Somewhere on the west slope of the cascades…

4 05 2010

… is a really sweet campsite. Fished all day on this stream and the only other fishermen I saw were ospreys. Water was pretty cold but a few fat rainbows were eating mayfly nymphs.


Why Skagit Casting?

5 12 2009

Most people break spey casting up into three styles; traditional, scandinavian and skagit. Traditional spey casting typically uses longer lines, longer rods, and much longer casting motions. The distances achieved by long belly spey casters is impressive, as is the skill necessary for that kind of casting.

Scandinavian casting involves shorter shooting heads designed to make minimal contact with the water, and a very compact underhand dominated casting stroke. Good scandinavian casters throw impossibly tight loops that look so effortless you’d think there was some CGI going on.

Skagit casting is characterized by short shooting heads and usually a sink tip. These lines are heavier than scandi lines and designed to grip water when casting. It doesn’t take a whole lot of skill to get a fishable cast out with a skagit set up, but casting well takes just as much skill as any other style, done right it’s a thing of beauty.

I’ve dabbled at least briefly in all three styles but, as you may have guessed from the title of the blog, my favorite by far is skagit. It definitely has some advantages that initially lured me in. I can cast heavy sinktips and swing big flies and catch fish even on days when the river is swollen and muddy. Casting in tight quarters is easier, with a short line the d-loop is naturally smaller and when you add in some of the tricks that can be accomplished with a well executed poke, a lot of water opens up. I think my favorite thing about skagit casting however, is the pause.

After completing the anchor stroke, skagit lines need a bit of time to grab the water. Sometimes its just a split second, sometimes it one or two, but I like having that moment within the cast to catch my breath, listen to the gurgle of the water flowing around my legs and prepare to deliver my fly to the heart of the river. It’s like a miniature zen meditation built into every cast.

I don’t go to a river just to catch fish. Sure that’s nice, but the real reason I’m there is to immerse my self in the beauty of a wild ecosystem. Fish are part of that, so are the ospreys building that nest up there, the dipper picking off caddis larva 50 ft downstream, the otter that usually shows up about this time of day to catch dinner but always wants to check out what I’m doing first, and the ten foot of lichen hanging from the tree on the trail to the river.

If I get too caught up in just catching fish I become too impatient and too singularly focused. Trips with no fish (which happens often when I fish for steelhead) become discouraging. When I’m casting skagit, something about it relaxes me, slows down my thoughts and makes me a bit more observant. I notice more of the things that make every trip to a wild river a gift.