Beginner Learning Curve - Page 2 - Spey Pages
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post #16 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 03:29 PM
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Random thoughts

Charlie Waterman R.I.P. used to start single hand wannabe fly caster's on a 3 wt rod loaded up with a WF10F line. Charlie did this so his students could get the feel of that heavy line loading the rod. And they didn't need to pick up & cast the whole 30 ft head to load that little 3 wt rod deep into butt section, which also slowed the action to where the novice had a wee bit more time to think about what they had to do & when to do it. Rather extreme, but you get the point.

Casting short heads is a lot different than tournament casting long belly lines. That short head comes around a lot quicker than say a 90 ft head on a tournament line. The whole stroke is not only quicker, it is much more compact, lacking all that arm movement. A Scandi head can in fact be cast with hardly any arm movement at all, simply by shifting body weight.

Used heads can be had for peanuts compared to what you would have to pay for another rod, or two, or more. And like said, most graphite rods today have a pretty wide grain window. Plus, we're not talking about bombing out power casts of record proportions. We're talking about getting a feel for the cast, the timing of the stroke, & determining the best grain weight for the rod. Pass along the savings to others & recoup some of your cost when done.

I have observed newbie two hand caster's on the river casting with such a distinct pause (& I am reluctant to use that terminology) between the back cast & the forward cast that the rod completely unloads, allowing gravity to do it's thing. A few feet of the D-loop falls to the water, resulting in excessive line stick & the cast fails. To overcome this on the following cast, they will invariably whack the hell out of (shock) the rod. The rod tip collapses, resulting in a tailing loop, or worse.

Slow down the stroke rather than the pause. Start the power stroke slowly, building speed (rod load), stop fast, & follow thru. Do not throw the rod at the fish. Do not aim for the tree tops. The wind is in the tree tops, the fish are in water. Relax that "death grip" on the rod. It a fly rod, not a Claymore sword. One finger & thumb, on each hand will suffice. Now, taking into account different strokes for different folks, my own preference for short head casting, is to utilize the top hand to guide the rod & the bottom hand for power.

YMMV

I fish because the voices inside my head tell me to.
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post #17 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-02-2019, 10:49 PM
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I found a teacher right out of the gate and that put me years ahead of doing it myself, I also learned Skagit, Scandinavian and spey casting and the differences in lines and style. While I fish skagit heads a lot my favorite is Scandinavian. I also fish with guys that are way more experienced than me at this which really helped out fishing, how to approach things.

My friends I met when starting this four years ago are still my friends today and we fish and meet at spey claves. I will say if you want to get good get involved. Lots of great advice here on the forum too.
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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 08:52 PM
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You’ve heard a lot of good advice here. I’d become the sponge you’re trying to be - soaking up every piece of information you can find.

Two key points that I’ll add to your “need to know” information.

For sustained anchor casting, after the flop, as you begin your sweep....your first move is OUT and then AROUND. Most people, myself included, didn’t not pay as much attention to the OUT word. That little tip added about 20-30’ to my cast on bigger water where, in a very rare instance, distance mattered. You’re going to make some amazing mistakes over the next few months. I would strongly urge you to consider fishing “barbless”. :-)

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to keep your eye on the ball.....or the anchor spot. When it pivots and aligns up with your intended direction you want to cast, you can begin your forward delivery. KEY POINT HERE - If at anytime your fly lands in front of you.....as your nose is pointed in the direction that you’re going to cast - that is a NO-GO zone. ABORT ABORT ABORT. If you send it....and you probably will....you’re going to risk adding a new piercing “under the chin” or somewhere even worse. The same goes for the fly landing too far behind you when you’re making downstream Perry pokes. You want that fly, more often than not, a rod lengths away at a 45 degree angle from your body.

I second the suggestion that you need to find an instructor earlier than later. Here’s why. PRIMACY. It’s the law of learning that states what is learned first is usually learned best. If you learn it wrong, first, you’ll spend months unlearning it. You’ll frequently stress revert to it and when tired, you’ll falter into that as well. You, like most of us, already have too much muscle memory with your normal casting hand....which is probably going to be your upper hand. You’ll be pushing that thing out there for a while...unless you have someone constantly correcting you or giving you the tips you need to prevent it. I’ve dedicated myself to fishing almost 90% two-handed rods for the past couple of years. It’s helped tremendously. You won’t lose your single handed skills...don’t worry. THAT is PRIMACY.

Most importantly - have fun. Welcome to the two-handed world. I regret to inform you, there isn’t a 12-step program to save you from all things spey.
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post #19 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 09:01 PM
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I've seen a lot of mentions of the Perry Poke can you briefly describe the technique and use?
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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by kinigit View Post
I've seen a lot of mentions of the Perry Poke can you briefly describe the technique and use?


You might be better off doing a google search, especially on videos. In brief a poke cast is a spey cast where the anchor is placed (re-placed may be a better way to describe it) by “dumping” the line instead of casting it. For example you could start any spey cast you like and instead of getting a nice anchor placement you could just do the steps (perhaps even sloppily) and then instead of casting on the forward stroke just lower (dump) your head without shooting any line. The resulting anchor form depends on many factors including how long the head is, why you are doing a poke, and where you are placing the anchor, but the resulting anchor after the poke may be a smooth loop, or just resemble a sinking “ knitting pile” all bunched up in one place. That is absolutely fine as either way, the idea is that when you subsequently sweep the rod back again the water tension on the line together with the dynamics of throwing the D loop back will load the rod, all while straightening the anchor in the water. Think of it as a different way to arrive at the key position before the power stroke.

My understanding has always been, though it might be just me, that the “Perry” poke usually refers to doing a poke out of a single spey, but you can do a poke out of any spey cast, and there are even a few ways to do the dump that don’t exactly resemble any regular spey cast. There are even pokes like doing a dump out straight after a snake roll to set up and overhead cast with a change of direction - this can also be done without landing the line on the water at all, in which case it is arguably not a poke at all. Still it has some features of a poke. Lots and lots of variations are possible, going way beyond poking out of a single spey.

Some people genuinely like doing a poke as an alternative to a regular spey cast, and find it easier to get a nice 180 layout and a consistent forward cast than a “standard” spey cast. Sometimes they like to substitute them for that one cast they haven’t got the hang of yet.

You can do a poke after/during a messed up cast - when you realize your cast is going to suck just dump the line instead of casting it, then follow up with a beautiful poke. Make sure everyone knows you “meant” to do it that way all along.

When you have little or no room behind you can poke/dump the anchor way out in front of you in such a way as to make a D-loop that also ends further out, thus avoiding the obstacles behind. In this case you are constructing a useful cast that is difficult or impossible to do just by blindly trying to execute a “regular” spey cast in that situation.

There are many ways to do the dump, and there are many spey casters that make it look highly artful and amazing. You can of course even poke out of a poke (re-poke?) repeatedly until you get the anchor where you need it. It ain’t pretty in that case but when you are desperate you will not mind.

There are probably too many poke cast solutions to fishing problems to discuss in one place, but those are the bare bones basics.
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Last edited by Botsari; 09-04-2019 at 11:22 PM.
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post #21 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-05-2019, 06:50 AM
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jkdurden...great tips. Especially using barbless hooks! I am a newbie also. I had a great lesson with experienced spey casters who would not let me use a fly during the lesson. Part way through the lesson the cloth fly we were using hit me right in the lower lip while trying to salvage a bad cast. So I learned, when I see that fly sitting right in front of me...ABORT. I will be smashing the barbs down on my flies until I'm a better caster too. Thanks for the reminder.
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post #22 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-05-2019, 08:55 AM
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As a beginner to spey this year I'll share my experiences on what got me going.

Buy the DVD by Tom Larimer on how to Skagit cast. He breaks down everything very well and tells you what to do "if this happens." As an example if your anchor ends up here, this is why. It's very good, definitely worth $25. I'm not qualified to break down the casting process or what would help you. As a lot of people said, a qualified instructor is always best; for learning anything for that matter. I should probably do a couple lessons myself, but my time is limited. I think the DVD can get you going.

I have a very similar setup; except I bought the 4wt GLoomis short spey; 330 grain scout head. The guys at Gorge Fly shop told me to start with a sink tip ( I used a T8 ), but a light fly. You get the anchor set with the sink tip, but the light weight fly is easier to get out of the water.

After you get the stroke down somewhat and make fishable casts, tell yourself to just chill. Loosen the grip a little and be smooth with the cast. Good luck man!
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post #23 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-05-2019, 06:20 PM
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Don't worry about having to shorten the learning curve. If thats your first concern then you are starting out under a bad sign. Hire an instructor and relax. Have somebody walk you through all of the nuts and bolts of the gear and the process and you will feel it start to happen. Using a GoPro is not going to help as you will not be able to track the mistakes as they are happening, only having another person with you will help correct and coach in real time. Just my two cents.
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post #24 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-05-2019, 09:14 PM
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DVDs are the next best thing to real time instruction. And you can't have too many of them. Take notes of points made by the different Jedi's & compare, looking for similarities. Two to one they all stress the importance of anchor placement as #1 priority. It would be nice to be able to play them stream side, go cast, come back for a re- run, repeat, repeat, repeat.

I fish because the voices inside my head tell me to.
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post #25 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-18-2019, 04:36 PM
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Yep. That darn top hand. Conquering the top hand was the worst part. Lots of sore shoulders and elbows. Too much top hand will keep you from tightening up those loops. Steer the rod with the bottom hand. Grip loosely with the top hand allowing the rod to pivot using it only as a fulcrum. Do yourself a favor and "pin" your top hand elbow to your ribs. Keep both hands in front of your body. It will be tough at first, but pay attention to it and persevere. The aha moment will happen. Check out Goran Andersson and Klaus Frimor videos. When I stumbled upon their videos and started to try and imitate them is when the l had my aha moment.
That sums it up perfectly.
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post #26 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-19-2019, 01:09 AM
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You already have so much excellent advice that it will keep you occupied for quite a while. If I were to start now, waterbourne anchors first (poke, snap-t, double spey), then on to switch casts and stay there for a couple of years.

Regarding the use of top hand, unfortunately or fortunately - depending on your viewpoint - there are so many ways to do it well. Keeping your elbow tight to your ribs is one as we have seen in some first-class videos. However, moving the top hand is not a problem as such. In fact, for some of us, even with short lines, smooth movement of the top hand makes our casting much more relaxed and controlled. Both in the sweep and the forward stroke. Just saying. I stand firmly in the "lead before speed" camp. I get my best stroke when mostly a positional change is followed by mostly an angular change. Translation followed by rotation, that thing. Top hand is very useful for translating and helps in rotating.

I recently heard of a single-handed casting instructor whose first task with a new student is to suggest a style for them by exploring their range of motion and muscle strength in different movements. I wonder if anyone has done the same with long rods. We should at least try.

Like an unconscious answer to a question that has been troubling me for long, or a sudden opportunity to achieve something valuable I had almost given up on, the fish is there.
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post #27 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-19-2019, 05:00 PM
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That's an interesting idea Smooth, but shouldn't the rod and line choice match the fly, target fish, and fishing conditions first? It's up to the user to learn any applicable techniques right? IMO the line should be considered a proper match for the rod when proper technique is used to cast it... This way the beginner will immediately be able to see and/or feel the results of their input... bad technique = bad cast and vice versa. They will know when to seek help to fix a problem they're having. So pick a scandi or skagit head that's not ultra short or ultra long and smack dab in the middle of the respective scandi or skagit grain window for that rod. Anything other than this may lead to bad habits, and more time/money unnecessarily spent (this is what I did to myself when I first started). After some time on the water and the beginner shows some proficiency, maybe experiment by bumping up or down a size with the same line make and model to see if one particular weight suits the now semi-skilled caster's developing style better, and thereby increasing performance. You gotta learn to walk before you can run right?

-Sean
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post #28 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 04:02 AM
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That's an interesting idea Smooth, but shouldn't the rod and line choice match the fly, target fish, and fishing conditions first?
Fortunately correct gear and correct technique are not mutually exclusive.

I get your point of walking before running, and exploring can be the best thing. Then again, the easiest way to unlearn (accidentally discovered) bad habits is not to learn them in the first place. It is a tricky trade off. And makes this interesting.

Like an unconscious answer to a question that has been troubling me for long, or a sudden opportunity to achieve something valuable I had almost given up on, the fish is there.
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post #29 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-01-2019, 10:23 AM
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Upstream Perry Poke

Downstream Perry Poke

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post #30 of 32 (permalink) Old 10-02-2019, 02:47 PM
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The object of fishing the spey rod is, of course, is to become a better person through suffering. If you want to slay steelhead, run a diver and coon shrimp.

I think there's two related tasks, one of which is to make a fishable cast so you can catch a fish. The other is to learn to cast so gracefully and artfully that you feel good about your hard-won mastery. They do go together well but can be achieved separately.

A 4wt short stick with a light line may not be the best outfit to learn on, (short fast sticks often require better timing), but what the hell. I learned on a 12'6" for six rod and a DT. Follow the basics, practice, and you will eventually hit some good casts.
You might even catch a fish, in which case you are irrevocably doomed.

All the videos and online advice here only help so much. Find a good caster- who's able to explain things in a way you understand- and fish with him or her or shim or zim. Pronouns don't matter, the shape of your loop does.
A person who knows what they're doing will help you most by allowing you to see and immediately model their casts for your most effective learning. They may even give you a tidbit of knowledge or two along the way.

I don't know of anything besides dedicated study and water time that shortens the learning curve.
Good luck on your journey!
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