Tough spey situations

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
I encountered a couple of situations with the new spey rod Saturday on Hood River that made me wish I had my single hander instead. Is there a strategy?

I was fishing a deep slot below the UP RR bridge, swinging a bulky fly on a sink tip. It was going all right until I got downstream to where the strong current is pushed 80 to 90 feet away from me and goes deep as it hits the bridge abutment on the far side, but is separated from me by 30 or 40 feet of deep absolutely slack water, even a bit of back eddy. The sink tip would fish through the deep current slot fine but at the end of the swing it would just drop out to the bottom in the slack water, impossible to lift and sweep and sometimes snagging on the bottom. The only thing I could do was to strip it in and work it back out, but the loops in the Rio multi tip line would hang up and if I tried to lay the line out to spey it, it would quickly sink and I couldn't roll it very far if the small amount of line I managed to get out. The farther I got down into this slack water, the worse it got, until there was no way I could reach the holding water with the short casts I could manage. With my single hander, I just strip in , a little faster than normal so it doesn't hook up, pump a false cast and shoot. Caught a fish here last year. What can I do, cast overhead with the two handed rod?

The other situation I found difficult was fishing the "Long Hole" above the pipeline bridge. This hole is a favorite of fly guys, but is challenging because of the tree lined banks. I always thought that spey casting would be just the ticket on this hole. But fishing the east bank, I found the overhanging limbs were a big problem. The 13.5 ft. rod was sticking right up in the branches. It's a steep bank and you can't wade out very far. The best I could do was to put on a floating tip and flip a nymph and indicator one handed about 30 ft., parallel to the bank.

I thought the water color and level were just about perfect last weekend, but no one, fly and bait casters alike, were catching anything. The previous weekend was good for baitcasters, but too muddy for flys.
Here is what I would do...

Use the lifting power of the long rod to get the tip up. Do a slow lift and get as much line out of the water as you can. Then throw a downstream roll cast in the direction of your fly. Then go right into your cast. The slow lift and roll cast should lift the tip up and get you in position to make your cast. In these situations I use use a snake roll as it helps get the tips out of the water better than most casts. Another one if the circle spey which is a great tip cast. The key is not to rush the lift. Keep it slow and if you are using a short belly line you should be able to lift the whole belly out of the water up to the sink tip. With too much belly stick on the water it will make it that much harder for you to pull the sink tip out.

As far as the other situation it will come with practice. Once you get more proficient at spey casting you will be better able to control your D loop. To get out 60-70' you shouldn't need a whole lot of room behind you. You can also use the square cut cast detailed in Derek Browns video which is used to keep the anchor point out in front of you rather than to your side as you do in normal situations.


Rich McCauley

Meiser & Mohlin
The short answer (as I am at work surrounded by expensive Microsoft Consultants ) is:
That is why many of us use short head systems ala Mike Kinney and Ed Ward. 36 feet outside the tip top makes the pull out of deep frog water much easier.

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
Thanks for the good ideas, Sean. I'm going to have to work on those snake roll casts. With the trees behind me and above me, I found some spots where I could manage a short double spey. It seems like I can keep the line out in front more with a double spey rather than a single spey. I hate it when I lose flies behind me on a single hand rod's backcast, but I hate it more when I lose flies in branches high above me.

I have been noticing that a shorter head is helping with managing the sink tip, Rich. I am fishing a 5 ft. Skagit cheater with it now instead of the 15 ft. compensator. I think that makes the head length 40 ft. I even tried it without any mid section and thought it didn't cast too bad.
Yep you can totally remove that mid section from the windcutter and it should cast fine. I do that with my shorter spey rods and it is a great way to get the 'skagit' style head.

Sounds like you are well on your way.


Rich McCauley

Meiser & Mohlin
Using the 5' cheater is an excellent idea vs the 15' tip 2. You will have to put a bit more into the cast as you may now have a slightly underloaded rod .. or not just depends on how many grains your particular rod is partial to.
The Perry Poke is one, if not the most effective cast using shorter lines combined with deeply sunk flies and or little or no backcast room. Sometimes it is all you can manage to just get the line to the surface. Dumping it in a pile in front of you and forming you dloop from there was what we used to call the Ed Ward dump cast,which Ed later said he learned from Perry. You can also anchor this cast quite a ways out and use a more side arm motion to avoid overhanging trees. Yes it is hard on your elbows and or lower back to get the snap in there and it will certainly gain you no style points, but last time I checked the fish don't take based upon casting style points.

Steve Buckner

Mother Nature's Son
Spey casts can be very tough to make once your fly has sunk to the bottom. As your instincts first suggested, you need to somehow get your fly back up to the top before you make your cast. You can either strip in some line and/or you can make a roll cast or two down river to bring your fly up to the surface, then immediately, go into the spey cast of choice.

One way to minimize the distance your d-loop travels behind you is to anchor a little further out from your position, this can be done any spey cast. If you're using a short belly line, you'll solve the problem a little more easily because you simply won't have enough line to create a deep d-loop behind you. You can accomplish the same basic result with a mid-length belly line like a mid-spey by stripping in some line, making the cast, and then shooting the stripped line. Being able to control the size of your d-loop and your placement of your anchor is critical in close fishing situations.

Another cast, which is mentioned in Simon's book, is called a crude spey. Basically, the cast is one in which the line is thrown somewhat haphazard from a downstream position to infront of you (somewhat like a Perry Poke). From there, the line is brought back to form a d-loop and then fired forward. This cast can be performed without almost any line in the d-loop going behind you. This is not a pretty cast, but is effective when you need to get your line out and simply do not have room for a back cast.