Posts Tagged ‘spey lines


April Vokey Interview @ Westfly

This is a recent (12/23/12) interview by Scott Richmond of Westfly with April Vokey. I enjoyed this interview because Ms. Vokey provides a lot of solid, valid how to info in fifteen minutes. Give it a listen and you’ll learn a little bit…I think about the steelhead fly presentation. Westfly has a lot of excellent information going back several years.

april tony

A few years back, Ms. Vokey and my son, Tony, at the Portland Sportsman Show. Very gracious lady for certain.


Prelims vs. Plump Love

The weather has turned colder and wet. The evenings are turning darker sooner. The work load has increased with a greater sense of urgency and those pesky prelims matched against the budget aren’t jiving. I would much rather be out finding that plump love. Maybe it is time to pay more attention to the gage stations, find the Scandi/Skagit heads and those tube flies. Time to reacquaint myself with that much longer rod.


Spey Lines Information

If you infrequently chase Steelhead with a two handed (Spey) rod then you may not totally understand all the talk about Skagit’s, Scandi’s, Shoot Heads, T this & that. Also, different manufacturers put their own labels to the same basic designs their competitors have so the nomenclature becomes further mixed up in your head.

So, I found these three vid’s helpful in explaining the basic concepts of the various lines and the set up. Now pay particular attention as there will be a test! Don’t fault the instructor’s style too much… watch them a few times and take some notes for when you walk into the shop for advice. Don’t be surprised if things have evolved further, but know these basics to evolve from down the river….. 





Fly Fishing: Hell Yeah!

Tuned Up & Ready (AIRFLO) SB

“Understand that Skagit lines are designed to throw sink tips and Scandi lines are designed to throw leaders. Because some sinking poly leaders look like sink tips it is easy to confuse the two, even though they are much different. If you were to put a poly leader (even a heavy sinking) on a Skagit line the performance will be sub par. The reason is how the energy is transferred to the attached tip.” Metalheads (more)

Jay Nicholas of Caddis Fly Shop further explains more


Spey Line Innovations (Away from the factory…a two handed compliment)

Matt McCrary~Clack R. 09

Matt McCrary~Clack R. 09

This shit was quietly happening all over the Northwest, influenced directly by one guy a lot of us had never yet met, stories passed down through some quasi-Indian like oral tradition around rainy winter campfires, building to legends and more and more ideas followed by questions. Fucking magic, all that. Felt like an entire region of winter steelheaders were in on something super sinister you couldn’t find out about unless you knew someone who knew something. Home-built gear, light years ahead of anything commercially available at the time, super tailored to the rivers we were and still are fishing.

I was going to say, I couldn’t say it any better, but really I would not be able to speak to it. I am one of those that benefits from the innovators. Such innovations are not just the mechanics of creation but then the applications and failures and redesigns, on and on and the infectious zeal amongst a very few who create the way. The new way. I know such an innovator…Matt McCrary…who no doubt learned at the hands of the Cap ‘n. Thank goodness for these guys….the challenge is there not to adapt to new factory gear or marketed trends but the pre-marketed trend…the real innovations.    


Spey Casting with Matt McCrary

 (D Perfect Example of Why a Two Hander Works)


Matt McCrary~Clackamas R. (2009)

This is the perfect example, real world, of up against the wall with an immediate drop off, so no wading out. The good single hander will roll cast or try the single handed spey movements to what?… maybe 40-50 feet with a steelhead fly (picture trying to do that all day). Here, I watch Matt make numerous gentle casts to a purposefully limited 70′ (like all these magicians, he can bomb it when necessary). That’s more water covered and more opportunities to encounter fish. The D Loop is gently created with an ease that only facilitates the propulsion of the Skagit + Head + Fly. The notable things learned today at the side of a master caster (Matt McCrary) was slow down- let the rod work or load- don’t pause too long & high on the D, but rather shoot sooner than you think you would- use that bottom hand to propel and the top as more of a fulcrum (pull that bottom hand in as much as you are tempted to forcibly push away with the top hand). My new Echo rod became ever more easy to manage. I did well, then I would lose focus and collapse the cast (this usually happened because I paused, rod too high, when forming the D Loop and/or I muscled the the cast, there by pulling the anchor out of the water and then the cast would slop out maybe 50 feet. When the timing went as it should, then the casts extended out to surprising lengths, for a flogger like me.


Matt McCrary Working that Bottom Hand

       I appreciated Matt taking time to work with me. He spends much of his time on the water with clients (Action Anglers (503) 927-3676) and little time spent actually fishing. It was rewarding to watch him and see the way it should be done.    


Spey Line Primer (Skagit’s & Scandi’s~but, realize this is evolving)

I am by no means anything but a novice re spey fly fishing. I am learning just like you and this is a very evolving pursuit, always being tweaked with innovations from the pioneers in the field. I came across this link of a steelhead & spey enthusiast from the Great Lakes region. He has a lot of good, solid, basic info for a starting point, realizing that every expert or wannabe expert may have differing opinions. One has to start somewhere. He covers more than lines. His patterns are a bit different than most NW spey flies, but again, maybe something to be learned and added to the arsenal.   

Modern Scandinavian shooting heads resemble standard WF Spey lines only in a reduced length.  So instead of being 55’ to 75’ long, they’re only in the 30’ to 45’ length.  While they may be as much as 40% shorter, they’ll only be about 20% or so lighter, resulting in a line that is fairly heavy for its length.  This characteristic is required to provide an adequate rod loading when using such as short line…….

 Skagit heads are designed as sinktip lines composed of a very thick, very heavy floater belly, often just a piece of level line, attached by a loop-to-loop connection to a sinktip that is usually made up of T-14.  Unlike Scandinavian heads where length is dependent on a variety of factors, Skagit heads lengths are strictly a function of rod length, being typically 3 to 3.5 times the length of the rod (line length includes the sinktip, but not the leader).

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August 2020

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