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Discussion Starter #1
I have fly fished for decades but apparantly have been out of touch and need to read more books, magazines and websites. My question is probably too basic for you folks but here goes. I do not understand what spey is all about. How does it differ from regular fly fishing?

I searched the archives, by thread subject, I did not read them all, and did not get an answer there. I figured out it is a casting technique and involves long two handed rods and avoids trees and brush immediately behind you, but so does roll casting. It looks like it involves big rivers and steelhead to a great extent, but apparantly not exclusively. It also appears to allow more distance with less athletic effort, though I am not sure about that. These are, however, just inferences from reading the archives.

If you folks can remember when you knew alot less (or, perhaps more accurately, absolutely nothing) can you tell me when and why you use it as opposed to regular fly fishing? What are its advantages and what are its disadvantages compared to regular fly fishing? Or, if this is really too basic, perhaps refer me to a book or other website. Thanks for any info.
 

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Method

SJS,
It is a method, not a rod style. You can "spey cast" with a single handed rod or two handed. The biggest advantage is needing only a short distance behing you to make the cast. That works for trout and for Steelhead. There are a couple of videos that you might find useful, the RIO Internationl featuring Simon G and one By Derek Brown. Both show how you can use the one handed rod for this style of casting to open up new water to fish.
I am usually fishing for steelhead and use spey casts by preference, even when there is room to overhead, as it just is more fun and essential in many areas I fish where there is no room for the overhead, and a roll cast won't get you there.
 

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Junkyard Spey
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SJS, Ted has pretty well nailed it. The main thing I like about spey casting is not having to make any back cast to get my fly back in fishable water. Like Ted I mostly fish for steelhead and the spey rod works really well for swinging flies down thru a run. Even when I do trout fish I mostly fish some kind of soft hackle wet fly and after the fly finishes below you a single hand spey cast will put the fly back into the fishable water. While there are other websites that deal with spey casting in my opinion THERE IS NO OTHER spey casting website. Take care, MJC
 

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JD
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Spey fishing

Just my .02 worth. Besides what you had already figured out and what the other guys mentioned, there are several other advantages to Spey Casting and Spey style fly fishing.

The Spey style of casting has evolved from the simple roll cast into the various casts that we use today. It looks similar to a roll cast until you start picking it apart and anylizing it. Rather than going into the details of the casts, I will try and point out some of the advantages other than what has already been mentioned.

Since you don't need the room behind you for a back cast, you don't have to wade up to the top of your waders. Knee deep is usually deep enough.

Also, since you are able to make longer casts with less effort, you don't need to wade out into the fast deep water in order to obtain the distance. Again, knee deep is usually deep enough.

The longer rods allow you to mend a lot more line than you could ever hope to with a 9 ft rod.

You can throw those big ugly weighted dumb bell eyed flies without worrying about them hitting you in the head because, done properly, the fly never comes back behind you.

Since the Spey cast does not require all those false casts to change direction of the cast, your fly is in the water, working, a greater percentage of the time!

Now, having said all of that, allow me another .02 worth. I don't advocate bringing a 14 ft Spey rod out on a trout stream. And I really hate to see a guy use a spey rod to high stick nymphs under an indicator. To me, that is sacrilege. Learn the techniques and apply them to a single handed rod, fine. But the old timers that developed the style, as well as well as the modern guys that refined the style, deserve more respect than that. :tsk_tsk:

Nuff said. I will climb down off my soap box. :chuckle:

><///('>
JD
 

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One more thing: it's beautiful. I saw my first spey caster 6 years ago. He was across the river on the Deschutes, and I was mesmerized by the slow, sweeping movements of the cast and the line that just seemed to sail across the river. Don't get me wrong, single-handed fly-casting has its own appeal and shares a great deal with spey. But when you learn the motions of spey, and can feel the rod send the line in a tight loop 90' across the river, it almost doesn't matter if you catch fish or not. Almost.
 

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Prose and poetry

SJS, your entry suggests that you understand spey fishing in broad outline. What is hard to convey is what Debarb touched on: beyond its quantifiable advantages, spey casting is inexpressibly fascinating! I've been fly fishing for 42 years, and the last eight, since I took up the long rod, have been by far the most interesting. As evidence, I offer this website. Can you find such a rich, varied outpouring of contributions by expert and enthusiastic fly anglers anywhere else?

A few caveats: spey fishing isn't practical on still waters or streams of less than approx. fifty feet in width -- and some of my brethern may want to dispute that figure. And it's not for ultralight work on your Penn. spring creeks. By the way, the terminal tackle (flies and leaders) are the same as for single-hand rods.
 

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There are "no generalities".....

Actually, my use of a 2-hander contradicts the previous post....

I use a shorter spey ROD (about 11 1/2 feet) with a 6-wt. double taper purely for the superior ability to mend line while fishing for Lake Ontario steelies and the big lake-run browns. This is done in smaller tribs where traditional spey casting techniques would be overkill. I notice a few more anglers using them in just the last couple of years, and exactly for the same purpose.

Yeah, I'd really like to have the ability to spey cast, and if lessons or a spey forum are within easy distance of my home, I'll probably attend to really learn how. (I have videos, and they look interesting - just no real room on local tribs to get practice.)

So I don't really use spey CASTING - just overhead and roll casts with a spey ROD. But there are definite advantages in line control. And, as long as the rod and line are light enough (but powerful enough) for the task at hand, enjoy it and quit the technical arguments! Just have fun, as I do. :smokin:

BobK
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks very much for the help guys. This is exactly the information I needed. I am looking forward to reading the archives now that I have a context for them and I think it is going to be fun to begin this learning process.
 

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loco alto!
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If a picture is worth 1000 words, then what's a video worth? Go to Dana's speypages website (linked at the top of the page) to see a few speycasting videos.

I find that the "fishing" part is largely the same as with a single hander - its still a flyline with a leader, etc. The "casting" part rests on many similar principles as single handed rods, too, but with a wider range of motions. The videos show this well.
 

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Pullin' Thread
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sjs,

I'm a transplanted Pennsylvanian (left PA when I was 25, exactly 25 years ago) who now lives in NW Washington. There are many rivers and streams in PA, MD, and NY that I used to fish that would be ideal for fishing with spey casting. Some with a 9 or 10 foot single-hand rod and some with the traditional 12ft to 16 ft 2-handed (or spey rod).

Penn's Creek (on the Susquahanna side of the hill), Juniata, Allegany, Big Pine Creek, Big Fishing Creek, Lehigh River, upper Delaware, Loyalsock, Susquahanna (either branch and the mainstem) come to mind right away as places to use the long 2-hander. Night fishing for big browns a gas on the upper Delaware. Juniata, or lower Penn's with a 2-hander.

As you know living in Pennsylvania, there are large spring creeks and small spring creeks. Using spey casts on some of the smaller waters like Yellow Breeches, Spruce Creek, or Letort with a 9 or 10 ft. 4 or 5 wt. would be equally as much fun. And far more efficient to cast than the short 7 ft rods we used when I lived in PA and fished them.

JD,

Once upon a time, in the land across the pond, 2-handers were used for trout fishing as well as Atlantic Salmon. And that time was not that long ago. Kelson, Hardy, Francis Francis, and Hale all make mention of the need for a "salmon rod" and that one should avoid the "trouty rods" of similar length that were available. The salmon rods were for heavier lines and bigger fish ,while the trout rods for light lines and stream trout.
 

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One more view on what spey rods bring to the party,

A short few years ago I took a header and dropped 2 stories onto a concrete driveway. It took a good surg. over 5 hours to put Humpty Dumpty's right arm/wrist back together again. I'm still running around with two long steel plates and 8 screws to hold the arm together.

I like swining single handed rods for many applications here on the Rogue, but when the rod wt exceeds a 7wt, I'm good for less than 10 minutes before I'm grinding my teeth and tearing up. My minor point here is with the longer rods, the two hand configurations allows you to make very long casts, mend, etc., with minimal physical effort. The 'stick' provides huge amounts of leverage that you can't get from a single hander.
fae
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi Flytyer,

I was thinking of trying it with my one hander 7 weight this weekend on the Susquehanna for smallmouth. I have only seen the videos on the Spey Pages but I think I have enough of an idea to give it a shot.

Appreciate the list of waters. I might have gotten around to figure that out on my own after a while but this will save me time. Never would have thought of Letort or Yellow Breeches for spey casting.

By the way, had a chance to fish a private section of Spruce Creek in May. Too much rain this spring for it to be good but it was full of large, wild bows and though the two days were slow overall, I did manage one 25 incher. You have me wondering now how much more water I could have fished if I had known how to do spey casting then.
 

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sjs,

You could have effectively fished a lot more water if you had known how to spey cast simply because trees and brush behind you pose no obstacle to a spey cast. And spey casts are dynamic casts that allow you to make casts of 50 feet or more with a single-hander or of 100+ feet with a 2-hander.

Yes, the Letort and Yellow Breeches are very compatible with spey casting with the single-hand rod. Truthfully, virtually any moving water can be successfully fished with spey casts, including the small freestone mountain streams. You just have to use a short rod on the small, tree-choked ones.

I have many found memories of fishing for smallmouths on the Susquahanna. Your 7 wt single-hander will be fine for learning how to spey cast. Just remember to keep a few inches of the back taper of a WF line in your rod guides in order to have enough energy transferred to the line for casting.

Ah yes, Spruce Creek. Joe Humphreys took me there my first time as a class field trip back in 1974 when I was a student at Penn State taking his fly fishing class. One of the many jewels of Pennsylvania.
 
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