What is Spey?

RIO's association and passion for spey casting has been around since before the birth of the company.
Spey casting is a fly-casting technique that evolved in Scotland in the mid 1800's. It is named after the river Spey - one of Scotland's premier salmon rivers - and is most likely where the technique started to be used. For detailed information, download the booklet, Basic Spey and Two-handed Fly Rod Casting. Spey casting has no true back cast. As a result it is particularly useful when fly fishing where there is little or no room behind the caster. When you look at the river Spey you will see why this technique needed to be developed and used. It is a wide, powerful river, that doesn't allow anglers to wade out far enough to make back casting space.

The banks are lined with majestic trees that run right down to the river's edge, eagerly waiting to snag the fly off an errant back cast and rarely can anglers fish out of a boat. All in all, this is a river that needs Spey casting to be able to get the fly out far enough in the river to catch the Atlantic salmon that run it.

Traditionally Spey casting was for long, two-handed rods of 18 ft to 22 ft in length, and made of wood (called "greenheart"). They were used by anglers fishing for salmon in the rivers of Scotland and Norway. However, it is not only salmon anglers that have obstructions behind them, and Spey casting techniques are useful to all fly anglers.

There are many Spey casts that an angler can use, such as the switch cast, single Spey, double Spey, snake roll, snap t, snap z, circle Spey, Perry poke, wombat and jelly roll, but the one cast that most fly anglers can relate to, that illustrates the object of the Spey cast is the roll cast. If a caster knows the roll cast, they are half way towards understanding the Spey casts.

True Spey casts are directional changes - something a roll cast cannot do effectively at all. They are also more dynamic and energetic casts than the roll cast, thus giving anglers the ability to make long casts with little room behind them. With a two handed rod, a good Spey caster can easily make a 120 ft cast with less than 10 ft of room behind them, and with a regular 9 ft #5 trout rod a good Spey caster can still make 70 ft casts with such limited room. No wonder this casting technique is getting so popular!

If you are interested in learning more about Spey casting check out RIO's Modern Spey Casting DVD. It is the most comprehensive, instructional DVD on Spey casting techniques on the market.