The New Deal? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: The New Deal?

10-23-2002, 09:26 AM
How much thought has been given out on your local river wherever you fish for steelhead with a fly about the possibilities that your river may become even more crowded this winter because of the re-invention of the spey rod?

Don't get me wrong the spey rod is art in it's self a thing of beauty in many of hands and comes from sound and strong old tradition. But have you noticed that now the spey rod is the majority of fly rods being fished on our steelhead runs throughout the NW.

The fact they are becoming the norm should not be a concern but have you noticed on your local river in the last few years there are many new faces who were never there before who are fishing spey rods for winter runs? If you introduce yourself to these new faces and carry on a friendly conversation you may find that they are yes new to spey fishing but have been fishing with a fly rod for years. You will also find that a lot of these new faces on the river before they took up spey fishing had tried in the past, winter steelhead fishing with a single handed rod but did not like chuck and duck and had a real hard time getting down to the fish. They gave up winter steelhead fishing or went rarely, they would rather spend their time fly fishing for trout on the Yakima and other rivers in the NW.

But the word is out about the spey rod and winter runs. How wonderful the info is about the long casts and the ability to mend a heavy sink tip for the perfect drift or swing. The word is out how effective this art form is at hooking or at least having a better chance of hooking up with one of the most glamorous of fish.

Do you think the popularity of the spey rod and it's abilities for winter runs will add extra pressure in the coming years to a dwindling resouce and the fact that there is still only the same amount of good fly water this year as last year?

10-23-2002, 10:27 AM
Godd question OC.

I admit I am one who is converting from the short stick to the spey rod this winter. Why? Because there is a lot more water to fish if you are using a spey rod. All those places where back casts are impossible with the short rod is what has drawn me to the spey. Well Juro had something to do with it also.....

So my reasons for switching is to get access to more water than before. Now I can fish my usual runs and can throw in a couple new ones I only dreamed about the last couple years.

I do not feel I am adding to the pressure but am helping spread it out. To me spey rods equal more water which in the long run I hope is a good thing. Just as ling as nobody low holes me:devil:


10-23-2002, 10:41 AM
Not out here in Great lakes country there are few spey fisherman compared to the PNW from what I can tell. I have not seen another spey rod all of this year other than mine.

10-23-2002, 12:43 PM
The admitting part is no problem with me, can't blame you at all for switching over. Your reasons are good reasons, especially the bushes thing and the new water. A side note, last week while fishing the river out east with a single hander I watched an old friend who can cast a single hander like no one I've ever watched use his as a two hander with brilliance. Wonder if it can be done with a sink tip though.
PM Like your post over on world wide about paying to fish but I'm affraid I'm not also ready to answer that one yet. I'm not sure we have to go that far yet and that there are answers to the concerns.

Why has spey fishing not caught on yet where you are? Is it because most of the fly fishermen use a nymph on a dead drift? When a certain river out in the Eastern part of the state had water temps drop down to 46 many of the fishermen went to indicators, nymphs and used their spey rods with deadly success. It was amazing what ease they had using a 15 foot rod and just being able to place their nymph wherever they wanted without casting as they slowly walked up stream against the grain of the run they were fishing. More deadly than the gear guys fishing the river just below them.

10-23-2002, 01:33 PM
I live in Wisconsin, and know of 4 guys including myself that use the spey exclusively during the winter and spring.

There's a few places that are almost "Spey Only".
Even in the summer w/ a tiny trout rod, if you can't roll cast then you might as well go home.

If anything i've been noticing a large crop of single hander novices lately. I shared the water with a guy last weekend that proceeded to flog the run with the biggest maribou fly he could throw. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side - If you're usin the spey rod, you feel like nymphing, and if you're using the single hander, you feel like throwing a wad of hair.


10-23-2002, 02:45 PM
There is no doubt that the long rod is becoming more popular. Not sure if the growth is coming from single handed fly rodders or from converted drift fishers. I have sure seen a fair number of the latter on the rivers in recent years.

At the risk of getting too touchy feely philosophical, the appeal of spey to me is not in the potential for increased catch rates or new water. I just love to spey cast. I enjoy the challenge of learning new casts and when to use them. I enjoy the way that, much like my golf game, some days the stars are alligned and some days they aren't. And some days they are early and not late :) I enjoy the rythym of it. And I enjoy the bond it brings with others of the same addiction.

Truth be told, I would rather play a fish on a single hander but for the countless casts that span the moments of actual hook-up, for me there is no comparison. And then there is the wear and tear on your body advantages. A day of swinging a spey rod, even with tips, is a pleasure. A day of chuck and duck with a 8 or 9 weight single hander is a chore.

You often hear about how the long rod is much more efficient in hooking fish. I agree with this in theory but not always in practice. When used correctly, there is no doubt that a spey rod offers you the ability to fish water that you can not with a single hander. Too often though, I see anglers frothing the water to a boil with poor casting either because they have not learned to cast or more frequently because they are trying to cast 100+ feet. To them distance is the appeal of the long rod. Of course any mentally sound fish around will be off to the races for less disturbed lies. And then there is the tendency to overcast lies especially for winter fish. You might be a hell of a caster but sending your 15' Type VI tip 110' out into the fast water is not going to net you many fish.

In closing, are our waters getting more crowded because of spey rods? Maybe. Am I worried about it? Nope. I instead have decided to fret about the impacts of increased run health. I think this is the sleeper that could spell disaster. Should we be able to turn around our declining steelhead runs, think about he effect this will have on crowds. My god, if there were actually fish in the river, everyone would be out there trying to catch them. Chaos would ensue. Yes we are far better letting them continue down the road to extinction. At least then, only the true spey addicts will be out there on MY river.:smokin:

10-24-2002, 12:10 AM
Like sinktip, I have noticed a fair number of drift fishermen using 2-handers in the winter. Yes, some of these folks used a single-hander in the summer and fall for summer fish; however, they used a drift rod in the winter. Now they are using a 2-hander in winter.

I have no problem with this at all.

I know that nearly all of use, if not all of us here in the states were single-hand rod users before the renaisance of the 2-hander, myself included. Has it made our winter steelheading more crowded, I doubt it because the vast majority of the folks who are using 2-handers in winter usually either fished with a drift rod or a single-hander anyway.

There are a huge number of newbies to the 2-hander that I have run across the last 6 or so years that feel they have to cast out yonder (as Sinktip said) when the fish are laying in water 50-60 feet or less away. And yes, they usually thrash the water because they haven't learned how to cast well at 60 feet, let alone 100 ft.

I also feel that the riverine environs steelhead live in and the wild fish themselves are far more important than the number of folks fishing with 2-handers in the winter. It really is care of the resource that is most important. Followed very closely by etiqet astream.

Perhaps the biggest factor in the poor ethhics and fishing manner that myself and several other have lamented is the low number of returning fish. I suspect that if there were 15,00 winter runs in the Skagit, 10,000 in the Sauk, 3,000 in the Cascade, 15,000 in the Sky and 15,000 in the Snoqualmie/Tolt/Raging, and the other winter rivers throughout the Northwest (same with summer fish numbers) that the poor manners and unsportsmanlike conduct astream would be greatly diminished.

10-25-2002, 10:35 AM
If the rivers mentioned all of a sudden got 15,000 fish in them
it would be wonderful for the health of the fish. I put fish first and believe that all of us should work for our fish totally free of any strings attatched to us being fishermen/women. If these fish are to be saved it will take a great cry from the ordinary citizen and in great numbers. As a fisherman we are more aware of the problems for obvious reasons and because of that we must work hard at getting the attention of the non fishing public to the problems of loosing our native fish. Fishermen do not and never will have the moral high ground on saving fish as far as the public is concerned. When I participate in the WSC meetings I go as a person who want's to see our heritage saved from extinction not as a fisherman who wants those 15,000 fish in the river so I can catch them.
Like many traditional oriented flyfisherman from the old school I've made the decision as a fisherman to challenge my own self, to make the act of fishing as difficult as possible within my frame of reasoning. If I'm catching too many fish then maybe I'm not challenging my self enough. Having 15,000 fish in the river or 200 fish in the river should not change my outlook how I fish and why I fish.
Yes having those 15,000 fish would be great for the fishes sake but I can see it now. Every fishing rag or as some call them fishing magazines would have advertising, some call them atricles
on how hot the fishing is, where to go, what to use and most importantly at least two advertisments on how to catch them. One advertisement would be a new and inovated technique by some want to be hot shot guide who wants your money but comes off as a good guy just out helping the common Joe. The other would be an advertisement/article sponsored by the rivers local chamber of commerce about "Steelhead fishing made easy for beginners".
Come on up and catch our famous steelhead and while you are reading this article take a look at the wonderful real advertising right after the article on where you can buy your own little piece of river front subdivision. And for my fly fishing friends fly fishing mags are worse by far than the gear mags. At least the gear mags talk as much about crappie, bass, walleye and other lesser game fish as they do about the top of the list game fish.
We the fly fishermen of today have bought into the scam of the industry. One only needs to go to fly fishings only trade association internet site to understand that if fly fishing is a way of life for you, you are not a concern in their bigger plans. The plan and it is right out in broad day light is to continue with maximizing profits by continueing to increase the amount of new fly fishermen to the sport. 18.1 % growth in the last two years. The whole advertising/article thing in fly fishing is geared to newbies and want to be's and it's geared to them fishing our upper type game fish like steelhead and trout.
We are being info'd out by mass marketing but I brought up the spey thing because we the fly fishermen here on the internet are doing the same thing and just not spey. Is it because spey fishing is somewhat new here in the USA and Canada that we must help out everyone and their brother get into it. We are giving out so much info to people we don't even know. Then when they show up on our rivers we bitch about it. What was wonderful about the fly fishermen of the 50's and 60's is they had a perfectly natural way of keeping the fly fishing population within reason for the resources and that was to be secret and share info with only trusted friends. I know there are some of you out there who want more because you make money off of more but what about the rest of you who do not. Why are you allowing and putting up with this on all fronts. Please think about the growing insanity out there and don't let what has happened to the Rocky Mountain trout fishery happen to our steelhead fishery. I know some of you feel it can't happen here but we felt that same way twenty years ago in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
It is not selfish to conserve info!

10-25-2002, 03:13 PM
the amount of new fly fisherman to the sport, 18.1 % growth in the last two years


Article :Fishing for the Future - Ken Schultz page 83, talks about the problems with fishing's lack of growth. Some quotes:

"Its a common misconception that fly fishing is growing through the roof . Its not, fly anglers make make up a small portion of the total angling public"

"2001 U.S. National Wild Life Service - 2001 National Survey of fishing, hunting, and wild life associated recreation: Sport fishing declined by 4% from 1991 to 2001. In 2001 there were 34 million american anglers over 16 years old spending an average of 16 days a year fishing"

"More fishing products, fewer fisherman"

Interesting who is right I don't know but it sure does seem like there are more fisherman and products than 10=20 years ago.

10-25-2002, 05:27 PM
I found my information on the flyfishing trade association website.
What you say is true that the fishing industry has declined but what what ever his name was said is double talk another product of mass marketing and politics.
What he was saying is simply that flyfishing is a small part of all fishing and the fishing industry has declined. The fact is according to the only fly fishing trade association is that fly fishing has increased by 18.1% over a two year period.
We are truely a small #, what maybe a million or so across the country but we also have the least amount of water to fish just by the way traditional fly fishing is done. It is that concern about the loss of tradition through the new way fly fishing is accessible to all that is troubling. All should have the right to try fly fishing but we must have some way to deal with the over crowding to a limitted resource and the only way I can think of doing that is by not giving out so much info making it less easy for all of us to fly fish. Or we could go private. I prefer less info available. As when we started 40 years or so ago we went out and slowly learned not a sport or a hobby but as Tom McGuane said in a recent essay, "a life style". Believe me those who stick with it, who go out on their own would be wonderful contributions to fly fishing. But we are all concerned with the low holer, the bobber and nymph fisherman the guy that does not move through the run and we should be, they are from the new breed of fly fisherman not the pre mass marketing. They are also a small number of fly fishermen but it would be safe to say they are growing because the long traditions of fly fishing are slowly being forgotten or ignored. Not once in a trade publication have I seen the mention of tradition or what if we are actually hurting fly fishing by continuing to push for more fly fishermen. Greed is now pushing the industry, it is no longer a cottage industry. Its trade association hires big time marketing firms at big time costs which come back to you and you know how. I will give the website address here for the trade association though I'd hoped you would have all done some digging on your own. It's amazing what I've found out about some of the companies we buy our products from. One company that is a major fly rod company who preaches conservation contributes large amounts of money to the political campains of not so enviromental friendly pols, lots of money. There is a wealth of reading at the trade association page and very up front about it's intentions. please read 1st in the upper right corner about the 50 page book they sponser on how to get new comers into what they call a sport. Then click on the booklet site and you will see how they use mass marketing to increase the # of fishermen and profit. Read the entire site fast because it will be gone in no time flat.
All have a good weekend.

10-26-2002, 07:23 PM

I wish you were not so damned correct on this; but I cannot. The fact is that the fly fishing trade association has been dedicated to increasing the number of people purchasing fly fishing equipment, increasing the profits of fly fishing retailers, and selling a "lifestyle" much like Martha Steward Living does to a different demographic. And it has bee doing thi8s for many years.

There used to be a time when most fishermen would quit fishing after a certain time of the year. The only fishermen I remember fishing on into September, October, and Novermber in Pennsylvania were the very dedicated and good fly fishermen. This was back in the 60's and 70's. In fact, other fishers thought that those of use who fished for trout in the fall were a bit touched. That has certainly changed from that time.

I, like you, witnessed wonderful trout fisheries in Montana and Wyoming get absolutely overrun with guided fly fishermen. I recall fishing the Bighle in the canyon during August, September, October, Novermber ans seeing maybe 1 or 2 other people fishing in the whole 6 mile stretch. This has sure changed.

I remember the Missouri before Gary LaFontaine published his first acticle on the great fishing to be had on the river and seeing only about 2 dozen fishermen in the whole 30 miles from Wolf Creek to Cascade. Within 2 years of Gary's article, the Missouri started to have guides show up from Livingston, Butte, Missoula, Bozeman, Billings, and West Yellowstone. The fishery was tatally changed by this. I remember when there were only 6 guides who worked the MIssouri and there were no shops or cabins on the river. Fishing the Missouri was a very pleasant experience then. Now it is overrun with fishermen from April into October. And there is an "article" on how to fish it, always mentioning a guide of course, every 2 or 3 years.

It seems to me that providing detailed information on a particular river is detrimental to the ourdoor pursuit which we like to indulge in. And the sad part about this is that the folks who got into fly fishing since the mid 70's are totally unaware of this change because they are almmost exclusively the product of the Magazines, fly shops, and advertising.

There is more to fly fishing than catching fish, let us not forget that.

10-27-2002, 11:17 AM
I experienced this "Association engendered growth" in bow hunting many years ago. I see the same thing happening to fly fishing today.

The way to get converts (customers) was (and is) to reduce the need for skill development, make it easier, take the work out of it, increase the chance for immediate success. The type of converts attracted did not come to the sport because of the love of the hunt, they came to kill something. Type A personalities abounded. In their minds, the amount and size of animals killed related directly to the size of their peckers. Fly fishing is heading the same way. The type of personalities making up this new customer base are primarily bait fishermen using a fly rod.

Several issues ago The Fly Shop (Redding, CA) catalog featured flies tied on jig hooks. Why not? The use of bobbers and split shot is now a standard feature of our sport. Doesn't it make sense to improve the balance of the fly so that it rides in a more natural manner? Of course it does IF numbers mean more to you than technique and skill. (Incidently they are no longer in the catalog. I wonder why?)

Dave Hughes (I think - my apologies if it was another author), in one of his excellent books, made the statement that he uses bobbers and shot because he wants to catch more fish. I don't know if he has thought of it, but worms work better. :) On this site, I have read comments belittling the "We didn't catch much, but we had a great time" attitude as though it was impossible to have a good time if number goals were not reached.

I am not a snob or an elitist. My rods are all midrange or sale priced, my reels are Pflueger Medalists, my waders are Cabellas, and I tie my own flies. But I want a challenge to my fishing. A fish must be caught on my terms, not shotgunned. Catching a fish usually results in a change of flies, "Okay, he took that. Lets see if I can make them take this." Wierd, but to me that is the fun.

I also don't care what anyone else does. They can even call it "fly fishing" if they want. I've seen guys slather their flies with shrimp scent, use so much weight that they have to lob the fly, tip their flies with caddis larva, worms or corn and God only knows what else. I just wouldn't drink with them.


10-27-2002, 12:46 PM
Crusty, right on the mark. I too find myself putting other types of anglers in envelopes. For some reason I am always less willing to share the warmth of my fire and the contents of my "Bottle" with those who approach the sport with a less than traditional approach.

10-27-2002, 01:02 PM
on my winter rivers - small, coastal - I can lay my spey rod down and span the river from bank to bank. No, I don't think that spey rods will change pressure on my winter rivers, which are dominated by non-fly fishers.

One thing for sure, fishing the spey rod (which I have been doing only for a few years) has opened my eyes to an entirely new suite of casts that have improved my single handed winter fishing immeasurably. Now I can fish those tight slots as well as the drift fishers.

10-28-2002, 09:04 AM
Thanks guys for your insight. I realize I rant most of the time about this issue and believe me I would rather just be on the river or flats by myself or with a good friend.

It is true now that most of the fly fishermen are a product of the market. Fly fishing has become no different than any other type of sport fishing, it is now exactly that. The traditions from the time of Walton grew strong over many, many years and like with all good traditions change came slow. Do you realize that in the last 25 years or so that the changes in fly fishing have probably changed a 1000 fold. Not just the gear(least important), but the philosophical out look from almost a personal religion of sorts to a sport similiar to golf.

With the industry polls saying there is 50 million people out there that would be interested in fly fishing if it were more accessable. The industry is going out and doing their darndest to do just that with out any thought to the future. Even if they get 2% over the next 5 years they most likely will have doubled the amount of fly fishermen in a very short time fishing a limited resourse. The industry continues to push fishing for the blue ribbon game fish.

At the grocery store yesterday stopped by the mag shelf to see what the industry was up to this month. Fly Fishing Magazine this month had a head line, "9 of the best steelhead rivers in the country to fish". They went into detail with named guide whores telling all on each river. I think it was at the start of the article(really just an advertisement) they mentioned something about "if you are a trout fisherman and never have got into steelhead fishing now is the perfect time to do so". Wasn't that a concern at the top of this thread. They may not have mentioned your river this time but it is only a matter of time. I get a kick out of the Grand Rhone part of the advertisement, they did not even mention once that I can remember the the Grand is so crowded in the Fall that you just about stand side by side for the first 5 miles of river.

Crusty mentioned his concern about what he is seeing on the river but ended with something like I just go about my buisness.
Crust we need to speak up if we are going to help carry on the traditions of fly fishing. We owe it to our grand kids, we even owe it to those now who are clueless now, those that have fallen to the BS of mass marketing. Fly fishing has been good to many of us for so many years It is time we give back to tradition.

And moonlight you are also welcome in our camp to share a warm fire and a good drink. But please excuse the way the camp site looks. We do our best to keep it cleam but we have become so many that we have destroyed all living things for at least 100 yards.

10-29-2002, 12:12 AM

Your mention of the advertising (what would be called Public Service Announcement or PSA in television, newspaper, and radio) article disguised as reorting on steelheading is one of the things I was speaking about on another thread a while back. This is simple done to expand the number of people fishing for that species, period. For exactly the purpose you mentioned, have more money exchage hands for the privaledge to fish for that species. Hell, you don't even need to know anything about catching them, the guide will have you catching steelhead your first day, no trouble at all.

This is a huge difference from the way it used to be when Joe Brooks was writing for Outdoor lIfe. It is also a huge difference from the way Art Lee, Ernest Schiebert, Lee Wulff, Haig-Brown, Ralf Wahl, etc. wrote. They always wrote with a reverence for the fish and the total outdoor experience. Yes, there was solid information found in their writings. Yes, one could read their stuff and learn a lot about fishing for trout, steelhead, altlantic salmon. But, they never did PSA articles. And they never made it sound like you could just go out, pay for a guide, and catch yourself a bunch of fish. They would say hire a guide to have access to water you could not access without floating. But the never said hire this guide or that guide or go to this shop or that shop to get all the info you need to catch fish.

I agree with you OC, we have an obligation to teach the newcomers about the history and traditions of out chosen outdoor activity. Otherwise, the genteel (meaning gentlemanly, good-mannered, considerate of others, well-spoken, knowledgeable) sport known as fly fishing will by a thing of the past. I for one will mourn its passing. That is why I will always attempt to teach something of proper fishing etiquet and the genteelness of fly fishing to those whom I cross paths that demonstrate a lack of genteelness. I could do nothing less to help one of the things I am most passionate about.

10-29-2002, 08:46 AM
Talked with my fishing partner last night and he related a story about SEVERAL FIST FIGHTS over in the Snake River country, all about to many people and no sense of how to act.
We all know that steelheading is being exploited by some for the bucks it is generating and its obvious that crowds are getting out of hand I have to wonder if the use of the Internet is any more damaging than the myriad of magazine articles and the local newspapers in the west hyping the 'Great Fishing Oppurtunitys". Somebody is definetly spreading the word and an awful lot of anglers seem satisfied even happy that all these new folks are joining them so they can have some type of political collective clout to save the steelheads and the rivers. Well that might all happen but I won't be holding my breath.
If this new found abundant politicaly active mass of steelheading humanity were able to form a coalition that would eliminate the four dam pool on the Snake then there would be enough water to fish for a while. Until the next round of "entrompmauers" advertises and fills this reborn river with more aspiring newcomers.
I guess maybe its time to enroll in a Kung Fu or Karate class, hey thats it, a guide operation with Kung Fu classes at night in camp so you will be able to hold your own on the river by day. I can see it now Moonlights Four Rivers Karate Studio and EXpresso Fly Shop, anybody want to buy a franchise.

10-29-2002, 02:52 PM
For me, i will have to go back to using my drift rod and float & jig for winter (can be deadly). Being limited in funds (1 kid in college). And the exspense of any decent spey rod limits me.
Ordered a spey rod from a well known mail order sporting goods chain a few years ago. Decent price, one i could afford. To bad the rod, a 9/10 is so stiff, more like a 12 wt that it will stay in the house and proably never see the light of day again. Cant afford any thing else.
So its back to the float and jig drift rod and maybe my single hander when conditions are right.
I suppose i could save the ultra stiff stick for Alaska kings when i retire (if i retire). :confused:

Nooksack Mac
10-30-2002, 02:37 AM

You got the 14-foot "9/10" Cabela's spey rod, right? Stiffest 14-footer I've ever used. Actually, it does well with a #ll DT or long-belly line. It would be a good stick for chinook salmon.

10-30-2002, 08:34 AM
Yes that would be a good stick for chinooks, have to look at it since I am looking for 9/10 weight heavy spey at a reasonable cost for those beasts.

Ol Rich
10-30-2002, 09:56 AM
My son has the Cabella's 14' combo which came with a WindCutter 9/10/11. Casts beautifully. I have a St. Croix which is the same blank and I like the WindCutter 8/9/10 with the Upgrade on it. I took the St. Croix to the "nano clave" with a SA 8/9 XLT and a number of those who cast it really liked the combination. You may want to try different lines to find one that feels good to you. The XLT really made the rod come alive but is not the line I would recommend for learning to spey cast.