Tuesday, July 22, 2008


It's what steelheading has given me so far this season.

Or, more accurately, what I've taken away from it. From what I understand, everything you get from this pursuit is earned.

Reflection has been ever-present in my fly fishing experiences. Without it, I'm not sure I would have been able to develop any reasonable level of skill, much less write about it.

Since starting this blog, I've maintained a religious steelheading schedule.

If it seems that I've nothing to show for it, so be it.

It's part of being a beginner.

I recently came to grips with that on a particularly windy day. Presented with a strong on-shoulder breeze, I had no choice but to cast cackhanded. That didn't worry me at first--my cacks had been pretty consistent--but for some reason, everything was falling apart and I couldn't figure out why. To make matters worse, fish began surfacing in the fading light.

"Not much time left," I thought to myself.

Consumed, I continued to flog the water in futility.

No takers.

Disgusted with myself, I gave up...and thought about my first days with a single hander...

When I started fly fishing, I couldn't do anything right. Cast, tie, find the fish, you name it--I was incompetent.

Through observation and study, I began to shed some of my inadequacies, identifying my bad habits and rethinking my approach.

"Why should this be any different?" I asked myself, attempting to cool my frustration.

It shouldn't. You have to start somewhere.

Now, with a spey rod in hand, it's simply time to do it all over again...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cast Development: Single Spey

Of all the casts I've learned up to this point, the single spey has been the most troublesome.

I don't take any comfort in knowing that it's the hardest cast to get down properly, either.

It all goes back to the whole head vs. long belly thing. Sure, I was able to pull off a pretty decent single spey with a Scandi head, but I could never get the anchor stroke and timing down with anything longer.

And it's been eating away at me for a while, to the extent that I've committed to using a Delta in all but the most challenging situations.

As it relates to summer steelheading, traditional (a.ka. "long belly") methodolgy arguably exhibits a more aesthetically pleasing approach to covering water. Prodigious lengths of line, sharp D-loops and a graceful, sweeping casting stroke mark adepts of this style. And on the Sky and rivers like it, lower summer flows offer a novice like me the opportunity to pursue steelhead in the same way spey's ancestors angled for Atlantic salmon.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

There's just one hitch: it all starts with single spey.

Ergo, my committment to the Delta.

Of the numerous milestones I'd like to reach this summer, one of them is to at least hook a steelhead on a clean single spey.

I think I'm almost there, you be the judge (you'll probably have to watch it a few times--sorry again about the quality!):

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cast Development: Cackhanded Snap T

There's a particular spot that I've grown fond of lately.

It's a fairly long run stretching about 200 yards and is loaded with fishy-looking holes to swing through.

The problem is that it's river right--not my strongest side, but I'm working on it.

Over my past few outings, I've concluded that the reverse Snap T is the most efficient cast to use in my current repertoire of tools. It allows me to position the anchor more in line with the target and delivers the fly at the best angle to get it fishing the quickest.

That is, it does these things when I do my part correctly. :)

So during my last trip out, Don shot a quick video of me practicing. It's not the highest quality, but if you study the last half, you should see the loops.

In this instance, I'm using a head (specifically, a RIO AFS 4/5), but I'm also working on it with the Delta. With any luck, the translation to the longer line will work itself out.

I'll try to post a clip of that for comparison.