What Is Spey Casting?

Spey casting is a casting technique used in fly fishing. It can be performed with either a normal-length fly rod or a double-handed fly rod, often referred to as a Spey rod. This technique is primarily used for fishing large rivers for salmon and large trout such as steelhead and sea trout, and it’s also used in saltwater surf casting. All these situations require the angler to cast larger flies long distances. The two-handed Spey technique allows more powerful casts and avoids obstacles on the shore by keeping most of the line in front of the angler.

Spey casting originated in both Wales and Scotland in the mid-1800s. Initially, it was known as the Welsh throw and the Under-handed cast before being popularised as the Spey cast, named after the river Spey in Scotland. The technique was developed to successfully cast on large rivers such as the Spey and the Wye.

There are two groups of Spey casts, the “splash and go” and the “waterborne anchor”. The former involves a backstroke that is in the air, with the line falling to the water and the forward cast starting as soon as the tip of the line touches the water. The latter involves a backcast that stays on the water, with no requirement for perfect timing to forward cast after.
The two most commonly used styles of Spey casting are the “Single Spey” and the “Double Spey”. The Single Spey cast is part of the “Splash and Go” group of casts and can be used with winds blowing upstream. The Double Spey cast is a sustained anchor cast, useful in downstream winds.

The world’s longest 15 ft 1 in (4.60 m) single spey cast was made by Geir Hansen from Norway, measuring 65.5 metres (215 ft), during the Hemsedal Spey Competition in 2021. Hansen also set the world record for the 18ft class, with a 77.0 metres (252.6 ft) cast, at the same event.

What Is A Salmon Fishing Beat?

A fishing beat, often referred to in the context of salmon fishing in Scotland, is a stretch of a river known as a beat. Each beat can be 2 or 3 miles long and is determined by who owns the land on either side of the river. These landowners are known as riparian owners, meaning they own the land or river bank that runs alongside the river and own the fishing rights.
The riparian owner determines the number of people allowed to fish on their beat per day, which usually depends on the length of the beat. A typical 2-mile beat would normally issue a maximum of between 6 or 8 permits per day, meaning there would be a maximum of between 6 to 8 anglers only fishing on a 2-mile stretch of water.

The price of a salmon fishing permit is also determined by the riparian owner and generally, the better the beat in terms of the annual catch rate, the more expensive the permit. Permit prices vary throughout the season and are generally a lot more expensive from August to October, which is when the main salmon runs traditionally take place each year on most of Scotland’s salmon rivers.

Most beat owners provide a number of services and facilities for their stretch of the river including a fishing bothy with a kettle, microwave oven, dining area, and toilets. On a number of beats, boats and a boatman are available, and the beat owners also maintain the river banks ensuring safe and easy access to the river.

Where Is The River Spey?

The River Spey is located in the northeast of Scotland. It is the second-longest river in Scotland and the seventh-longest in the United Kingdom. The river originates in the Corrieyairack Pass in the Scottish Highlands and flows through the Grampian Mountains before reaching the North Sea in the Moray Firth, east of the city of Inverness. The River Spey is known for its scenic beauty, and diverse wildlife, and is particularly famous for its salmon fishing and whisky distilleries, as it runs through the Speyside whisky region, home to many famous distilleries.

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