Every body of water has its living fishing legends. One of the Salmon River’s most famous is Pat Miura.
With good reason: Pat’s specialty is fly-fishing. And while this world famous coldwater fishery is loaded with guides who are experts at beating the wind with long rods, and bringing home trophies for their clients, most switch techniques—center-pinning beads, for instance, or back trolling plugs--in an attempt to optimize their client’s chances at catching vast quantities of game.
Pat changes techniques, too, when it’s called for, but he stays true to fly-fishing, switching from glow bugs to nymphs, for instance, traditional streamers to Spey flies. And he’s mastered them all.
What’s more, he doesn’t make glowing promises of numerous hook ups to fill his schedule. Indeed, he doesn’t make any fishy promises at all. His only guarantee is to take you on a quality fly-fishing adventure; and he’s so good at providing dream trips that his name is a legend on the river; the retired US Army master sergeant stays as busy as he wants.
I’ve known Pat for several years and enjoy watching him whenever I get the chance. His style is flawless, and he’s always catching fish. I had to find out how he does it and asked if I could tag along when he gets a break in his schedule.
Next thing you know we’re on the Salmon River and he’s trying to teach me to Spey cast. Developed in the Spey River region of Scotland, this highly stylized technique uses rods anywhere from 12-something to over 13 feet long and heavy lines to cast large flies great distances, using three simple moves. In fact, a good caster can easily whip a fly 50 feet with trees, bushes, cliffs, fjords, you name it, right behind ‘em.
It took about an hour to show me the ropes. I learned how to establish an anchor (at the end of the drift, hold the rod in both hands and cross your arms, forcing the line high into the air upstream while keeping the fly in the water downstream, a rod’s distance from you), the importance of the D loop (swinging the rod in front of you, then behind you, it forms a D loop off to your side), and the forward motion (keeping the rod tip high, you whip it forward, launching the fly to its target). Done properly, the fly slices through the air upstream, back into the loop next to you, and forward, never coming close to what’s behind you.
It takes a little practice to get everything flowing in a rhythmic motion. In fact, I’ve been out twice, about three hours each time, and still haven’t mastered it. But I can cast greater distances under the tightest conditions than I ever imagined possible. What’s more, I can do it with the line staying straight, (mostly, anyway) instead of tangling mid-air into a rooster nest and dropping like a coiled, stone serpent.
After theory, Pat showed me how it works. Waving his Spey rod fluidly and rhythmically, he went through the motions like a conductor leading a symphony. The line responded flawlessly, flowing silently through air and water, landing in front of him, about 40 feet away, with hardly a ripple.
Watching him perform his magic, I ended up forgetting my lessons. Things got ugly quick. I snagged bottom a few times; wrapped the line around the rod tip twice, hooked some submerged branches downstream, ended up under a huge boulder…
Just then something tells me to look up. I watch Pat effortlessly make another perfect cast. Holding the rod in his right hand, parallel to the water, he pinched the line between his index finger and thumb. Suddenly, the line stretches, ripping through the water, a steelhead on the surface at the other end.
Pat doesn’t set the hook; his fingers hold the line tight, allowing the fish to hook itself. Afterwards he releases the tension, raises the rod and the fight is on.
A few minutes later, he lands a nice eight-pound steelie.
“Spider,” he says, eyes beaming, “the drug is in the tug,” and laughs confidently like a master after demonstrating his stuff, and knowing he performed well.
I was so excited I forgot my manners and ran right to where he hooked it.
Ten minutes later, still no hits, I get snagged and lose the fly.
He offers to tie on another for me but it was getting late, and I was getting cold, and I already had my story.
Besides, I knew I was hooked to Spey casting and would get back out there soon to craft more memories.
Pat can be contacted at 315-788-9571, 315-777-3570, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pat working his Spey casting magic on a snowy riverscape.