A few trips to Eastern Europe later, and the closer I got to winter, the more excited I could sense the salmon fishermen becoming. I had infiltrated and immersed myself, and there was not a Facebook group dedicated to Baltic salmon that I wasn’t now part of (and feverishly google translating), and boy was it confusing. A completely different world to anything Norwegian, Scottish or Canadian that I’d ever read. And the more I read, the more I was confused. These fish were being caught (at least on the conventional pages) on almost Orion style swimming lures, in massive sizes and bright colours. How diverse could the ole sammining be?

The common work trips were frustratingly still outside the very narrow season, but would serve as tackle and material gathering expeditions. The act that 30 years later I can still be introduced to new materials (and of course techniques) is testament to how ridiculously diverse fly tying truly is. Finn Racoon, Tanuki, & Oppossum now joined the fray (don’t Google that middle one). On the tackle front, I’d start with an all-rounder in Scandi terms. A Vision custom DH. Needing a 6 piece severely limited my choices. At the bottom end, something more familiar. A Shilton Spey. Based off of the SL7, but with a solid spool for classic look and weight balance (critical over 14ft).

Time at home became time to practice casting, and although the ponds in my housing complex did help to some extent, its very difficult to practice any anchored cast without flowing water. The vaal would be my main training ground for the 3 casts I figured I would find most useful; Double Spey, Single spey & Scandi. The first two have distinct phases, and have (at least in my opinion) a wider margin for error or correction in-cast, and came first. The last, Scandi, is somewhere between black magic/roll casting/fishing a shooting head, and would only really click months after the spey casts for me.

It was a humbling experience, and as much about unlearning single hand habits as it was about learning new ones. I can’t really give any advice other than watching as much instructional video and practicing as much as possible, and below are the videos that helped me most.

Single Spey:

Double Spey:


I must stress that, from am efficiency point of view, minutes on the river with an instructor (Ernestas in this case), yielded far more than hours of watching and hacking at the water solo. There is no substitute for first-hand instruction with something as subtle as this, and the results of in person instruction really made me consider getting single hand instruction as well.

My initial setup is as follows;
Rod: Vision Custom DH 14ft 9wt travel (6pc)
Reel: Shilton Spey
Line: Vision hybrid line with a floating and inter tip. These tips are 7.5 to 20ft in length and can cover almost any scenario. And trust me, you need that diversity.

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