Red’s Rendezvous VI

Simon with Method Switch Rod

Last Saturday, I attended Red’s Fly Shop Rendezvous VI. The Rendezvous is an annual event sponsored by Red’s at its fly shop and the Canyon River Ranch on the Yakima River. I’ve attended all but one of these events and every year it seems to get bigger and better.

The day was filled with riverside seminars, classroom presentations, beginner casting instruction, casting competition, vendor booths, and great food.

The highlight for me was attending seminars taught by Simon Gawesworth (RIO Spey line development guru and, author of several well-regarded books on Spey casting, and an internationally known instructor).

I attended his beginning Spey seminar. He provided an easy to way to understand the elements of the Spey cast. He called it A-B-C: A-starting position of the cast; B-forward movement of the rod and arm; and C-the rotation of the rod. A simple but eloquent way of understanding a casting stroke can be overwhelming when making the transition from single-hand to two-handed casting.

The other thing he pointed out is learning the line length/rod length ratio that works for an individual caster (e.g., 2.65, 3.0,). He said that ratio would then work with any length of rod. So if a caster learned on one length rod and switched to another rod, maintaining that same ratio would allow the caster to quickly become comfortable with the new rod. As for line length, it includes the shooting head and the leader or sink tip.

After a lunch of Crusted Line Caught Rockfish and Chip in the Canyon River Grill, I attended his Single Handed Spey Casting seminar. Simon pointed out at the outset that using a weigh-forward line for single-hand Spey can be done, but it’s not optimal as the weight is forward and away from the rod tip during the roll casts. He recommended the use of a double-taper line for someone interested in focusing on single-handed Spey. He was using a line for the seminar that will be available in August; beyond that he just smiled.

Also providing Spey Casting instruction was Charles St. Pierre of Northwest Speycasting who was available all day for on-the-water instruction. Charles is widely known and regarded in the Northwest as a Spey-casting instructor and having both him and Simon on the same river at the same time was a real treat.

Every year the International Federation of Fly Fishers are on hand to help with lawn-casting instruction and beginner’s classes. I had one give me a tip when I was casting the Winston Nexus 6 weight; good tip from him, but I wasn’t impressed with the rod.

A change this year was a woman-only beginner class taught by Molly Semenik (Tie the Knot Fly Fishing) from Livingston, Montana. The class had 18 students, including my wife Terri. I think a seminar like this was long-overdue as it provided women an easy introduction to fly fishing with no pressure from husbands or significant others.

Terri came away excited and after casting a few demo days bought a Sage SALT (6 weight) from Red’s. Good choice! Great rod.

We also stopped to talk with Joe Rotter, the Guide Service Manager at Red’s. Joe’s just a great guy that we’ve talked with before, and after we thanked him for another great rendezvous, he said it was becoming what they wanted it to be: a celebration of fly-fishing. He said they’ve had some of their competitors show up without any feelings of awkward or resentment and that was he wanted.

As I’ve noted in other posts, in a small industry like fly-fishing cooperation and friendly respectful competition will help the sport grow and is good for everyone.

It was a great rendezvous. I look forward to next year’s!

Red’s Rendezvous V

Yakima River

Yesterday we drove over to Ellensburg for Red’s Rendezvous V.  Sponsored by Red’s Fly Shop, and held at the fly shop and Canyon River Ranch on the banks of the Yakima River, this annual gathering provides instruction, casting competition, the IF4 fly fishing film festival, and presentations on trips and other topics. And it’s a great opportunity to just sit and watch the Yakima River.

Spring is a wonderful time to drive down the canyon. The hills are still green in many places.  And the temperature was in the high 60’s – far from the blast furnace temperatures one can experience mid day in summer. And even the winds were light – which is a somewhat uncommon occurrence. I really like Ellensburg, but the winds were one of the considerations in not moving that way.

We had missed the last two rendezvous due to conflicts and last year’s move to Gig Harbor. So this was a terrific opportunity to see how much progress had been made in the construction underway.  The Canyon River Ranch Grill was in operation (the owners had given us a tour of it before it opened several years ago). The food was great. Line caught rock fish and chips was a quick but delicious lunch.

Canyon River Ranch Grill

There were a number of sessions of riverside instruction, including switch rods by George Cook (Sage’s Northwest representative); introduction to Steelhead fishing by Steve Joyce, guide and part owner of Reds; and European Style Nymphing by Russell Miller of Team USA Fly Fishing.

Overall, the theme of this year was on spey and switch casting, which for river fishing bigger streams like the Yakima make bank fishing possible with their longer casts.  I got the chance to try the new Sage Method switch rod (11’ 9” 8-weight).  It was a gorgeous rod to look at with its bright Magma (bright red) color.

Lawn Casting

It would be wonderful to say I picked up the rod and boomed out one hundred foot casts.  That wouldn’t, however, be the truth. I basically sucked at it.  I understand what I was supposed to do, but as in most things it takes practice and development of muscle memory.  But watching experienced spey casters was intriguing.  They were able to easy get lines out far into the river with little effort.

I’ll mark switch/spey casting down on the to-do list. And we will make it to Rendezvous VI next Spring.