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Fly-fishing: Spey casting has many advantages

Thursday, June 5, 2014
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The rise of Spey fishing is generating new interest in making Spey casts with single-handed rods.

After all, being able to cast without a back cast opens up a lot of new fishing possibilities.

Spey fishing, of course, is generally a two-handed affair, employing rods up to 15 feet long and making long casts on large rivers for big fish. Spey fishers don’t need to fling their line behind them before making a forward cast; they flip their line into a spot where the tension of the line on the water loads the rod instead.

A couple of sweeps of the rod allows them to quickly reposition a line dangling straight downstream and cast it back out across the currents. They can make a long cast even when standing close to a wooded shoreline where there’s no room for a back cast.

Salmon and steelhead anglers aren’t the only ones who find themselves in spots like that. Trout fishers often find their back-cast room limited, too. A Spey cast with a single-handed rod can make it possible to fish water that would otherwise be inaccessible. A Spey cast can also provide distance that’s difficult to achieve with an ordinary roll cast.

The experts who will be giving talks and demonstrations at Spey Nation get a lot of requests for single-handed Spey casting lessons, said Geoff Schaacke of Ballston Spa, organizer of the event.

“If you don’t know how to Spey cast, you’re limited to the 30 or 40 feet you can roll cast, but if you can get the line in the air like you can with a Spey cast, you can get 50 or 60 feet and get out into the pool,” Schaacke said.

The seventh annual Spey Nation will be held June 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pineville boat launch on the Salmon River. This year, the event is expanded to include a showing of the Fly Fishing Film Tour — customized to emphasize salmon and steelhead fishing — at the Tailwater Lodge the evening of June 20, and free passes to fish the Douglaston Salmon Run June 22. Douglaston has begun stocking its private water on the Salmon River with brown trout for spring and early-summer fishing.

Among the experts presenting at Spey Nation will be Travis Johnson of Oregon, who in April set a world record with a 198-foot cast at the Spey casting world championship in San Francisco.

Other experts will include Walt Geryk, Andrew Moy, Barny Wong, Peter Charles and Patrick Ross.

As always, there will be a free lunch, this year catered by Tailwater Lodge. Also, raffles of prizes including gear and guided trips will benefit the Atlantic Salmon Fish Creek Club, which is working to restore landlocked Atlantic salmon to the East Branch of Fish Creek in the Tug Hill Plateau.

Admission to Spey Nation is free. Details can be found at speynation.com.

FLY SHACK TOURNAMENT

The Fly Shack in Gloversville plans to celebrate its 10th anniversary with a catch-and-release fly-fishing tournament on the Sacandaga River June 28.

The tournament will be held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants can fish anywhere between Northville and Wells. Prizes will be awarded for the three longest trout and the three longest bass, plus a “Best in Show” prize for both categories. Entries are to be submitted by photograph, showing the fish with an official tournament measuring device (provided, with a $10 refundable deposit).

All entry fees will be awarded as prizes. Details can be found at flyshack.com.

 
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