4CFF 4th Thursday's Zoom Meetings. Guests welcome. Contact us for an invite.
Wayne writes, "I saw a spey rod for the first time in 1966, when I was fishing for Atlantic salmon in Scotland. It was rigged with a huge reel, lying on the grass, next to either the Tay or Spey River. At that time, except for such locations, spey rods were rare and considered obsolete in most fly fishing circles. But about fifty years ago, enabled by the miracle of new, lightweight graphite, they began a comeback, which grew to a strong new trend, on both sides of the Atlantic. By the 1980's, I owned my first of many spey outfits. I fished them on local steelhead rivers, experimented and learned, to the point where spey casting and fishing became the vibrant heart of my involvement with fly fishing. I presented and demonstrated to the 4th Corner bretheren, to the bemusement of most, I suspect. I now own between 25 and 30 spey rods, a hundredweight of reels, and a mile or so of spey lines, most second-hand; and I continue to buy and sell them. Since I can't possibly remember all the results of trying out each rod with multiple spey lines, I keep records of each test and its results. About two years ago, I published a short article in "Swing the Fly" magazine about that process. Most of my testing sessions have been conducted on the Nooksack River, at Nugent's Corner, where many other spey bros meet and practice on summer evenings. Rivers like the Nooksack, the Skagit, and the North Fork of the Stillaguamish have become critical-care patents; they were a large factor in why I settled in this area for life. The Thompson River is a magnificent corpse. But at 78, I can still swing my favorite 15-footer, and I look forward to my annual returns to the spey- and wader-friendly Clearwater River, pitching my tent among the small cadre of regulars."
(4CFF) You are a founding member of the fly club. How did the club begin?
(Wayne) In the early 70’s, a group of men realized that Bellingham had enough interested people to start a fly-fishing Club. It was my first month in Bellingham, and I met Dick VanDemark on a hike near Mount Baker. He asked me if I was interested in joining the interested men. Ralph Wahl, Jerry Wells and Dick VanDemark were the nucleus of the first meeting. We met in each other’s homes. The Club was formed in 1972 using the model of the Washington Fly Fishing group out of Seattle.
(4CFF) When did you begin fly fishing and how?
(Wayne) Living in Virginia as a child, I enjoyed stream fishing. At ten years old I came across a fly ishing magazine, and knew that fly fishing would be a personal goal of mine. Eight years later I found myself in Vermont and I ordered a $15.00, 8’6” Herter’s fly rod.
After serving in the military, I bought a Volvo station wagon and started driving West. I ended up in Sun Valley for a few years and became familiar with the Big Wood River and Silver Creek areas in Idaho. Trout seem to grow in the most beautiful pristine places and I wanted a part of that beauty.
(4CFF) What are some of your most memorable fly-fishing experiences?
(Wayne) In the 70s, I fished and camped at Henry’s Fork in Idaho for a month and then spent another month at Yellowstone Park. I have been in Yellowstone Park probably a dozen times over the years. Needless to say, the fishing was phenomenal. Another month I was able to back pack the Sawtooth Wilderness area.
In the early 70s, Ralph Lloyd and I fished the Deschutes River near Maupin. It was a beautiful day; the water was just right. We took turns fishing through a flat. I was able to hook and bring in an average-sized Deschutes steelhead. One hour later, I hooked a much larger steelhead and knew that the Mystery for me had been solved.
I will never forget Dick VanDemark and me camping along the Stillaguamish and floating down the river one year on a skiff I had bought on Samish Island.
Fishing for steelhead for fifty years and catching but a handful may cause one to ask why I did not get discouraged. The mystical steelhead has occupied my mind and brought me to the most beautiful places on earth I would ever come to know.
(4CFF) When did you begin Spey casting, and how?
(Wayne) I came across a Spey rod in 1966 when I was fishing for Atlantic salmon in Scotland while in the Army. It was rigged with a huge reel, lying in the grass next to either the Tay or the Spey River. At that time, Spey rods were rare and considered obsolete in most fly fishing circles. By the 1980s I owned my first of many Spey outfits. I fished them on local steelhead rivers. I experimented, and reached the point where Spey casting became the vibrant heart of my involvement with fly fishing.
The dynamic movement and weight distribution of a Spey rod, pushing string through air and the changing of direction, can give a person the feeling of being a Jedi Knight.
(4CFF) What are your favorite Waters?
(Wayne) Rivers like the Nooksack, Skagit and North Fork of the Stillaguamish have been a few of my favorites in Washington. The Thompson River in Canada at one time was a magnificent river. These rivers were large factors in my decision to settle in this area for life. I now own 25-30 Spey rods and reels, a hundredweight of reels, and a mile or so of Spey lines -- most second hand; and I continue to buy and sell them.
Most of my testing sessions have been conducted on the Nooksack River at Nugent’s Corner, where many of the Spey Bros meet and practice on summer evenings.
At 78, I still swing my favorite 15-footer, and I look forward to my annual returns to the Spey-and wader-friendly Clearwater River, pitching my tent among the small cadre of regulars.
(4CFF) What is your favorite Fly?
(Wayne) I have designed a simple leech pattern I call the Chamois Leech. I enjoyed learning to dye the materials. I also designed an emerging chironomid I am happy with.
Knot strength is very important in preparing leaders. I have probably tied 98 % of my leaders, and have built around 15-20 fly rods.
(4CFF) What roles of service have you played with the 4CFF?
(Wayne) As a Founding Member, I am glad to say, many. I have served on the Board on and off since 1972 and also as a Board member, as Board members frequently have done, for the last few decades. I have been Internal and External VP, as well as President for one year. As of now, I am the Librarian, again. I edited our Newsletter for 15 years.
Conservation is very important. I have attended many work parties over the years.
As far as education, I have given rod building demonstrations, teaching setting up Spey lines and Spey line splicing.
(4CFF) What honors or recognitions have you received?
(Wayne) In 2019 I entered an article in “Swing the Fly” magazine. The article was about how I test and evaluate different combinations of Spey rods and lines. I measure regular and maximum casts and record the results in a notebook with a separate page for each Spey rod.
Being a Founding Member, I am also a Life member of the 4CFF, and the Club is my primary social life.