To learn the Spey [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: To learn the Spey

12-14-2001, 10:31 PM
So whats the best way to learn to spey cast? Can I learn from a video or is this something I need someone to teach me in person?
Have been fishing my 10&1/2 footer for years now and I am starting to feel some pain after a day out. Plus I have a new spey rod in the closet that has never seen a river. And Id really like to learn but dont have the bucks to hire someone.
Any idea's? thanks for any help!

12-15-2001, 12:21 AM
Best way in my opinion is to be taught by someone.. There are some great insites that can be taken from videos and books but i think nothing beats personal instruction. It might help also to know what style of casting you want to learn.
There are two basic metods of spey casting both of which have merit in their own right.

One method is to get a weight forward type line and do a lot of shooting to gain distance.
The other method is to use a long belly line or double taper and to carry a lot of line on the water.

Both methods work very well.

I started out with the windcutter because i wanted an easy way to use tips. it is my opinion that there is pleanty of line control with the windcutter when using sink tips but I never liked doing floating line with it.
This summer I started using a double taper for all my floating line work and I love it !!!!! I can have very presice line control to work my fly into all the nooks and crannies ,which is very important on tivers like the North Umpqua
The double taper is also a very fun line to cast and using one will make you a better spey caster , I think.

So the question is do you wanna be a long liner or a shooter. or maybe both

Once you decide that i suggest finding someone in your area who will teach you. Where are you located?? If you are in the Southwest Washington/ Northwest Oregon area I am willing to teach..
Don't pay for a speycasting lesson unless you know the Instructors are top notch guys. Most of the best speycasters are people that no one knows and from what I have seen most are eager to help others

12-15-2001, 04:59 AM
Ditto on the offer if your in Soutern Oregon. I've 'taught' several people to spey cast over the years but my "revilation" came when left side of brain finally clicked into gear.

Not a world class teacher in any sense of the term but I've found that teaching the basic casts in "reverse order" to be the key to quickly getting them up and running. I'll strip out 40-50 feet of floating line plus a very long leader and one fairly heavy fly. The long leader and heavy fly help with the 'anchoring.' The shorter head also teaches them to slow down, not over-power the line and not "thrust" the upper arm forward on the wrist snap. If they do over-power, the 'negative feedback' is immediate.

Next 10 munites is just having the fellow/lady (assume a right handed person here) bring the rod (at about a 45 degree angle) back over their right side (forms the D loop) and get them used to the wrist snap for propelling the line forward. It's this last "pop" that really loads the rod. If they 'screw up' a practice cast - like in the real world - this is how I tend to correct a busted cast to 're-lay' the line out into the river. Once they get used to the 40-50 feet then I'll stip off more line. Second key here is I tell them 'you're not fishing here, you're leaning the basic of basic's.' The 'fishing part' comes when you've got the wrist snap down.

Anyway, with the wrist snap down and somewhat second nature, the up and across from the dangle, back and around to form the "D Loop" for a single or Double Spey is a pretty simple "add-on." Make the point that, like a single hander, the timing is still "1-2-3" except the line (for the most part) is working in front of you.

From personal experience (For the most part, I also, was self taught other than watching one vidio. The first Spey Clave this past May was a true revilation!!!! Go to the next one also in early May 2002 on the Sandy) the more you can equate the 'how to' in terms a single hander experience the faster the transition from "training" to Spey fishing becomes.

12-15-2001, 02:24 PM
The best way is definitely to be taught in real time. I say that because I never was, and it was a long hard road to "functional" casting. Mastery is another issue entirely. Still waiting. Once you "get it" well enough to fish effectively pretty much where and when you want to (even if the cast ain't pretty) regardless of conditions, expect to improve each season, not each session. Give yourself a break from self imposed pressure and enjoy the fishing.

As to Videos, I recommend Rio's "International Spey Casting Video". Great job of explaining and demonstrating what makes a cast work besides your physical movements: pointy, sharp D loop or "V" loop as I know refer to it; crisp short stroke without overpowering; etc. Bear in mind that the folks in the video are professionals, and they are using fast action rods. The tightness of your loops may vary ;-)

If you have people offering to show you, accept immediately! But be prepared to back out gracefully if their style, attitude, or "vibe" doesn't sit well with you. Haven't seen the "My way or the highway" approach on this board yet, so I'm sure you won't run into that problem, but I have seen it with more than a few "certified professional" instructors. Saw one Joker at the ponds in San Francisco telling a student he could fish when the instructor told him he was ready to fish! Egads! He then came over to me, uninvited, to inform me that Lefty Kreh had perpetrated the biggest scam in the history of casting, and that my casting sucked, and I should start all over from the begining... I promptly dropped 5 shots with a deer hair bug into the ring at 70 feet, and said "No habla Ingles Senior". P.S. If I mentioned the guys name most of you would know who I was talking about... He was probably just having a bad day...

12-15-2001, 07:41 PM
I would say do all of them ;-)

I got my first introduction to Spey casting in the form of inspiration. I watched those who were skilled at it work the river and said, yeah that's for me. One of the guys who first got me pumped about it was Dec Hogan on the Skykomish. He had a couple of clients but had a minute to come over to check out the buck's bag (they had just come out). He also showed me a few things about the spot I was working and about Spey casting. Then Bob S (Bubba) met me on the Snoqualmie to show me some basics about Spey casting. This was probably 1990 or 1991? I bought a Spey rod and got a Spey head recipe from Mike Kinney, who was then working at the Swallows Nest in Seattle. He also recommended a DTF for dry work. I was off to the races.

I spent a summer season fishing the DTF after watching the Derek Brown video (highly recommended) and the Rio video (which didn't teach me anything but I enjoyed it) and the Hugh Falkus video (some good pointers but not nearly as revealing as the DB video for my learning style). The videos put some solid foundations into my head, but the only real success came from practice, practice, practice.

One of the most influential tips for me came from Derek Brown talking about bringing the line about from the downriver side to the upriver side before making the cast. He uses the analogy of bringing a shotgun 'round to follow a duck or goose in flight. This made me keep the rod from dipping or rising as it swings around to anchor the fly, which makes the rod load better and the cast go great. I had a major dip in the middle of my single and double Spey motion and it was killing the D loop. Since watching that video I've all but eliminated that problem. Thanks Derek!

It's so different from overhead casting. The challenge was revitalizing and each good pass over a pool felt just like the days after learning to cast a single hander.

All through the first summer I fished the double taper floating line and caught more steelhead on a fly than any summer. The DT is a forgiving line to cast and it gave me a big boost of confidence. I didn't have a good stroke but I had a stroke and it was getting the fly into the water where the fish would torpedo it.

Then winter came. The dry DTF wasn't cutting it and the tips were cramping my style. I switched to the Kinney head and over time figured out how to 'launch' that head. Through the winter and spring that head system put a lot of fish on the line. It was great fun but I started to miss the way I could work the DT without stripping in tons of running line and shooting most of the cast. Nevertheless, the ability for the head to handle hi-density tips was unmatched and it led to a lot more hookups.

The long belly Spey lines / Rio lines are a nice compromise between the two. I bought the Rio Windcutter to go with a 7136-4 Spey (13.5' 7wt). The stroke for this line is a lot different than the DTF and the Spey head. It lets you get into kind of a rhythm as long as you strip in to the right point in the line, anchor well, and give it an easy yet assertive stroke. My biggest problem with this line is to try to drive it to hard.

Then get involved with communities on the web. No group can compare with Dana Sturn's International Spey Pages.

Another thing: find partners in crime. I met up with Doublespey on the Snoqualmie one day and it was like having someone to work out with. Since I've moved away and thus get on the river so infrequently now he shows me all the tricks he learns between my visits. This fall he showed me how to do the snake roll. Man, what a sweet cast - so much power with such little effort involved.

After reaching a basic working ability, I've taught several people how to Spey cast. Nothing makes you think through your cast like showing to someone else!

I guess I was lucky... I spent time on my own, learned from freinds, watched the major videos, caught a lot of fish, taught others - basically a little of all of the things that you can do. But the most important of all is to hang in there and continually refine what your doing until it works.

Hope some part of that was useful to you! :)

12-15-2001, 09:40 PM
I talked with George Cook who gives spey casting lessons in late winter every year and it sounds like he'll be doing them again this year. Many people have learned from him...

Stop by the shop within the next month or so and I might have some dates set in stone. George charges around $50 so it is fairly inexpensive.

12-16-2001, 08:29 PM

I'm no expert but I can usually not hook myself. Iwould be happy to meet up with you some morning on the Skykomish and show you a couple of casts if you would like.


12-16-2001, 09:48 PM
Even down here in So. Oregon "rumor" has it this fellow knows which end of the rod to hold. (He's damn good!)

Mysterious writer.:devil:

12-17-2001, 02:38 PM

Not sure who your sources are but I assure you they exaggerate. There are many, many people out there that can cast circles around me. I personally know of 3 or 4 on this board that I have learned from that are far superior to my abilities.


12-17-2001, 06:42 PM
Well, everyone exaggerates a bit after the third 'single malt' but not in this case.

12-17-2001, 07:07 PM
I took instructions from Ally Gowans, from Scotland, for a few years in a row. He is now a friend and comes to Calgary each fall to hold a 2 to 3 day spey casting seminar. He is the best I have seen. The seminar is usually in September. I'll send you some information on it or you can look it up on his site.
Look up his web site, he has (had?) a great section on casting with pictures galore.
He also published an article in the Atlantic Salmon Journal, complete with pictures. I'll try to find my copy and send it to you. So send me your mailing address.
His web site has lots of data about lines as well.
Have fun with the Spey!

12-17-2001, 07:11 PM
This is the site location for Ally Gowans.

12-17-2001, 11:15 PM
Originally posted by fredaevans
Even down here in So. Oregon "rumor" has it this fellow knows which end of the rod to hold.

A rumor??...It is just that!! :hehe: Do you know how many rods he has broken because he grabed the wrong end of the rod and attempted a doublespey. ;)

j.k ofcourse

Duggan is one Hell of a caster, one Hell of a fisherman and a blast to fish with!! Plus he keeps me in line when it comes to my big mouth and the Web. :devil:

12-17-2001, 11:22 PM
Dianne and I went up to Canada last year and took a class from Dana Sturn and others. It was a great class, reasonable in cost (Canadian $), and a definite benefit was watching lastcaststeve lay out an entire line, cast after cast after cast with never a miss. Just like a laser beam. Damn, I wish I could do that.


12-17-2001, 11:56 PM
Crusty so tell us now. What rod was Steve using??

12-18-2001, 07:21 AM
At the first "Spey Clave" this past May (next one comes up this May) on the Sandy River east of Portland, OR. LCS ability with a Spey rod were 'jaw dropping.'

I don't think it mattered what rod he had in his hand vis a vis line weight or manufacture. Fellows timing was flawless. For more infor on Clave 2 go to Mark Backman's web site for his store in Welches, Or. Someone whose good at posting web address please follow up on this and post Mark's 'address.'

Ton of good stuff on spey fishing, etc., and etc.

12-18-2001, 07:31 AM
In fact I hope to have his link up in a banner befitting of the store and it's history in the area soon!

12-18-2001, 07:34 AM
I, along with 100 or so other folks, stood there at the 1st Spey Cave on the Sandy River. You could hand "lcs" any rod over an 7wt and he'd empty the spool in the air. For a guy who spey fishes somewhat in 'isolation' down here in So. Oregon it was a true revilation to see a "Jedi master" at work.

12-18-2001, 08:55 AM
Steve was probably using the scott 15ft for #9, but he is able to do this with almost any rod.

12-18-2001, 11:05 AM
Thanks, to all of you for your willingness to help.
Sinktip, I would like to take you up on your offer. Maybe we can get together sometime after the holiday madness. And by then some of the rivers might be fishable. I will try to meet up with you at Ted's, if that works for you.
Thanks Ryan for the info. I will proably need a class too. You know what they say about old dogs.
Again thanks to all.

12-18-2001, 11:14 AM
Sounds good Skyrise.

12-18-2001, 03:14 PM
Incredable display what this fellow can do with a spey rod. About the only possible 'provisio' of this fellow clearing the reel in the air was the rod probably had to be at least an 8wt 2-hander.

Steve displayed his abilities on at least a good half dozen different rod manufactures products. Sage to Burkhmr to Loomis to Scott. It didn't appear to make much difference; the line was all in the air.

12-18-2001, 03:59 PM
Fred, Yes I know the rod doesn't matter that much Steve is a wonderful caster quite possibly the best spey caster on the west coast (if not the country). I just know that he and some of his close friends have lately been enjoying rods from a certain manufacturer. I was hoping to simply get a shameless plug for that manufacturer:O)

12-18-2001, 05:32 PM
If George Cook is going to do another class , I would tell everybody to make it if they could . I took it a couple of years ago , and would take it again if it was down in the S. OR. area again .I learned alot that can go from double hander's to single's .Fish-Head:D

12-18-2001, 05:50 PM
If anyone is really wondering about how GOOD Steve really is...... Derek Brown has said that he is the finest caster he has ever seen, other than himself !(of course)

12-18-2001, 06:44 PM

It didn't seem to matter. He would pick up my rod, your rod, any rod and the next thing you would see was your unused line screaming out over the water. I'm talking Spey casting here, not overhead casting.

Bubba is/was developing a new line, if I remember right it was 145' long, and Steve shot that thing out completely; unfurling 10 feet above the water.

Damn he can cast. According to the instructors, he is "world class" and if he ever entered a distance competition he'd probably take it.


12-18-2001, 06:57 PM
If we get too carried away here talking about Steve we may have to have him "bronzed" and put up in a park somewhere as a statue to the virtues of double-handing.

12-18-2001, 09:16 PM
FYI, George Cook is doing a couple classes in early January through Mark Bachman's shop east of Portland. I don't know if there are any spaces left, but you can check it out at

Scott K
12-22-2001, 03:27 AM
I remember when I first purchased and watched the Derek Brown Video which came highly recommended when I was getting into Spey casting about a year ago. I picked up a few pretty good tips, but a few monthes later when I took Dana Sturns Spey School (with Dana Sturn, Brad Michael and Way Yin as my casting instructors) in March 2001 on the Fraser River (there should be another one soon I think, inquire at
or ) and I was taught the casts and I learned what I was doing wrong as well as the right way to do it, I can go back and watch the Derek Brown Video (titled spey Masterclass, a very good video) and I can pick out all the little things that he does right now on top of the major themes which he talks about. That's one of the major benefits, on top of meeting some great people, of going to a spey school/clinic is you will learn hands on from people who know what they're talking about and you can see how it's done in real time as it's been mentioned. When you have the ability to correct yourself, that is when you can really start putting it together.

Another thing, take it slow. For instance, if I had to go back in time and teach myself, I would really work on the basic basic fundamentals, such as instilling the shotgun rod raise, which I still catch myself being lazy with today sometimes. Gripping the rod lightly and when firing, gripping it firmly and stopping it and watching the line sail. Again, little things, but they make a difference to the overall picture, and it's important you learn the muscle memory by taking it slowly.

Good luck,
Scott K

12-24-2001, 08:31 PM
Febuary 2nd, $60 Spey casting clinic w/ George Cook on the Sky.