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  • Writer's pictureSatoshi Yamamoto

Make Wet-Fly Fishing Great Again!!

Note 1: Photos below are from October this year. Note 2: This is not a political or fly-fishing manifesto.

I’ve been keeping myself very busy: lots of fly tying, shipping out salmon fly frames, and writing (definitely more about this early next year). Here in the Paradise Valley, our common knowledge is November is perhaps the windiest month. And it was this year but this year it seems to continue into December. In other words it’s been another dry winter so far = mild temperature but wind chills. So I haven’t been fishing this month yet. Either way, as the year is coming to the end, it’s a good time to write a wrap-up essay.

Just about a year ago, I purchased an introductory yet complete double-hand Switch rod kit. That’s an 8-weight setup for my near future steelhead and salmon adventures. I studied double hand casting with the book and dvd. To this day, I haven’t injured or endangered myself yet. From the beginning, it’s been a mind-altering toy!! Earlier this year I purchased an even longer “full Spey“ rod and line. My main objective is to practice casting for near future anadromous fish and Yellowstone River is wide and deep enough to practice. Then, because I might as well tie on trout flies, it would be nice if I hook trout on Yellowstone River. That would be a huge bonus!!

Now, as an enthusiastic flyfisher, I’ve been aware of Spey casting or double-hand gears for trout fishing, perhaps for 15 years. I hadn’t been quite sold to it. Back then, I believe that was done with gears actually for steelhead. Even on a lighter side, it would be too heavy for majority of available trout around here. Then (correct me as I can be wrong) perhaps in late 2000s, lighter Spey rods, 5-6 weights, and so called Switch rods came into the market. Around that time, I lived in Washington but I wasn’t into steelhead and salmon fishing. And not much interested in doing for trout either - I don’t recall if the term “trout Spey” was used or existed back then.

Since then and fast forward till now, I’ve done fair amount of fishing with nymphs and streamers or guiding clients with. Also, meanwhile, as I developed myself to be a spring creek specialist, my fishing interest started leaning on match-the-hatch with dry-flies and lighter gears. Bluntly speaking, I got to the point that I wouldn’t be fishing with nymphs, streamers, and over all wet flies for my own unless it would be experimenting new methods, gears, or flies. I have not been desperate to catch fish all the time. These underwater flies are much heavier and laborious to cast than dry-flies. And nowadays I don’t have opportunities to cast and strip streamers from the boat. Yet I’ve been confident that I could still guide clients with wet flies as needed.

There came Spey casting and all the double-hand goodies as mentioned earlier. I know myself that I got into the Spey casting itself and understanding and playing with gears - catching fish is totally a bonus, almost a second object. These gears can shoot out wet-flies for quite a distance without labor or fatigue (just need to learn some techniques). Primal fishing method is to swing plus some strips. As I did more and caught trout, my interest for wet-fly fishing was revived!

Finally I acquired a so called Trout Spey gear, basically a very light Spey/double-hand rod. Learning the line components or systems was new but nothing intimidating. I even re-learned about single-hand gears as well. Casting has been improving each time I go out. As I understand gears and get a hang of them, I can cast better, further, and more efficiently. This was actually the very first trout on my trout Spey setup!

This was on a Mr. O-O (October-Orange).

Along with Coyote, that I’ve been posting, I revived my passion for tying this style of flies.

And I’ve been building my “trout Spey box”!

So, in a nutshell, what happened is that I created a small hobby for myself within my profession that I would keep to myself and enjoy solely. And this is why the trout Spey gears “make wet-fly fishing great again”, really, for me. As much as I’m excited with this development but also I feel sort of relief. I again know why. If I would have some negativity or skepticism inside of me (in this case against nymphing and streamers) and even if I would try to keep it hidden in me, I know it would show and would affect my job (guiding). That’s because I would be partly jaded with fly-fishing. And then most importantly, even though steelhead and salmon rivers are far away from me (and I understand that theirs runs along the west coast have not been good in recent years), I could “feel like” I’m fishing for them! Well, instead there’s no brown or Yellowstone cutthroat trout over there!

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