New Spey Cast Debuts at Sandy Speyclave
Well, I am reassured. I showed my still evolving new cast, the AIUPPY SNAP-V I am calling it, to a variety of knowledgeable spey folk at the Sandy
River Speyclave - Dana (Dana Sturn), Speyrd (Leroy Teeple), Speybro (Simon Gawesworth), Steve Rajeff, MJC (Poppy or Mr. RedShed), GPearson (Greg Pearson), etc., and all said they had never seen anything exactly like it before, which reinforced my research over the past few months as I developed the cast to be introduced to the spey community. More gratifyingly, several, including Dana and Simon, commented that it appeared to have some useful applications. So here forthwith is the story and description of the new AIUPPY SNAP-V CAST for the Spey Pages community.
Over the last few years, as I have become more proficient with spey casting, I have become dissatisfied with some aspects of a couple of the more modern spey casts - the Snap-T and the Circle (or Reverse C cast), which I tend to call the Circle-C. While both these "setup" casts are quite useful at times, especially with sinking leaders, sink tips and/or heavy flies, they do have their weaknesses, as do all casts. In particular, with both casts when bringing the fly more or less directly upstream, one is forced to finish the crux movement with the rod tip dropping quickly to the water, or risk serious damage to the rod tip, not to mention the cast, from the fly, sinking leader and/or sink tip slamming into the rod. Additionally with both casts, but especially the Snap-T, there is very little precise control of where the fly lands. With the Snap-T especially the fly and leader and sometimes some of the sink tip can end up in a bit of a stromash (as Derek Brown puts it) of slack on the water. Not a good start to any cast.
In cogitating over this problem this past winter, while practicing single hand spey casts in my living room (with the Mel-O practice system, familiar to many FFF certified casting instructors), and thinking about the fundamental principles of all fly casting, as my nature and training has taught me to do, I had a Eureka! moment of insight, leading to my development of the SNAP-V CAST.
Spey casting is all about D-Loops (or, in its more advanced form, V-loops) UNDER the rod tip, yet here we are, in both the Snap-T and Circle-C setup casts, trying to make the fly and line go OVER the rod tip. I asked the question - why? By doing that (forcing a weighted fly to go over the rod tip) we are simply inviting the inevitable - immutable gravity doing what it does best - to ruin our cast, not to mention our rod, with a painful collision.
I thought why not USE gravity to keep the fly and leader and sink tip away from the rod tip, by bringing it all UNDER THE ROD TIP, something we do every time we back cast a D or V loop in our line anyway. My several decades of single hand fly fishing have taught me when I cast a heavy sinking head or weighted flies to use a BELGIAN or oval cast, which brings the back cast UNDER the rod tip, forming the back cast loop BENEATH the plane of the forward cast. A Belgian back cast loop is, after all, simply a dynamic D or V-loop that never touches down on the water. This technique of taking the back cast loop under the rod tip, and then the forward cast loop around, up and over, when casting heavy shooting heads or heavily weighted sinking flies, is well known among many single hand overhead saltwater casters. I learned it from the protean Lefty Kreh some years ago, and frequently use the Belgian cast in my single hand overhead work, and teach it to all my intermediate and advanced students.
Perhaps that is why I thought of turning the Snap-T on its head, if you will, in a mirror image of itself tilted more to the horizontal, instead of the usual more vertically oriented snap, which normally sends the fly flying out of control up into the air to crash down in slack on landing.
Thus, one concise way to describe the SNAP-V cast is a HORIZONTALLY configured Snap-T, with the rod tip moving ABOVE the line in a very short sharp "V" shape snap with the point upstream and parallel to the stream bank, while the rod is pointed more or less directly across stream, thus forming an accelerated V-Loop UNDER the rod tip that jumps the line quickly upstream, with the fly, leader, sink tip and line ON THE BOTTOM LEG OF THE V, under the rod tip.
After the snap of the SNAP-V cast, the line is permitted to straighten out fully IN THE AIR, upstream of the caster, then is either allowed to drop directly to the water, if a high upstream anchor is desired, or is PULLED DOWNSTREAM WHILE IN THE AIR to whatever anchor point the caster desires depending on the angle of the forward cast. This technique allows for precise placement of the fly and anchor point pretty much exactly where one wants to put it - with practice. This is especially important with a heavy fly and sinking leader or sink tip, because you want to form your back cast D-loop immediately on touch down of the fly and line, before it all starts to sink. On the other hand, if you are fishig with a floating leader/floating line, you can simply allow the current to move the anchor point down into position, after a high upstream placement, and casually form your D-loop at the best point for your delivery cast, whatever its angle across stream. It is also, if that is your druthers, easy to go into a Perry Poke move at this point, before forming your D-loop.
Thus, with the SNAP-V CAST, at least for myself, I believe I have mitigated the two biggest weaknesses, to me, of both the Snap-T and Circle or Reverse-C/Circle-C casts - the possibility of hitting the rod tip with the fly/leader combination, and the difficulty of precise placement of the anchor point; while retaining the biggest advantage of both the Snap-T and Circle casts - the ability to pull a heavily weighted fly or sink tip out of the water from the downstream dangle and get it into play again very quickly without additional maneuvers (i.e., additional roll casts to bring up the sunk stuff).
There is another benefit to the SNAP-V cast, in that the rod, at the finish of the snap, can stay up in the air at whatever angle you please, or be brought down as low as you want, depending on your style and what you want to do with the cast. Additionally, I find the cast, at least as I perform it, to be a highly efficient (meaning minimal stroking) and smooth, even elegant cast, with a VERY large range and degree of direction change possible for the final presentation stroke, when mastered. Also, the SNAP-V has a high degree of control over slack line, at every point in the cast, a decided advantage in forming efficient loops and good casts.
Here are some critical points for anyone wanting to try this cast.
First - It is critical to the success of the cast that there be NO SLACK in the line on the dangle below you, with the rod tip pointing down the line and near the water surface before starting the pickup for the cast.
Second - There is no "shotgun lift" before going into the snap, but rather a STEADILY ACCELERATING LIFT AND SWING from a fully tensioned dangle to a position around 90 degrees across stream and about 30 to 45 degrees (or higher) angle above the water, at which point the now loaded (horizontally bent) rod is instantly stopped in a quick "speed up and stop" or "power snap" of the rod tip, thus suddenly unloading the rod and sending the line upstream in a very tight V-Loop (below the rod tip).
Third - It is best to NOT MOVE THE ROD (immediately) AFTER THE POWER SNAP - especially vertically. Generally it is best to wait for the fly to pass under the rod and upstream before making any other moves with the rod.
Fourth - Wait for the line to fully straighten out in the air upstream before placing the anchor point where you want by either allowing the line to drop unimpeded to the water, or pulling it downstream - while in the air - to your chosen anchor point.
Fifth - Once the power snap is done and the fly has passed upstream of the rod you can do pretty much whatever you want with the rod attitude, depending on your basic style of forming a D-loop. If you like the John and Amy Hazel style of keeping the rod at a 45 degree angle at all times when making your sweeps, by all means leave it at that angle (however, be cautious of introducing slack). If you prefer, as I do, starting near the water and sweeping with an ever rising rod tip into the firing position, you can simply follow the line down to the water - KEEPING SOME TENSION ON THE LINE AT ALL TIMES (remember - no slack) - with the rod tip and start your D-loop sweep from there.
Sixth - If one has to do an exceptionally powerful lift and snap with deeply sunk stuff, one can dampen the tendency of the upstream line extension to jerk the fly back at the end of its upstream flight (thus introducing slack) by following or "chasing" the line with the rod in an upstream cushioning drift in a subtle braking move to stop the fly before pulling it back downstream to your chosen anchor point.
Seventh - The SNAP-V cast, I believe, is best done using a medium/fast to fast action rod.
Finally, and a caveat, this cast was developed and tested using very short, short and medium belly spey lines (Airflo Skagit, Delta and Delta Long lines, to be specific). It may not be suitable for long belly line casting.
There are some other fine points and permutations, once one has mastered the basics of the cast, but they can wait for further discussion.
Comments, criticisms, questions, calls for clarification and quips welcome.
Video clip to follow - when our high water recedes some.
Larry Aiuppy (LBA)
FFF Certified Casting Instructor (CI)
FFF Certified Two-Handed Casting Instructor (THCI)
Rajeff Sports Echo & Airflo Pro Staff, StreamWorks Pro Staff
"If the trout are lost, smash the state." - Tom McGuane
"There are many good reasons to fly fish, catching fish may be the least of them." - LBA