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chrome-magnon man
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5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
A general note to my fellow Canadians:

offline I get dozens and dozens of requests about spey schools, yet when we set things up it is like pulling teeth to get people to pay for them. We rarely have to cancel, but so often it is not until the last minute that people confirm their attendance by paying the sponsoring shop. This has not only been my experience but also the experience of other casting instructors. This is unfair to shops and also to people like me who commit their time and refine their skills so that quality casting instruction is available at an affordable price (compare what we would be paying if we factored in the exchange rate and travelled south for casting instruction).

If you want world class instruction and spey schools in Canada you need to support them. Am I and other Canadian instructors doomed to suffer the same fate as so many other Canadians in that we have to be recognized outside the country in order to get any recognition and support at home? It is truly an honor that the good people at Kaufmann's have asked me to participate at their Spey Days next month and to deliver the keynote address and provide instruction alongside such great casters as Goran Andersson, Andy Murray, Tim Rajeff, Steve Choate, Way Yin, George Cook, Scott O'Donnell and Mike McCune, but a little embarrassing that spey casters on my side of the border are unwilling to support my efforts at home. Despite my hard work that brings you the resources you see on the Spey Pages and speyclave (stuff you get for free), my willingness to answer countless email questions for you about rods and lines etc etc (again, for free), the 100% positve reviews I get from people who have attended my schools, and the thanks that I occasionally get from appreciative people who frequent this site, I have to admit sometimes to feeling a little like Rodney Dangerfield. Have I done something wrong?

Keep in mind also that much of what I make at my schools goes into supporting this site, so in attending my spey schools you also allow the Forum, Speyclave and Spey Pages to survive.

I have 3 schools planned for this spring and early summer with three different shops in three different locations.

I hope we can count on your support!
 

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chrome-magnon man
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5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
future thoughts on organizing schools

I realize not everyone can afford to drop $250 CDN on a spey school, so I am willing to look at options that will allow us to provide the best possible instruction to the greatest number of people.

There are a number of ways to organize these schools:

1. as they are currently organized, we keep the class sizes small (10 - 12 casters); have 2 or 3 instructors, provide video analysis, and run them for 2 full days for $250 - $300 CDN.

2. we could add the option of attending only one day, and for one day participants the price drops to @$150 CDN.

3. we could take a completely different approach and offer 1/2 day-to-1 day clinics with larger class sizes and one instructor for $50 CDN - $100 CDN depending on the number of partcipants. The downside of this approach is that one-on-one time is limited.

Feedback?
 

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227 Posts
Dana, I hear you Loud & Clear!

As you know, there is a local "annual" spey school in Calgary. I think the price has been about $275 to $300 for a two day clinic. Most years, it is not till the last moment that exact numbers of participants are known. Typically, class size is limited to 10-12. Seems to me that pricing is not the major issue for those who want expert instruction, in fact your clinics are less expensive. Class size and clinic structure/content/curriculum may be a way of getting more participation. Word of mouth thereafter can greatly add to future clinic participation.

I believe that we have Canadian talent of equal value (to out of country talent) in terms of skills and ability to teach, add to that detailed knowledge of local waters and we have a great combination.
I will support in any way I can the advancement of Canadian talent. I truly appreciate your quasi "volunteer" work and the effort/contribution" to the Spey pages.
I have talked to several local "Speyers" about Kamloops and there may be further interest.
I would suggest, as requested feedback, that a litlle more detail about the type of instruction/clinic content, the type of equipment to be used, what equipment is supplied (or not), lunch arrangements etc. would add to the attraction of the "coalition of the curious".

I will gladly share (off-line, not to bore the forum readers with details) all of the information that I have about the local effort.
 

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chrome-magnon man
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5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Pete and Peter,

yes, the "last minute syndrome" seems to be fairly common up here. I remember back when I hosted Derek Brown in Vancouver in the late 90s and it was the same then, too. The Vancouver schools were well-attended but many didn't come on board until the last minute, and the schools up north suffered from people making the commitment but then backing out when it came time to pay. Most of the people I know in the industry up here have similar experiences. The problem with it is that it puts the organizers on the hook as well as making the presenters a little squirmy about making commitments. Even the free event I was organizing up here on the 25th of January got a lukewarm response; however when we moved it south at very short notice we had a whole river full of casters, a very worthwhile event. Needless to say after I moved the event south many people who wanted to come to a Canadian event contacted me and expressed their disappointment, but why didn't they let me know that there was a good group interested in coming? They had lots of advance notice but only about 8 people expressed interest before I cancelled it. After the cancellation close to 30 got in touch with me saying "why did you cancel it--we were planning to come!" Confusing...

In Canada at least there are very few instructors who have their schools/clinics/presentations underwritten by the big manufacturers. For example in my case although I am with Loop my schools are my own deal and any costs associated with running them come out of my pocket and the pocket of the shops that host me. When I'm teaching locally in the Vancouver area expenses aren't huge however any travel (such as the Ontario school last spring) involves airfare etc that comes out of what I make at the school. I'm not in this to make a living; I actually teach because A) I enjoy it and B) the fees I collect help support the running of this web site. And it now seems more than a little ironic to me that I have US groups and shops really supportive and wanting me to present and/or teach for them yet up here at home every event is a white knuckle affair until the last week or so when finally the money comes in.

To your question Pete about the outline of the courses, I keep things fairly flexible preferring to let the casters dictate what they'd like to learn. I always go over the essentials on Day 1 because everyone can use a review (even me!)--various methods of spey casting (Traditional, Scandinavian, Skagit), tackle selection, stance/grip, loading the rod, effective and efficient D loop formation, application of power, live-line roll casts, single spey/double spey etc. Day 2 I usually move into the advanced stuff like snake rolls and some of the Skagit casts, distance casting and presentation. Generally at the end of Day 1 I ask the group if there is anything specific they'd like to see during Day 2. These days most people want to see the underhand cast during the afternoon of Day 2 so that is what I often do, but other times we spend more time on distance casting or off-shoulder casting--again, whatever the group would like to learn. Most of the time I work with casters who are in the beginning through intermediate range of skill, but sometimes an advanced caster or two will have me working with them on really refining their technique for more efficiency, distance and power, or showing them a trick or two that will help them take their casting to the next level.

I've found that most casters at spey schools have their own kit, but we always have a few extra systems rigged up and participants are welcome to use them. As far as lunch goes, it kinda depends on where we are. On the Fraser schools we're sorta out in the boonies so everyone brings their own (I am usually still in the water over lunch and wolf down a sandwich in between questions!) but some schools have had lunch provided while at others we break and hit a local eatery. It all depends on location and the approach taken by the sponsoring shop.

I don't have any line style preferences as an instructor, and as an angler/instructor I believe in letting the situation dicate the tackle system--in tight quarters I'll use shooting heads, while on big water with long casts I'll tend towards longer belly lines. For teaching and demonstration purposes I always have 3 or 4 rods rigged up, one with a shooting head system, one with a Windcutter-style line or MidSpey-style line, and one with a long belly/extended belly line. I believe it is my responsibility to help a client improve no matter which line system they prefer. I used to be a "longline snob" but I realized that approach was really more about my ego than anything I had to offer as an instructor and that it was really doing many people a disservice. I went through a phase where it was important for me to find out how far I could cast and because I was familiar with long lines I stuck with them and got really good at throwing them a long way. But after a while that wore a little thin for me (by nature I'm not a competitive person) and some soul searching led me to realize that, like I do in real life, in "reel life" I wanted to teach and hopefully to be a good teacher, and I knew that to teach well I needed to have a good understanding of the various spey casting methods so I began to get excited about all of the casting styles. That was right around the same time that I started the old ISC site.

These days I am comfortable with all line systems and spey styles from 35ft shooting heads and the underhand cast to extended belly lines with 120ft heads, and I advocate first and foremost casting with whatever system is most comfortable for you.

I'm working on my FFF certification and hope to be among the first to stand up for the FFF Spey certification exams when they are ready.

I'm also a great advocate of a few cold ones after a day on the water.

After all, this is really all about having some fun and catching a few fish in the process.
 

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Dana, I don't know what has gone on on your west coast, but
I'm not sure that there is necessarily a Canadian bent to your
experiences. What I do know is that one local shop in my area
(western NY) ran one spey class last year and after experiences
that sound very similar to yours decided not to try again this
year. The other local shop is hosting a course by Hardy, but
this "course" consists of a half-day session, your choice of
morning or afternoon. It's $70 US and, due to past experience,
the shop is insisting on full payment up front or else you're not
registered. I'm in an economically depressed area, tho I have no
sense of how much of an effect that has had, since the numbers
involved here are very small.
In a completely different arena, my company ran a few 2-3 day
seminars (biostatistics) and we ran into exactly the same issues
you did: a fair amount of interest up front but very hard to
convert it to actual attendance. A consultant we talked to gave
us ratios of flyers_circulated:interest_shown:registrations_
sent_in:actual_attendees that looked like the data set for a
geometric progression. I realize that this doesn't really help
your sense of frustration, but to say that it may not be all that
much due to Canada and your reputation.
 
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