Beginner Learning Curve - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Beginner Learning Curve

Hey Spey Casters - I'd like some advice on shortening the learning curve on spey casting. I'm an avid, experienced single hand trout fisher who just got a new Sage Trout Spey HD 4wt with matching reel. Added an AirFlo 330 gr skagit head and Rio .026 running line for the set up. Also got a Rio 325 gr Scandi line. So my set up is solid.

I've watched and watched terrific spey casting instructional videos by Ashland Fly Shop a hundred times. So far I've only hit the water twice to work on my cast, using a GoPro Hero 7 Black to record myself and come back and watch my form. Wow this is a lot more challenging than and single hand cast.

At this stage I'm simply working on anchor point and forward stroke in a roll cast / single spey to get a feel for loading the rod and forming a tight loop. Still don't have the feel for the cast yet.

For you experienced guys - am I on the right path for picking up this new challenge? Or would hiring a casting instructor be money well spent to shorten the learning curve?
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 03:58 PM
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Time on the water with good instructor will shorten the learning curve faster than anything else. That being said, one of the lines you have will most likely prove too light or two heavy. Can't say which one, but Skagit heads usually tend to be much heavier than Scandi heads, & that doesn't include the weight of the sink tip on the Skagit head!
The sustained anchor casts are easier to learn as they are more of a two part cast, allowing for a little time between the anchor set and the actual cast itself. I have heard it said that when Simon Gawsworth was a young lad learning to cast the two hand rod, his father insisted he do nothing but the double spey cast for one year before moving on to the single spey cast.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JDJones View Post
The sustained anchor casts are easier to learn as they are more of a two part cast, allowing for a little time between the anchor set and the actual cast itself.
"little" is the operative word here.

The "allowing for a little time" when using intermediate lines and sink tips is limiting here, as your tip and sinking portion of your intermediate line will sink, reducing your ability to pull it from beneath the surface when you form your D loop, and begin your forward cast. Floating lines allow you a "little more" time.

just my 2£ worth....

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man".--Heraclitus
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 04:24 PM
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JD that is some Mr Miyagi style training for Simon!

To the OP - you were very meticulous about describing everything else but I’m just curious as to what you had on the end of that skagit head. You must use a tip for it to work as intended, and it may be easier to learn initially using 10’ of something that sinks, but not too much. So on that head something like 10’ t3 or t6 or a 3ips #5, 6 or possibly 7 rio replacement tip. If you are going to learn on a skagit head then the extra anchor stick you get may help you learn initially.

You may find that scandi head a bit too heavy for that rod but such judgments probably should wait until you can feel the difference.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 05:43 PM
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I heard some good advice given recently. Since your a point 0, as a long time single hand caster you will likely use too much top hand. You will need to remember to restrain a bit and use more bottom hand. Now on to the advice, it was suggested as a possibility to learn with your opposite hand. Since the left? hand has no muscle memory and starting from zero there will be no habit to break or motion to relearn. Just a suggestion.


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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 06:58 PM
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Some really good advice from some really knowledgable people here. Some one may even be able to recommend a good teacher in your area. I'm also an experienced SH'er, but am TH'er video/self-taught due to my location. To my knowledge there was/is no one within 100's of miles of me to learn from. It took me months until I got over the initial hump and felt I had a decent handle on things. The whole time I wished I had a mentor. When I started I wasn't even able to determine if my setup was well matched... it wasn't. If you think you might need professional help, get some. But, look for one that will teach you on the line system that best suits your fishing (either skagit, or scandi). That'll at least get you fishing with a reasonable amount of confidence, and may save you alot of time, money, and trouble in the long run. Good luck!
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 08:24 PM
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Bob "Bud" Budesa knows me well. We have fished together numerous times, each leading & following. We each cast a little differently. We have each found what works for us, not only in casting style, & rigging, but rods as well.

I started out learning traditional style on extremely long belly lines & got to where I was able to pick up & cast 100 ft of line (off the reel) plus 15 ft leader. When I got into Skagit style, it was almost like starting from scratch. Especially that Constant Motion, Constant Load thing. Most fly fishers in my area nymph for steelhead, even the two hand guys. No one around here did Skagit style back then. Now there is Skagit style, & then there is what some refer to as "Edgit" style. I figured I may as well learn from the guy that figured it all out in the beginning, Ed Ward. So I bought the Skagit Master I DVD.

Ed got a lot of flack from everyone when he first started talking about his style of casting, even from fellow two hand guys on the Skagit river. And there are different opinions on the style to this day.

If you're like most, you learned fly fishing, & casting, on single hand rods. Life was simple. you bought X weight rod and X weight floating line to go with it, along with rod length tapered leader, some tippet material & that was that. Sink tips were seldom even mentioned. Some places you would be castigated for fishing anything but a dry fly, heaven forbid a sink tip.

Welcome to the world of Spey fishing. Each of these (Skagit & Scandi) styles have their followers, Jedi's, advantages, & disadvantages. The same can be said of rod actions. What suits one person to tee, won't work at all for the next guy. Is one better than the other? No, just different strokes for different folks. Pick a style, find a Jedi you can relate to/get along with, and forget the other style until you have the first one down.

P.S. When I fish a Skagit setup it is to be able to fish big, heavily weighted flies and not have to work my a$$ of casting them. For the waters & flies I fish, that equates to three to twelve feet of T-14. If not, I swap to what has been referred to as a Scandit, head & a conventional sink tip. In that respect the same rule that applies to any fly rod also applies to two hand rods. Choose the fly, choose a line capable of casting that fly, choose a rod capable of casting that line, in that order.

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Last edited by JDJones; 08-29-2019 at 08:40 PM. Reason: Additional thoughts
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 03:38 AM
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Originally Posted by NWAdrew View Post
Wow this is a lot more challenging than and single hand cast.

At this stage I'm simply working on anchor point and forward stroke in a roll cast / single spey to get a feel for loading the rod and forming a tight loop. Still don't have the feel for the cast yet.
Perhaps you cast Tailing Loops? A 4wt rod and 325gr line should "load" easy and rod might bend too much too soon which is first cause to TL which your thinking "loading" might amplify.

On another post you wrote that you can double haul good when single hand casting and when haul timing is right it is done very late and it delays rod straightening. With TH rod if your timing and bottom hand use are not yet right the rod might begin to straighten too early and if it does it is second method to TL. I know TL because I have had to fix it many times

When learning without a certified casting instructor there is possibility to build Creep to your casting so if you don't yet understand it you should study it so you can avoid it. Same context should explain Drifting which you should study as well.

You could (lawn) practice continuous overhead and oval casting with Scandi head to improve power usage to get line loop good. Long at least rod length mono leader makes Spey casting easier but when overhead casting practice use shorter about 7...9ft leader and just small fluff to mimic fly

Oval casting is good Switch Cast practice because back cast sweep, rod positioning (avoiding Creep) when back cast line loop straightens and forward casting stroke are almost the same, just the timing is not same but when back cast is done slower and when on water the leader anchors to water.

If you have enough room and wind is not strong you can change oval casting to single spey casting thrill turning casting direction and if your head does get dizzy you should be able to turn whore rotation doing eight cycles but first turn direction less so that form stays good.

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 08:23 AM
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From personnel experience, I suggest finding a good instructor as soon as you can, if only for a couple of lessons. You do not want to develop bad habits now that become muscle memory, and may take a very long time to overcome.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 10:06 AM
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I don't know if there are instructors available in your area, but Michael McClellan of McClellan's fly shop in Fayetteville is a steelheading machine. He may be able to share some help or point you at some. A lesson or ten may well be there best investment you make, even if you have to do a destination trip to get it.

If you can't get instruction, videotape yourself and compare it to good casting videos. Long experience sh casting is usually only a hindrance, as it's very difficult to get your top hand to give up control to your bottom.

And as I read on these pages so many times over the years I was getting started, slow down, more bottom hand.
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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 10:44 AM
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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.
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 11:49 AM
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OP: Learning to cast with a 4 wt. trout spey rod might be a little tougher than using a slightly longer and heavier spey rod but do not let that reflection deter you.

As a single hand caster, were you able to control casting planes and reduce your loops to tiny pointed wedges? Were you able to deliver on target with mini-hauls while keeping your single hand rod 'in the box', i.e., tight to your body? If so, there are many parallels that will reveal themselves between single and 2-hand casting as you figure out how to 2-hand cast efficiently with minimal effort.

If not, then be a little more patient with yourself.

1. Practice with a piece of wool or yarn with no hook on either a slow-moving flow or stillwater. Practice casting from a beach or dock on a pond or small lake is an excellent way to learn. Wading is not necessary to practice cast and should be avoided most of the time.

2. Practice often with many short sessions.

3. Try a heavier floating head. If you cannot "feel" the cast, start out with a heavier head, maybe 360 grains, perhaps more. That little Sage should have some power in the lower rod. Most 2-hand rods can easily cast a wide range of grain weights.

4. Do not hesitate to focus on a specific part of the cast and then let the rest of the cast collapse.

5. Learn to visually monitor your D-loop formation as it forms behind you.

6. Borrow a page from the Scandi casters and try stopping your forward cast by jamming the lower hand/rod butt into your stomach. That approach might help you to learn how to use the lower hand.

7. Resist the temptation to macho-hero distance cast. Want to impress yourself and a few of us old-timers? Focus on making effortless, short casts.

8. Get a friend to video your practice casting, ideally in good light conditions so you can actually see the line. A decent smartphone should be sufficient.

9. Go to a local or regional Spey Clave. Watch, listen, ask questions, ask for brief one-on-ones, try different rods and lines.

10. If feasible, find a fly shop in your area that has a bunch of competent 2-hand casters on staff. Make all your purchases there. Ask dumb questions. Take up some of their time but not too much.

Above all, be prepared to invest for the long haul. Took me years to dial in despite benefiting from numerous informal lessons from a few top-notch, excellent casters. Humility and patience are valuable assets.
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Last edited by ENSO; 08-30-2019 at 12:47 PM.
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by NWAdrew View Post
Hey Spey Casters - I'd like some advice on shortening the learning curve on spey casting. Or would hiring a casting instructor be money well spent to shorten the learning curve?
hire instructor, or find a friend who knows how to cast.
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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 01:07 PM
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Some good advice so far, yet when I started a few years ago I wish that I would have seen the demonstration : 'Klaus Frimors crash course on Scandi Casting' on You Tube, which links the casting styles of simple yet effective single handed and double handed casting, using a more descreet and less splashy technique.

I became caught up in the multiple styles and acrobatics casting various lines and see now that a simpler style would have been a better and less confusing introduction. My waters are not brawny west coast rivers but the mostly smaller and shallower Great Lakes tributaries.

Only lately I have come to appreciate more the 'angling' of double handed rods rather than just the casting of them, an aspect somewhat side-lined when starting out.

The more subtle approach of European double handed (Scandi) described by Klaus Frimors now appeals to me as I prefer to use smaller flies, the Scandi lines also suit the more self loading bamboo rods that I like, rather well.


Last edited by MHC; 08-30-2019 at 01:39 PM.
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 04:55 PM
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I'll triple the advice given, I'm new to the Spey game, thought I was doing ok till a veteran watched me, sure I was getting it out there and fishing, but wasn't doing it remotely proper.
When I u derstand more of the science of the cast, it all came together, remember, u r casting the d- loop, not the fly.
I actually looked behind me and watched the d- loop form, then proceeded with the forward stroke, and whamo, 60-70-80 feet no problem.
Get an instructor or someone with knowledge , this WILL make all the difference in the world.
Good luck, let us know how u make out
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