Switch rods: Matching sinktip weight to head length - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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Switch rods: Matching sinktip weight to head length

Our local rivers usually don't need really heavy tips and weighted flies that often. It's usually a situational thing when we use them. However a lot of newcomers follow fashion and buy very short Skagit heads for their switch rods. Then they show up for casting lessons with these short heads and light tips, for use with their small, unweighted flies.

Guess what, they spend a frustrating time wrestling with constantly blowing anchors. After a few minutes of watching them flail with their gear, I hand them a reel with a longer head (I brought it with me as their struggles are so predictable) and have them put it on. The anchor issues suddenly become a thing of the past.

This blog post examines the relationship between head length and sinktip weight for use on our switch rods. By setting things up right, we make our casting experience easier and more enjoyable.

Anchor difficulties with switch rods | Hooked4life Fly Fishing - Fly Fishing Blog

Peter Charles
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 11:57 AM
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Peter! It is also (perhaps even mostly) because of Sustained Anchor casting where anchor lands more or less sideways to the line pull a D-loop and forward cast create why anchor blows. Only on Perry Poke the anchor becomes somewhat aligned with line pull but PP is not much better choice than other SA casts.

Sideways anchor also can create sideways swing and wave to the line loop when line rips out of water high speed and line does not land straight and often swings fly up river which is just the opposite we usually try to achieve.

Touch&Go anchor holds better and also lifts out of water easier. There is not as much problem T&G casting a short Skagit head!

Esa
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bender View Post
Peter! It is also (perhaps even mostly) because of Sustained Anchor casting where anchor lands more or less sideways to the line pull a D-loop and forward cast create why anchor blows. Only on Perry Poke the anchor becomes somewhat aligned with line pull but PP is not much better choice than other SA casts.

Sideways anchor also can create sideways swing and wave to the line loop when line rips out of water high speed and line does not land straight and often swings fly up river which is just the opposite we usually try to achieve.

Touch&Go anchor holds better and also lifts out of water easier. There is not as much problem T&G casting a short Skagit head!

Esa
There are a bunch of casting things that can go wrong and cause problems, but I'm assuming decent casting mechanics here, concentrating instead on the mismatched gear problem.

I disagree with the assertion that a T&G anchor is better for Skagit. A properly executed continuous motion, continuous load Skagit cast produces a very easy anchor extraction and a long, very low effort cast. I routinely use T&G anchors with Skagit heads and sinktips when casting short, but never when I go for distance as the sustained anchor cast is far more efficient.

Peter Charles
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 04:22 PM
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Peter, yes there are bunch of casting things which can cause problems and sustained anchor is one of them! Have you thought why there are lots of discussion of "blown anchors"? Have you thought why Perry Poke produce longest SA cast? Have you thought why Single Spey produce even longer cast?

Esa
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 04:52 PM
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Shorter the head, smaller the sweep. If the anchor is blown its not because the head was too long nor short, it was the two hands blowing the anchor not the rod, line nor tip configuration.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Grateful Spey View Post
Shorter the head, smaller the sweep. If the anchor is blown its not because the head was too long nor short, it was the two hands blowing the anchor not the rod, line nor tip configuration.
I believe that my blog post said exactly the same thing only in different terms. "Yes, we can manage this with our casting by slowing down and being more compact in our motions, but why be forced to adjust?" The question is: do we expect beginners to make that casting adjustment easily? No. It's easier to adjust the tackle than to adjust the casting.

And to take things to a ridiculous extremes, if the head was one foot long, could we still say the same thing? Of course not. There is a tipping point where a head becomes too short and I think we've reached that point.

Like most aspects of life, we're allowing fashion to drive function, when it should be the other way around. I want to fish to have fun, not to do the Spey casting equivalent of wearing six inch stiletto Louboutin heels in discomfort, just to make a fashion/status statement. And no, I'm not a cross-dresser - just making a point. If you don't recognize the shoe analogy, ask your wife/gf.

In all fishing tackle, conventional or fly, there is a Goldilocks zone where everything just works nicely. This isn't a matter of personal preference, it's mechanics. If we want to step out of that zone for our own reasons, that's our choice. It's still a free country(s) the last time I checked. My post is about keeping things in the Goldilocks zone for those anglers who just want to go fishing, but who may be influenced by the fashion police to buy those Louboutin heels.
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Peter Charles
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 12:04 AM
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The question is do we expect beginners to make ANY adjustment easily? Seems more productive to show them the flaws in technique to help enhance their long term knowledge and skill, rather have them go buy a head/tip because you think it'll make their problems go away.

We did say the same words in different ways and am by no means attempting to argue or discredit you, but to be honest its confusing as to why a guide wouldn't want to help a beginner change their technique, rather than have them go buy a set up to accommodate their poor technique. If were using terrible examples, is having someone go out and buy a new bike, little taller/shorter and a bit heavier/lighter, are they going to all of the sudden be able to ride a bike because of these subtle changes? Absolutely not, and the same goes for casting, unless the set up is 3+ feet to long or short and 50+ grains to heavy or light, the best solution would be to change the technique not the "bike" wouldn't it?

To teach a beginner that no adjustments are made in Sustained anchor casting, but a change of the line and off you go... is false advertisement. Adjustments are made constantly with in sustained anchor casting via wind/current/whats behind you. Seems offering a little adjustment to their technique makes the most long term sense rather then tell them to keep the same casting stroke but change the head and suddenly the sky goes purple to blue and all their worries go away.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 09:28 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Grateful Spey View Post
The question is do we expect beginners to make ANY adjustment easily? Seems more productive to show them the flaws in technique to help enhance their long term knowledge and skill, rather have them go buy a head/tip because you think it'll make their problems go away.

We did say the same words in different ways and am by no means attempting to argue or discredit you, but to be honest its confusing as to why a guide wouldn't want to help a beginner change their technique, rather than have them go buy a set up to accommodate their poor technique. If were using terrible examples, is having someone go out and buy a new bike, little taller/shorter and a bit heavier/lighter, are they going to all of the sudden be able to ride a bike because of these subtle changes? Absolutely not, and the same goes for casting, unless the set up is 3+ feet to long or short and 50+ grains to heavy or light, the best solution would be to change the technique not the "bike" wouldn't it?

To teach a beginner that no adjustments are made in Sustained anchor casting, but a change of the line and off you go... is false advertisement. Adjustments are made constantly with in sustained anchor casting via wind/current/whats behind you. Seems offering a little adjustment to their technique makes the most long term sense rather then tell them to keep the same casting stroke but change the head and suddenly the sky goes purple to blue and all their worries go away.
To quote a lawyer, you're assuming "facts not in evidence." No where did I talk about not teaching people to manage their tackle.

We don't start beginners off with a hard to cast rig to teach them adjustments. We start them off with an easy to cast rig so they can first learn how to cast. Adjustment learning only comes after the basic casting has been mastered.

Learning to Spey cast is tough enough without the student having to fight the tackle as well.

Your assumption is a classic mistake that friends make when teaching other friends to Spey cast. They supply the friend a setup that suits them and then overwhelm the friend with "when we're using this, do that" and "if we're in that situation, do this". The onslaught of extraneous info makes it impossible for the learner to figure out anything. Teaching isn't about throwing masses of information at the student to show them what smart instructors we are.

However, the real point of this post was to discuss the issue of matching sinktips to head weight. Within reason, I can cast pretty well anything, but I don't like spending all day on the river with a rig that's fiddly to cast. It ruins the joy of the day and I'm spending all of my mental energies on the casting rather than the fishing.

People show up on the river with heavy tips attached to light heads and struggle. Yes they can "adjust" and fight the problem all day, but why should they? Why not match the head and sinktip properly so the casting becomes easy?

Peter Charles
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Last edited by peter-s-c; 01-15-2016 at 02:49 PM.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 01:18 PM
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I believe that you make a good point here.

It would be useful for people to remember that "extremes" at either end of the spectrum, be they sub 20 ft skagit heads or 100 ft long heads, are great in their place but they are not general all-round lines.

As specialist tools they are something to choose when appropriate & when the skill set of the angler is sufficiently developed to use them correctly. They aren't the correct choice for a beginer as their' one & only line, nor are they the suitable as a learning tool for someone trying to learn to speycast - they same way that as a learner 20 feet of T20 & a snotting great dead vulture in lead boots on the end won't exactly help you master the pick up & anchor placement either.

Better to learn the general skills with general tackle such as longer Skagit heads & less agressive tips, scandi heads, or short to mid head full lines as appropriate for the waters & tactics to suit where you fish; the, once mastered, start learning the tricks & specialist tackle & techniques to deal with specific locations & circumstances.

If you're going to learn to ride a bike then don't start with either a penny-farthing or a unicycle! Same thing with speycasting.

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 03:01 PM
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Tyke, never once did I advocate riding a unicycle if you can't ride a bike nor did I ever say if you can't cast your set up to tough it out until you learn. Obviously one side of the extreme or the other does not help one to have a very enjoyable day.

The original statement was, If someone DOES have the correct set up via Peters example...a 20' head with a light tip...If the anchor is being blown out, wouldn't the first option be to correct their technique so it doesn't blow out? or is the first suggestion to buy a new head and tip? You mentioned that sustained anchor casting is about physics, and not personal preference... I couldn't disagree with you more but I am by no means trying to say you are wrong. If you line up 10 people (not beginners) with the same rod and tell them to swap through lines/tips until they like what they feel the chances of achieving 10 identical set ups from 10 non identical people are slim. If its all about physics, which one of those 10 people has the "correct physics", and are the others defying the laws of physics so to speak?

The way I interpreted your article is that if you can't cast your 20ft head with light tip, go out and 1) buy a heavier tip for it, or 2) keep your tip and go buy a longer head to accommodate. Which is why i asked if a technique alteration might be the most helpful. What happens when they have a short head and the heavier tip snags bottom all the time and you need that light tip and you need keep that short head on because you have little to no space to set an anchor and form a D loop. Than that same beginner might have difficulty because they were taught to change their gear to make it easier, but what happens when that short head and the light tip ARE what they need but don't know how to use it, because we told them how to CHANGE it rather than how to EMBRACE it.

I may have misunderstood of the level of beginner'ness in these clients were talking about during my previous posts, if they've never touched a skagit/scandi set up than yeah the easiest set up for them to use is ideal. I may have thought you wanted people who CAN cast, to go change their set up rather than change their technique.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 04:03 PM
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Rig em up with something like Ambush head. Its got some front taper and I find them to be superb switch light tip lines.

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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OK this thread has gone off the rails. I had something different in mind.

Let's go back to square one here. Every rod has a happy range and that range varies depending on the hands on the handle. It's a broad range for an experienced angler and very narrow one for a beginner. This is not a black or white issue, rather a continuum. Whether or not we fall out of that happy range depends on the angler and the tackle we hang off of his or her hands. If we put a short head with a light tip in my hands, cool, I can handle that. If we put a short head and a light tip in the hands of a beginner, well that's a big problem.

Second issue involves our satisfaction, for why we would bother ourselves to stand in freezing cold water to cast a fly to a fish that seldom bites if we didn't get something out of it? If we stretch the limits of our tackle to the point it isn't fun anymore, why do it? We'd be better off standing on the bank fishing with a spinning rod and a float. I won't fish with something that is not fun. If I have to constantly micro-manage what I'm casting, I will change tackle. This is supposed to be fun, not work. The Puritan work ethic should not apply as the route to Spey casting heaven is not paved with self-flagelation. That is the philosophy I carry to my clients. Make it fun.

Peter Charles
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 06:23 PM
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When you word it like that, we are on the same team. I never wanted this thread turn into this but the more we tried to explain our "theories" the further apart our words became.

So back to square one, everything you just said I agree with. It was under my assumption that you were talking about all skill levels, which left me thinking....well why don't you just make smaller sweep, smaller D loop and bombs away rather than go buy a new set up. For the novice caster, very much so will a small head + light sink tip give them trouble. We'll leave it at that.

I'll apologize and assume responsibility for the direction of this thread, although it was never my intention to create an argument style conversation or tarnish your words of wisdom. I often see guides/friends/whoever telling beginners that "its your gears fault", and thats kind of how I first interpreted your blog post as a sort of "if you blow your anchor buy a new skagit, instead of learn how to properly use the one you have." (assuming these set ups are within an acceptable beginner range). Im not out here to make anyones life more difficult, even via spey pages. The mistakes often heard or shown to the everyday beginner are so overwhelmingly horrible more times than not, that after mis-reading your post I couldn't keep my mouth shut as I usually do. I felt the need to understand why someone would tell someone to change their gear, not their technique if the only problem was blowing out an anchor. Now that were on the same page hopefully, maybe you can understand where I was basing my judgments off of? You're probably a fantastic guide but we all know that a lot of guides out there in the world are very much beginners themselves with a fancy name tag and license, teaching poor habits and philosophies that just won't take someone very far in sustained anchor casting.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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It's the limitations of the medium. If we were sitting around a camp fire drinking a beer after a day's fishing, there would be no misunderstanding.

Cheers

Peter Charles
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 09:50 PM
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good article

Good article Peter. Makes perfect sense.

... the pseudo-science of running-lines and matching heads has now devolved into such a miasma of obfuscation that it is a wonder that people are even not more confused....Erik Helm

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