Forward Stroke Problems - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-05-2018, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Forward Stroke Problems

I'm having problems with my forward stroke. Whenever I put a bit of power into it (particularly via the bottom hand) the line like cracks like a whip. If I back off the power the line doesn't crack but I can only shoot about one and a half rod lengths.

The rod I'm using is 13'9" and rated a 9 weight by manufacturer with a grain weight window of around 500 to 550. I have a 550 grain Rio Skagit Max (long) shooting head on it and a 10 foot T14 sinking tip. It feels like it is loading ok.

I also have an 11 ft switch rod rated 7/8 weight which I'm using a 360 weight SA Adapt switch line on and an 8 foot 4 weight rod I am using with a 175 OPST Commando head. The result with these rods is even worse as I can only shoot about a meter with either of them.

I realize it will be difficult to diagnose my problem without a video but I'm happy to hear any suggestions people can make. I'm thinking maybe I need to apply the power later in the stroke somehow but it will be tricky to do. I think I'm placing my anchor it the right place, about a rod length away and 45 degrees to the direction of the cast. I've experimented with letting the anchor settle in the water a bit more which stops the cracking but the effort of lifting the line out of the water reduces the power available for the stroke.

Any help appreciated
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-05-2018, 04:50 PM
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Sounds like your blowing the anchor 'crack'. Try to get you anchor in line with the direction of the cast. What type of cast are you using?


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-05-2018, 06:38 PM
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Like EF said get your anchor in line with the direction in which you are casting. Take your time while getting your anchor set up, no hurry. . If you don't like it roll cast it out and start over, again, no hurry, slow down. One thing to remember (especially with the commando heads) is to keep your foot off of the gas. Set your anchor, round up towards your forward stroke, and go. Gently. See what happens when you apply no "power". If you have everything lined up correctly with a Skagit system the line should shoot out with little effort. Figuring out the magic combination when you are using a non integrated system can be tough. The big rod you have has a grain window of 500-550. Is that the top end or the window? If it is the top end then you need to start lighter in your head grain and make up the difference with your tip to find the sweet spot. Length of rig (including leader) also counts towards functionality of the system. There are sooooo many parts and pieces available on the market that things can get downright shitty when trying to put a system together. RIO blahs blahs blahs vs Airflo blah blah blah, vs whatever. Everybody has the system they are trying to sell and its the newest thing but three weeks later there is a better thing. One thing I have found out is for a Skagit system to function well the meat of the operation should be in as compact a package as possible. Make up the rest with tips and leader. RIO MOW tips are fantastic as well as the Commando tips. The biggest rod I run with a Commando set up is a 13' 7" Beulah Onyx and that is slightly outside the recommendation for the Commando heads. I think the designers of the Commando system (Ed, Jerry, and who ever else) got it right.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-05-2018, 06:47 PM
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Also, spend time experimenting with overhang. It can make a difference. I recently dialed in a switch rod and found out it functioned best with few inches of hang. I have the same length and "weight" from a different mfgr and it liked a foot of hang. Dialing in a rod (skagit, scandi, whatever) is such a satisfying thing to do. Ready access to material helps.

Last edited by GHalliday; 09-05-2018 at 06:48 PM. Reason: Two many missspelled worz
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2018, 06:05 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, the cast I'm mostly doing is a double spey, I think better anchor alignment might be the key. I've been placing the anchor a fair way to the side to avoid it catching the line but I think I need to bring it in a bit closer. I've also tried a bit of single spey with a scandi line and when I managed to set the anchor it went much better (at least 2 to 3 rod lengths). The single spey tends to ensure a more inline anchor I'm guessing.

The point about the combined weight of the head and tip is interesting, I though of it but wasn't sure if it came into play, it doesn't seem to get mentioned much. I have a little room above 550 in the grain window so I'm probably ok but it's good to get confirmation about it.

I also though of the hang distance but again wasn't sure if it mattered, I've primarily been sticking with having the head just outside the guide but I suppose its not always possible to get exactly the right line specification for a rod so that might be away of compensating.

Thanks again guys, I'm looking forward to getting out and having another go.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2018, 06:31 AM
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Hit the link below, read it, and everything will start making more sense. Meiser's formulas and explanations are pretty much spot on for figuring out heads, tips and lines. Results may vary due to rod flex patterns but this is a great place to start.

Balanced Rod/Line Marriages - R.B. Meiser Fly Rods
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2018, 06:47 AM
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Check this link out as well. A casting expert discusses the forward stroke. It helped me.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2018, 06:49 AM
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Check out this link as well.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2018, 10:00 AM
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Yes, you might be blowing your anchor as well, but I am going to guess that you are applying too much power too early. For me, when I execute a double spey with a sinking tip the fastest part of my cast occurs at the end of the sweep. I have to increase my speed to straighten my anchor and to lift the fly closer to the surface. (I try not to have to pause.) However, I then have to slow down to start my forward cast. The fastest part of my forward cast occurs just before I abruptly stop the rod.

I've blown many anchors, but think that I've only heard the "crack" when I've applied too much power to soon.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2018, 12:44 PM
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River, lake, saltwater? Are you tall, short, wading, fishing from shore? Is that rod full flexing or fast action? Are you loading the rod down into the bottom section?

A 500 to 550 grain window strikes me as closer to a heavy 7 weight or a 7/8 weight rod, not a 9 wt. If it is really a "9 wt", try a 600+ grain head.

Almost 14 foot rod, rated 9 wt...... That T-14 tip should be closer to 15 feet long.

My advice?

Stop fishing and go practising. Learn how to throw a 15 foot sinking type III tip before playing with the T-14 as that will cut down your learning time. Considerably.

Add a metre-plus long leader and add a hookless fly or yarn. Otherwise, cracking the whip will occur often.

For this rig, I would avoid classic spey casts and initially focus on sustained anchor casts -- Snap-T, Circle-C, Perry Poke -- they are all roughly the same cast.

The hang distance can be important. If standing on the edge on the water, use a long hang distance. As you wade deeper, shorten that distance. If taller, use a long hang distance, if shorter, use a shorter hang distance. For most practice, stand on shore or a low-lying dock or wade ankle-deep at the most.

Watch the macho power drive. You are not driving T-rails into the ground with a sledge hammer. With a well designed, full flexing rod, this should be easy and not physically demanding. The same goes for fast action rods except sharper timing and overall better technique are required.

Slow everything done and initially focus on a shorter, more compact casting stroke. Teach yourself to observe your D-loop formation and the line stick. Some beginners experience tremendous difficulty doing this.

The D-loop formation should be smooth. The rod should not dip and D-loop formation should start to load the road for the forward cast before the forward cast casting stroke begins.

Line slack between D-loop formation and the forward casting stroke can kill the cast and should be avoided. Similar to single hand fly rod casting, keep the upper hand wrist relatively rigid.

How is your cack-handed casting? When I started out I was a much better cack-handed caster because my left shoulder stopped the rod from going too far back.

I initially corrected some of my regular casting faults by bringing my hands into the 'box', i.e., by keeping the hands close to the body. That way my upper hand forearm would jam up against my bicep and prevent the rod from going too far back and/or prevent the rod tip from dropping. Both errors risk introducing slack into the line just before the forward cast stroke.

With work and patience, you should be able to nail this down.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2018, 01:17 PM
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It kind of sounds to me like your lines are too light to fully load.

500/550 grain skagit should be hitting the sweet spot for a 7 wt spey rod, and your 7/8 switch should be throwing no lighter than a 450 regular skagit.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-06-2018, 05:10 PM
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I would also, for ease, stick with a floating system. Keep your eye on the anchor. Keep you body pointed in the direction of the cast but turn your head and shoulders and watch where the leader lands and correct as needed. I found a scandi line easier to cast a good distance at first. I still find a skagit system clunky. Which ever system you choose stick with it until you figure it out, won't take long. Don't jump back and forth between rods, lines and heads.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-09-2018, 02:45 PM
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Hi Roger,

Im new to Speypages and I saw your post and thought Id share with you some great tips that revolutionised my Spey casting.

I cast long bellied lines with heads from 55 through to 75 with 126 to 14 rods but I am confident the pointers will translate with shorter heads etc, if thats what you use.

These were notes I made from two five minute sessions with a pal of mine Paul Becher, who is an advanced AAPGAI instructor and runs a lodge in Argentina. I could already cast well but I had a trailing loop issue with my left hand up, which I was keen to fix. I was instantly casting perfectly and whenever I lose my timing, I re-read these and instantly fix any issue. So I can thoroughly recommend you try following them:

Spey casting reminders

* Feet in direction of final aim/release.
* Lift slowly half the line, then sweep.
* Sweep hands parallel - (upper hand not above earlobe).
* Elbows in - imagine gripping an iPhone in your armpit of your upper hand.
* Plain of rod - under hand pulls in same plain as top hand
* Underhand for power only
* AIM for the tops of the trees on release - will help stop the rod-tip high.
* Lengthen the back stroke a touch (allow the rod tip to go further back) - allows longer / more time to build power, building from further back.

From reading your post, the line is cracking because you are not anchoring it enough, or there is no anchor at all! It sounds as though you are trying to avoid the fly catching the line by rushing the forward cast or sweeping too wide (hard to do!). I think your problem is actually just that you have been leaving the anchor too far down stream (causing the fly to catch you line on the forward cast). Thus you need to concentrate on rotating further.

If you aim your feet where you want to send the line before you begin the cast, whilst concentrating on keeping the elbow of your upper hand arm close to your hip (which keeps the rod tip up, AND helps your bottom hand stay in the same plain as your upper hand), you will fix your issue.

Hope this helps.


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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-12-2018, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Roger Booth View Post
Whenever I put a bit of power into it (particularly via the bottom hand) the line like cracks like a whip.
Here's a hint: The cracking sound is due to your line tip exceeding the speed of sound, kind of like a mini sonic boom. This means that you are starting your cast with too much speed so the line acts like the whip which you mention.

Many times this is due to beginning your entire cast with too much speed, usually the lift which then forces the sweep to be faster which forces the formation of the D-loop to be faster, etc. etc. into the fastest forward casting stroke causing the sonic crack.

Try making your lift by starting with the rod tip at water level to eliminate slack and then lifting as slowly as you can until the line releases from the water's grip and then evenly accelerate up to the final forward casting stroke. Practice creating a tempo for the cast beginning with a slow lift.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-13-2018, 06:09 AM
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When I had a casting session with Dec Hogan he told me when I'm having a problem with a certain part of my cast it is most likely two or more steps prior. As previously mentioned start with SLOW lift that will set the tempo. You can always speed up the cast you just can't slow down and not introduce slack. For me when my casting is off I just remember what Poppy always posted to casting problems in the past SLOW DOWN. That usually fixes it or at least makes it fish-able.
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