What exactly is spey fishing?

One of the most fun and interesting developments in fly-fishing in recent years has been the rise of fishing with two-handed rods – widely known as Spey fishing.

Most fly-fishing, of course, is done with a rod designed to be casted with just one hand. And most of the time, that single-hand rod is used for “overhead” casting – flinging the line back behind the caster to flex the rod, then flinging it forward over the water to deliver the fly.

The trouble is, there isn’t always room for a back cast. And salmon and steelhead rivers tend to be big, requiring long casts to seek out the fish.

Spey casting makes it possible to throw a long line with very little room behind the caster, because there’s no back cast. Instead, the caster flips the line into position on the water in front of him, then swings the rod back and makes a simple forward cast. It’s not as easy as it sounds – there’s a learning curve – but once you get the hang, you can send 100 feet of line sailing smoothly out over the river.