Spey Casting on Grass

In another thread, Mattzoid confessed that he had been practicing his spey casting on grass. From personal experience, I've found that practicing spey casting on grass to be ineffective and not very satisfying. It screws up my timing (which is bad in the first place) and the expected distance just isn't there. But, last week Aaron Reimer (speybum) gave me a great suggestion for making practicing on grass much more effective.

But first some background: :pROFESSOR

Spey, unlike overhead casting, requires that the tip of the fly line touch down on the water on the back cast (this point is called the 'anchor'). The friction between the line and water form the anchor and cause the aerialized portion of the line to form what's called a 'D' loop behind the caster. The 'D' loop is where the energy of the cast is stored and determines how far, and in what direction, the cast will go. Spey casting is, at its simplest, the art of forming a high-energy D loop. Therefore, your practice should focus on this part of the cast.

Grass, unfortunately, does not have a high-enough coefficient of friction to form an effective anchor, and a subsequent high-energy D loop. Practicing on grass can give rise to all kinds of bad habits.

A "grass leader" is the solution to forming a good anchor between the grass and your line. A grass leader is 4 to 6 ft in length and made from 3 or 4 sections of very stiff, 30 lb test monofiliment (The brown Maxima is pretty good). When you tie the sections together, leave all of the tags about 1/4 to 3/8 inches long. Now, when you cast, the tags will catch in the grass and provide a proper anchor and a nice D loop. Start out with longish tags and trim 'em down until you get the 'stick' you need (or you can add segments to the leader).

Remember, you single-handers can practice spey casting on grass also.


The grass leader trick works great. At our first gathering, Brian and I were discussing differant techniques and how to practice them. I had never thought about it untill he brought it up. There is a large park across the street from my house and when I take the kids over to play I bring my rod. Some people stop and watch me practice, then a kick out of seeing some fool (me) wrapping his self up with 75' of fly line by only moving their arm 3 times. :EEK

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
Grass leaders can be helpful in roll and spey casting on grass, especially short cropped lawn grass. Doing this should be limited to brief sessions at best, such as demonstrations etc. I found that practising roll casting and spey casting on anything but water, and this includes a few sessions on snow and ice, will end up ruining your fly line.It won't translate well to the progressive loading effect you are trying to get by using the line and the surface tension of the water. The lawn practise will not make you a better caster. It's really for limited use in teaching. Not so true for single handed casting where you are employing a backcast and loading a flying line against the resistance of the rods flex. Yet even here my teaching and demonstration lines get chewed up by the grit on the grass. Practise on the water is always better, especially for spey casters.Flowing water that you can practise both right and left-handed positions is even better.
Funny, I learned to spey cast on the grass before I ever took it to the river. It allowed me to work on the speed and smoothness of my back cast. It helped me to accelerate properly and it also allowed me to focus on the same type of loop control that is associated with regular overhead casting. The only thing I had to change to make the transition was the resistance that the water has on your line. The resistance only allowed my to cast further because the line was loading properly in the water.

I did have to create a tip that was specific to grass/parking lot casting. A normal tip for the river is too short and heavy to cast out of the water. It is also better to have a practice line to preserve the expensive line for fishing.

The other thing I did when I finally did start fishing my Spey rod was to go to a nice and long lake front dock and practice there as well.

Matt Burke

Active Member
Thanks for the hints. I don’t really learn as much as on the water, but will be there at least by Thursday and this weekend. No matter what the weather or how embarrassing it might be. But I had to go through the motions somewhere. Sometimes I just stand in the living room with my Butt section and just practice the movements.

The grass leader as I know it (the same one that I gave the formal to LU2SPEY ) came from the fertile minds of Mr. Jimmy Green (one of the Great Speyfathers)(and Mr. Al Buhr. The both conducted many of speycasting clinques and Casting games on the grass.
I ask Jimmy why the grass and he replied that the caster could keep his concentration better.
He was absolutely correct.
I still take my students to the lawn when I deem it necessary to correct casting flaws or if distance casting.
I spend many hours’ lawn casting with a Speyrod every year whether evaluating lines, rod, or just having fun. That was one of the main considerations in choosing the location for my shop.
Being close to Macdonald Park in Carnation
If you can speycast on the lawn you can speycast.
Many people think that lawn casting is just a teaching aid this nothing could be farther from the truth.
I have watched as many of the top NorthWest Speycasters like Ed Ward, Leroy Teeple and Tim Rajeff work for hours on the grass.
Make no mistake about speycasting it is far easier to practice when there is no fish present.
Practicing any type of fly-fishing with a fly is oxymoronic in my humble opinion.
You should go to the river with specific goal to practice and do just that.
Practice, Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
This is the key to good speycasting.
Whether on water or on the grass.
The clock may be ticking but there is always tomorrow.
This is my $.02 worth