all about encouragement. Competitors share knowledge and even equipment. They root for each other and applaud each other's best casts. They console each other's failures. So, in this way, not to mention the international camaraderie, SOR very much offers "Peace."

Hopefully we can come up with some good ideas to keep claves fresh. Spey "culture" is the best fishing culture I have experienced, and I value greatly the friends I have made through various events. The events cut greatly into my very limited fishing time, but are still worth every minute.

Kush, thanks for the post. I will ponder this and try and come up with some more useful thoughts.

--Bill
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 03:42 PM
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Thanks should go to all the casters (and non-casters) for making the Spey-O-Rama so fun and such a success. People came all the way from Europe and Japan to participate in a variety of ways because speycasting is new and exciting in a lot of places. It has also been amazing to watch things like the hardcore Scottish speycasters picking up the Skagit techniques and the Japanese casters mastering the longbelly UK style. The exchange of ideas and techniques happens right before your eyes at events like this. The Pacific NW steelheaders have been at this longer than most of us here in the U.S., but there's still a lot that's new and developing outside that region.

A number of casters who aren't up there with the big guns have participated just to see how well they could do, and are to be congratulated for having the nerve to step up in front of the crowd and give it a try. For those non-contenders, the competition is a great way to measure themselves against the best and to see how they've improved from year to year. And it's not every day you can cast where the angle change and distance is accurately measured, so you can see exactly how well you're doing, not necessarily against others, but against yourself. In big marathon races, the casual runners can compete against the elite world class runners, and it's much the same in casting contests. I think nrthcsteel had it right - the encouragement and support for all casters from the other competitors and crowd was terrific.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 05:22 PM
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Tyler,

As you know, I too have developed friendships through attending some of the spey gatherings, although I've not yet been able to get down to the Spey "O Rama. I also like the comaraderie of talking to other spey casters and picking up tips on how to improve my casting. Plus, as has been mentioned by someone else, the claves are really the only place you get to actually cast rods and lines you are not familiar with because the fly shows casting ponds are not adequate for doing so.

I think that casting compititions are one of the most informatice aspects of the spey gatherings and would like to see a compitition for the "average" Joe using rods under 15' as well as for the experience and advanced spey casters using 16' and longer rods. In other words, 2 different classes of compitition. In fact, I wish the Sandy Clave had some sort of compitition because it has such a large number of attendees so folks could get to see that different people cast in different ways with rods that have different flex profiles to get the same relative distances.

One of the things I've noticed at the gatherings is that newbies often don't approach or try to talk to the experienced spey guys at them. I know that the experienced guys are always more than willing to help out the newbiew and those who don't have good casting skills; but the newbies and poor casters seem to think otherwise. Therefore, I'd like to see some "forums" featuring experienced casters so newbies and not-so-good casters would feel that they could get some tips from the good casters in a sort of formalized way. This would help them get more than simply watching a presentation by one of the gurus.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 05:56 PM
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Good Question - many answers

I'm not sure what "Spey Culture" is Vs. "other methods" culture, other than to suggest some greater affinity for the technique(s), which is how I see it.
Claves are for me an opportunity to meet up and socialize with buddies that I otherwise would not connect with. They have also added significantly to my continual learning curve with all the various presenters and presentations. The opportunity to try out various rods and lines is also a valuable learning tool, albeit an expensive one when I get the "halo" effect of a new toy! So it is important to me to have various "tackle" available to try out, which ever way that happens.
Ideally, I have been able to combine a few days of fishing along the way.
The competition element is the least of my interests, other than watching and being impressed by super casters and casts ( P.S. it does not take much to beat my 60 footers!). But I certainly do not object to having some form of competition, after all, it seems to be part of human nature!
However, we need to deal with either/or/and "Why meet at a Clave" - "Why hold a competition"? I think there is room for both types of venues and that some can be a combination of the two. The best comparison that I can use to make suggestions is my experience in shooting sporting clays. With a simple handicapping system we were able to establish various classes like AA, A, B etc and then we competed within our "class" until we got bumped to a higher class, based on our results. the events were organized such that everyone had fun and the prizes were minimal. "Cheaters" occasionally showed up but never seemed to be welcomed around the sand box where we had a few libations & munchies. So for the competition element od Spey culture maybe a preliminary round of casting would be done to place people in classes and the next round would be a competition within those classes, perhaps with coaching in between the two events, e.g. better casters coaching less proficient ones. The key element for me is to focus on having fun learning with buddies!
I don't think that I would be frequent participant mainly due to distance, but if the emergence of significant interest in Spey casting in the Calgary area is any indication, I'm sure that a local "clave" will be happening soon.

Pete AKA Frenchcreek from Calgary
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-23-2008, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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I recieved a PM from a member located in the GL with suggestions from some claves he organized. A couple of things really struck me as interesting. The first was an emphasis on fishing not just casting. They had Andy Murray as the keynote presentor and had him do a "mock fish" through 100 yds of water. While he moved through he explained what he read into the water - why he was standing where he was, why he was casting the length of line he was, explaining where he would speed up or slow down the fly - all of which seems a brilliant idea to me. I would be first in line to listen to a Mike Kinney, Ed Ward or Scott O'Donnell - or I can only wish maybe even Harry Lemire explain how they read water and 'think" their way through a run! Awesome.

The other thing they did was have a couple of "experts" evaluate peoples' double-handed set-ups for rod/line matches, balance etc - which I think would be valuable to many. As we know rod/line matching is a major reason for attending claves - why not make it an official part of the agenda.

Personally I have never really liked doing demos, the most enjoyable presentations I can remember were ones where I talked and engaged the attendees with questions/answers and phiolosophies about casting and fishing. I did one at the Sandy Clave a few years ago I titled the "Anti Caster" where I kind of made fun of serious demos and focussed on casts and fishing and spent much of the time answering questions and demoing casts by request. I had fun and the folks seemed to like it. The other - and probably the most memorable was at Aaron's Spey Fair where on the second day the group of demonstrators decided they didn't want to repeat their demos from the previous day and instead each did a little "chat at the river" where we talked about stuff - again it went over very well (I really enjoyed listening to the other demonstrators chat).

This thread may just provide some viable and interesting approaches to future claves. Keep the ideas coming.

Tight lines - tyler.

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Last edited by kush; 04-23-2008 at 06:16 PM.
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