Re: Learning the Spey Cast?
For those of you who've expressed curiosity about getting into spey casting, let me give some words of warning and encouragement:
Spey casting and fishing is the most fascinating aspect of fly fishing I've discovered in 46 years at the sport. I've been spey casting about 13 years. Spey casting is not a sport for loners; it needs a social network of other spey anglers for instruction, encouragement, trying and trading of equipment. (I'm fortunate to live in the coastal Pacific Northwest, which is world Spey Central.) If you just buy a spey rod and a line which "matches" its stated line rating, you'll be selling the rod on eBay in a year or two, probably without ever having made a decent spey cast.
For one thing, spey rods are very line-sensitive. Spey line ratings have very little to do with the long-established AFTMA line ratings for single-hand rods. We're still evolving into standardized ratings for spey lines. Without a clue and some luck, you could spend $hundreds on different fly lines.
For another thing, spey rods run from 10-12-foot switch rods (just mini-spey rods) to cannons of 16, 17 feet and beyond. Very different spey lines are appropriate for each, and for the 13-14-foot rods that are currently most popular. Different anglers prefer faster or slower spey rods; fast action rods that zip beautiful tight loops in floating lines or long shooting heads in overhead casts over salt water (which isn't really spey fishing - not that there's anything wrong with that, you understand), or progressive action rods with strong tips to handle sinking tips, while flexing most of the way to the handle, then releasing great power in a controlled explosion. Spey lines run from short, amazingly thick Skagit bellies that will lift a heavy sink tip and flies the size of a prairie dog, to lines with tapered belly sections of 80 to 100 feet or more, and lines of many belly lengths in between.
There are a half dozen or so spey casts, which bring the fly back to the water near you in different ways, then make the universal D-loop backcast followed by a single forward stroke. You'll need to learn most of them, and to do them with either hand on top. You can do it, but absolutely not without expert coaching, any more than you could learn golf or karate on your own. Fortunately, there are close to a dozen good learning tapes and DVDs on the market. There are frequent gatherings of spey anglers, teachers, and merchants, especially here, but less frequently in other, unlikely places. And if I may mention the competition to this fine forum, there's the Spey Pages, an amazing website and forum, peopled by some of the most accomplished and information-generous spey casters in the world. Search its Archives and you can learn everything that's ever been thought or said about spey casting. Then, there are a few spey specialty fly shops run by very helpful and knowledgeable proprietors.
If you work through this maze of assisted learning, before long you, too can be standing knee-deep (no need to wade deeper, not with a spey rod) in a broad river making repetitive long casts, each one of which will seem like a small miracle. And you will feel like a spey fishing wizzard, whether you hook anything or not.