I’ve failed as a father, but…

On a recent Friday while I was someplace where I was unable to answer my phone, and in fact had it on silent mode, I received a text from my son, Schpanky:

By the time I saw the message he had, of course, left for his weekend to chase salmon on the Kalama River with a buddy. Honestly I didn’t give it much thought as I assumed he knew full well which rod to take—his 8 weight. Coupled with the fact that I didn’t have my reading glasses and couldn’t see the photo on my phone very well, I gave the matter very little thought. However, when I got home later that evening I looked more closely at the photo and realized Schpanky had taken the wrong rod. He had grabbed one of my Spey rods: the Sage Z-Axis 8134. An 8 weight for sure, but it probably wasn’t going to serve him too well.

It’s not that the 8134 isn’t the right tool for the job—it would do just fine with the right reel and line.  However, when paired with the wrong line, no Spey rod is going to perform properly—especially if the line isn’t even for a Spey rod.  So unless he had grabbed the right reel, containing the right line, things weren’t going to go so good for the lad.

The reason for my doubt is that there was no way he’d have known which reel to take, as my drawer full of angling tackle contains a confusing assortment of different reels, spools and such. And they’re not labeled in a manner that anyone other than myself would be able to decipher (heck, sometimes even I get confused, and rather than taking the wrong reel I just forget to take a reel, period). Had I known he intended to take a Spey rod I would have set the proper combination of tools out for him ahead of time. It was my assumption that he’d be taking his own gear. And he did, partially: he took his own reel, spooled with an 8 weight line.

For a single-handed rod.

I’d introduced Schpanky to Spey casting briefly a few years ago, and he did quite well because he’s a natural when it comes to things like that (and tetherball). But he hasn’t done much two-handed casting since then, and what I didn’t explain, apparently, was that Spey rods require specialized shooting head lines. I should have made it very clear that just because a Spey rod has the same weight designation as a single-hander, that does not mean they are the same thing or even capable of interchanging reels and lines. I chuckled at the thought of him trying to cast the combination of rod and line he had taken with him. I may have chuckled repeatedly.

The next day, after he’d been on the river with the wrong combination of tools, I checked in with him to see how it had gone.


Somehow, according to him, he managed to get about 50 feet of line out, which is probably better than I’d have been able to manage. No fish were hooked, or landed.

I may have failed as a father, but I’ve succeeded in creating another generation of unaccomplished angler.


  1. Howard Levett

    Life lessons learned. The best kind.

    • Kirk Werner

      True that, Howard. I’m willing to bet that he never commits this gross error again. Next time he’ll take his 8 weight single handed rod, and my 8 weight Spey reel and line.

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