Any tips on how to get proper turnover and loop-tip-leader shape? - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-14-2019, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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Any tips on how to get proper turnover and loop-tip-leader shape?

Assuming a proper marriage of line/terminal tackle to rod and a fly of appropriate size, weight and wind resistance, what details of the cast help a smooth turnover? I sometimes get great turnover, and other times get sideways loops or loops with a crazy shape, one which may be the Sanskrit symbol for "mediocre two handed caster..."


Winston 4 wt 11 foot Micro-spey, 35 lb Lazar mono running line,

Rio trout Spey head 305 gr., Light iMOW tip, tapered or hand tied leader 9 to 12 ft for floating or hand tied 5 ft Maxima with one step down to tippet for sinking flies. My D loops aren't always the best. Occasionally blow the anchor, but when D loop and anchor good I'm getting 70 to 80 ft casts more consistently. Would love to rid myself of weird loops.

On what should I be concentrating?

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-14-2019, 11:19 PM
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I don't have the same setup, but one that's pretty similar. I was, and still do on occasion, have the same issues. Two things helped.

1- I stopped using sink tips and started using 10' polyleaders/versileasers. I only use T-material if I absolutely have to, and those are usually situations when nice turnover doesn't outweigh the need for absolute depth. That 305gr head will move the light MOWs for sure, but IMO they're not very forgiving... made me feel like I had to punch the forward cast to keep the anchor from sticking, and when I punched, the anchor would sometimes blow. The polyleaders or versileaders come off the water easier, which allows me to concentrate on technique rather than brute force to cast. Good loop shape and turnover are caused by good technique. Think about it this way... Looking at Rio's taper diagrams, the 305gr 6wt scandi body (essentially the same head as the 305 Trout Spey) matches 10' tips that are only 55gr (some polys/versis are even lighter than this). Those light MOWs are probably somewhere near 80gr. Big difference for such a short and light rod to handle. I would also try the 55gr versitips if you're not into polyleaders or versileaders. Either one should get you to close to depth if you use mending to help the sink (this is what I do).

2- I stopped trying for maximum distance.
Work towards the perfect cast up close first, then, when you have it down pretty well, shoot a little line. Don't physically try for distance, just make the same moves as when casting close, and let the shooting line go. Distance will happen by itself.

One other idea, if you must use a light iMOW, try a heavier head, like a 325 (#6/7 scandi body) or a 350 (#5 trout spey head) maybe. I would run this past guys that have experience with your rod first though.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-14-2019, 11:36 PM
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On the end of your mow tip you only need 3-4 ft of tippet. You're essentially adding a scandi leader to a skagit set up, which is going to be hard to turn over.

If you're getting crazy shaped endings to forward loop, you probably have a correspondingly crazy shaped anchor. Concentrate on setting a good anchor, about a rod length away, and watch it as you sweep. When you come around and the line to MOW connection straightens to the direction of your target, you should be ready to forward cast. There used to be a lot of discussion about half in half out- meaning the sink tip of a skagit system- and I still find it relevant when skagitcasting. Half your MOW tip should be enough to anchor your cast, and if you watch that line/tip connection turn from the direction for your sweep approx 90º to the direction of your final delivery, I think you'll find as you make the forward cast, your tips is about half and half, and lined up.

Last edited by SLSS; 10-15-2019 at 01:46 AM.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-15-2019, 12:03 AM
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Sorry. I got carried away and forgot we were assuming equipment was properly matched.

Back on track now... Try to concentrate on how the rod felt when those perfect casts happened. Replay it in your head. Then take your time and try to replicate that feel, again without shooting line. For me the feel directly relates to the quality of the cast. Grip the rod as light as possible. Slowly and smoothly accelerate forward so you can feel the weight of the line through the rod. Maintain that same feel of weight to a high stop. Every forward movement should feel smooth. If you do it right, when the rod unloads, you'll feel it buck a little. The cast will be as effortless as possible.

In order for you to feel the same amount of weight throughout the forward stroke, the rod must gradually accelerate to maintain the rod load. If you watch slo-mo spey casting, that is why the rod bends early in the forward cast and stays at the same degree of bend until the stop. When the caster stops the rod, you will see the rod unload (looks kinda like a shock wave travelling from the cork to the tip). Remember, ease into the load, maintain the load, then let the load go.

So don't physically try to accelerate the stroke, it should happen automatically to a point. Let the rod do the work.

Physically trying to accelerate the rod will "overload" it. Any sideways deviation is probably you hooking the rod, not obeying the 180° rule, or not having the anchor in line with the target. Doing any combination of these things all in one cast will cause all kinds of funky things to happen to the line, wierd shapes, tailing loops, total collapse, etc..

Good luck again!
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-15-2019, 02:27 AM
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First off, if you are really casting 80ft (and do see this thread: with a short head on a 4wt, that's actually pretty good, should be sufficient for most trout-class fishing. So is the issue primarily consistency at those distances ?

If you are talking about the 305gr, 23', plain "Trout Spey" head from Rio, I am also wondering if you should adjust equipment. If I recall correctly, that head is more of a super short scandi taper, might get better results with trout-weight polyleader or tapered mono straight to the head. If you want to throw tips, get a true skagit. If you wonder if this is a problem, forget about distance and shooting line, get on still water, not too deep, do some roll casts. If the line + leader unrolls smoothly and easily with minimal effort -- and with that short a head, I really mean minimal effort -- you are OK. If you see the leader stalling in turnover and/or you feel the urge to goose the cast to get turnover, maybe there is an issue.

In terms of loops : pretty much any casting problem is going to manifest itself in some sort of loop problem. For useful feedback, you need to narrow it down a bit.

Good turnover happens when you have no slack in your rig, you have a proper anchor, and you accelerate the rod smoothly in a straight line. If the cast flies straight and doesn't turn over consistently, could be many things : blown anchor, running line released too early, distance too far for caster skill, trunking/too much anchor, slack in D-loop, thrusting, the possibilities are nearly endless. If the problem is the loop is not straight, but some unwanted side to side motion, that's a little narrower scope, there are two likely causes, both already mentioned. First possibility: your anchor is not straight in line with the forward cast. Easy way to diagnose this. Go to still water, stop the cast just before the forward stroke, look at your anchor. Repeat ten or twenty times. Second : your rod tip path is not straight on the forward stroke, for example moving inward across your body due to body/shoulder rotation on the forward cast. See if you can find a friend with a phone, or, a tripod, and video yourself from the back. It will be obvious if this is a problem. While you're at if you can freeze frame and look at what your anchor is doing.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-15-2019, 11:11 AM
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I like to make sure my top elbow does not swing outward during my back sweep, and that when I execute my forward cast my top elbow points at the target.

This technique helps me keep much of my anchor off the water - less water resistance - and then helps keep me from lowering the rod tip from the target line during the forward cast, a la Joan Wulff and Steve Rajeff.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-15-2019, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bocast View Post
I sometimes get great turnover, and other times get sideways loops or loops with a crazy shape,
it's impossible to tell w/o video.
line goes where rod tip goes.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-15-2019, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for great tips. I am definitely guilty of the faults described. I have a lot of good advice to apply and some video to do too. The guidance is really appreciated.

iMOW to polyleaders: will try this change

Distance too far for casting ability: True
I will try to get smooth turnover on shorter casts and gradually lengthen cast.

Anchor askew sometimes: True

D-loop not at 180 degrees to eventual cast sometimes: True,not very good at figuring this out.

iMOW tip half in for anchor: that sounds like a good thing to try.

Rolling shoulder: Possible, will need video to check

Line follows tip: I know that is true with overhand casting. I suspect that a goofy anchor lifted by a smooth straight line could lead to weird shapes of the final loop & leader.

Initially I tried to build distance but did not pay enough attention to a smooth cast. I used a rangefinder to verify distance of far bank (96 ft) and subtracted by estimating compared to tip or leaderto determine length.

Sometimes it feels like I get the loop out "sideways" for lack of enough energy in the D loop.

Thank you for all the advice!

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-15-2019, 08:09 PM
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I think everybody likes hucking for distance and hearing the real burp, especially when we start. But good turnover at whatever distance is more often than not more important. One of the ways I refocused myself was to target shoot with every cast- trying to drop the fly at a given target. Some are close- the head of the seam of the little eddy at the top of a run. Some are intermediate- seams, boulders, slicks, little oily sections that just look prime for good swing. Some are distant- trying to drop right along the far bank of a rubble filled run, or just the seams out aways on a big river. But trying to drop your bug accurately, at the end of a straight cast, in each spot makes short and medium casting purposeful. And it's funny to realize hitting that far target is more technique being clean than effort expended.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-15-2019, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome tips. Thank you all.

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-15-2019, 10:15 PM
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MOWs will always be a little clunkier, esp on a scandi. go to trout poly.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-16-2019, 12:26 PM
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I don't have much to add, other than the old adage "The line will follow the rod tip." If you're getting cowtails, (I get them, especially on my left hand side now that I opened that can of worms), it could be because you aren't making a straight forward stroke.

Video is a great tool and it's easier than ever to do now. I'd just set up your phone somewhere with a nice view for a five minutes and cast normally. Take a look and see if you can tell the differences between your decent and poor casts. I've been fishing and casting a bit with Zack W. this season, and he's really helped me to keep it simple. Sometimes we overthink it!

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Unread 10-16-2019, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bocast View Post


D-loop not at 180 degrees to eventual cast sometimes: True,not very good at figuring this out.


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The cure for not knowing is to look by the way!

Unfortunately a lot of people from beginners all the way to the most experienced don’t, but you should always be looking at your line/anchor/D-loop all the way through to the power stroke - NOT where you are going to cast! You can take a glance the target before you start the sweep, and there will be plenty of time after the power stroke.

So for example, you will get feedback on the vast majority the issues mentioned above, and without knowing anything at all you will eventually figure out which features are associated with problems and which with good casts. You will immediately know when certain faults pop up, and it will never be a mystery. Also looking is an immediate cure for lack of 180 degree rule - if you mess up and don’t quite manage to get things lined up where you originally intended to cast just make the power stroke in the direction the anchor IS in. Or stop the cast and do a poke if you are afraid of putting the cast over fish.

If you aren’t looking then you might as well be casting with a bag over your head. It is amazing how many people don’t.
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