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.
FFF Certified Casting Instructor (CI)
FFF Certified Two-Handed Casting Instructor (THCI)
Rajeff Sports Echo & Airflo Pro Staff, StreamWorks Pro Staff
"If the trout are lost, smash the state." - Tom McGuane
"There are many good reasons to fly fish, catching fish may be the least of them." - LBA