Spey casting is a traditional Scottish style of fly casting which utilizes long two-handed rods. Dating back to the 18th century, the original rods from the River Spey measured 16 to 20 feet long. However, modern Spey rods now range from 16 to 11 feet with an average around 13 feet or so. While two-handed rods can be used for over-head casting, most anglers are using them with both traditional and modern Spey casting techniques. Similar to a roll cast, Spey casting utilizes water tension to load the rod. With that said, roll casting doesn’t allow the angler to change casting direction efficiently. However, Spey casts allow the angler to change casting direction with total efficiency. There are numerous different Spey casts which allow the angler to easily present their fly despite the fishing conditions.
There are many reasons Spey casting has become the dominate style of casting on steelhead rivers of all sizes. To begin with, two-handed casting allows the angler to cast with very little back-casting room, a huge attribute on many tree lined steelhead rivers. More so, the distance one can obtain with a Spey rod is incredible. In the game of steelheading, covering lots of water is critical for success. Furthermore, the quick set-up and casting cycle allows Spey anglers to get way more casts in during the day when compared to single hand casting. When you’re fishing for a fish that takes 1000 casts, this is key. Plus, Spey casting uses the wind to help load the rod during the cast. On big, open rivers, it pays to work with the wind. Additionally, modern Spey lines allow anglers to fish any style of fly line with far less fatigue to the body. More importantly though, the length of two-handed rods allows the angler to control the presentation of the fly. Steelhead fishing is a game of line control... Total command of the water. The steelhead anglers that succeed on a regular basis are all about the swing speed of their fly. Finally, Spey casting is a blast! Steelhead junkies spend a lot of time between fish. Having the distraction of learning a challenging skill only adds to the enjoyment of the sport.