popular fads

Spey fishing is a fad

As I mentioned in the previous Weekly Drivel, I received comments from a reader suggesting that fishing with a Spey rod is “like Tai Chi”. Another interesting comment was also made:

“I find the whole fad a little curious…”

For the sake of argument let’s just agree that this statement is inaccurate. Fads are short-lived crazes that gain widespread popularity and then quickly and thankfully fade away (fad = fadee).  Yes, sometimes they tend to linger like the smell of dead fish but eventually they go away and become nothing more than laughing stock for future generations. Nearly always we will look back upon fads and feel ashamed of our participation.

The way of the Spey has been around for a very long time. It may have seen a more recent spike in popularity in some areas as folks have come realize the merits of the two-handed rod and Spey casting techniques, but this gradual discovery seems to me more like enlightenment than fad.  The Pet Rock didn’t last long and thankfully neither will Justin Bieber. Let’s look at a few other fads from recent history just for giggles:

  • TV trays
  • Bean bag chairs
  • Leisure suits
  • Streaking
  • Disco
  • Sea Monkeys
  • Yahtzee
  • Shag carpet
  • Tang
  • Space Food Sticks
  • AMC Pacer (and Gremlin)
  • Pop Rocks
  • Earth Shoes
  • Pukka shell necklaces (someone please tell Kenny Chesney to let it go)
  • Water beds
  • Swatch Watches
  • Izod shirts (collars flipped)
  • Leveraged buyouts
  • Parachute pants
  • Gigapets
  • The Clapper
  • Reality TV shows (like a kidney stone, we pray that soon they will pass…please, God)
  • Crocs

Well, you get the idea. I am neither a historian nor an accomplished Spey angling person, so I thought it best to consult some pedigreed anglers bring in a couple of the big guns from the world of Spey for their thoughts on the matter.

Simon "Speybro" Gawesworth

Simon Gawesworth needs no introduction. He is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on Spey casting and has taught and demonstrated Spey casting around the world. Simon’s thoughts on the “fad” are as follows:

“According to my dictionary, the definition of “fad” is: ‘1.  an intense but short-lived fashion; craze , or 2.  a personal idiosyncrasy or whim.’ Many of those that indulge in the art of Spey casting do so with extreme intensity, that much is true, but considering that the roots of Spey casting date back to the mid 1800’s, it is most definitely not ‘short lived’. The duration is irrelevant, even if Spey casting had evolved from the 1990’s the tremendous advantage that anglers have with Spey casting techniques – both in fishing and casting disciplines – ensure that this is an integral part of the sport of fly fishing, and long will remain so.”

Mike Kinney, the "The Skagit Godfather" (photo by Rich Schaaff)

Mike Kinney, a legend when it comes to fly fishing, has been at the cutting edge of fishing with a Spey rod in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years.  During that time Mike has become highly respected for guiding, instruction and rod design. When asked his thoughts on the matter of Spey casting being a fad, Mike had this to say:

“I started over twenty years ago. It became popular over ten years ago here in the US and has been around over 150 years in the UK. A fad usually does not last 150 years. While certain trends in two handed rods, spey casting, and spey fishing will probably go away over time the actual use of long rods for change of direction dynamic roll casts and enhanced line control will definitely gain favor as time goes on.”

There seems to be a common thread here, and if I were an authority on the Way of Spey I could not have said it any better myself. Thanks, gents, for weighing in with your thoughts on the matter. In my less-than-experienced assessment, the Spey thing is less like a fad and more like evolution of fly fishing (something Charles Darwin would have embraced).

To cite an article by Rob Kolakowski in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, “Spey casting is not just a passing fad, it’s around for good.”

Case closed. No further arguments.