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2nd Annual Spey Casting Clinic with Larry Aiuppy


Big Hole Lodge had its 2nd annual Spey Casting Clinic with “Zen Master” Larry Aiuppy from May 3-7. Larry is the only FFF certified spey casting instructor in Montana and his teaching style emphasizes fundamentals he learned from his mentor, Al Buhr, who is considered one of the gurus of the sport.

The Big Hole River offered up some excellent venues to learn and practice eight different two handed casts including the double spey, single spey, circle cast and snake roll on both sides of the river. After a full day on the river, our guests would return to our lodge and enjoy a delicious dinner prepared for them by our talented chef Lanette Evener.

On the last afternoon, Larry demonstrated how to present the fly to a fish holding in a likely spot in the river. This is an area of spey casting that is rarely covered in books and articles, yet is so critical in being able to hook a fish. Instead of simply making a long cast somewhere out in the river that spey casting can certainly do for you, Larry showed us how to “work the fly” and anticipate the strike by swimming the fly broadside to the fish.  By doing so, the profile of the fly is so much more visible and tempting to the fish and improves the chance of a take substantially.

This was all good knowledge and our guests went away with a solid foundation to enjoy the art of two handed casting on their favorite trout, steelhead or salmon rivers in the near future. Please join us next spring and we’ll do it again!


2013 Spey Casting Clinic at Big Hole Lodge

The long rods were launching fly lines into the stratosphere as Big Hole Lodge hosted its first Spey Casting Clinic May 4-9, 2013.


  Larry Aiuppy from Livingston, MT was the Zen master who gave a brilliant four day instruction on spey casting with a two handed rod which originated in Scotland on the banks of the Spey River in the mid-1800’s.  Rods made of greenheart from British Guyana were originally used up to 22’ in length but modern spey rods are generally 12-15’ long with 13 ½’ being the norm.  Larry is the only FFF certified Spey Casting instructor in Montana and one of only 25 in the country whose teaching method constantly stresses the fundamentals of the spey cast throughout his clinics.


Orvis supplied the rods and reels for the event ranging from their 11’ Helios switch rods for trout all the way up to their 15’-10 wt. Helios salmon and steelhead rod.


Glenn Brackett and Jerry Kustich from Sweetgrass Bamboo Rods in Twin Bridges brought two bamboo spey rod prototypes over to demo on day one that added a different look and feel to the spey casting.


Larry made it fun to learn and even brought out his supply of brooms one day to teach the power stroke that was unforgettable. The great advantage to spey casting is being able to make a cast with an obstruction like a tree or rock cliff directly behind you. Another advantage is being able to cast long distances with hardly any effort at all assuming your timing and casting positions are good.

It has been said that watching an accomplished spey caster is like watching a ballet. A friend also told me that “it gives you something to do while you’re steelhead fishing.” Whatever it is, spey casting is a lot of fun and it’s a great way to fish a big river with a streamer.


Call us today to reserve your spot for the 2nd Annual Spey Clinic at Big Hole Lodge!



Slick roads, even slicker casting techniques

Dad and I were due in Casper, WY at 9:00am today for a spey casting clinic on the North Platte, part of the 2011 Orvis Guide Rendezvous.  After a treacherous drive from the Big Hole to Bozeman yesterday,  we decided to wait for the blizzard to pass overnight before venturing on.   On the way to my house north of Bozeman after dinner, the snow was so heavy you could hardly find the road with low beams and high beams were blinding in the reflection of the giant flakes.   We woke up at four this morning and hit the road at five.  Our poor Jetta was buried under six inches of heavy slush, the roads had not been plowed, and the snow was still coming down hard.  We crawled through town and then up the Bozeman Pass at fifty miles an hour behind a tractor-trailer in the dark.    At the top of the hill above Livingston we hit a line of bumper to bumper cars, flanked by emergency vehicles and police officers.  So much for getting up two hours before dawn.  A tractor-trailer had lost the road in the snow and over corrected. Somehow he avoided disaster but ended up jack-knifed across the freeway.  Luckily, no one was hurt.

The snow continued until the Wyoming border and what should have been a six-hour jaunt was in fact nine hours of white-nuckle driving.  Needless to say, we missed the morning session of our spey casting clinic.  Spey casting is a centuries old technique from the Spey River region in Scotland that solves the problem of shooting a long cast without the liberty of a full back cast.  When ice formations, cliffs, or heavy foliage prevent a traditional fly cast, a two-handed roll cast with a longer and heavier rod can really shoot line across a river.  It is used for steelhead and salmon fishing but also has applications for trout fishing.

With snow falling, we threw on our waders on in the parking lot of the Parkway Plaza and caught our teacher, Jeff Putnam, and his crew just as they were finishing lunch.  Jeff grew up fly-fishing and fly-tying and has guided throughout the west.  He founded Jeff Putnam's Fly Fishing Schools, which offers professional fly casting instruction for all levels of expertise.  He teaches clinics in Sacramento and has a series of online videos and dvd's.    Today's lesson was proper technique for two-handed spey and switch rods with Orvis' new line.   Because the North Platte is running 4,000 cfs more than last time they held the clinic, we were not able to wade across and a  hotel van shuttled us down to the true left bank to practice.   Jeff took us through a simple roll cast, a switch cast, the snap-T cast, and several spey casts.  He made it look incredibly easy, though I quickly found out it is very easy to overpower the rod and lose effectively of the cast.  Less is definitely more in two handed casting.  If you keep your elbows in and your right hand out of it, the rod will pick the line out of a strong current and shoot it back through the wind.  It will take a lot of practice but I look forward to testing it out on the Salmon River this fall.  Check out Jeff in action in this webcast: