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Scott M

Article on Spey Casting

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Scott M

Spey is the way

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

If you live long enough, the past comes 'round and meets the future, completing a circle.

So it is with Bob Nasby, the St. Paul fly fisherman and casting instructor.

Perhaps also, Nasby argues, it soon will be with legions of other fly anglers who discover -- or rediscover -- the new benefits of an old art form: spey casting.

"I'm convinced spey casting will be the dominant casting method for future generations of fly anglers, whether they fish big water or small, for steelhead in rivers of Alaska or in trout streams here in Minnesota," Nasby said the other day while standing shin-deep in the St. Croix.

If that occurs -- if fly anglers eventually forgo the long-held American tradition of single-handed casting for the benefits of Euro-style casting with two hands -- it won't be without some confusion.

It took me awhile to figure it out, too," Nasby said.

Some background:

For centuries, spey, or double-handed, casting has been commonly practiced in Scotland, among other locales worldwide where rivers run big and fast, and where trees and other vegetation clutter stream banks.

In those environs, traditional, American-style single-handed casting is problematic (and sometimes not even practiced) because anglers typically carry as much line behind them on their back casts as they do on their forward casts.

Anglers who instead know how to spey cast, whether or not they have a spey rod or spey line, have no such disadvantage. And when they are armed with specific spey gear, and understand the spey casting method, they can cast 80, 90 100 feet or more of line without fear of tangling their back casts in trees or brush.

Spey casting not only benefits the angler by providing fishing opportunities in tight spots, but it also allows the angler to keep the fly in the water longer, seeking fish. That's because retrieving the fly line -- stripping it in -- as single-handed casters do before casting, isn't necessary to complete a spey cast. Instead, spey casters maneuver their rods in a manner that sends the line ahead without first sending it backward.

To anyone enchanted with the physics of single-handed fly casting, as Nasby and many others are, this process, when completed well, is akin to painting a masterpiece.

"The big difference today," Nasby said, "is that the developers of the new 'spey' lines, and the new rods, particularly the 'switch' rods that can be cast single- or double-handed, make this casting method applicable in all types of fishing."

3M Scientific Anglers is among leaders worldwide in developing lines meant for modern double-handed casting.

"The beauty is," Nasby said, "spey is a type of casting as much as it is about certain rods and lines. Someone fishing with a single-handed 5-weight rod, with a weight-forward line, can also make a spey cast that keeps his line virtually entirely in front of him throughout the cast. And that's a big advantage."


Any proficient spey casters out there?

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Whoop dee doo! First time I used this technique was thirty years ago on the Bulkley R. in B.C. No big thing. Stevie Rajeff taught me the finer points and we took some 13' rods and tossed some huge amounts of line.

It certainly IS a method to throw a lot of line on big water and you can throw a shooting head and a whole lotta running line a long way easily. Couple real little tricks to it will help a lot.

It's a lot of fun of course, but if you don't need to fish big water with heavier lines/bigger flies you won't have a whole lot of use for it.

And just WAIT until you check out the price of a nice 14' SAGE Spey rod. first car didn't cost that much!! Ha!

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Cool article. The only time I've seen this technique is on Youtube. Pretty cool for sure, but I don't understand why people would want it on our smaller creeks. Not often are you casting more than maybe 20'. I may be missing the point of it though.

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I think the point Ted was just to show something new and different. Being an outdoor writer is not GOTTA come up with fresh stuff! Ha Ha! And it well may be that many folks have not heard of it. You are right; there is little use for it in this part of the world unless you want to try it for walleyes on the Mississippi!

And NOW the big buzz in fly fishing circles is the Japanese Tenaraki or whatever method. Which is the fly fishing method used in 1500 by the original flyfishers!! So nothing changes!

Have fun. Cast close. Catch fish. Cast far. Catch your ear!!

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