Teaching single spey cast - line tension


Tropical member
Hi All,

I was wondering what is your "tip" to teach a beginner single spey cast?

Recently, I got a few chance to teach some beginners spey cast. I found the single spey is really challenging compare to snap T or Double spey cast. It seems water load cast is much easier for the new comer.

To me, the common challenge of learning the single spey is the tension feel. At the beginning, I told my friends to watch the anchor land, but I found they lost their feel on the tension.

After several frustrations, I thought maybe I should teach them feel the D "grow" first... The cast indeed get improve dramatically if they have maintain a good tension and let the D loop grow...even they the anchor landed very bad... So my trick for beginner is to teach them watch the rod tip and line tension instead of watch the anchor land... any thought? or any tip for single spey would be appreciated! Mark


Active Member
You are right. The single spey is much harder to learn than any of the water borne anchor casts. Constant tension is the name of the game. Once that tension is lost, the rod unloads and the D-loop drops on the water. At that point, there is way too much line stick. And having lost the (rod) load, you then must then re-load the rod. And, more often than not, it's gonna be a sh!t cast anyway.

The initial lift is another problem a lot of beginners have trouble with. They will try and jerk the line out of the water, resulting in a premature loading of the rod, coupled with an unpredictable placement of the anchor. And a loss in the rod load! Slow and easy does it. Lifting the rod and arms from the shoulder, rather than from the wrist. Once the line starts moving, do not stop. Stopping will result in a loss of tension.

I don't know what to advise as far as watching the anchor, the line or the rod tip. Maybe all of it,,,,or none of it. It's kind of a feel thing.

I think, for beginners, there is too much going on. Too much to think about. Worry about. Watch this, watch that. They watch, and then they pause, being too concerned about what to do next. And that pause kills them.

They must learn to relax. Feel the rod load. Get in tune with the rod's action. If they blow the cast, so what? Try it again, and again, and again.
Dana Sturn has a very short video clip on spey pages that I found extremely helpful. Similar to what Leland said, he teaches lift-pivot-pull. Check it out. It is a very simple cast that is extremely difficult to execute. I would also begin w/ a switch cast, before graduating to a single spey. It's essentially the single spey w/out the pivot. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a good spey caster, but am working hard to change that. You can limp your way along w/ doubles and circle speys w/ a Skagit line, but to ever get to where you can do the touch and go casts requires a looooot of practice.
My recommendation for how to teach the single spey to beginners is to forget it. It is difficult to learn, and it offers nothing that other casts can't do much easier. The snap-T has a fun factor that is infectuous for most rookies. So does the snake roll, for those who "get it" quickly. The circle spey cast is so easy and reliable that I'm amazed it's a recent addition; why didn't someone think of it 200 years ago?
What everyone said above. A slow smooth lift, slightly towards the bank, and NO PAUSE from the lift to the sweep. Pause causes slack. Rotate from the hips and waist, Think of moving your line from the lift to anchor with your body rotation and NOT your arms and hands. To much arms and hands will throw your line way upstream.
Start out with a short length of line and work more line out as you get more comfortable. I made a big effort to learn this cast. I think when the situation calls it is the quickest most efficient and most powerful casts you can do. And when you really nail one it is probably the coolest feeling cast also. Put in your practice on this cast and learn it. Its a great cast and well worth the time it takes to get it down. Once youve got it youll find yourself using it as often as you can.
As far as what to watch, For me I find I start my lift and when I make my rotation I focus on the point I want my anchor to land. When I see it land I go. This is probably where alot of people have problems. Theres a big commitment to make and alot that goes on from that lift to the rotation and sweep. If you try and think about it your out of luck. No time to think commit and go. And if you blow it try again and again and again. Kevin

I have been asked many times by my beginning students, please teach us the Single Spey. My answer is and will remain the same. NO!

Not because it can't be done but because there are so many more easier casts to get started on first, as stated in some of the previous post.

Do yourself and the student's a favor, teach them to walk before you teach them to run.

You will know who's ready to move on and who's not.

Good Luck!

Good Thread
Which Single Spey?

Point of Aim

Not to be a wise a$$ but the Single Spey Get a bad wrap for most of the thing mentioned above.
I think the key to a good Single Spey reguardless of which discipline is the switch cast.(forward Spey Or Jump roll cast which ever name you want to call it) form both sides of the body using both hands up.
If the student can switch cast, call his anchor placement and the type of loop (V or
D) he is ready for the Single.
I use a type of Paradoxical Intent getting the student to make a Single Spey out of a Switch Cast.
I will set the stage.
River right, Student is practicing switch casts with his left hand up facing down stream. .
As the student builds his confidence we will let him make small change of direction.
The student is already lifting more line to make the cross body switch cast work on the left side than he would on the right.
The key here is in patients by the Instructor to let the student build the confidence he need to make small correction to the lift and the back cast stroke.
Next have the student change his target line from directly down stream to a rock or tree across the river ( I still prefer still water for this but any stream will work) and gently have work on the lift and power into the back cast stroke. (note the rod tip will dip natural when loaded properly into the back cast stroke for a small change of angle.)
Now let him work on getting perfection in his change of Angle Switch cast.
While you are debriefing him over Peat Tea and Cubans you could mention.
“ You did quite well on you Single Speys and next time we will go into more change of directions.” Do this as a ho hum .
I have been using this way getting the student over the Single Spey hurdel for years

Remember we were once all beginners and how well of foundation you build as a beginner will lead to mastery and mastery will lead to perfection.
My $.02 worth


Tropical member
Thanks for the input! great tips here... I appreciated!

As far as switch cast goes. I do like the way Dr. Way Yen explain it...

He use oval cast as a start point (the back cast get underhand and off verticle plane). Then the backcasts getting lower and lower to the water. Eventually the leader touch down on the surface and the cast break into paused back cast... that is the feel of switch cast or you can call it dynamic roll cast. If the beginner have learned some basic techniques of fly casting (roll cast and double haul). It would be very easy for them to learn the switch cast with a single-handed rod. Mark

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