Shooting heads and two handing the salt or rivers

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Matt Burke, Mar 30, 2003.

  1. Matt Burke

    Matt Burke Active Member

    Feb 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    A couple people have asked about my shooting heads and this is what I have come up with after spending hours searching the net. Most of this comes from the east coast and then I perverted it for Puget Sound.

    I use Loop rods because they seem the most versatile, for my purposes. My shooting head system in the salt and Spey casting for Steelhead, only require changing spools. Loop rods are different from other Spey rods. They were designed to toss the Loop shooting head or adapted line system and aimed at the underhanded crowd. But they will handle the traditional Spey cast and seem to be more forgiving. I have a 12-foot 8wt and the 14-foot 9wt. Rio line recommendations for these rods are different than most. For instance, in the 8wt range, they recommend the Rio 7/8/9 for beginners and 6/7/8 for advanced on the Loop. If it were a Sage 8wt, they recommend 8/9/10 for beginners and 7/8/9 for advanced. So they seem to prefer a lighter line on the Loop. Also, when throwing shooting heads, the general rule of thumb is 2 weights over the rod weight. But on my Loops, that is too much and I prefer one weight over. Loop has an adapted line kit that is tailor made for each rod, but these kits are around 280 dollars. I have tried this system at a clave/demo and they are sweet but I already have a lot of fly line already. So here is the solution I came up with.

    For the 9wt, I have the Rio 8/9/10 windcutter with tips. I also use the Airflo 45 foot/10wt shooting heads and the Rio Big Boy 24 foot and Rio Aqualux 26 foot heads in the 300 to 400 grain range. On the Rio heads I may take the middle section of the Spey line and add it too the head which gives me a 40 foot head. The middle section can be either the floating or sink tip compensator. I also have the 30-foot middle section, which I can attach the 15-foot tips, floating though type 8 (this is essentially a 45 foot shooting head with interchangeable tips). I actually prefer this shooting head system on the rivers.

    For the 8wt, I use the Airflo 7/8 Delta Spey (which does not have a middle section, but my Rio 7/8wt Mid Spey does) and the Rio Big Boy 24 foot and Rio Aqualux 26 foot heads in the 200 to 300 grain range. I also use the 35 foot/9wt heads on this rod and the Spey middle sections and tips keeping within the 30-foot range (this is essentially a 30 foot/9wt shooting head with interchangeable tips). For Cutts I usually stick with the 26 foot Aqualux head on floating or intermediate running line.

    I also have a Flylogic 7wt/13 foot, which I haven’t tried in the salt. I’m looking at 11 to 12 foot 5 and 6 weight rods as I think these would be more ideal for Cutthroat and Trout.

    For running line, I use the Airflo Multi head or Rio Poly Flex Shooting line. Slick shooter or monofilament running lines suck. I like the Airflo better as it doesn’t tangle as much and it has the connector loops already welded in. On the Rio running line I had to put on the braided loops. I use the 30 lb. running line on the 9 wt and the 20 lb on the 8 wt. Running line comes in different diameters and they add resistance to your cast. This can help turnover the fly.

    For backing, I use the Power Pro Gel Spun 50 lb. Line. I use the double strand Bimini twist with a piece of hollow latex tubing where the loops connect. This keeps the Gel Spun from cutting through the fly line loop. I can get 2 to 3 hundred yards of backing on 9, 10 and 11 wt reels with the 50 lb. Some knots may reduce the breaking point of Gel spun by 20 to 50% so I still have at least 25 lb test for backing. All knots are sealed with Softex.

    Casting is mostly the two handed overhead as demonstrated in International Spey Casting and I have some video of Goran Anderson casting overhead. Up close I kind of snap-T, roll cast or under hand it. The two handed overhead cast is deadly for distance and accuracy even in a 10 to 15 knot wind.

    Now you may ask, why go through all this trouble? Spey casting spoils me rotten. More time in the water instead of the air. My upper body is not sore at all after hours on the water, in fact; my stripping arm gets tired more than anything. It is the most adaptable system for any situation on the salt or the river.

    A little extra info about those Big Boy or Aqualux heads. If you take the middle section and tips off your Windcutter or Mid Spey and put on one of those 200, 300 or 400 grain heads, you have a bazooka that wont quit.


    "Everyday that you wake up and decide not to go one less day you'll go fishing." Forrest Maxwell

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