Posts Tagged ‘Matt McCrary


Spey Casting Basics….Sloooooow

Tim Johnson @ Steelhead Chaser provides a short reminder re spey casting: go slow and then even slower. As I read that, I envisioned my own casting strokes. I could see jerky lifts, fast sweeps, and rushed applications of power to the butt or less appropriately to the right hand at the top of the cork.

I was admonished with the same advice by Matt McCrary on prior outings: ‘Slow down’ ‘easy’…..

A refresher is always good. In my case, it is beginning basics and I am in the process of building the pathways, building solid basics. Watch Youtube spey casting vid’s by say Mike Kinney or Ed Ward and notice the easy, SLOW, movements. Even they watch-feel their casting stroke.


NW Fly fishing & fly tyer expo (a success in my book)

Robin Healy~StoneFlyMaidens for Casting for Recovery

Robin Healy~StoneFlyMaidens for Casting for Recovery

Well, I think it was a success because the show satisfied my needs and I met interesting people…talked briefly to Brian & Judith O’Keefe, Matt McCrary, Jack Hagan, Robin Healy , Dean Crouser, Don Nelson, and watched numerous tyers.  Bought some unique materials from Angling Specialties (Steven Korbay) and bought some beautiful watercolors from Dean Crouser. I also made the acquaintance of youth tyer, Danielle Lowry and her grandfather, Greg Lowry. Greg and Danielle gave me first hand instruction on using the Polish Weave technique (more to follow). The hot dog with lots of mustard and relish didn’t fail to give me heartburn. The beauty of a fly fishing/tying expo such as the Albany show is it presents visible generalizations that show the direction of the sport…the over all average age, minus any accumulation of data by me, was overwhelmingly 65+ years, in tyers and patrons. There was a respectable number of women in attendance, who seemed interested in the tying. Then some of the shops and vendors had the same “geez, I moved all this stuff here and no one is buying anything”. Tip: whining is not a magnet for business, especially if people can hear you bitchin’. Overall, I thought the show was pretty entertaining. The true barometers of booth sales, raffle and auction $$’s and actual number of attendees may indicate otherwise, but by me the show was just fine.    



Fly Fishing’s ‘Beatdown’ Energy~The Risks, Outcomes & Benefits


WHAT IS BEATDOWN? – BEATDOWN is the relentless pursuit to
destroy the opposition with whatever it takes to succeed. BEATDOWN is the feeling when you or your opponent is backed into the corner and the only way out is to fight your way through.
BEATDOWNis the passion bred of hatred toward somebody who challenges what you stand for. BEATDOWN is overcoming humiliation when you didn’t meet your expectations the first time.BEATDOWN is dropping bombs to your challenger’s skull again and again. BEATDOWN is anticipation and adrenaline rush just before you beat someone down. BEATDOWN is when you feel like giving someone an old-fashioned, passionate ass whoopin’ because they antagonized you.     

I have written before, with support, for the beatdown of arrogance and stuffiness of experts within the flyfishing industry. A little kick in the ass to long time blusterng bozos seemed good. A new generation is coming and there is a choke point in the media industry to recognize emerging innovators. I welcomed the energy and verve, which I took to be a positive force for recognition of innovators and new life.

swittersb-6-20081But, I suspect for some dishing out the beatdown, the means is the end and their frequent means of discussing life in general. Frankly, these few beatdown bullies need to get parked back on their candy ass and reconsider their rudeness. Hiding behind the facade of toughness, that few of them possess, is generating harm to the sport and the potential of the ‘beatdown’. The sport needs solidarity re habitat, real environmental issues, momentum to maintain any degree of clout, and to welcome new participants. The ‘beatdown’ goes to far when you sound like wingnuts. Enough of the misdirected, hipster rudeness. Make your points with intelligence and do not bash fellow, ordinary FFer’s. 

Save the hostility for the staid industry, misguided fish and wildlife agencies, governors, senators or your favorite looming environmental disaster. Beatdowns aside, why not use your blogs, now and then, to highlight an innovator, a renegade that is unrecognized and will not make the pages of a mag. I recognize the amazing Matt McCrary, spey fisher extrordinaire from Oregon. I noted in a post yesterday from Busters, a comment,:

it’s our hope there will continue to be campfires burning the midnight soul somewhere within that valley, ringed with a few quiet real steelheaders you’ve never heard of and never will, who’ve managed to set up their lives for a few weeks off in fall, to gather somewhere special and experience a magic extremely personal. It’s that kind of place.

That eloquent bit is it, isn’t it? Who are those ‘few quiet real steelheaders you’ve never heard of and never will’ men? The Beatdown crew should periodically put their energy together to post re those unheard of fishers that venture forth. Because many of us don’t get to make it to the Skeena or Olympic Penn. or Skagit. We would enjoy reading about people closer to us than tackle reps, etc. 

To end, dispense your pummeling where it belongs and back off those that don’t get your point. but could. What goes around comes around. Forget the red lettered beatdown mantra.


The Spey Rod (the jaw drops more than once; frigging amazing!) )

The Focus

The Focus

As a young man working in the Fly Fishing industry, I have the pleasure and opportunity to see, use and fish all kinds of gear. This can be very exciting, rewarding and sometimes overwhelming! In the past couple of years, I have been introduced to the style of spey casting with a two-handed rod. At first, the idea of this was fun and exciting, but my first shot at it was a total bust, but I promised myself I woudn’t give up. Attending spey claves (more of a fish-story-telling affair than a how-to), spey classes, seminars, on-river practicing with friends and co-workers, Matt McCrary and Jack Hagan, and taking a demo-rod out of the shop and trying myself have helped me progress. Of all the methods of teaching, that have been the most helpful and most inspirational to me, has been having the good fortune of being on the river with Matt McCrary.

imgp4712aHe is a co-worker of mine at the fly shop, but in the last 2 years he has become far more than that. He is a role model of how a man should be, an amazing fishing buddy and teacher, a brother, a friend and when it comes to the two-hander….the best instructor and spey caster out there (in my opinion). Matt is a guide and a busy one at that, but Matt has taken me under his wing in many ways. We hang out in the “man cave” a couple times a week, drink Hamms and talk fishing, where it is going, the new styles of lines, rods and casting. And most of all how to increase my success as a retailer of these products and my skills at using them. It has taken me awhile to warm up to the idea of switching to a two-hander for steelhead, though in the past year or so i have come to realize that this is probably the most fun and effective tool we fisherman have out there.

The pro’s of this style of fishing are endless, but lets go over the biggest ones. Line control: we are fishing an 11′-14′ rod making our mending better and fly control more steady and paced. Casting: we are able to cast great distances with very little effort or exhaustion at the end of the day. Equipment used: in the summer we are using smaller flies and lighter heads and tips, making it easy to cast a long line. But, when casting a Skagit style head, a tip and a fly the size of a dead chicken, the true value of a spey rod comes out.

imgp5501A couple weeks ago, I bought a Sage Z-axis 7136-4 (13’6″ 7wt. 4pc.) two-hander and was given a beautiful Hardy Marquis reel to match it up. The moment I got it all set up, I couldn’t wait to get out on the river!! I put on an Airflo Skagit 510gr. head with an 8′ section of CCT 200 tip looped on the end along with a short leader. Talk about a sick set up. So, today was my first day out on the river. I headed up to Dabney State Park (Sandy R.) after classes and got suited up. It couldn’t have been a more classic fishing day either, overcast sky, drizzling, good water temp, clarity and height and a few fish in the runs. I got out there around 2pm and was practically trippin over myself running to get out there. For those of you who are stepping into this world of steelheading or are thinking about it….do it!! There is nothing on this earth that lives in water and has fins, as crazy and fun to fight as a NW steelhead!! Also, to go along with that statement, there is no better way to go about catching these specimens than with spey rod. My biggest goal today was to work on my cast, use my new set-up and see if I couldn’t rip one out of the seam while doing so, and believe it or not….I did!! A perfect cast (for me), swing, fly movement and run and I get a pull. I got the initial jet upstream and me trying to strip up my running line and getting some line on the reel, but before iI knew it the high-strung torpedo was making a run downstream into the tailout. Well, in the end he kind of schooled me and I lost him, but it didn’t matter. The combination of improving my casts and getting out there, my own flies doing exactly what i wanted them to and fishing the most effectively I have ever fished was the highlight of this afternoon! 


For those of you who have given into the sickness of this sport of steelheading with a two-hander, i feel your pain and frickin’ love it. And, for those of you who haven’t tried it or are too timid, i strongly urge you to take a class, come into a local shop and get some info on it, or tackle it on your own. You CANNOT find a more enjoyable, sick-deadly, rewarding tool in the fishing world…period!! With the technology in rod manufaturing, lines, reels and misc. equipment, this way of fishing is becoming readily accessible to the masses. With rods ranging from $300-$900 and a good reel from $200-$800, the options are out there and a set up can be found in most folk’s price ranges. Though i will say this, when purchasing a two-hander, i have come to find that spending a little extra money does make a difference in the overall effectiveness and fun you will find when using a spey rod.

Until next time, 

Have fun, swing the seams and be safe!!

Tony Muncy


Spey Fly Fishing (Ancient Indications of Tube Flies in NW)

Ancient NW Indigenous Cave Drawings

Ancient NW Indigenous Cave Drawings

 Tube flies—flies tied on metal or plastic tubes rather than the shank of a hook—have been around since the mid-1940s. Joe Bates in Atlantic Salmon Flies and Fishing attributes the first tube fly to Winnie Morawski of England who tied it on a hollowed turkey quill. Their effectiveness for Atlantic salmon is well established, and according to co-authors Mark Mandell and Les Johnson in Tube Flies, pockets of anglers on both coasts of the United States have experimented with tubes for saltwater species since the 1950s. A handful of steelheaders have known about the effectiveness of tubes for a long time, but an increasing number of anglers from British Columbia to the Great Lakes are discovering that they can hook and land more fish with tubes.

OK, so I am exaggerating for affect, re the cave drawings, to let you know that the 1940’s anglers were innovating toward the tube, be it quill or early tubular options. I believe it is a sound option that provides for different sized hooks for the same size fly and for the better use of stinger hooks. Perhaps for some it is just a new, refreshing option to breathe life into their stale tying practices. That is fine. But, I think tactically, it is a cheaper way to tie all manner sized flies. Vary the hooks to the species or water levels. I wonder if Winnie Morawski was inspired by others. Some indications of Indians and Islanders with tubes flies.

Winnie Morawski, whilst working for a fly tier Charles Playfair & Company of Aberdeen in Scotland in 1945, is credited with tying the first tube fly. While she was tidying up the turkey quills from her work bench she had a brain wave. She chopped the top and bottom off and scrapped the insides from the quills . She then dressed this natural tube she had created. One of the company’s customers was a doctor called William Michie. He liked the idea of tube flies but suggested that cut lengths of surgical tubing should be used instead of the fragile and very brittle quills. Word got around and soon tubes were being tied in Norway, Sweden, Canada, USA as well as the United Kingdom. Saltwater tube flies appeared in the North American Pacific Northwest and were used in Washington State’s Puget Sound in the late 1940s…

The above tube fly is a design by outstanding NW River Guide, Matt McCrary. I took the liberty of using a photo design to play around a bit. I am sure Matt does not mind.  



Exciter Tubes (For the Swinger’ Amongst Us)

Blue Moon~T. Muncy
Blue Moon~T. Muncy


A shot of the juice

A shot of the juice

Orally Fixated~T. Muncy

Orally Fixated~T. Muncy

Tony & Zach Gilford
Tony & Zach Gilford

Tony Muncy has always enjoyed a diversity of interest when it came to fly fishing: the trout species, large & small mouth bass, carp, tarpon, salmon and steelhead. But, this new interest has lead to the inevitable, personal consideration for Tony, that the only fish possibly worth pursuing are steelhead and the tools of the trade for this pursuit is a spey rod. I blame Matt McCrary for this potential corruption. It will take a concerted effort to challenge this. This new passion has an intoxicating way about it. The rhythm & mechanics of the technique, in addition to the majesty of the fish is a seductive duo. We shall see how this plays out.           


The Deschutes River & Steelheading (Spey’ed & Neutured)

There was much anticipation for this trip. The time of year allegedly guarantees less crowds, lovely weather and peak numbers of steelhead in the Deschutes River. So, with the odds greatly stacked in our favor and our friend and guide Matt McCrary upping our odds even further, we ventured forth to Maupin, Oregon.

Let me start by getting the only relevant question answered for some of you answered: no 3 rods did not catch a steelhead. And, as the best half-assed excuse that I can use…we only saw one other fish caught. Most flyfishers we saw seemed uninspired and into the cast, swing and wait stupor. OK excuse out of the way. But, we had an amazing time. All three of us were novices when it came to spey casting so we were at first blush inefficient in our presentations. However, really even being moderately efficient with a spey rod had us casting out 60-90 feet, mending our less than perfect casts and getting pretty decent swings over the most seductive drifts.

October Caddis~GM

October Caddis~GM

But, I am ahead of myself, giving you the conclusion before the info…which I offer to benefit others and to reinforce or amend your mental database. We, my sons Tony and Evan and I, went over on Saturday to have an easy day of trout fishing, with the steelhead trip planned for the Sunday. We moved up and down the Deschutes between Harpham Flat and Beavertail and saw pretty steady caddis and BWO hatches. We fished hard and well and did not have much success. Nymphs and Dries were used and frankly we fished well. All day..we fished well..and we had little to show for it. A few whitefish and little else. It was a day of exploring, sitting in the sun (soon to disappear Sunday) and rationalizing no success. 3 rods, good fly selection and pretty darn good presentations, good water, steady hatches and limited success. Was this a portent of things to come? Nah, we were zoned in and something would come of all our good vibes and amazing skills.

But, the day was spent wandering up and down the washboard access road and darn little was accomplished except honing our rollcast, mending skills. The Thingamabobbers worked well and drift after drift went unchallenged.

We spent the evening at the Imperial River Company Inn/Hotel watching playoff baseball, drinking Mirror Pond and visiting with others, who had not had much success on the river searching for steelhead. That was them..we were different, I hoped.

We hit the bed early and planned on meeting Matt McCrary at 6AM…not too bad. Tony spent the night with Matt at the guide’s trailer…no propane, no heat, frozen pipes and a long night. Evan and I suffered through a heater that would not turn off and kept the room at a steady 78 degrees. I would come to crave that broken thermostat. We awoke to cloud cover (no stars) and frigging COLD! I was dressed in hi-tech fibers and within minutes the hammer had already stared smashing my fingertips and my snot was on the verge of freezing. I don’t think it was much below 25 or so, so I may be exaggerating about my snot, but I was already vibrating and uncomfortable. The other problem that became evident the day before was what happens when you have 3 rods and 3 mindsets of taking care of their own gear in a confined space..certain things become immediately evident:

Not everyone is as tidy or organized as me, or maybe, others don’t know that that is my spot where I spread my stuff out, to stay, uh..organized. The difficulties of getting organized was evident before we left when a lot of ‘have you seen my…’ was heard. Stream gear, Stillwater gear, Silver salmon stuff and bass stuff were co-mingled and confusion reigned. Suddenly the 5x tippet was MIA and 2x was readily available. Planning on a trout trip and a steelhead trip became a ‘throw it in there and we will figure it out when we get there’…not good. Chaos ruled in the back seat and bed of the pickup. I am usually not so disorganized. 

That morning we met our guide, Matt McCrary. Not enough words are available to describe this new wave version of the river guide. Yes, he carries his predecessors’ genetics and independent streak and the basic skills of customer service. But, I have to say, Matt McCrary is in a league that few others visit. He will be in a league of his own for sometime to come. More about Matthew later.

We were driven down to Pine Tree to launch. In no time we were loaded, launched and in the drift boat…it was immediately apparent to everyone…that the upstream breeze was frigging COLD!!! But, the excitement, the rimrock views and the dip/dribble of the oars eased us into a state of relaxation along with early stages of hypothermia. The mood was jovial and expectations were tempered for me, knowing I was learning a knew skill (Spey Casting) and that with steelheading, it is sometimes a losing proposition. We glided down to our first drift and were reminded on how to exit the boat so as to not become a wishbone or a water laden-full fledged hypothermic patient.

Matt McCrary~Super Guide

Matt McCrary~Super Guide

I have had two prior lessons of Snap T’s and Double Spey etc and because I have not totally succumbed to the technique (despite having a spey rod/reel) and, I have never retained what can only be retained through repetition of presentation, I needed a good refresher. So, this day, we received our primary instructions: initially short casts (3-4 feet line and are caught on these short sweeps) and then letting 2 or so feet of line out and casting until the shooting head, in this instance a Scandie head, is just out of the top guide. I practiced the rod moves and my favorite reminder from Matt was the rod should move as if tracing the rim of a whiskey glass (per a Scot speycaster, Matt had met). That imagery helped me to trace the rod through the proper arc and exert the force with the bottom hand upon the rod’s butt. After an initial group class we spread out along the drift and received ongoing, individual tutoring as the day progressed. And, as the day progressed, the casts became better. Running line was shot with some degree of consistency and enticing drifts were swung cross river while waiting for the loop of running line to be pulled from between the light grasp of the thumb and forefinger. Cast, mend, drift, wait, retrieve and step downstream on bowling balls. God, as the day progressed I became ever more clumsy and tentative. I am not agile on rocks and have never been one to wade with reckless abandon, especially on a freezing day.

But, I persevered and worked hard through drift after drift, most of which names (in no exact order: Cedar Island, Bakeoven, Gert, Signal, 39, and many more), and I will probably forget those names unless I make this a more frequent ritual. Lunchtime came and so did the emerging sunshine…thank goodness! The food was perfect and the banter and joking was great and mostly at Tony’s expense.

We broke for lunch and it was a great meal. Of course, food always taste better outdoors, but this really tasted good. Nice ribeye steaks, salad and dressing, nice rolls and cookies washed down with ice cold (did I say it was freezing out) beverages. Matt did a nice job setting up the camp and cooking in short order.

After lunch we moved down river and repeated the drill on and on: good casts, good presentations, mixing up the fly patterns and despite some 6 perceived plucks and loops pulled free amongst us, there were no hookups. We fished hard and the odds were decreasing as we entered Ferry Canyon and its myriad of spots. Last chance and we did all we could do. I think we fished well, but our casts were limited I suppose and that limited the water covered cross river, but it was still much farther than any of us could have done with a single hander given the back drop of trees and limited wading. Ferry Canyon was one long run of anticipation. We finished having done a pretty good job for spey novices because of the great instruction from a spey rod magician, Matt McCrary. The take out was at Mack’s Canyon. We had fished almost 10 hours and after numerous enticing swings, no adrenaline surges or memorable fish pics. I was disappointed, but not in any person, to include me (no steelhead). It is acceptable to fail and much easier when blame is not attached. In this instance, only the steelhead failed to cooperate. And, we all know what that means.    

Well, it was a great day for the obvious reasons that we all understand. The ultimate reason beyond the love of the sport is the love of family and friends. And, you don’t see any stocking caps, so we were not freezing any longer. Also, you can see our genuine smiles; we had a great day!

Matt McCrary

Matt McCrary

And finally, Matt McCrary… I plan on writing more about this young man. He is the epitome of the restless energy and individuality that accomplishes great things, that the common man is either too timid or lazy or too much of a follower to accomplish. Matt does not suffer the harness well and he has the drive to succeed because he has a passion to share and teach. He is an excellent guide. He knows how to converse, I am sure, with the executive, the tradesman or the rancher. I found him most fascinating to listen to, while I fished the back side of Cedar Island…a little glide of paradise. Matt explained his personal principles and it struck me, then and there, that if not for the Matt McCrary’s of this country now and in our past, we would be in a sorry state. No ego or bravado came forth, although I am sure he could swagger a bit given what I know of his exploits. Yet, he doesn’t. He has done a lot for a young man pushing thirty. And, he has settled into stability without sacrificing his unique edginess and charm. A man recognizes a man. A man recognizes a poser. Matt McCrary is an awesome man. My sons and I were fortunate to spend a beautiful (did I mention it had been Freezing!) Fall day on the Deschutes River.

Waiting While Wading

Waiting While Wading


Deschutes R. Steelhead (Off To See The Wizard)

Well, hopefully. Taking off at 0Dark30 to spend the weekend searching for steelhead and trout. I have upped my odds by venturing forth with my sons and the notable Matt McCrary. Need a refresher on the Spey rod…hasta luego.   


Spey Fishing (Beginner’s Primer)

Adipose Flytying

Adipose Flytying   This is an area where I am a raw beginner. I have had instruction and tried it a time or two. At my worst, I still cast farther than with my one hander. But, I have lots to learn here from the forms of casting to the Summer/Winter riggings and much more I am sure. With the recent encouragement and prompting of Jack Hagan and Matt McCrary, I imagine I will have to give this more effort. My son, Tony, is tying and planning for exploits on the Deschutes R. So, we are in this together, as we always are. I will pass on all I can.

Pregressive Discipline~by Tony Muncy

Progressive Discipline~by Tony Muncy

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