Curious, being a Northwest shop in the heart of Steelhead country we can get clouded into thinking that all fly anglers are involved in two hand spey. Having spent time away in other locales I've come to realize that spey is still a very small part of the overall fly fishing scene. Outside of steelhead water even when you remove the obvious non-spey circumstances such as flats angling or boat angling, I rarely find another two hand angler.
When I'm out wading in the trout stream I still feel very alone swinging a two hand rod. It's funny to watch reactions for other anglers I encounter. Some disregard what you're doing as no big deal. A few will watch for a minute with curiosity. Most will flat out not look at you and pretend you do not even exist. I try my hardest to put on my best show. Slow down, let the line rip from the water and remember to pull with the underhand to launch a sweet tight loop. I always hope I will hook up in front of one of these anglers for no other reason than throwing affirmation their way that fish can be caught without a bobber. Rarely does the hookup happen in front of others and even on the few occasions when it does usually it's in front of the ones that won't glance your way.
Why Do It?To be honest normal trout tactics really don't much appeal to me. Of course dry fly fishing is one exception to that statement but even then I don't much care for it if a fly gets smaller than say a sixteen. As long as the flies are patterns that I can see on the water then I'm good but midge and baetis, you can have that stuff.
|Swinging the Missouri|
Indi fishing is not really my thing either. I'll do it if from a guided drift boat but even then I'd rather we throw a hopper dropper setup and maybe get a fish to show himself to a chubby once in a while. Really I wish more guides would anchor the boat and get out with anglers to wade more often. For me wading really does add to the experience.
Wade nymphing just does not interest me at all. I like to cast and lobbing a cumbersome nymph indi rig over and over again just takes away from part of the reason I'm fly fishing in the first place. If I'm just going to lob a rig than I might as well have a spinning rod in my hand and even as I make that claim it isn't true either. On the occasions that I have fished a spin rod in a stream I still want to tight line fish so I won't even lob a spin rod. I guess I just prefer to tight line fish period.
Czech nymphing could be an interesting tight line technique but I have to admit at this point I have spent almost no time giving it a try.
What Was The Question? Why Do It? Why Trout Spey? Why Not!
The Cast is the first reason that comes to mind. I like to cast. Not that I will ever win any competitions at it but I cast pretty well. I notice a lot of non two hand anglers have the idea that learning is really tough. My opinion is learning to spey cast is rather easy but getting good at it takes time, patience and practice. Most anglers that start spey casting with an instructor are usually fishing within minutes of picking up a two hand rod. I don't buy into the argument that it is too hard to learn.
Tight line fishing is the second reason that comes to mind. I want to feel what's going on on the other end of the line. I'm seeking the tug. The connection to my quarry. It's real to me. The feeling of the grab indicates there is life in this stream and it wants to eat my fly!
I never enjoy casting sink tip fly lines with single hand fly rods. Let's accept some fishing facts, fish live near structure and structure is usually found in the depths and bottoms of rivers. Seams, current breaks and eddies are all created by some kind of structure. Getting your fly to these areas is not always easy. Weighted flies and sink tips on trout size fly rods can get a bit dangerous. Spey casting can remove the danger and help present a fly into these difficult areas. It removes the danger by anchoring the fly in front of you so the fly never comes flying past your body. Using two hands instead of one provides push pull mechanics to a cast that greatly increases available power to move the fly and lines (especially skagit lines) Skagit heads have greater mass to carry sink tips and weighted flies. Another benefit is you never repeatedly false cast line therefore no energy is wasted with time spent getting distance in your cast. I want to finish this paragraph with one fact for anglers that have not yet experienced spey casting, casting a sinking tip is effortless with two hand rods and you won't need shoulder surgery at the end the day.
Fishing Untapped Water...
|No Backcast Space...No Problem|
And there's the backcast space. I need very little backcast space to make a two hand cast. I seek these areas on rivers were single hand anglers cannot backcast. It's like fishing untapped water. I find that even water like this that the boats drift indi's through all day can still be very productive to the swing angler. I believe fish respond because it is a different presentation than what they are use to seeing.
Not Just For Sink Tips...
|Swinging Soft Hackles|
I know I talk a lot about sink tip fishing and all the benefits of two hand delivery but you don't have to fish sink tips with two hand rods. Some examples of fishing dry line techniques includes skating dries, tandem soft hackles and combinations of nymph and emergers can be deadly productive especially on heavily fished water. Somewhere along the way anglers have been convinced to fish a nymph you have to use a bobber. I'm here to tell you it's not true. I'm not writing this to dog the indicator and yes there are some pieces of water that simply won't effectively get fished without "bob" but much of the time bobs are like training wheels. They just support you while you learn. It might be time to remove the training wheels and learn to achieve connection. Just saying!
Two Hand Spey Is Not For Everyone...While I make it obvious I endorse two hand tactics let me just clarify that two hand rods are not going to replace single hand rods and many anglers won't have a need for them at all. Two hand rods really lend themselves to river environments. Generally swinging flies is a tactic to cover water and not really ideal for target casting fisheries and stillwater fisheries. Some anglers are using switch rods for overhead shoreline and beach casting because the extra length can provide a lot of leverage for distance casting. Boat angling, flats angling and sight angling is generally better suited to single hand overhead casting for both accuracy and presentation.
Other Two Hand Opportunities...
This past summer I had an opportunity to swing flies on a bass stream. Bass and other similar rock bass species could not get enough of that swung fly. Big fish still came from a boat with target casting of course but it was a real kick getting the tug in the riffles on a swung fly. I believe if you know the river you're fishing you can set up some for some great swing water and show flies to bass and others species in a way that they have never seen before.
A Different Presentation...
In this article I've often talked of showing a different presentation. I'm convinced resident fish on highly pressured water become accustomed to standard presentations. Sure these tried and true presentations still work or anglers would quit doing them but I'm not necessarily after just numbers of fish. My most memorable days are not the days I caught 50 fish. Instead my memorable days are often associated with that one brown trout that I was lucky to get a hook in and even luckier to land it. The fished that attacked my fly so hard he nearly yanked the rod from my hands. I want to catch the fish with attitude! The one that fights till the end and splashes water in my face when I release him. I'm not suggesting that you should go to the river with a one fish expectation but ask yourself this, what do you want your experience to be?
What's In The Future...
Swung on single hand Winston 9' 5wt equipped with RIO Skagit Trout Max
200gr and 8' of T-8 swinging a conehead tube fly
But Why Do I Trout Spey...
I trout spey to bring me closer to the stream and its inhabitants. I trout spey to give me freedom to fish weighted flies and sink tips with ease. I trout spey to swing my own flies and know that the fish in that river are seeing something they have never seen before. I trout spey to utilize water others disregard. I trout spey because it helps me find peace and serenity. I trout spey in search of something real in life that will be remembered to my dying day. I trout spey for the challenge and I live for the tug. I trout spey because I choose to do things a different way.
Gorge Fly Shop
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