Al Buhr's New Spey Casting book a "Must Have" - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-18-2006, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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Al Buhr's New Spey Casting book a "Must Have"

Well, finally, a modern spey casting book to join Simon Gawesworth's worthy effort. And a fine addition it is. I have had my copy of Two-Handed Fly Casting - Spey Casting Techniques by Al Buhr (from its original source, the author) for several weeks now, and I consider it a "must have," along with Gawesworth's earlier effort, Spey Casting.

If I had to characterize the two books, I would say this: If Simon Gawesworth's book is the "college curriculum" for spey casters, Al Buhr's book is "post-graduate studies" for serious students of spey casting. Can the average spey caster get along just fine with Gawesworth's book alone? Sure, absolutely. But for the serious spey casting addict, and all spey casting instructors, in my opinion Al Buhr's book is an absolutely necessary addition to Gawesworth's book.

From a physical standpoint, Al's book is shorter (and less expensive) than Simon's, with far less pictures. But I found it a "meatier" book textually, with more in-depth text than Simon's book. The pictures are used sparingly, but very effectively, with accompanying and overlying diagrams, along with excellent and extensive, highly lucid and insightful text descriptions of a variety of standard and advanced casts, several of which are either not covered at all in Simon's book, or not as comprehensively. There is also an excellent section on the Underhand cast, as first conceived and perfected by Goran Andersson, and adopted and modified by Al Buhr for his own casting style.

Speaking of which, while there is no specific discussion of the difference between "style" and "substance" in spey casting techniques, Al's book is permeated with the concern for the basic, fundamental principles of all spey casting (the 'substance"), as versus individual or popular "styles" of spey casting, at the same time covering essential elements of the various styles that are currently "in vogue." As an active spey instructor, I especially like Al's approach. Since Al Buhr is an FFF Master Casting Instructor and original THCI holder, and also a member of the Casting Board of Governors of the Federation of Fly Fishers, and chair of the Board of Governor's Spey Casting Committee, AND the guy, if memory serves me, who was the original tester of Simon Gawesworth, so that Simon could become himself an FFF Master Instructor and THCI tester, it makes sense that Al would follow the FFF mandate of "substance" over "style" in teaching.

One standout thing for me was Al’s extensive discussion and explanation of his own preferred “style” of “constant tension” casting, as versus Simon Gawesworth’s own “straight line” approach, well covered of course in Simon’s book. I should make it clear that Al Buhr’s version of “constant tension” casting is more universally applicable to all types of spey casting and spey rod/line setups than are the “constant tension” methods of the Skagit specialists, like Ed Ward, which are tied more to specific types of “Skagit” casts with Skagit gear setups, in my opinion.

Also, Al Buhr's book has more on actual fishing with two-hand rods and spey techniques than Simon's book, where fishing with the spey seems almost an afterthought.

All in all, a really fine effort. Don't know offhand where else you can get the book, but I do know the Red Shed Fly Shop has some copies stocked and ready to go.

See more of my thoughts in the Instructor's section.

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-20-2006, 09:56 AM
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Great Book

As I said in another post, this is one great book. Al has broken down, from his vast knowledge of the subject, the art and science of two handled casting in a simple to understand format.

Great book for beginners and experts alike.

Thanks Al!!!

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-20-2006, 07:48 PM
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I simply can't wait to see this book which I am sure will be invaluable. Watching Al Buhr's effortless, very smooth, very controlled, extremely impressive and stylish casting, and listening to him about Spey casting made me change my own style to a longer stroke style. For me he sets the standard and I am delighted that he is sharing his knowledge.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 12:46 PM
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Al is also selling his "how to design a fly line" booklet. I have a copy and there is some info in there that is priceless. It is more of a workbook and is essential for home line builders. I only hope he writes an indepth text on the subject (I am guessing the line companies are hoping he doesn't).
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 05:53 PM
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it is worth repeating how much unique insight this book contains. I am amazed at how much it causes me to think about casting mechanics. I was skeptical whether yet another spey book was capable of presenting substantial new material in the wake of Simon's recent landmark effort, but this book is really it.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 07:43 PM
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Ditto to Steve's post. Al forces me to think. Sometimes it is because he and I use or understand different semantics, but more often it is because there are things I have yet to grasp.

Being relatively small, the book seems an easy read. Some of it is, but some really requires thought, and that thinking is very worthwhile. I feel like I am in the process of making a quantum leap in my understanding; hopefully my casting will follow my understanding!

Great book.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-24-2006, 07:58 PM
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Al sent me a draft of this book about a year ago and I was instantly impressed with it. I'm pleased and not surprised that you are finding it a valuable addition. Al is without doubt one of the most intelligent and creative people in the Spey game, and I've learned a ton in the short time I've known him. Can't wait for my copy to arrive!

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-27-2006, 07:13 PM
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Al Buhr's book

I agree that Al Buhr's new book is excellent and delivers insights that others do not. Al is an outstanding caster and an even better angler. He's also a terrific teacher. His writing, though good, is not as good as his casting. The photos are excellent, but the book could use even more photos and diagrams because the text is frequently ambiguous or uses terms without much context. Though I'm pretty familiar with the casts and even Al's terminology, and have watched Al cast numerous times, I found myself having to reread some of his passages repeatedly to understand what he was saying. I can only imagine the difficulty somebody less familiar with speycasting will have. The section on the "ins" and "outs" of underhand casting, for example, is especially difficult to understand.

Teaching casting from a book is hard enough. In person, a teacher can use not only the same words, but demonstrate the move, repeat it, explain the terms, respond to questions, etc. A book only gives the author one chance. I think this one could have benefitted greatly from more photos and much better editing of the words to clarify their meaning and eliminate some of the unnecessary repetition. I don't think editing is one of this publisher's strong points, but at least additional photos would have helped.

I think this is a very good book and am very glad to have it, but I do think it could have been better with some additional help provided to the author.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-28-2006, 10:36 AM
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Great Book!!


One of Al's goals in doing this book was to impart as much knowledge as possible without bringing out a book that was going to have to retail in the
$50 range. Extra photos just drive the cost up and I don't feel were really necessary.

I think he has done what he set out to accomplish. I suggest you re-read the book again and make sure you really understand the meaning of the words used. Then go out and practice exactly what Al is stating in the book.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-13-2006, 12:36 PM
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I love that last picture inside the book where he has his spey line making multiple circles around his body, very cool.

- David
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 07:19 PM
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I think you'll find that its a bit of an optical illusion and that the loops are in front of Al and not around his body. He is doing a version of a spiral cast, or as we in Europe would term it a double loop snake roll.
Now that I have the book I think it is excellent so far, as I expected it to be, still have to read it all.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2006, 07:06 PM
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You are right, I looked at the picture again. Still, a very cool picture.

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-05-2006, 05:57 PM
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I just received my copy from Red Shed last weekend. Although I've flipped through the entire book, I'm staying on page 10 until I retrain my anchor setting technique (the shallow open checkmark or dip) and forecast. I like the focus on basics and decided I'll be better served by improving these two parts of my casting technique before giving the rest of the text a deep read.
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