Spey claves offer great instruction and a chance to catch steelhead.
Learning to Spey cast and having a blast on Idaho’s Clearwater
As you may have read in my most recent post, I got skunked and dunked on the Clearwater this past weekend. But, the trip was well worth the lengthy drive from my home in Ennis, Montana.
Here’s why: on Saturday, September 25, I spent most of the day talking to reps and checking out gear at the sixth annual Clearwater River Spey Clave, which was founded and is stil run by Poppy Cummins, who runs the classic fly shop called The Red Shed. I hadn’t attended a spey clave until Saturday and now I know what I’ve missed—this was lights out for learning spey casting, spey casting gear, and steelhead. Why? For one, spey gurus Tracy Allen, George Cook, who reps Redington, RIO and Sage, and Simon Gawesworth who works for RIO, plus Tom Larimer and Mike Kinney among others, spent time on the water with portable microphones attached, explaining various spey techniques…with rods in hand. Perry poke? Single spey? Reverse double spey? Any cast you want to know was covered by these guys and seeing it in person, over and over, beat any video you could rent or check out off the Web.
Aside from the well of education, this gathering was just plain fun. Talk about a good group of anglers and industry icons, everyone basking in the sun, eating burgers and such for lunch, sharing the occasional libation. And what an opportunity to throw any stick you wanted to, lined up with the appropriate running lines, heads and tips.
In fact, I spent Friday night with Cook, at a hotel in Lewiston, Idaho, sipping a cold one while he and his right-hand man prepared for the clave.They loaded new RIO heads onto a mass of reels, added tips and leaders and yarn until the wee hours.
“This is what we do, Thomas, and you won’t see anyone else putting this much product out there for guys to throw,” Cook noted. “We don’t go near the bar on this night. We’re taking care of our guys.”
That’s the truth. The following morning I was at the clave and there Cook was, standing next to a pile of rods, at least 30, in fact, all threaded with those fresh heads and ready to roll. Soon he was on the water, throwing darts, offering down-to-earth narrative on those casts and later, standing in the water, next to anyone who had questions, helping them learn the spey game.
Spey claves aren’t held often, but there are few worth visiting each year. The Cleawater Clave is worth the time, as is the Skagit Spey Clave in Washington. The biggie, the one that Cook and others have said, “Thomas you have too be there,” is the Sandy River Spey Clave in Oregon. At that clave they serve 500 lunches in a single day. There might be 800 fly fishing heads on hand at any given time. Got questions? Get answers there.