When you were first learning to Spey Cast...

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by Jeff Hale, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. Jeff Hale

    Jeff Hale B.I.G.F.F.

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    When you were first learning to Spey Cast did you guys use a traditional long belly floating line or did you just pick up the Skagit head and made it work?

    I am a fairly accomplished caster and consider myself towards the upper middle of casting ability with a single hander, BUT I SUCK SO BAD at learning to Spey cast it is embarrassing. I went out to the GR lost October and casted and AFS for 3 days and I improved very little. I could make a fishable cast, but not even close to what I expected myself to be able to do at the end of three days constant fishing. Yesterday I went out steelheading, and I tried to throw my Skagit head and 11 foot of t-14. BAD IDEA! I felt like a moron trying to cast this set up. I went back to my 15 foot Type 6 tip, and was able to do better, but not much. I actually think I am regressing. I feel like I am not casting as well now as when I first tried it a year ago. Granted, I have only put in maybe 35-40 hours of fishing with a two-hander, but I am doing worse now than I did in the first few hours.

    One thing I have never done is to just try and cast with a floating line, with no tip or no sinking leader, and with no weighted fly. Perhaps I need to just use a full floater and a piece of yarn instead of trying to learn to cast with a Skagit head while fishing.

    Did you guys learn as you fished, did you practice with a more traditional line and then transfer over to Scandi and Skagit lines? This is killing me. I am not used to being so poor at something that relates to flycasting. I figured I would be able to pick it up by now and I am even farther from my goal. :beathead: Jeff
     
  2. speyghillie

    speyghillie speyghillie

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    Hi Jeff,
    Start short and take it slow, for me it was easy as i live 5 mins from the river Spey and as a kid used to watch all the guys speycasting while i sat on the river bank.
    There is loads of help out there and some great info, i will send you a PM with some great Speycasting web sites.
    One thing that can really help is an Instructor, you will shorten the learning curve and as your new to Speycasting , hopefully not get any bad habits.
    I am sure there are guys in your area that will help out.
    Will send you a PM that should help.
    Gordon.
     
  3. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    I still suck after 4 years, but I'll give you my 2 cents. Yes, skagits are easier to cast for obvious reasons, but I would learn on a medium- long belly floater. The reason? It will force you to learn the fundementals of line set up and mechanics. Then, when you move to a skagit, you will appreciate the ease rather than starting with a skagit and moving to a long belly line and looking like an idiot. :)
     
  4. doublespey

    doublespey Steelhead-a-holic

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    Pan's right - better to learn correct technique so you can use either a long belly or a Skagit line. Others have said it - have a good speycaster watch what you're doing.

    Visit Aaron on Saturday morning on the Snoqualmie. It's free, he'll have a bunch of different rods and lines (floating) that you can try, and he'll probably be able to give you some pointers to help with the learning curve.

    Or, if Sunday morning suits you better, All About The Fly (shop) has a speycasting event usually held at the Ben Howard launch on the Skykomish River just outside Monroe. Mike Kinney and the crew are all accomplished speycasters and it's a great opportunity to try different setups and get some pointers that will help you get that cast to roll out there straight and long.

    If you ever get to see video of yourself casting, you'll see how much easier it is for someone else to diagnose your casting issues that to do it yourself.

    Just my .02,

    Brian
     
  5. Joe Smolt

    Joe Smolt Member

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    Brian is right. Both Aaron and Mike are the best resource to help learn to cast better faster. Time with them is well worth it. I can't imagine how many people they've help get started. They did for me.

    However in these settings, most folks (including myself) started by switch casting with a full length of line out (not skagits). Hell of a lot difference when truly fishing and having the line downstream of you.

    I find skagit casting way easier than long lines, particularly if you are looking to chuck big flies. I am sure Aaron or Mike could help you work out your issues quickly. Learn with a skagit line. It is the most useful line for winter fishing. In reality, I've heard guides talk about using skagit lines because they could help newbies cast within a few hours. It is the best way to throw sink tips and big flies.

    Joe
     
  6. Nooksack Mac

    Nooksack Mac Active Member

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    Jeff:

    It doesn't seem possible that a good single-hand caster should be struggling to make decent casts with a spey rod and line after a year - except for one very likely reason: your line is not a good fit for your rod.

    You didn't say what you're using. It's possible that you made the mother of spey tackle mistakes: using a single-hand line whose AFTMA number (say, an 8) is used on a spey rod rated as an 8, 7/8, or 8/9. If so, that line is considerably too light for your rod. Spey lines are rated by a number scale where an 8-weight spey line, of whatever type, is considerably heavier than an 8-wt. single hand line. In general, spey rods are a lot trickier to properly fit with a line than a single-hand rod.

    All the spey line types work well enough - if they're of a size to fit your rod. Shorter belly lines are very easy to cast at short to moderate distances; so are double taper lines. Long belly lines are less forgiving when cranking out long casts, but expert tournament casters rarely use anything else when they're shooting for money.

    By all means, take your rod and line to one of the scheduled spey gatherings, and have an expert cast with them. An expert will be able to tell in less than a minute whether your rod and line fit or not. And you'll be able to try other sizes and types of lines while there. You'll probably go home mentally slapping yourself while eagerly buying a new line.
     
  7. SPEYBUM

    SPEYBUM Member

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    Jeff,
    How many hours did it take you to become proficient with the Single Hand Flyrod casting in a straight-line world?
    I am just curious.
     
  8. SPEYBUM

    SPEYBUM Member

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    This is a good thread
    Your casting just moved from the straight-line world to the parallel universe.
    If you have invested 35-40 hours working with Two Handed Fly Rod and not getting where you think you should be you are not alone.
    The Speycasts is not as easy to learn as most people think.
    I have watched Master Class Casters flail the water to froth.
    It is a cast and that is a tool to place the fly in the water and if by chance a fish happens to bite you can hope to catch it.
    You will have to change your thinking from a straight-line world of the overhead cast to a parallel circular world of the roll casts.
    How one goes about learning depends on why the skill is being learned.
    The end product is to catch a fish.
    How you go about it is up to you.
    I learned by trial and error.
    Remember there were no Skagit line; no Windcutter and very few shooting heads so yes I learned with along belly floating and intermediate fly line. No sinktip back then.
    I was on my own in Alaska the year was 1975.
    I learned by reading everything I could glean and by writing letters those who know.
    One of my Favorite People was Hugh Fauklus.
    His guiles sense of humor and whit kept me entertained.
    Waited for the letters and the latest copies of what now is Salmon and Sea Trout Magazine.
    The progress was slow until in the late 80’s I took the time to learn from the Late Mike Maxwell where I had been going wrong.
    It was not the line it was that I was trying to do two things at once.
    Trying to learn how to fish the Two Handed Flyrod while leaning how to cast it.
    I could not do justice to the fish or the fly.
    So take a little time to get to know the Two Handed Flyrod and the Speycast.
    As you may have noted I address the Two Handed Flyrod and the Speycast as two separate entities.
     
  9. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

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    The biggest training tool for me was switching up to a rod that I could feel load easier. My first spey rod, which is actually really nice and casts great, was/is not nearly as easy to feel and I wasn't getting the positive feedback of feeling the rod working properly. I went from mediocre casting to pretty dang good casting in the span of 3 days after getting a rod that spoke to me a bit better.
     
  10. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    iagree

    My first two-hand rod was the Brownie 9140-3 with the high tech for than Windcutter back in the late 90s. It was fairly easy to learn on and I thought I was casting alright but when I would try the faster "Euro" spey rods I couldn't hardly make a decent loop. It is still more or less the same for me.

    If you are feeling really hopelessly lost with spey casts, I would get a slower spey rod that you can feel load to the butt, put a line on it that maxes out its grain window than take some downers or meditate while at the river to really chill out. Find a pool that is nearly still and ankle deep while at least 10 feet out from dry ground so you have plenty of water to work with and no flows to complicate things. I would use a floating line or tip with a hookless fly to give yourself maximum time to think and set up your casts.

    Than make some roll casts as slooooowly as you can with just 30 feet of line off the rod. You should be able to roll cast that line and than start to expiriment with the stickiness of the water and the timing to increase the power. Once you can roll cast a lot of line just fine, start to think about how the anchor placement is all about getting the line right to maximize tension and load the spey rod even more.

    And remember you don't need to force a two-handed rod. It will do the work! Push and pull gently and don't bring the rod tip too far down on the final release just like a single hander. Aim for the stars!

    From there you should start to connect dots.

    I find that newbies have the hardest time with anchor placement. It is really tough and I think good spey casters forget that once it is deeply ingrained in our subconscious. It all varies on flows, tips and flies. Anchor placement will simply take time.
     
  11. Jeff Hale

    Jeff Hale B.I.G.F.F.

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    Thanks a ton for all the insights.

    I learned to cast a single hander pretty quick and just got better as i fished more. i still have lots to improve on with a singlehander too. I would like to be able to cast beyond 90 feet with regularity and make an occassional 100 footer with a standard 5 weight, WF floater.

    I fish a Z-axis, 7136, with a 550 grain Skagit. I have also used the 460 grain Skagit head, but seem to do better with the 550.

    I have not speycasted for a year, i just started a year ago. I have put in very little practice and most of the time i am trying to fish while learning. I think that is a mistake right there. i need to go to the river and just cast with no distraction of fishing. Thanks again to all who replied. I will post again in a year and tell you if I have improved. Jeff
     
  12. Porter

    Porter Active Member

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    Jeff, I can relate to what you are going through, and it is why I quit.....at least for now. That was about four or five years ago. I admire those that can do it so easily and often will pause when I'm fishing to watch a person spey cast. I enjoy watching the large amount of line move in what sometimes seems like multiple directions at once.....upstream, behind, D, and forward, then gently unfold many many many feet in front of the caster. For me, my last trip speying was on the Sauk in the fall. There I managed to wrap my fly around the branches behind me multiple times, I lost a steelhead and a big dolly becasue I didn't know how to land the damn things with the long rod and they broke off within a hands reach. I spent more time undoing my mistakes and tying on flies than fishing. I think my cheaper spey outfit was off, and I didn't want to invest in a quality outfit at the time. I came to the conclusion that I had to commit to the single hand or spey way, and I chose the (me) already well equipped single hand. Today there is a lot more offerings in equipment and instruction, try your best to take advantage of the help.
     
  13. inland

    inland Active Member

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    Jason,

    The 9140-3 IS a 'fast' ('euro' is a marketing term) action rod. Did you mean the 4 pc slow as molassas rod?

    Jeff,

    No matter how gifted...we all get better with proper coaching and practice. As Aaron pointed out it is difficult to get good at casting while concentrating on fishing. You need to make time to practice the same cast over and over. Thousands of times to imprint muscle memory. It helps to imitate actual fishing conditions (wading depth, water speed, wind, hookless flies same size and profile to what you will fish, backcast room, etc, etc, etc). An hour, or FOUR, a week will pay huge dividends.

    William
     
  14. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    I have been throwing line with a 2 hander for 14 or 15 years now and I still have days like you discribe. I thougth it was all a part of fishing a 2 handed rod. Am I wrong? In fact I have days like this no matter what kind of rod I have in my hands. Perhaps it is fishing.

    A couple of words of advice for Jeff also. SLOW DOWN!!!!!!!! Other then that I have nothing to add to the masters that have already given some great advice.
     
  15. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    No it was a brown blank 9140-3 that was nearly as slow as the 9140-4 with a cork reel seat. I think there aren't many of them around. My Jedi Master Dake said it was a unique rod. I got it off eBay from someone in Seattle.
     
  16. Ian Stubbs

    Ian Stubbs New Member

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    You will throw more casts in an hour of practice than you will in a whole day of fishing, fish just get in the way of getting better.

    Like others have said visit Aaron on Saturdays and Mike on Sundays you will be hard pressed to find two finer gentlemen who have more knowledge and the ability to pass that knowledge to others.

    By the way if you were throwing a 7/8 AFS with a polytip on the Z axis 7136 I thought that was a perfect match.


    Ian
     
  17. SSPey

    SSPey Member

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    they had an early 9140-3 that later became the 9140-3 DS and was medium fast (weight 8+ ounces, I believe) and then the 9140-3 Euro that was very fast (weight 9+ ounces)

    the Euro version was my second spey, the one that I really learned on ... using DT11/12
     
  18. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    I dunno.

    Inland is probably right since he has been doing this stuff for a really long time but the rod definately was what I would call slow.
     
  19. Mike Rupp

    Mike Rupp New Member

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    The answer is simple: go visit Aaron. When I became interested in spey casting, I bought a few DVDs and read a bunch on the topic. Guess what? It didn't help at all. After searching the web I found Aaron. With his try rack and the fact that he's FFF certified, I figured that it would be a perfect one-stop shop to be able to get started.

    I think that people can be hesitant to get instruction for whatever reason. My take is that some time and money up front to get over the hump is much more desirable than 35-40 hours of frustration on the water.
     
  20. SpeySpaz

    SpeySpaz still an authority on nothing

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    Jeff,
    maybe you can tell from my handle-I can relate to what you're saying:D

    what broke the wall for me was realizing that it was OK to suck at casting for awhile. I kept feeling my way through it until the word "inept" popped into my head; I smiled, laughed at myself. Inept...and probably amusing to watch. Relax, man. This takes time.

    Just take your balanced setup down to some nice, but fishless, moving water and practice short range switch casting, over and over. The worse you screw up, the more gentle you go. Watch videos, imitate the motions in your living room with the butt section of your rod. Take the advice in this string, some real heavyweight dudes have chimed in to help you. You have support in this online community.
    You have to do practically the opposite of your SH instincts with a DH rod. I'm a boomer with a SH rod, and I took that attitude into DH and suffered for a summer till a friend helped me work it out. After awhile I was a DH boomer.
    then I figured out the fish were practically at my feet...:D you know how it is.

    Just enjoy the process, and when it stops being fun, take a break! this is supposed to be fun

    Bob
     

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