When did you first get into spey casting?
I bought my first spey rod when I was 16 so that would have been in 2000. Growing up in Michigan there was the belief that Great Lakes steelhead wouldn’t move for a swung fly. But I had been reading Trey Combs’ Steelhead Fly Fishing over and over for years and wanted to give it a try. After a couple of futile years of exploration on my own I met a few select people who were swinging flies and being successful.
Where do you guide/what do you guide for?
I guide mainly steelhead on Idaho’s Clearwater River and Washington’s Grande Ronde and Snake Rivers. The winter/spring season I do some guiding on the Olympic Peninsula as well.
Fall in Idaho/Eastern Washington without a doubt.
Instructor, guide, editor get any off days?
Oh yea there are slow times of the year. I get to fish when the weather is nasty and during non-peak times which is fine because I like solitude.
Pate is my number 1 companion and has been everywhere with me. Some days he stays home with my wife and other lab Violet these days. But I know he would rather be on the river giving licks to all the fish.
How much time do you spend as an instructor?
As much as possible. I love to teach and consider my #1 goal as a guide to be to teach. I use to teach more in a class style when I was working for the Gig Harbor Fly Shop. Now because of my more remote location, I do more of my teaching in the form of guiding.
What’s the most common mistake you see when teaching spey casting?
Lack of understanding the anchor, its placement, and how it relates to the quality of the cast. A good anchor is pointing at the target and provides enough stick to keep the anchor from blowing behind you and not too much as to rob the cast of energy. If the anchor is observed and paid close attention to I think you can figure out the rest.
One piece of advice you’d give someone learning to spey cast?
Experiment. What happens if you add more power? What about slow down? Lift higher or lower? Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find what works for you.
CND Thompson Specialist 16’7” 11/12 WT and a Winston B2x 13’3” 7/8 wt.
Still participate in Spey O’ Rama?
I missed last year but plan to this coming April. The competition gets better every year. I am playing catch up. I think I was 16th or something last time. My goal is always to make the top 10.
I understand you dabble in custom spey lines, anything new cooking in the lab?
I like to chop lines and come up with new stuff. You learn a lot about the physics of it all by experimenting. For me its about coming up with the perfect match for a favorite rod rather than some revolutionary new line to try to bring to market.
The magazine was conceived a few years ago just in seeing how many friends were taking great photos and writing great stories that I thought needed to be shared with the angling community.
It is published quarterly. Issues 7 will come out Jan. 1, 2015
Do you have a writing/editing background?
No! I am a hack. I consider it my main job to find the people with way more talent than myself. I am always trying to improve on the editing/copy part but I operate under the assumption that most people are more concerned with the actual story than a few typos.
You’ve got some great contributors, how were you able to pull everyone together?
I am fortunate with some friends who have made Swing the Fly happen, guys like Marty Sheppard, Jonathan Barlow, and Poppy at the Red Shed Fly Shop. Without them, it wouldn’t happen. Everyone has been extremely generous with their time and efforts, proof of how great the spey community is.
What can we look forward in the upcoming issue?
Secrets! Some really great stories and photos from British Columbia and elsewhere. A great casting piece by a legend in the sport.
Be sure to subscribe to Swing the Fly Magazine and if you need to tune in your snap T or looking to chase some chrome, check out Zack at PNW Spey Guides.