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THE greatest and most valuable skill a salmon angler can possess is the ability to speycast.

Fishing on a river where everyone was an overhead caster, I had no one to teach me until Stephen Marsh Smith, a well-known Wye angler, came to our beat on the Tay for a day's fishing.

Stephen caught fish after fish in spots where we couldn't get any distance with an overhead cast for fear of catching trees and bushes behind us.

He was kind enough to show me the basics for half an hour, but being left handed, I found it difficult.

After that I was forced to learn the hard way by trial and error, accidentally hooking myself twice in the process.

I am now reasonably competent and can cast 35 to 40 yards with single speys, double speys, and the snake roll.

The perfect speycast is like the perfect golf swing. A whole host of elements, including stance and timing, have to come into play to make the perfect speycast and, as in golf, if you get one of them wrong, then it all goes to pot.

When you get it all together, the operation is performed without effort. You can speycast all day without tiring, and fish in accessible spots.

Golfers have always gone to professionals, some to learn, and others to iron out faults. Happily, nowadays, more and more anglers are visiting professional casting experts for tuition.

And in America, I'm told, there is major interest being shown in speycasting.

So when I heard a friend announcing that he was going on a three-day speycasting course, I congratulated him and told him it was the best thing he would ever do at the start of his angling life.

He's going to the River Ness to learn at the hands of a master, Scott MacKenzie, the current champion speycaster and holder of the world speycasting distance record.

I had the pleasure of twice fishing with Scott on the Ness Side beat of the River Ness where he is a ghillie.

And I can tell you, his casting is awesome. He can roll 50 yards of line out effortlessly and a lot more if he really tries,

Last year Scott became the world speycasting champion after beating by three yards the record speycast of 65 yards performed by another Ness angler, Alexander Grant, in 1895.

Achieving distances like that, however, is down to hard work and practice.

Scott goes down to the river almost every evening, not to catch salmon, but simply to train and make his casting even more prodigious.

In addition to being a ghillie, Scott has now teamed up with tackle makers, Daiwa, our Fish of the Week sponsors, to design and test a new speycasting rod, which, if it is as good as he is a caster, will be something else when it comes off the stocks.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 10, 2006
Previous Article:Hard Slog.
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