Rudd versus Wulff on Dee -- Help Needed [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Rudd versus Wulff on Dee -- Help Needed

01-29-2006, 06:31 PM
I found the following statement in a prominent FF mag in an article on the negative aspects of Spey casting for salmon (and steelhead):

I paraphrase to avoid copyright infringement, but the gist of the remark was that in a face-to-face "showdown" on the Aberdeenshire Dee, Lee Wulff outfished Donald Rudd (aka Jock Scott) on that river, Mr. Wulff using his preferred six foot rod.

Seems to me that this rod fight at the Cairnton Corral was judged to be pretty much of a draw, since conditions on the river at the time were very poor. I seem to recall that Wulff may have caught a fish and that Rudd didn't, but Wulff did not necessarily "outfish" Rudd nor in any way show the superiority of the single- handed rod and dry fly on the Dee.

Wulff, himself, in _The Atlantic Salmon_, rev. 1983, mentions that he caught several salmon in Scotland on a dry fly, but does not go into any detail.

I've tried unsuccessfully to locate an account of this historic angling meeting, having ransacked my own library with no result. Ashley-Cooper mentions Wulff's methods, but not the event. Rudd himself extensively covers the meeting between LaBranche and A.H.E. Wood in _Greased Line Fishing_, but doesn't mention Wulff. Nothing in Falkus, or even the Philip Knight book.

Can someone help me with the citation. I thought the entire magazine article ill-informed and fatuous and wished to respond with a letter to the editor stating my feelings on the matter. But, I want to have my facts straight.

Thanks in advance

01-30-2006, 09:37 AM
Eric, no answer to your question, but this is the third reference (on line boards) to the event I've seen in as many days.

Willie Gunn
01-30-2006, 10:03 AM
I watched Americans who fished the Spey with a single handed rod. Sorry I'll start again I've watched Americans with single handed rods spend their holiday climbing every tree on the beat to rescue their flies.

Cairnton is one of the few beats you could cover the water almost as effectively with a single handed rod.

01-30-2006, 12:21 PM
Interesting point: A.H.E. Wood fished only single-handed rods. Of course, they were 12 feet long.

Petri heil,


01-30-2006, 03:06 PM

I recall reading somewhere in the past that Wulff caught a single salmon on the "show down" day on a skated dry, while Rudd didn't touch a fish on a wet. However, I don't recall where I had read it, although it was over 20 years ago. I wish I could remember the book I read it in, although it wasn't in a bood authored by Wulff.

I also recall seeing in print several authors claiming that Wulff showed Rudd a thing or two about catching salmon and that Wulff also showed Rudd and the other UK fishermen that a 6' rod was all you needed to catch salmon anywhere in the world. Rogowski is the latest person I've read making these claims. But I never read anything written by Wulff himself that made these claims. All I ever read Wulff say was that you could catch salmon on much smaller and lighter rods than most people think.

I read the Rogowski article last week and I'm going to be sending a letter to the editor of Fly Rod & Reel as well about it and Rogowski's obvious rant directed toward 2-handed rods. Don't you just love these guys out to prove 2-handers are unsporting and 2-heaby and unwieldy for pleasurable fishing? And that with Rogowski's "monster" 12' rod no less. I suppose he would go into appoplexy if he would see someone fishing with a 16'-18' rod!

01-30-2006, 10:26 PM
Rogowski's article bothered me on many levels. First, he has not the background or experience in Spey casting to make a proper evaluation and make considered criticisms of double-handed casting. Second, he assumes that all Spey casters want to do is to cast as far as they can. Rogowski implies that people who use double-handed rods do not really know how to fish: that they overcast the holding water. Most Spey casters I know are quite adept at reading holding water, near and far, and use the double-hander and Spey techniques as a matter of sweet convenience (not to mention the sheer pleasure of working with the big rod). The casting's easy; you keep the fly in the water; you don't have to watch your backcast (as much); and you can reach to outer fish, should you want to.

Wulff was a man who was so accomplished that he wished to make things more difficult for himself. He had to work very hard to invent and master a technique that would allow him to cover distant fish with his six-foot rod. Al McClane mentions somewhere how difficult it is to throw line with a short rod. McClane and some other expert caster learned, by way of example, how to cast using only the tip section of a rod. I believe they did this as an excursion into the physics of casting -- they did not try to promote it as an effective way to fish.

Wulff trumped everyone by casting without a rod (look, ma, just hands) and caught a salmon thereby.

Wulff also caught salmon on No. 16 dry flies and did an number of other seemingly impossible things.

Wulff, through his notoriety and publications, inspired a host of imitators. People thought if Lee Wulff caught salmon on a six-foot rod using No. 16 skaters, they should try to do it, too. A whole generation of salmon anglers using inadequate tackle was born and the legacy persists today, Rogowski as an example.

I suspect Rogowski wrote the piece as an homage to Wulff, a master salmon angler who eschewed the double-handed rod. That's fine.

But why pick on harmless Spey casters? We're only out there to have fun doing what we do.

-- Eric

Willie Gunn
01-31-2006, 02:44 AM
The trouble is that Spey casting was not invented as a technique it evolved a method of catching fish(salmon are refered to as fish a trout is a trout only a salmon is a fish) on the Spey and other Highland rivers. When the gentlemen were arriving on the rivers with the new fangled split cane rods of 12 and 14 ft the gillies were still using the old long greenhearts.

01-31-2006, 06:36 AM
In a recent conversation in Anne's booth (Marlboro fly show) with 'super' Mario, who is by all accounts the best guide on the Gaspe', he agreed with my theory that the use of the canoe made the use of two-handed rods less practical than useful in the Canadian Maritimes.

Where much of Europe, Scandinavia, and the Pacific Northwest gives the advantage to the Spey caster it has not been hugely advantageous for anglers in the North American Atlantic fishery fishing from or with the use of canoes.

However, it is still advantageous in today's fisheries no matter where you go. What I find odd is the "either or" mentality - I say fish all methods and become capable with them all!

01-31-2006, 07:40 AM
that rag (fly rod and reel to be specific) could not be more hipocritical even in the same issue, with articles about how spey casting is the greatest invention and totaly useless at the same time. it just shows how starved they are for articles. it is this hipocritical attitude that turns people off from this sport and makes honest people look like buffoons because some "expert" they have never met contridicts you and tells them something ludicrous as gospel. i will be answering questions about that in the shop for weeks now, while folks quote the "expert". great.

01-31-2006, 07:48 AM
My first thought when I read the article at the grocery store was...Who the F is Rogowski?

I think that answers any questions about the article. The guy is not involved in the spey community and someone giving him the OK to write the article is BS.

The whole overcasting argument is also tired. Overcasting is a fishing ability deficiency, it has nothing to do with spey rods.


01-31-2006, 11:30 AM

Your point about Fly Rod & Reel speaking out of both sides of their mouth in the aforementioned article is very evident given the article by Simon G. and Gierach's column on using a 2-hander on the Umqua and how much he is enjoying using 2-handed rods for steelhead. Gierach plainly states that he is just a beginner at both steelhead and using 2-handed rods. Wouldn't it be nice if Rogowski had said the same.

Sean, et al,

Absolutely! If a person is not fishing the water near shore (as Rogowski claims 2-hand rod users do), it is clearly fishing fault and not the result of the equipment the angler is using.

01-31-2006, 11:51 AM
My, my . . . aren't our knickers in a twist!!

My first thought when I read the article at the grocery store was...Who the F is Rogowski?

I think that answers any questions about the article. The guy is not involved in the spey community and someone giving him the OK to write the article is BS.

The whole overcasting argument is also tired. Overcasting is a fishing ability deficiency, it has nothing to do with spey rods.


Sean, in answer to your first question . . . if you'd taken a minute you'd found out. You shouldn't be so dismissive (and more respectful) of people to who you owe some gratitude. Ted's been an extremely important (and well respected) protector of salmonid conservation most of his life. And along with Lee Wulff, Ed Zern, Ernie Schwiebert and a bunch of others, he was one of the founders of Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, one of the premier salmonid conservation organizations in the country.

Second, because he's not involved in the "spey community" (what's that? I'm not sure I have my club card) doesn't disqualify some of his observations . . . he's been an Atlantic salmon fisher far longer than you've been alive.

Third, we all love our double handed rods and Spey casting. Can you honestly say that you've NEVER shortchanged your time covering water 10' or 20' from you because you get more enjoyment with longer casts? Honestly?

Whereas I don't like Rogowki's inference that a 6' rod for salmon (and his "showboating" friend Wulff) is superior to a fishing a Spey rod, I think the article raises some valid questions that the Spey rod is not always the right tool. He's right that landing fish is more difficult. Have you ever tried to land a 25-30 lb Atlantic salmon by yourself with a Spey rod where it's impossible to beach a fish? And it's true that beaching can be more harmful than netting or hand tailing.

that rag (fly rod and reel to be specific) could not be more hipocritical even in the same issue, with articles about how spey casting is the greatest invention and totaly useless at the same time. it just shows how starved they are for articles. it is this hipocritical attitude that turns people off from this sport and makes honest people look like buffoons because some "expert" they have never met contridicts you and tells them something ludicrous as gospel. i will be answering questions about that in the shop for weeks now, while folks quote the "expert". great.


Francis, I find absolutely nothing hypocritical in providing opinions from both sides . . . as a matter of fact, I think it's great. Just because we're discovering the advantages of two-handed rods on this side of the pond and they've become the hot, fashionable, the "in" thing doesn't mean that they're the right tool for every situation.

Personally, I am totally addicted to my double-handed rods. One of the most wonderful things about flyfishing for me is that it's an endless supply of beautiful (and enjoyable) problems to be solved. Truely a life-long sport. And learning and perfecting my Spey casting continues to be a joy . . . I can hardly get enough of it.

But, there are times when my single-handed rod is CLEARLY the superior tool for both steelhead and Atlantic salmon. I love them both and use them both.

As I mentioned that I don't agree with the 6' rod and his assertion of Wulff's superior approach, but I hope your customers question you about the article. They will be much better served if you step away from dismissing the shorter rod and educate them about the advantages of both single and double-handed rods.

I do wish the magazine would have more correctly titled it the case against Two-handed rods, but you all know the Spey-fishing are the hot words.

BTW, Ted married his long-time friend's widow Joan Wulff last year.

01-31-2006, 12:06 PM
I am well aware of who he is, that was not my point. I probably should not have worded it so strongly but the article got my hackles up.

I just do not appreciate people using their positions to spread mis-informed crap. Yeah he has done some great conservation stuff and is in good with the old guys of the sport. Still think he is misinformed and others who look at what he has done with FFF and such could be easily mislead to believing what he says is gold.

I did not get the feeling he ever fished a double hander with any regularity to really speak with any authority on the subject.

I will say I short changed water when I was learing how to fish. Now that I am a better fisherman I do not do it. When I fished single handers I did the same thing. It had nothing to do with the rod. I stand by the opinion that overcasting is a fishing deficiency, not a casting one.

As a fanactical double hand rod enthusiast I felt misrepresented. That is why the article got my knickers in a twist. He brought nothing new to the table. Just the same old tired arguments.

No disrepect intended to Mr. Rogowski. I just think he is wrong and the article was poor.


01-31-2006, 01:17 PM
I gotta agree with WRKE on this one.

Sean - yours is a good example. You commented that you overcast fish when learning with a singlehander and that your maturity as an angler, not the lenght of the rod, was the determining factor.

Yet I'd say that the tendency I've seen is much more pronounced with the spey rod than with the single-hander. Sure there are guys who wade up to their tits and double-haul their shooting tapers to the other side of the river, but they are the rarity compared to the two-handed anglers who fall into this trap. Two-handed rods don't cause this, but they certainly tempt it.

Which one is a better tool is determined by the river conditions, the fish being pursued, and the angler. And on either side you'll find anglers who are ~very~ defensive of their chosen tackle.

I love my two handed rods and fish them over 90% of the time. I'm not bad-mouthing their use, just acknowledging that there are tradeoffs and that, as Rogowski noted, single-handed flyrods ~do~ have advantages.

my .02,


Willie Gunn
01-31-2006, 01:47 PM
Not in Scotland, single handed rods are a waste of time unless the water is very low. I cannot understand this arguement about taking longer to land a fish either. If you want you can put the rod over your shoulder then grab the line and play the fish by handline if you want.

01-31-2006, 02:22 PM
Meaning no disrespect to the gentleman from the Catskills, IMHO if the point is about fishing then the efficiency and advantage in salmonid angling goes to the person who is open minded enough to fish both double-handed and single handed as the situation would permit.

Admittedly I have not yet read the article but I have read many like it wherein the single-minded view is matched by the single-handed approach.

First, the area that even a careless spey caster would miss (that an experienced one would not) is a small quarter circle at the head of the run. The coverage and line control gained by ratios of backcast to forward cast approaching 10:1 (style-dependent) increases efficiency by orders of magnitude over the course of a lifetime, season - even a single trip. Such a judgement that the angler loses out would imply that the angler stands in one spot!

Those in the know however do not start their presentation at the spot they want to fish but instead start well upriver and completely cover the primary lie with ample hangdown (aided by the two-handed rod's superior line control) and work down from there.

I might add without much concern for obstructions behind that would render a full backcast impossible, and reaching lies where the single hander would labor with the sharpest double haul.

Beaching is a bit of a misnomer, when I 'beach' a fish it means I selectively guide the prized fish into a shallow area where it can be (a) left in the water and (b) carefully released while breathing water the whole time with the occasional photo. My favorite is a small shallow cove. A net is proven to remove the precious slime layer of fish who have many miles to go before they sleep and a horrible thing to do to a fish IMHO.

I believe the upriver dry (e.g. bombers, wulffs) and the use of the river canoe has jaded the views of the eastern salmon angler from seeing the advantages that are available. But to each his/her own.

To partake in the Spey revolution is certainly not mandatory, it's a matter of choice. For me the only odd part is that some feel compelled to condemn in the manner of a classic inferiority complex.


01-31-2006, 06:30 PM
Ok I will get myself in trouble now.

I love both sides here. Spey in winter, my single handed cane in summer. Steelhead mind you. But what I hate about Spey fishermen here on our side of the pond is that they talk way too much about it. Did you ever go to that other site where they talk spey all the time? I wish they would all just go fishing and shut up. Spey this and spey line that, wind cutter this, he's best, no this guy is best, should I fish a 987340945867**A, 27 foot, 27 wt for trout or steelhead or can I use it for both? On and on and on it goes. Just wish they would all go fishing, hook a fish, put the rod over their shoulder and pull it in by hand.:lildevl:

01-31-2006, 07:28 PM
Same talking crap on those cane sites. Aholes :tongue: :chuckle: :razz:


01-31-2006, 09:39 PM
And that's why I don't go to those sites, ever!

I challenge you to a river duel as I'm sure Wulff and Rudd had in mind. Two people who respected each others ability. I bet they could have cared less if anyone ever found out about that day on the river. And if they did want to have people know I bet they laughed thier ass off over it with a bit of single malt that night. The thing of it is today we make it all into reality tv hype. Yes it's an interesting story but better told by word of mouth on a river side or a kitchen table on a winter night. Most things in fly fishing are better told in those maners.

02-01-2006, 06:36 AM
wrke- then why didn't he write an article about salmon conservation? a subject he is qualified on. i fish single handed rods a lot here where the water is small and i love and appreciate them, even when i'm spey casting them. the problem with the article is that it doesn't say "in my humble opinion" it speaks with an authority that the author does not poses on the subjuect of fishing a two handed rod. wait untill i finish my article for popular mechanics about how the internal combustion engine uses too much energy to drive to the store and get a six pack. i feel i'm qualified.:lildevl: it is not the subject that got my "knickers in a twist" it is the poor quality and arguments of the article.