Sandy River Spey Clave 2018: The Best of Intentions

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Spey Gals

By: Mark Bachmann

At the AFFTA (American Fly Fishing Trade Association) Dealer Summit, in Bozeman, Montana last October, the air was abuz with how women are joining the sport of fly fishing in ever increasing numbers. From the beginning in 1981, The Fly Fishing Shop has been into equal opportunity for everyone. My female business partner, (Patty) owns 50% of the company stock, takes on at least 50% of the business responsibility, and normally catches at least 50% of the fish when we are fishing together.

In the 1980's very few women were into fly fishing even though the first book written in the English language that mentioned fly fishing was written by woman, a nun, Dame Juliana Berners. Her book, A Treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle was published in 1496, and contained among other things, the first twelve fly patterns, and how two construct fish hooks from needles. Through history there have been many women who excelled at fly fishing, and many who have made notable contributions to the sport. But, women have also been minorities in most outdoor sports. Lately things are changing, and the Sandy River Spey Clave has helped move the bar. In 2007 we introduce Ladies Day to the Clave. It was the first event of its kind, and was a huge success for three consecutive years. Then the gals decided that they didn't want to have their own special day; they just wanted to be treated as equals...perfect!

Fact of the matter is, the sport of fly fishing, and the fly fishing industry are becoming totally integrated! Many women are finding that they not only do well at fly fishing, but are also welcomed by their male counterparts. The women featured below are sought after as instructors, fly fishing guides, business owners, and are gauged as equals to their male counterparts in an outdoor arena that tests an individual both mentally, and physically.

So, for 2018 we are attempting to support equal rights, Me Too, and 50/50 by having half of the on-the-water Spey presentations being conducted by women. We are a little over half way there. Whether we achieve our goals dosen't really matter at this point. We have set up the program and the door is still open. The six women below have a lot of experience in the Spey game and will bring an exciting extra dimension to the Sandy River Spey Clave. Be sure to attend all the presentations.

Whitney Gould

Fly fishing guide, Whitney Gould relaxes in the front of her drift boat.

Whitney Gould is a salmon, steelhead, and trout guide. She is five time champion of the prestigious Spey-O-Rama casting championship and currently holds the women’s world record for the longest cast. Whitney is a FFI certified, two-handed casting instructor. She guides for trout, using both a two hand and single hand rod on the Missouri River and for steelhead trips in Idaho, Oregon and Northern California. For more information please refer to her website: , FFI Two Hand and Single Certified Casting Instructor, RIO Products Ambassador, Simms Fishing Products Ambassador, Gary Anderson Custom Rods Pro Staff

fly fishing guide, whitney gould tails a giant alaskan king salmon.

May 18, Friday, 11:30-Noon Program by: Whitney Gould
Lesson #6: Adding Distance: You can only catch fish you can reach. This is one of the few provable statements about fly fishing. Whitney will share her knowledge acquired as a champion tournament distance caster so that you too will be able to cast long lines.

Mia Sheppard

Fly fishing instructor/guide, Mia Sheppard walks back to her car with her dog Cedar.

Mia is an accomplished guide, champion spey-caster, conservationist, upland bird hunter, skier, and mother. She grew up in Tennessee, chasing trout and hiking the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. Fly fishing caught her attention in 1996. In 2003, Mia and her husband Marty purchased Little Creek Outfitters and she started her guiding career on the John Day River. With a strong passion to get more women and kids involved in the sport of fly-fishing, she conducts women specific bass, steelhead and Stand Up Paddle board trips, as well as a Kids River Camp in Maupin. Teaching her daughter about the outdoor and nature is her top priority.

Mia is an ambassador for Simms Fishing, Winston Rods, Airflo Lines, Saracione Reels, and Boggs Trail Butter

Mia Sheppard tails a huge winter steelhead.

May 18, Friday, 9:30-10:00 a.m. Program by Mia Sheppard
Lesson #2: Examining timing and tempo of a Spey cast and how it plays a role in catching steelhead.

Donna O'Sullivan

World champion Spey distance caster, Donna O'Sullivan gives her favorite LTS rod a smooch after winning another title.

Donna O'Sullivan is a world champion spey caster, Spey-O-Rama champion, owner of Fish On! Sports and USA Distributor for LTS Flyfishing.

Spey casting and fly fishing are Donna's passion, continually striving for the perfect cast, and the best fly fishing equipment for easy, fun and effective fishing.

May 19, Saturday, 10:30-11:00 a.m. Program by Donna O'Sullivan
Lesson #4: Casting Scandi Shooting Heads with Sinking Tips

Mary Ann Dozer

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Mary Ann fell in love with fish, not while casting from a riverbank, but while scuba diving in the Caribbean and South Pacific with her husband, Dave. Her first fly fishing experience was in 1995 in Yellowstone Park and her passion for the sport took hold. Since then, she said she has spent “pretty much every vacation and long weekend with a rod in my hand.” When her high tech career wound down after 20 years, Mary Ann wanted to do something different with her life. The answer was easy: pursue her passion for fly fishing and share it with others.

Mary Ann loves to introduce new anglers to fly fishing or take experienced anglers’ skill to that next level. Whether this be via casting lesson, a day in a classroom or a day on the water. Mary Ann considers casting an art form. She is an Fly Fishers International (FFI), Master Casting Instructor and is pursuing a Two Hand Casting Certification.

For the past 15 years, she has instructed men and women in fly fishing techniques. Since ’09 she has dedicated her spring, summer and fall to guiding in Central Idaho & Central Oregon. With a recent move to Sister’s she is teaching and guided in Central Oregon exclusively. She believes in giving back and volunteers for Casting for Recovery and for the IFFF at the local, state & national level. She has volunteered with Casting for Recovery for 15 years, participating in fly fishing retreats for women with breast cancer. She has also co-chaired Education and Publicity for the Northwest Fly Fishing Expo for the last ten years. Her greatest love is guiding other fly fishers. She is building a series of educational videos for fly casting and fishing. She is the Monthly Programs Chair for the Central Oregon Fly Fishers Club.

If you want to contact Mary Annt:

Mary Ann Dozer with a beautiful rainbow

May 18, Friday, 10:30-11:00 a.m. Program by Mary Ann Dozer
Lesson #4: Economy of Motion: A compact stance and proper body mechanics save energy. Economy of motion results in repeatable casting moves that increase efficiency and cut casting fatigue.

Kate Watson

Kate Watson, fly fishing guide, fly tyer and conservationist

Kate Watson is a fly fishing guide, fly tyer and conservationist in northern British Columbia. She competed at Spey -o- Rama last year for her first time, and is competing again this year. She spends her year between guiding for salmon in the north west coast, heli fishing for char and arctic grayling and teaching.

Kate Watson wading

May 19, Saturday, 11:30-Noon a.m. Program by Kate Watson
Lesson #6: "Going Back to Zero: How to self correct your Single Spey while casting"

Leslie Ajari

Leslie AjariLeslie Ajari grew up in a fly fishing household in Truckee, CA. She learned a passion and respect for fish and their environment at an early age. As she grew up and moved away from the Sierra Nevada mountains for college, she discovered steelheading. Since then, it has been a complete immersion into the sport, pursuing wild steelhead on the swing. Currently a nomad with her boyfriend Dax and dog Marlee, her home is the river she is currently fishing on. She loves sharing her passion of Spey casting and steelhead with hands on instruction on the river. Her outlook as a female angler and guide lends a unique perspective while working with women during guide days and casting classes. She guides steelhead on venues such as the Olympic Peninsula, the Grande Ronde, the Southern Oregon coast and Northern California. Leslie can be reached at:

May 19, Saturday, 9:30-10:00 a.m. Leslie Ajari & Dax Messette
Lesson #2: Spey Casting Made Easy

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