Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: west coast steelhead/salmon, BC/Alberta trout
I think we're mixing 2 different discussions on this thread
one subject seems to be "what is a good line for a newer caster?" (a subject clearly of interest to newer casters).
the other seems to be "can long belly lines be used in tight spots?" or more to the point "long belly lines can't be used in a certain tight spot on the Dean River and other spots like it." This is probably best suited to the "Destinations" or "Technique" sections of the Clave, but since you've raised it here we can certainly look at it.
You mention that shooting head systems of 38ft - 55ft would work best in this spot and you seem to be advocating that the best setup on the Dean is a shooting head. I think in some cases this would be true, but it would depend on casting skill and on fishing distances, which you've also mentioned are not long on the Dean. A skilled long belly or extended belly line caster can cover a good amount of fishable water with limited backcast room--that is one of the big advantages of fishing a two-hander. Let's take that 40ft shooting head you used last year. Hang the entire head out the rod tip and put a 15ft leader off the front and you have fishable casts of over 60ft, depending on how long your rod is. Shoot a little line into that cast and your fishing distances increase. Now, depending on the design of a long belly line, I would say that in general a shooting head is likely to have more grains in 40ft than a long belly with a fine front taper, so it would load the rod better, but a skilled long belly caster compensates for this, just as one would do when casting short with a single hand rod. A skilled caster could easily hang 40ft of a long belly out the rod tip and cover the same water as the shooting head caster, with no need for greater backcast space. A skilled long belly caster could even shoot some line into this cast (although a limited amount and not nearly as much as the shooting head with thin running line behind it) in order to cover more water.
Things get even easier for the long belly line if the line you are using is a Windcutter-style line. Hang 55ft of a Windcutter or long belly out the rod tip and cast, and (without shooting line) both casters will be fine. If there is sufficient room behind the caster to move a 55ft head around, then 55ft of long belly line can be moved just as easily.
Of course, if we are talking about long distance shooting here then a caster skilled with shooting heads will have an advantage--but what fishing distances are we talking about?
And of course your question hinges on the assumption that you need to throw a D loop behind you to make a spey cast...but you don't need to do this in order to make a spey cast. Advanced casts like the Square Cut and Chip Cast pretty much eliminate the need for a D loop thrown behind the caster (between the casting station and the shore) so the long belly guys can actually reach out there a fair ways in all kinds of tricky spots that would seem to be the exclusive domain of the shooting head caster.
So, this goes back to my earlier posts--technique is a critical issue. A shooting head is a great choice, but not the only choice. Good casters will modify their technique so that they can cover any water with the line system they are using. Given the spot you are talking about, if I knew I was going to be fishing it I would probably take my shooting head system along. But if I had been fishing long belly all day and that spot was one I came upon, I would simply modify my technique so that I could fish it.
BTW, Tyler is away in Seattle so I don't think you'll hear from him until next week.