Skagit Casting Defined - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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Skagit Casting Defined

This was written by Ed Ward in 2004 explaining Skagit Casting. So now when we are arguing about it we can use this for a reference when it becomes obvious we don't know what we are talking about.

I am posting this to make it easier for anyone inquiring about "Skagit casting" to be able to find basic info about it under one heading. Being as how I am a single-digit "hunt and peck" type of typer, this will probably take a while, therefore I will be adding to it continually over a period of time...

What Is Skagit Casting? -

In simplest terms Skagit casting is a change of direction cast, in other words a cast that enables the redirecting of a flyline from one angle to another. This redirection of line is accomplished by utilizing the surface of the river as a "switching" or transfer point, a circumstance that also happens to eliminate the need for using fully aerialized backcasts. What this translates into for the steelhead flyfisher is the capability, after completing the swing of a fly, for casting back out into the river for another presentation without false casting, along with the capacity to accomplish this action while using only minimal amounts of "backcast" room.

Not coincidentally, this same definition can also be used to describe all types of Speycasting. The fact is that Skagit casting was actually developed from traditional Speycasting principles by steelheaders in the Skagit River area during the early 1990's. The term "Skagit casting" was coined in order to distinguish this "offshoot" system of Speycasting from other types of Speycasting because of how similar it does initially appear to other forms of Speycasting. However, Skagit casting does possess its own casting fundamentals and traits of distinction. Skagit casting's most apparent characteristic is its employment of relatively short lines - shootinghead or Windcutter style - in other words "short head systems", and in recent years this circumstance has led to the term "Skagit casting" being associated with many other short line Speycasting systems on the West Coast of the U.S. However, in its original context, the term Skagit casting defined a method of casting that exercised a particular casting premise to accomplish its casts - the sustained anchor concept. To illustrate what the sustained anchor concept is, we must first take a brief look at all of Speycasting as it exists today.


Modern Day Speycasting - A Concise Overview

Speycasting, in its present state, is a much more diverse subject than it was even just a few years ago. Increased contemporary interest in the sport has brought about an abundance of not only "things made Spey", but also opinions and beliefs on "how to Spey". A result of this condition has been the manifestation of what seems to be, quite a wide variety of Speycasting styles. However, the fact is, within this current proliferation of casting methods, there are in actuality just two fundamental means for using the surface of the river to conduct a cast; in other words, two elementary ways to accomplish a Speycast. All current Speycasting styles use either one or both of these basic approaches for enabling their casts.

The first elementary way to Speycast is what I refer to as "brief or momentary contact" Speycasting, because it uses a relatively brief or very momentary contact of the flyline with the surface of the water for an anchor. Simon Gawesworth coined an even better descriptive term for it - "touch and go". This methodology of Speycasting derives the most significant portion of its casting or rod loading power from the inertial energy created by a flyline that has been dynamically lifted off of the water and then kept fully aerialized. This type of casting dictates that once the line has been lifted from its initial starting position it must then be sustained in motion throughout the remainder of the casting process in order to maintain its inertial momentum - anything more than an exceedingly brief contact with the surface of the river (anchor) will result in a termination of the line's inertial energy, and therefore any possibilities for a cast. The primary purpose of the anchor in this type of casting is to provide a means for changing the direction of the cast from one angle to another. The defining examples of brief contact Speycasts are the Single Spey and Snake Roll.

The other basic means for conducting a Speycast is what I call "sustained anchor concept". It works off of principles of rod loading that are in direct contrast to the brief contact style of Speycasting. Sustained anchor casting produces the bulk of its casting energy through water resistance. Load is created against the rod when it is directed into a predetermined process of pulling the flyline free from the grip of the river's surface tension. This "grip" is established by instituting sustained and exaggerated contact, or anchoring of the flyline with the surface of the water, as part of the casting procedure, by completely stopping the momentum of the line midway through the casting process - an action that is in complete contradiction to the casting fundamentals of brief contact Speycasting. The function of the anchor in sustained anchor casting is twofold - provide the means for changing the direction of the cast AND provide the primary mechanism for loading the rod. Casts that work best with the sustained anchor concept are the C or Circle Spey, Snap/Zip T, the Perry Poke, and Skagit Style Doublespey.

The two most fundamental means for conducting change-of-direction casts while using the surface of the water as a "switch" point should now be evident. As stated earlier, ALL styles of Speycasting - regardless of line type or rod length - use one or both of these two basic premises to enable their casts. With the identification of these basic premises it is now possible to present a more in-depth explanation of Skagit casting.


Skagit Casting - The Technical Difference

So, what is it that makes Skagit casting different? Skagit casting is the only method of casting in which every resource has been specifically tailored towards deriving casting energy via a sustained anchor. It is the only Speycasting style that uses exclusively the sustained anchor concept as the sole, singular means for accomplishing casts, and it is the only casting method that has been specifically customized and refined towards deriving its maximum potential from just this one casting concept. In other words, the individual component casts used in Skagit casting, such as the Perry Poke and Skagit Style Doublespey, were specifically incorporated and modified to realize their highest capability when executed with sustained anchor principles, and Skagit casting lines also are "customized" to extract maximum performance from sustained anchor methodologies.

So, Why Skagit Cast?

There are situations presented in the flyfishing of anadromous fishes in the PNW (also British Columbia, Alaska, the Russian Far East), that standard Speycasting methods sometimes just don't seem to address very well. The fact is, the nature of our fish, combined with the character of our rivers, often determines that we be capable of quickly sinking our flies while simultaneously reducing the speed of their swings in order to "be in the game". The primary means for doing this is through the use of very fast sinking sinktip lines, weighted flies, or often a combination of both - an approach of flyfishing considered quite untraditional by "Old World" standards - but in fact, very traditional in steelheading's short, yet nevertheless innovative history. Such line and fly configurations often prove difficult to cast consistently with standard Speycasting methods - or, to acquire any form of consistency - requires the use of rods and lines that are often too large to be relative to the size of fish being pursued. Skagit casting was developed specifically for the consistent casting of large and/or weighted flies on sinktip lines, and is able to do this while using rods more aligned with the size of fish being sought. Skagit casting also produces very high line speeds, a strong advantage during circumstances of wind. In addition, Skagit casting derives the majority of its casting energy through proper execution of technique instead of hard physical exertion. Casting all day long without creation of excessive fatigue is a proven advantage of this casting style.

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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 09:25 AM
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Tim, now 15 years later we should know that there is no Skagit casting but there are Skagit lines!

Also water anchor has two significant positives! First it reduces back cast room! Second best feature there comes using water anchor it makes possible to cast longer and lighter line tip and leader which increase fishing range especially when wade fishing and improves delicate presentation. For some fishing like Atlantic Salmon fishing long and light line tip is more positive because often we have enough back cast room.

Water anchor also makes casting direction turn easier when line is long and/or back cast room is limited but using shorter line casting direction turn has been done long long time and it was original Switch Cast! It is like Single Spey but line is not landed to water.

Yes we can think water anchor as "load" but only negative way. Even when water anchor comes light and stops the line/fly hitting something behind it still waste cast energy!!! If it blows it waste more energy and if anchor comes too strong it waste more energy. Caster can compensate it "loading" rod more but it is not positive "load"

Esa
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 10:19 AM
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This will be intereting to follow.. what I have noticed in my short time casting.
The two are different.
When I cast skagit style, the rod load is continuous. No stops, pauses or hesitations during the cast from the start of the sweep through the end of the cast.. if I pause the cast or hesitate, it doesnt workout well.
Skandi casting requires more finesse and timing as there are small pause or slight hesitations for that line to get in position.

Like said, Im rookie level and these are my observations.

Get out and cast!
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 10:40 AM
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Every time I read that write up by Ed it always sounds like he was having a hard time gettin the words out.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palmered View Post
This will be intereting to follow.. what I have noticed in my short time casting.
The two are different.
When I cast skagit style, the rod load is continuous. No stops, pauses or hesitations during the cast from the start of the sweep through the end of the cast.. if I pause the cast or hesitate, it doesnt workout well.
Skandi casting requires more finesse and timing as there are small pause or slight hesitations for that line to get in position.

Like said, Im rookie level and these are my observations.
There is no Scandi casting but there can be Scandi line. 35 years ago shooting heads were cut from heavy DT lines. I still should have few somewhere? If lucky it was possible to get overweight DT12 and 35ft head did weight incredible 31g (480gr) which was OK weight for 10wt DH rod.

Many of the "Skagit casts" were done casting short shooting heads at least 35 years ago and I understand much much longer ago. They had different names which some were called by the river they were "invented" so same cast could have "local" name and I recall nobody care much but sort of Perry Poke was called "****ed up Spey"

Using CM/CL is OK when there is no need to fish far but when casting 100ft and up comes easier using pause when D-loop forms and either sweep further or Drift to lengthen the delivery casting stroke. If you don't it is mostly because of Tailing Loop there comes when rod bends too much. Also lengthening the leader makes possible to cast wider D-loop and anchor does not blow as easy.

Esa
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 12:00 PM
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Ok.
So is it referred to as spey casting vs skagit casting? Skagit lines vs Scandi lines? When starting this journey a few years ago, seemed od to me that skagit casting was new as of the 90’s when folks have been casting two handers for a century plus. A lot to learn..


Dude! Nice!

Get out and cast!
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 12:49 PM
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Nice to see we can actually have a rational discussion about this nowadays. Or did I speak too soon? lol

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 02:35 PM
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Ok.
So is it referred to as spey casting vs skagit casting? Skagit lines vs Scandi lines? When starting this journey a few years ago, seemed od to me that skagit casting was new as of the 90’s when folks have been casting two handers for a century plus. A lot to learn..


Dude! Nice!
I see that there are different fly lines, lots of them and some are better for some style and some for other but I call fly fishing when fly is delivered using the LINE LOOP.

What comes to casting:

We have Spey casting where Touch&Go casts and Sustained Anchor casts done any style casting different lines and using one and two hand casting. Göran Andersson Underhand is just one form of Spey casting using single hand and double hand rods but it belong to Spey!

Then there is Underhand casting (which is not Andersson style Spey) where back cast is cast underhand and forward cast overhand. Casts I know named are Oval/Belgian cast which does not turn cast and Switch cast which is used to turn the cast but keeps line in the air.

Then Overhead casting using any style any rod.

Then there is Italian style single hand very narrow and fast line loop cast side tilted rod sometimes casting line loop which fly leg is cast under rod leg. Massimo Magliocco has made this publig and his name should be said as often as G Angersson IMO this is worth studying for anyone who likes to fish using single hand rod!

Chech Nymphing is fishing style using fly patterns but the cast is NOT propelled using LINE LOOP function so for me it differs from others the most!!!

I would like to read how NW waters were fished before Skagit?

Esa
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bender View Post
I see that there are different fly lines, lots of them and some are better for some style and some for other but I call fly fishing when fly is delivered using the LINE LOOP.

What comes to casting:

We have Spey casting where Touch&Go casts and Sustained Anchor casts done any style casting different lines and using one and two hand casting. Göran Andersson Underhand is just one form of Spey casting using single hand and double hand rods but it belong to Spey!

Then there is Underhand casting (which is not Andersson style Spey) where back cast is cast underhand and forward cast overhand. Casts I know named are Oval/Belgian cast which does not turn cast and Switch cast which is used to turn the cast but keeps line in the air.

Then Overhead casting using any style any rod.

Then there is Italian style single hand very narrow and fast line loop cast side tilted rod sometimes casting line loop which fly leg is cast under rod leg. Massimo Magliocco has made this publig and his name should be said as often as G Angersson IMO this is worth studying for anyone who likes to fish using single hand rod!

Chech Nymphing is fishing style using fly patterns but the cast is NOT propelled using LINE LOOP function so for me it differs from others the most!!!

I would like to read how NW waters were fished before Skagit?

Esa


Wow.
Thank you for all the info.. I need to read up a bit more.



Dude! Nice!

Get out and cast!
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 05:03 PM
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Thanks to SkagitMiester for revisiting the definition of Skagit as specifically defined by one who was instrumental in its origin (as well as that of its Intruder companion). IMHO his explanation is detailed & articulately supports the position taken.
Back in the early 70’s I saw one European Spey caster fishing the SW Washington steelhead and salmon rivers that I haunted 4 years straight when living in SW Washington. Winter fly fishing used a SH rod & 30 ft. Sinking shooting head lines. Portions often made with lead core for deep pools. Northern California methods were documented in the December 2, 1974 issue of Sports Illustrated that had an article about Bill Schaadt and his fly fishing methods for Searuns. Trey Combs in his steelhead fly fishing book of July 4, 1976 went over in detail how it was done back then (and previously). That was our bible. From my experience, Skagit is clearly a PNW development. A significant step-jump to address long heavy sink tips, very large weighted flies, deep fast current, no back cast room that opens up the entire river, uses a unique “white mouse” rod loading, enables an immediate return of fly to water to maximize the opportunity to find those few winter fish willing to bite. I thank those who transitioned me to this excellent delivery system intended for targeting a challenging species, especially since my now routine escapes to the OP rivers.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 05:52 PM
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So, to sum it up:

sustained achor = skagit

anything else = not skagit

Ride the blue wind high and free.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 09:35 PM
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So, to sum it up:

sustained achor = skagit

anything else = not skagit
It's like, that easy. Right? The head or line you are casting is going to tell you what you need to do based on what it is designed to do and/or what rod the head or line fits best with. Lets not think it to death.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 04:27 AM
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Biggest difference between typical original Skagit line and typical original pre Scandi line was the leader length!

That makes it challenging to T&G cast Skagit line but Scandi line is very easy to SA cast!

Obviously when leader is short and line tip is heavy and fast sinking casting change naturally CM/CL which makes "anchoring" easier?

When leader is long and line tip light the anchor does not blow much but lifting big fly suffers.

I see that on Spey anchor there exists line loop function when the line lifts and on long and light mono "Scandi" leader there can not come much momentum and even small fly makes good anchoring.

Esa
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 10:44 AM
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Here we go again. Ed, and his followers were on the receiving end of a lot of flack from the traditionalists back in the day. Comments like "that is not a real Spey cast" & "those are lures, not flies" It continues to this day. Not to mention "cack handed casts" "Back in the day" all you could get in the way of a line capable of being cast on a two hand rod was a double taper. The go to rod was the Sage 9140-4, and no one on this side of the pond had a clue how to cast them. Even the Rio the Windcutter line received a lot of flack from the traditionalists. "It promotes bad habits" "You could never get away with that with a double taper line." Anything not done exactly as Alexander Grant did it back in his day, on his river, was unacceptable. And fwiw, Grant's lines were more like the Wulff triangle taper lines! Graphite rods were somehow OK but weight forward lines were not? Regardless of the line used, a double spey cast is a sustained anchor cast. Only the terminology is new. Get over it.

Why is it somehow OK to put a bobber on a fly line and fish a two fly rig with a heavily weighted hook masquerading as a fly, but taboo the fish an intruder from a fly line designed specifically to cast & fish it? A rose by any other name smells as sweet, even if it is cast Skagit style, cackhanded.

Thanks for digging up that bit of history. There used to be more on a "slowsnap" page but I'm afraid that is no more.

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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 11:45 AM
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The fact that these guys built their own fly lines and developed an entire style of fishing still blows my mind. Spent a few days with Jerry this winter and I have a new found respect for the innovations that he, Ed, Scott and the others developed, all while being criticized by many of the very anglers some of us idolize. Interestingly, he was quick to say that he learned a lot from those anglers, even their criticisms. It was all grist for the mill.

Just tools for the job for me. If I'm trying to deliver a tip and a streamer all day long, the Skagit does it efficiently and with way less effort, which increases my enjoyment on the water. If I'm fishing a big summer river, with fish actively moving to the surface, whether they are trout or steelhead, a longer line keeps me in the game longer, reducing my time spent retrieving and is much more enjoyable to fish in this style, at least to me. But what if there's a 20 mph wind? Those are just my preferences, and provided the method is still good sport, to each his own.

I love fishing my long line on the CW and Snake, but I'm glad it's only a few months of the year. My back knows when it's dry line season and I'm still middle-aged. Skagit lines allow me to fish areas that are literally unfishable otherwise and they allow me to fish all day long with minimal effort and hybrid lines like the Rage keep me in the game when I'm tired or the wind is being wicked. They don't look as pretty and they aren't much fun for my softhackle trout game, but if I'm swinging a deeply sunk fly, especially with limited room, Skagits are my jam. They also make it possible for anglers with disabilities or injuries to be able to fish, which I think is frequently overlooked in these discussions. If you have severe back problems or just had your rotator cuff done, you probably shouldn't be trying to rock out 120 ft. singles. The other thing I love about Skagit is that it has revolutionized my delivery of large, wind-resistant flies for bass and pike. A Commando on a single-hand 8 wt. with a pike bunny translates to a couple hundred fewer false casts, and that means more fun for me.

I just like fishing. For instance, I never learned to cast a level-wind reel back in my bass days as a kid so I picked one up recently. My old heroes, like Lefty and George Harvey, were experts with level-wind, spinning, and fly equipment. I've been practicing everyday for a week now, and I'm loving the challenge of something new. Of course, I've been getting tons of stick from my guide friends in Western MT, but I know if I handed the rod to them, they'd have the biggest backlash you've ever seen in two seconds. Doesn't mean I'm going to start gear fishing for steelhead, but I'm pretty stoked for bass season this year.
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