The importance of the first time

A wonderful time for a first time steelhead angler on his first steelhead trip

Well the title says it all. The first time at anything can and is often times the most valued experience that can make or break a view or passion from an activity.

Looking back at a handful of my own firsts in life, I can say some have been amazing, Others very trying, Some regrettable, while a very few have been absolutely amazing.

My brother with a Redfish on his first saltwater trip!!

I think fly fishing in general and even more so Spey casting for steelhead. The act of steelhead fishing alone is never a 100% thing. Coupled with most first timers fear of a new rod with a casting motions that seem to have more moves than a hip hop dancer. Positive affirmations is this game are so hard to come by. Needless to say Spey casting can look and seem overwhelming.

A group of angler taking their first steps into Spey casting

This is why I give so much attention to the beginnings of a new Spey caster. They need the positives reinforcement that they are making steps in the right direction. Even if they are small and seem unimportant. Affirmation is the key to building good techniques and toughening the skin of steelhead for the work to come. The road in out beloved sport is met with as many hardships and loses as it is meant with victories. The casting is one of the only parts about this wonderful event known as angling.

Now as we all take our second and third attempts and new things we learn more about how these things can fit in our lives and how we can grow into them. But getting through that first go, is a crucial part of any new activity.

Even the first steelhead of the year is an amazing event and I have caught a fair amount of steelhead!!!

I have recently been told, “Learning is SOOO hard!”. Never have these words been more true than on the brow of a great teacher. Find the instructor that compliments you and than stay open minded, you never know what you can learn or even teach in the end.

This season has been the best down year I can remember. I won’t soon forget some of the small and large victories as well and the wonderful people I have guided along the way. It is not quite done but I can say I am already looking forward to the next step in my journey as a guide and outfitter. Hope everyone is getting out fishing and kicking lots of fish ass!!

The Next Big Development……

old picture I know, but the rod was a 110 years old when I was fishing it in this picture!!! Smiles not dollar signs.

I was not on the forefront of any movement in this sport. Nor do I claim to have invented anything in this wonderful microcosm in which in have invested my life. Then, I feel it has been a long time since something truly new, and fresh has come along in the game of advancement in equipment or technique. To be honest, things in the R&D deparment of our industry have been in a state of arrested development for a while now. All and all this wound not seem to bother me as much as it has in the past few years, but looking at the new ideas of “high end” industry standards one cant help but wonder.

Winter Steelhead Fishing

There are tons of choices out there be sure and cast them all educate yourself on what you want/need instead of just throwing money at it.

Now I have also caught fish of numerous species on all types of quality and price range dispersion of fly rods and reels. I have even had some real sweetheart setups over the years, that I still find pleasing to fish today. When confronted with the modern forms of marketing, one almost feels that the days spent on the water were worthless and the fish taken with at times great personal sacrifice were a farce, because you did not have the latest and greatest rod on the market. I can honestly say that no rod or reel has ever set an alarm for me, nor has one helped me hike or get to where I need to fish.  Fishing should be out of passion and enjoyment. Fly fishing should stem from the heart, not the pocket book. I feel the equipment you own should not reflect how much you love the sport on price but on how dirty the cork is, how worn the ferrules.

Nice bundle of diversity there!! No one better than the other, all frozen, lol

We now are consumers in a time in fly fishing history where boutique rods are being out priced by standard out of the box high end models from the large corporate companies. Now I am not saying don’t buy nice stuff or that the high end stuff is not good or nice… i am saying that the new rods I have cast both on the market and to come in the near future, are still just like to one you own. I am saying a fancy new color, or name that is tough to pronounce is not worth over a grand. These types of things push people away from our wonderful sport. I want to get more people involved not scared. I want to own a fly rod not mortgage my house.

This might be a few to many for a day trip!!!

All this has been my 2 cents, but I hope other start to see it too. If you new rod is that good, that much better then what we have had show us. When the next big this comes we will all be ready. All I am saying. Hope you all are getting out and fishing somewhere for something!!!! Enjoy.

The Same Old Questions

Fishing a Mid Belly line on a fine summer day on the Deschutes.

Fishing a Mid Belly line on a fine summer day on the Deschutes.

Winter has gripped my house and surround area, leaving me to do fun stuff like dig out boats and paper work. I have also been doing a fair amount of reading. I love golf another esoteric invention of Scottish origin, imagine that. I will also say more has been written about golf than will ever be written about Spey casting or even fly fishing for that matter. I have read a few really helpful things and a few things that were unfitting for the problems I have, and a few that I was not ready to learn. The best part is that no matter how old the books I am reading, the books cover the same problems for the average golfer….That’s me for sure but seems odd that with all the people that golf and how  much time that is spent analyzing the golf swing that new problems have not be brought forth by the presentation of different ideas.

Good casts cover the water better!!

Good casts cover the water better!!

There seems to be the same parallel in the world of spey casting. The same problems exist and the same answers are given for the fix. I also love Spey casting, and I am a  bit better than average. I can also tell you that the question I ask about spey casting have changed and are not longer the same as the rest of the casting world. I will also so the the answers that I need to give have changed. The thing I see is that Spey casting is a 3D movement having height, width, and depth. The Spey cast also is alive, well it should be, it has feel and tempo giving it a beat and power its breath. If you casts it pieces stopping at all the point of the cast it is kinda like watching Frankenstein walk, cumbersome and rigid. At the same time watching a runner move can be amazing, never a wasted movement each motion having a reason and purpose, fluid with the flow and never contradicting the other motions. The questions we ask in a single dimensional fashion, and as it has been we receive a single dimensional answer. Is it that the questions are the wrong ones, or are the answers bad???? Well to be honest neither… just like the questions and answers it is more complicated than that. So what needs to happen is that in depth answers and better how to, will in turn bring a progression of the questions that should be asked.

This type of thinking again is not new. This seems to have gotten us to the point we are at now. I think we can go further.  I believe any person can Spey cast. I also believe that for the majority of us that spey cast, beginner to master we all strive to be a little better than we are, not really ever satisfied with what we can done and have done but imagine that more is attainable.  For that small pushing in the bulk of our small but growing spey community we are ready for more info, better answers that will bring about new questions and push together the knowledge base we all desire to know.

Now I am not blaming any person or group of people for where we are now, they all help get us here. That’s right you and I, I personally know that more is too come, and if I still have questions and a desire to know more, I am sure you do too. Now let’s talk about one of these so called “Single Dimensional” questions and answers, shall we.

Crisp cast is picked up easily and clean from the water, correct stroke length not wasted movement or power.

Crisp cast is picked up easily and clean from the water, correct stroke length not wasted movement or power.


The first one that comes to mind is long line, long stroke… so does this mean short line short stroke? Seems simple but this is the problem, it is not that simple. I am all for simplicity but a generic statement is not meant to bread inspiration, it just provides a temporary band aid for the knowledge that should be given at that time and place.  I never hear people complain about getting to much information, I do hear them complain about hard to understand and over pontificated explanations. I once excepted the “Long line, Long stroke” answer. Until I went out and really spent some time casting, like 3 to 8 hours a day. This simple question became more complicated when line styles were changed, sink tips were applied, and anchors were being watched. Just like a spey cast as being a series of simple motions creating a “Oscillation Motion”, no movement is difficult by it self but when each motion relies on the one before it the entire picture looks different. To simplify the more anchor one has the longer the stroke need to remove it from the water to perform the cast. At the same time if one has a sink tip, the heavier or longer the sink tip the more energy and motion it will take move this heavier mass. For the last angle the deeper the water gets around the angler the the different timing one gets to make a cast and then the anchor placement, amount of stick and tempo of the cast change. So the simple statement of “long line, line stroke” is not wrong, but not the answer as complex as the question.

Aero Heads loads like a Skagit and is easy like a Scandi

Aero Heads loads like a Skagit and is easy like a Scandi

So the line between information given and information needed becomes grey not black and white. Better teaching ideas and principles will educated and bring about new questions from those willing to learn. For the one example I presented the same critical angles need be looked, for understanding, for teaching, for growth in our sport, for line design, for the future of caster yet to come. I hope the readers enjoy this and start thinking about what they want to know because, your questions are different then mine. Shoot me over a couple questions and lets start being better.