Practice leader - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Practice leader

A while back I read an article from Dec Hogan in a copy of the Steelheader's Journal. Toward the end he described how to tie up a practice leader for lawn casting. It was something like a 15" leader of 50lb test with blood knots tied in every couple inches with their tag ends clipped to about 2". He said dragging this through the grass would provide enough resistance to sufficiently load the rod.

I haven't yet tied one up, but I figure it's worth a shot. Has anyone else does this or something similar to practice your casting while away from the river?

Keep on Chooglin'
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 01:05 PM
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Yes when I first started - I wasn’t able to locate good practice water within 90 minutes drive, but there was a good park with soccer fields nearby. While in a pinch at the VERY beginning of the learning process I think using a “grass leader” in a field is great for learning the basic geometry of the different casts and getting a little familiar with things, but after you become moderately proficient it will rapidly start to hurt your casting. The grass leader merely makes is POSSIBLE to do something like a spey cast on a lawn, but it doesn’t do any kind of good job at accurately imitating real water. You will probably have a good sense when you reach the point of diminishing returns.

A lawn/field can be a great place to practice SH and overhead style casting, and you can even easily set up targets, etc. Use old lines to practice on grass as the blades will eventually slice up and damage them, lowering their lifespan.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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That's a good point. I totally roached a new line learning to double haul in my back yard. Thankfully it wasn't anything special.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 02:04 PM
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In this videolink I Spey cast on snow but smooth asphalt works as well and perhaps fine sand field could work but I am sure grass does not because there is very long mono line attached to the fly line end as a leader and it would stick when there comes lots of sideways pull.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 02:46 PM
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I actually made one this year, first heard of the concept via Al Buhr but never gave it a thought as I've always believed water the best place to learn to cast and fish. But........ early this spring a fellow needed to get accustomed to at least holding a 14 foot rod and going through the motions so...

My back lawn was clear of snow but quite a matted thatch while the rivers still had way too much ice for me to take the boat out so I made a 'grass leader". 50 pound mono with blood knot every foot until I got near the last 5 foot then a knot every 8 inch or so.

Did it work? To some extent I'd guess but nothing like water. Still I was able to explain the mechanics and the man was introduced to the feel of a long rod. Within ten days the upper river was open enough for us to cast there but we were limited to just one side of the flow.

If you try to practice on grass remember to practice both river right and left conditions. I didn't find it the easiest thing to describe without moving water so won't even try in printed word.

By the time I could launch the boat so we could experience both sides of a river and different current speeds my friend was doing way better than had that been his introduction so being familiar with the tackle and concept was a plus.

If you are relatively new to this style of casting I would suggest that what I said above about different current speeds is important while learning and grass can't help you there.

It's not just about where to place casts or how to control line and drift / swing when you move from different speeds of water. It affects your whole program, the sweep and line placement must change - speed of movements & timing must change, everything can be different even though you have not changed sides of the river channel.

The speed of the current where you are placing line as you set up casts is something I don't recall reading much about. Youtube videos always seem to show a demo being done in one spot...... So when you are fishing or trying to and everything just seems to have went to pot in a hurry, blown anchors, stuck anchors, fly darn near hitting you or your rod....... Take a look around, think, what is different right now or even this day? In all likelihood it will either be the speed of the water or the depth of water you are standing in. Once you identify what may be the cause of poor performance you can take the steps to correct things.

Sorry if you already knew all that but when we start talking about lawn casting I begin to think a person may not have a great deal of experience with all this stuff...

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice guys. I've only been out a handful of times with a two hand rod. I figured something like this could keep me in the comfort zone until I'm able to get back out on the water again. Full time job, two young kids, ever increasing honeydo list... I'm sure you've heard this sob story a hundred times.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 04:29 PM
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Understood; and don't count on it getting simpler, I have plenty of things on the list beyond puttering around at the river

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 04:53 PM
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I use a grass leader in the back yard all the time. As long as its fine grass without too many weeds or dandelions it can be fun to play with different rod/line combos or techniques.

Of course the physics is going to be a little different, just like overhead casting on the grass. For example pulling the fly line up off the grass you won't have the same 'stickiness' as water to load the rod. However I feel like as long as I can make it to the water with some regularity the 'in between' grass sessions are productive for me.

Like Ard mentioned I try to imagine a situation and work on simple casts for that situation (and if you have real wind you can purposely position yourself so its either 'upstream or downstream').

For my little trout rods I don't use 50lb line. I use Amnesia or Maxima Chameleon something like 4' of 25lb plus 4' of 20lb. Easy to stretch it straight and you can adjust its stickiness by cutting the tag lengths shorter etc.

Its also not a bad practice leader for overhead lines as the wind-resistance of the tags can force you to get a little line speed going.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 06:23 PM
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I used a grass leader extensively when I first started the two-hand game. I used back to back uni-knots (three turns on each side and left about an inch tag on each end. Three feet to first uni, two feet to second, one foot thereafter until you get as long as you want it. I did use 30#, 25#, 20# and 15# thereafter.

Its not like water, but it is better than not practicing at all.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 05:49 PM
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Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was a fairly common sight to see the Skagit River steelhead guides (John Farrar, Dec Hogan, Scott O'Donnell, et al) and other fly anglers having an impromptu spey-casting contest on the lawn at the Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, and they all used the "grass" leader.

Jim B.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 05:56 AM
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i had a grass leader once , but my buddies smoked it up .
thanks , jim

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-25-2019, 10:00 PM
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Skagit Master 1. Ed Ward will explain in great detail. SM1 was how I learned to cast.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-25-2019, 10:37 PM
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I have Ed Ward’s Skagit Master video and was planing to tie practice leader but ended up looking on ebay for cheap Skagit line. I think I will beat it up in my yard.

Unfortunately no snow here in Vancouver.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-28-2019, 12:20 PM
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There’s a short youtube video showing an anchored leader for practicing on grass. Anyone tried this?
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