Back in the good 'ol days, everyone fished with single handed rods. They had their charm. Easy to pack up and down the steep, brush-choked banks of our northwest salmon and steelhead streams. Fish felt strong and powerful on these little twigs in comparison to the first spey rods that swept across the landscape. Monstrous, weighty things that inevitably guaranteed a trip to the nearest "sports surgeon" to re-attach torn ligaments, rotator cups etc.
They also had their down-sides. They wouldn't allow the less athletic, less skilled fly casters the ability to force their way past the 80-foot mark like the longer rods would. Generally, they wouldn't allow the angler to flail away with basic over-hand casting without routinely loosing valuable steelhead flies. Lots of time spent up the banks in the trees and brush, un-pinning flies and leaders instead of swinging through watery lies that held fresh steelhead and salmon.
"Yuppy Rod's" and "rods for people who can't cast" as one of my mentors once described these two handed spey rods.
And for me, the "good 'ol days" meant locating dozens and dozens of beautifully crafted, hand-tied steelhead flies left in streamside limbs and branches. Almost like a "steelhead christmas tree" where green-butt skunks, silver hiltons and the like, adorned bank side alders, maples and cottonwoods giving the ever watchful - fishing guide the opportunity to put at least a few flies back in hollow fly boxes.
Those were the days!
The other day I was working with a new client on one of my favorite steelhead runs on the N.F. Tamawanis when I noticed a stream-side alder growing high behind a favorite steelhead casting station. It kind of took me by surprise. This thing had really grown tall over the past several months. For the past 20 years that I had been swinging flies in front of this Alder, I had NEVER seen it get so tall. Anglers would NEVER allow this "fly-stealer" to grow to such unprecedented heights. Yet, here it was. And it occurred to me that everyone fishing spey rods didn't have the need to trim this stream side vegetation back as they had in the past. Back when they were loosing flies in their back cast with the single-handed rods.
Maybe its because I work full-time for Trout Unlimited now that I think of things like stream side shade, riparian buffers and how removing vegetation can adversely effect salmon, trout and steelhead habitat. How a lack of shade can increase water temps. Maybe its because my efforts at finding steelhead "Christmas tree flies" were so pathetically unfulfilled in recent years.
Either way, it occurred to me that while spey rods may be rods for "people who can't cast" and that their use kept flies out of stream side limbs and branches...and out of my reach, their use may actually be good for the rivers they're used on, because anglers are less likely to hack down streamside fly-grabbing flora.
Just a thought.