The Cajun Spey Waltz

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Snow is blowing in around the corners of my glasses and forty degree water is slowly making its way into my waders.

I haven’t seen the sun for several days and the river is full of chrome bright steelhead. It doesn’t feel much like Louisiana. Never the less the tune that keeps dancing in my head and eventually to my lips is an old Cajun waltz, “The Big Mamu”.

I have a deep and conflicted love for Louisiana. I almost moved there once. Like I said, I’m conflicted, but of the many things I love about the place, maybe I love the music best. The Blues, the Hot Jazz, the Zydeco and the beautiful and haunting traditional Cajun music. The sound of the accordion, the fiddle and the washboard pull at my heart strings. I don’t know why but I loved it the first time I heard it. But what does it have to do with steelheading? Apparently, everything.

I love Spey casting but I don’t get to do as much of it as I’d like and consequently it takes me a while to get into the rhythm. There are three basic parts to a Spey cast. The anchor placement, the sweep and the cast. Inevitably, when my casting goes to hell it’s the timing of my sweep that’s the problem. I’ve spent so much time developing speed and strength for my saltwater casting that it takes a while for me to remember that Spey casting is the exact opposite. Slow and easy.

I’m not a Spey Guru so I’ll keep it simple. The sweep is the part of the cast where you form a D loop and load the rod. Both very important. There is a direct relationship between the height of the rod tip and the speed of the sweep. As the rod tip is lowered the sweep must be faster to aerialize the head. A higher rod tip and slower sweep is easier to control, so that’s what I shoot for but I inevitably start to rush it and my casting gets sloppy. A friend told me to try and count to three during my sweep. I tried but I still rushed it and that got me thinking about how to count to three at a consistent speed. I struggled with it and then it dawned on me, the Cajun waltz.

The physicality of the music is perfect. It’s dance music, your body instinctively responds. The gentle, one-two-three, of the

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The Virtues of the Single Spey

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Watch the Video!

The Single Spey is one of the most efficient, and most overlooked, casts for the two-hand fly rod.

Like a lot of anglers who picked up the spey rod to target steelhead, much of my early fishing focused on Skagit techniques. I spent my time perfecting the Snap T and Double Spey in the standard and off shoulder forms and pretty much got by with that. Later I added a Snake Roll for when things are tight but for years the only time I used the Single Spey was when working out my head. As I spent more time fishing Scandi style lines and traditional flies, I realized I was missing out by not using the Single Spey. I also realized I had never really mastered it.

THERE ARE SEVERAL GOOD REASONS TO USE THE SINGLE SPEY OVER A CAST WITH A WATERBORNE ANCHOR.

First, it’s just more efficient. There are fewer steps and less wasted motion than in Skagit casting. Skagit casting is great when you need to lift a heavy sink tip, but when you are fishing a floating line you don’t need all of that power. A Single Spey is requires less effort and saves you energy, so it’s less fatiguing.

It’s also much quicker. Not that we are out swinging flies because we are in a hurry, but it does get you through the run faster, which can be a good thing. If for instance you are trying to squeeze in one last run before dark, you’ll spend half the time casting with the Single Spey.

The Single Spey can also be a big help when the wind picks up. With a waterborne cast like a Double Spey, it’s hard to generate line speed without blowing your anchor. The slower pace of the cast allows the wind to carry your line, often making it hard to form a good D-loop and killing your cast before it’s even launched.

Since the Single Spey is a touch-and-go cast, it’s easy to step up the tempo while still making a good D-loop. It also allows you more line speed on the forward cast, which helps you land the line and leader straight. Even in the wind.

The more I use the Single Spey, the more applications I find for it. It may be one of the oldest two-hand casts but it has not outlived it’s usefulness. It’s worth taking the time to learn to do it well.

The real key to this cast is

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2 Alternatives for Attaching Your Split-Shot

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YOU’VE BEEN FISHING HARD ALL DAY LONG SEARCHING FOR THAT PERFECT HONEY HOLE. YOU KNOW THE ONE I’M TALKING ABOUT, IT’S THE ONE THAT HOLDS THAT TROPHY TROUT THAT KEEPS HAUNTING YOU IN YOUR DREAMS.

It’s getting late, your tired, and you know you should be heading back, but there’s a bend just up ahead, and your curiosity keeps pushes you forward with those powerful words, “This could be it, just see what’s on the other side”. Sure enough, as you round the corner you lay your eyes on a picture perfect run, offering everything a trophy trout could desire. You get into position, make the cast, mend your line, and begin following your strike indicator with your rod tip, when out of now where, it shoots under the surface like it was just attached to a iron dumb bell. You set the hook and feel the heavy weight of the fish thrashing its big head, and you’re immediately on cloud 9. The adrenaline rush doesn’t last long though. It’s quickly replaced by painful heart ache when you feel your tippet snap, and watch your rod go straight. The excitement is all over…, you won’t land that trophy fish or even be graced with a quick glimpse of it for that matter. The only memory you’ll have to remember that trophy trout by is the few aggressive head shakes. You bring your fly-less rig to hand and find the tippet broke at the split-shot.

Has this ever happened to you before?
If you attach your split shot too tight on your tippet it can weaken its strength significantly. Most anglers try to avoid this by tying a triple surgeon’s or blood knot above their tandem nymph rig, and attach the split-shot above that. The knot keeps the split-shot from sliding down to the flies during fly casting, and it only has to be snugly secured, which limits the chances of it damaging the tippet. It’s not 100% full proof, but it’s the most popular method used by experienced nymph fisherman. To limit the break offs during fierce fights, anglers should get in the habit of regularly checking their nymph rig for

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Focus On Steelhead Technique

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By Louis Cahill

Here are 5 jam-packed articles to help you catch more steelhead.

If you want to catch steelhead on the swing, you have to have solid technique and stick to your guns. Often, you don’t get a lot of feedback from the fish so you have to know what will work and stick to it. That can be tough, especially if you are new to the game, but even experienced anglers can falter when fishing is slow.

Below are links to five articles which focus on steelhead techniques that produce fish. Get yourself a cup of coffee and dig in for a nuts-and-bolts steelhead download. These tips should help make your next steelhead trip a success.

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Improving Fly Tying Efficiency  

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By Bob Reece

Many beginner and novice tiers that I’ve talked to equate improved efficiency at the vise with rushing through the tying process. While applying the techniques below can speed up pattern creation, that result is not their sole purpose. The main focus of these tips is to help tiers get the most out of whatever amount of time they do spend behind the vise.

Material Prep Work

Some patterns require very little in terms of prepping materials. Others, however, involve shaping foam bodies, knotting rubber legs, cutting wing cases or beading hooks. For these flies it is highly beneficial to prepare the materials in bulk before you start tying. When I tie foam terrestrials, I cut all of my foam bodies and the knot rubber legs that I might need. With bead head nymphs, I bead all hooks that I’ll be using as well as cutting any strips of material that I’ll be using for wing cases. If all of your materials are fully prepped before you start tying, you’ll be able to create a larger number of flies in a shorter amount of time. Prepping your materials in mass also increases the consistency and subsequent quality of the bugs that you’ll be offering up to your favorite fish.

Hook/Bead Storage

Hooks and beads can be two of the hardest materials to handle and keep track of on the surface of a tying table. Hooks of all sizes can easily be brushed under other materials or into the abyss of carpet fibers that sit below some of our tying platforms. Beads are also shifty and hard to handle once they leave the confines of their plastic packaging. To prevent these happenings, I store all of my beads and hooks in plastic compartmented organizers like the one in the picture above. The clip down lids of these containers ensure that nothing escapes. Each compartment also has a curved bottom which makes it easy to retrieve the desired items. The containers that I use can be purchased in the sewing section of Walmart for less than two dollars apiece.

Pattern Material Kits

How materials are stored matters in terms of efficiency. I use plastic organizers, like the one pictured above, to create material kits for all of the patterns that I tie. Always knowing where specific ingredients are saves a tier the time of searching though bins, drawers and baskets. This type of setup also

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“I’m Down To Seven Patterns Fuckit”

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By John Byron

MY FISHING FRIEND RON WINN SAYS THIS: “I LOVE TO TIE FLIES. I LOVE TO FLY FISH. IF I HAD TO PICK ONE… I’D PROBABLY TIE FLIES.” 

I’m kinda there too.

So when I started chasing bonefish a few years ago, I sopped up patterns like a sponge and tied a gazillion flies. Lots from Lefty’s book on saltwater flies. Many/most of Dick Brown’s bonefish patterns. ‘Five essential flies for the Bahamas.’ Drew Chicone. Aaron Adams. Tied them all. Took them on trips. 

And came home each time realizing that about 98-percent of what I’d tied stayed in the fly box. So, as a matter of self-discipline (weak) and determination (getting stronger), I’ve started to cut back on what I tie and what I carry. 

I’M DOWN TO SEVEN PATTERNS: 

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Cuda VS Shark: Video

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By Louis Cahill

Barracuda Vs shark, who will win?

What happens when you hook a big barracuda on the fly, and you’re in the fight of your life, and a hungry shark shows up right at the boat? Glenn Ancelet found out at the January Bonefish School in South Andros. Fortunately, I got the whole thing on video!

Who’s your money on, the cud or the shark?

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Fingers Crossed

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By Steven Brutger

FOR MONTHS WE HAD OUR FINGERS CROSSED.

Eying snow reports and talking to the few who had been in the mountains, we were cautiously optimistic. Despite a big snow year we had a shot at hitting it right.

A few days too early and ice would cover the high alpine lakes we hoped to fish. Or worse snow levels might make travel too arduous to reach them in the first place. Just right and we might be lucky enough to fish as the ice moved out, being the first to show our flies to hungry golden trout.

Now, miles into the Wilderness, we would soon have our answer.

Huddled under a tarp, a few hundred feet below tree line, we put our backs toward horizontally falling rain and snow. Spindrift was visibly blowing over the ridge tops. Conditions were deteriorating. After a restless night in our bags the only option was to continue up and test our luck.

The lake was half covered in ice. Peering through graupel a hundred feet above the water we spotted a

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Light Where You Need It

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The sun has dipped below the horizon and the evening chill is in the air.

You’ve got maybe thirty more minutes to fish if you push it. The hatch is on and you can hear fish rising all around you as you struggle in the waning light to change your fly. The fish keep rising and so does your blood pressure but the eye of the hook continues to evade you.

That sounds familiar doesn’t it? I know my eyes aren’t what they used to be. I’ve used a clip on head lamp for years but it frustrates me. When I lift my head to look through my bifocals the light is shining over my hands and I always feel like I’m spooking fish with that lighthouse on my hat. Then I saw my niece and nephew playing with their Christmas stockings. They had the answer to my problem. Finger lights! They slip right on to your finger with an adjustable elastic band and put ample light right where you need it to tie on flies. Best of all

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Trust The Boo

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I’ve fished bamboo rods my whole life and I’ve made my own for the last twelve years or so.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I was afraid to fight big fish on a bamboo rod. The answer is no. I’ve broken my share of rods but only once did I break one fighting a fish and that was totally my fault. I’ve landed more fish over twenty inches on bamboo than I can count, a few pushing thirty. The two fish pictured were both landed on a seven foot four weight. The tip on that rod measures only thirty thousandths of an inch in diameter but it handled those monsters just fine.

A 27″ Hen and a 28″ Male Both Landed on the 4 Weight

Bamboo is a remarkable material. When properly heat treated it has amazing strength. Traditional Japanese carpenters use bamboo nails cooked in a wok and high rise construction all over Asia is done on bamboo scaffolding. Do bamboo rods break? Of course they do but a well made rod is much stronger than you would guess and if properly handled and cared for it will take whatever a fish can dish out. I’ve heard it said that fisherman break rods, not fish, and I think that’s true. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to keep that cane rod fishing for many years.

• Treat it right. Bamboo doesn’t take a lot of maintenance but there are some things you should think about. Rot is a death sentence for a cane rod. Rod makers spend a lot of time on their finish and it can last a lifetime but it’s not bulletproof. Never put a rod away wet. This is the most common mistake guys make with their rods. When you put a rod in a tube with an o ring seal any moisture on that rod or it’s sock is in there until you open the tube again. That gives moisture plenty of time to work through the finish and into the wood. I set mine out on the mantle in the sock overnight before storing them. The second big finish mistake is leaving the rod in a hot car. If you leave that rod tube in the sun in a hot car the finish will bubble and no longer protect the cane. If you have to leave a rod in the car keep it in the shade and take the cap off for ventilation.

• Ovoid physical traumas. A bamboo rod will bend like grass in the wind. What will break it is sudden physical trauma. For example, trying to rip a fly out of tree leaves with a brisk casting stroke, as I watched a good friend do with my rod once, works every time. Running the tip headlong into a tree while hiking in doesn’t help. Hitting the rod with

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