It has been some time since I was introduced to the Spey Rod. I moved to Oregon in 2005. I was looking for a new life. I had been going to Oregon to visit my friends since 1996. I fell in love with it out there immediately. Back then the only steelhead I had seen were on TV, with Jim Teeny on ESPN. I had started fly fishing years before this, Large trout were just a dream then. I barley knew how to mend a line back then. I can still remember being on the south branch of the Raritan river trying to figure out how to nymph. Nothing came easy to me back then, I didn't have anyone teaching me.
I was learning to tie flies back then, I was introduced to fly tying when I was 5. So it was in my blood I really didn't get into it till after college. Large Rainbows were in my dreams and in my head like some strange addiction that one just can't escape. I grew up bait fishing and spinner fishing for trout. We had a ready supply of brook trout that my father and I chased in streams in north western New Jersey .
It is funny how I ended up all the way out in Oregon from New Jersey but I would say the trout called me there like whispers on the wind. My father instilled this addiction at an early age and I would beg him to take me fishing on Sundays just to get out of going to church. In general I just liked to fish it really didn't matter how! I'm glad I grew up that way. I have had to many run ins with Asstatic fly fisherman who are kings of the fly world. Fly fishing was just a natural progression for me as I wanted more challenges. Through many trials and errors I got better at fly fishing. I read books about it like crazy and fished whenever and where ever possible. All the while I had these steelhead in the back of my head. I was getting so insane I had started building rods to even chase these fish and had never fished for them. I use to go to a shop in Pennington New Jersey just to build rods. I built a single hand 8wt just to fish for Steelhead.
I was living in Jersey with my own Landscape and Carpentry business going. I skimped and saved every penny to move to Oregon. I finally made it out there. I got stuck in a job building cabinets 60 hours a week it was hell. I built and installed cabinets. I could only dream of getting on the river. In my spare time I explored the rivers of Oregon. I finally made it to the Deschutes one day. I had my 8wt rod and make shift hair wings in hand and no clue what I was doing!
I walked up from the mouth of the river. It was like walking into the gates of heaven to me. Yet as you enter the gates there is a nice sign saying beware of rattle snakes! I worked my way up river tip toeing through the grass, watching out for snakes.
Well half way through the day I had been chucking line like mad! I was tired and all the while across the river there were three or four guys casting rods and lines I had never seen. I was just worn out from casting and these guys just kept going. My introduction to the Deschutes wasn't simple either! The wind was crazy there and casting wasn't easy. One cast even got blown back at me and a 2/0 hook hair wing fly nailed me in the palm. It was a painful moment to say the least.
I went back another time or two but one time sticks out like a sore thumb. I had worked my way up river it was mid morning. When a guy showed up across river from me with one of those rods. I kept fishing but could see the guy out of the corner of my eye. I happened to look up river and saw a steelhead rise to his fly as he swung it through the run. The man jumped and missed the fish. It was like watching a film from across stream. About two minutes later out of the corner of my eye I watched him hook that fish and it was on! He had been waist deep and at this point was trying to make his way back to the bank. This fish was moving down river fast. I had never seen a battle like this before so I followed him down river. It was like watching a fishing film out of the 80s but live. This guy ran down the shore line. The fish hit the fast water and wasn't stopping , the guy opened the reel up and let the fish run! When it hit calm water he put breaks on! The fish took off and went on a crazy run down river to more fast water and the guy just opened up the reel again. It was awesome , as the guy ran down river with the reel open ducks exploded out of a little cove they were in, as he ran by.That was when I wanted a camera! Well the fish hit slack water and this guy laid the breaks on again! I was in amazement and watching the whole thing.The fish did another run into fast water and stopped, he put the breaks,this time he got a handle on the fish and slowly worked it in!
It had to be 18lbs it was huge. He had nailed a B run Steelhead.
Well that was it I wanted a Spey rod! The insanity started from that point on. I went to a local fly shop and started looking into rods and reels they were crazy expensive! It was like some blood lust, I had to have one of these rods! I worked saved and slowly got a rod and reel. It was all a learning experience. I was lucky though and I was in the heart of the revolution and met a few people and went to the Sandy Spey clave , it took time to get the casting down! Again I didn't have anyone to teach me I just went and did it.
Lots has happened since that time and I just seem to be on that journey with the fish up river. It has lead me to a boat rods. reels, waders,and night mares.One of these days It will be just me the river and the fish.