HAVE WE CROSSED A LINE?
We wrapped up Spey clinic #3 this weekend, with 2 to go. It was a great group and the weather was fantastic. A SE wind forced the class to stick to their left shoulder for most of the day, so the double spey took center stage. By the end, we were working on off-shoulder snap T’s as well. There was some skill in the latest group, with several casters looking to fine-tune things, as well as try new lines on existing sticks.
We also had a new caster with a long-belly rig in the mix. I haven’t taught a new two-handed caster with a long-belly line in at least 15 years. In every class, I emphasize how much easier it is to learn with Skagit and Scandi shooting heads than with long-belly lines. This was confirmed to me in a big way this Sat. It felt like throwing sewing thread compared to a “head”. Rod position and timing are critical at every step. Kudo’s to this and any angler who wants to learn like that. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
The most interesting event happened right as we walked down to the river. There was an angler swinging a two-handed rod right on our “private” casting run. Now, it’s not really private, but you’re probably not going to walk there from a public access. This angler gained access through a neighboring piece of property, and was someone who I have seen over the years.
There is no conflict story here. I went out and talked to this local Spey-afficianado, and he was totally cool about the class. Headed off to another spot anyhow. But the fact that he was there made realize that we may have crossed a threshold when it comes to swinging the Missouri River with two-handers in the winter months. We have been doing these clinics for 3 years now, and It’s never even crossed my mind that there would be someone swinging in our classroom.
If you fish the Missouri River in the winter, you’ve noticed this transformation. Lots of rigs with magnetic rod holders on the hood, and an array of switch and spey rods on them. And it’s been like that for a few years.
But recently, I’ve noticed another change. Anglers are not coming in the store asking about spey casting and fishing. They’re coming in asking for it. In other words, we’re hearing less “what kind of line do I need for my spey rod”, and more “I need a 390 grain Scandi compact head”.
In other words, we seem to have crossed from the world of curiosity to a world of competence. It’s becoming more about the fishing (flies, spots, sink tip rates, etc.), and less about the newess, trendiness and curiosity of Spey rods. This I like.
Yesterday I had a long talk with Spey Casting guru Mike McCune about our upcoming clinic with him and Whitney Gould. This same subject came up, and Mike agreed that a new legion of trout-swingers is forming. Guys that aren’t doing it a little when Steelhead opportunities don’t exist, but doing it all the time because they like it, and it’s effective.
Although Mike is known as a Steelhead guru and spends his time fishing on the West Coast’s best rivers, he’s really into the trout spey thing. Both he and Whitney love the Missouri River, and Mike told me that Brown Trout have moved way up his list of coolest fish on the planet, and sit right behind Winter Steelhead at #2.
I consider myself lucky to live on one of the better “trout spey” rivers in the West, and am stoked to see so many other anglers getting into it.
In a few more years we may find ourselves driving down to the Dam in January and saying, “hey look, a guy with a single hander and a bobber!”.