Wind will impact casting with any line, but the majority of what I would consider to be fishable wind conditions can be dealt with through casting technique. For example, tight loops cast "under" the wind, low to the water often with a sidearm cast will allow you to fish in most conditions where there is a head wind. Strong upstream or downstream winds require different casts (upstream, perhaps a single spey; downstream perhaps a snake roll), while strong tailwinds might require a low, pointy "D" or "V" loop. I find it really inconvenient to carry several different lines with me on a river and change lines if the wind picks up, so my preference is to learn how to cast so that I can beat the wind if I have to.
As for the Dean, I used a ton of lines on the Dean, everything from extended belly lines to shooting heads, although I wouldn't really call what I was doing there "fishing." :chuckle:
Dana, my question might have been misunderstood. Yes one would change their cast (right side/left side) depending on upstream or downstream winds. My question is more about how long bellied to shooting heads react to the wind. How do they cut through the wind? Is one type of line more affected than the other?
And how did your long belly lines cast on the cutbank on the lower Dean.:tsk_tsk:
hey, this is "spey basics", not "basic cheap shots at Dana"!:chuckle:
bottom line is if I had any issues about getting skunked on the Dean I never would have posted about it.
(BTW, got skunked on the Thompson this past fall too. So that makes it over a year since I've caught a steelhead, in case anyone is wondering...)
I'm guessing that you are referring to heavier winds? It depends on the taper design, but the general wisdom is that extended shooting heads like the Windcutter are better suited to heavier winds.
Regarding the cutbank, I only fished there one afternoon down at the bottom for a few hours, and I was using a Cortland MidSpey-style line at the time I think, and it was fine. Tyler and Nobuo fished all of the cutbank several times, and with long belly lines everytime, and the close casting quarters didn't impact their ability to reach out as far as they wanted. Again, it comes down to technique. Even with a long belly line you can cast in restricted quarters and still throw 80 ft or more if you have to.
Och, didn"t mean to hit a sore spot. I wasn"t refering to whether you caught fish or not. I was woundering how someone with your expertise would be caught flailing with a long bellied line in areas that are clearly condusive to short bellies (ie cutbank on the lower dean, or the lower dean period). And once again how does a long belly line react in the wind in comparison to short? Does one cut the wind better than the other, hence easier and more efficient. Sorry to hear that you haven't caught a fish for a while.
not a sore spot at all, as I think my posts and the smilies make clear. I just don't have any hang ups about how many fish I'm catching.
I don't believe that any kind of water is better suited to any kind of line style necessarily, at least when we are talking about head length. A short head works well on the Thompson as it does on the Dean; long bellies work well on the Dean and on the Thompson. It all depends on what a caster prefers. Lots of my friends choose to fish only long belly lines and think I am silly when I fish shooting heads; lots of my other friends think long belly lines are too much work and wonder why I don't fish shooting heads all of the time. As the good doctor noted above, I do tend to change lines a lot, but that's because I am interested in trying out different lines and seeing how well I can apply them to various situations, especially those where conventional wisdom would suggest they are not appropriate. Since there are no absolutes in speycasting, I like to challenge tradition and test things out for myself. Sometimes the tests work and sometimes they don't. But for me it is all part of the learning process and a whole lot of fun.
In very tight quarters (only a few feet of backcast room), a shooting head can be advantageous because they are designed to load a rod with less line out, so you don't need to throw a very large D loop to make a cast. In such places the shorter shooting heads like the Loops really shine. But if you have a rod's length of room behind you you certainly can use long bellies, but you will have to throw a small (or shallow) D loop and put more "oooomph" into the forward stroke. Nobuo and Tyler didn't have any problems on the cutbank that I am aware of, but from my recollection I wouldn't classify that section as being extremely restricted.
Long belly lines with very long and fine front tapers can be touchy in a wind, and long belly lines with shorter front tapers tend to behave a little better, and certainly in any situation where winds are rough and there is a lot of belly flying around things can get tricky. For someone who is dealing with heavier winds on a regular basis (such as the bottom of the Graveyard on the Thompson), an extended shooting head like the Windcutter will make things easier. The short heavy belly section of this style of line behaves well in a wind. But again I want to stress that any particular line style is not going to solve a person's casting stuggles in windy conditions. Sound technique will win out every time and allow anyone to deal with just about anything Mother Nature dishes out.
BTW, why do you believe that short bellies are better for the Dean? I think it would be really interesting for newer speycasters to see some discussion around the suitability of particular line styles to water types/fishing situations etc.
Dana, I would like to think that any of the shooting heads (38-60 ft) from your classification would work best. There is no problem with guides icing. Long casts are not the norm there. And yes there are some tight areas. Do you think that a person (that could cast both long and short bellies) would be more efficient with a modified long belly cast (smaller D and more ooomph) at the cutbank just below where the guides have their boats? Sure maybe Tyler and Noburo could do it but what about the average guy?
I think the shorter heads would definitely give anyone an advantage in that spot. For newer casters, I always recommend that they consider the short-to-medium head lengths for a first line, such as the Windcutter, Delta Spey, MidSpey, Long Delta Spey, and the new Short Head Spey by 3M.
With the interest in Skagit casting and the newer Skagit lines coming out, shooting heads are also becoming popular and they are a good choice too. These lines include the Loop Adapted, Rio Scandinavian and 3M SKagit that is currently in development. Airflo also makes some nice heads. Shooting heads are very easy to cast and allow you to easily fish really tight spots. The only disadvantage is all the stripping involved when retrieveing the line, but I think that can actually work in your favor as that gives your fly more fishing time in the beach water. Stripping back sometimes gets you that fish that followed your fly in.
If I could only take 2 line systems into the Dean (I wouldn't go anywhere with just one line!) they would be a shooting head setup (Loop Adapted for example) and an extended belly shooting head multi-tip system (Windcutter for example).
Fishing the lower Dean's cutbank last year was non-typical. Because of low water the available backcast space was generally 15-feet greater than normal. In late July 2003 just upstream of the very upper cutbank, it was possible to wade across the Dean.
Regardless, thank you PKK for making a provocative point, and thank you Dana for the thorough explanations.
PKK, what spey line do you use under the trees opposite Ross Island?
Bob, yes that is a tight spot. Definately a shooting head (38-55 ft) would work best. Last year I used around a 40 foot head. That's a fun place to fish because of the challenges in casting around the overhanging trees. Right shoulder, left shoulder, side arm, you name it. The perry poke is a great cast in these situations because one is working with all his line out in front. Plus places like this can be very rewarding, less pressure (virtually impossible to fish a long or extended belly). But maybe Tyler could. Tyler?
I think we're mixing 2 different discussions on this thread
one subject seems to be "what is a good line for a newer caster?" (a subject clearly of interest to newer casters).
the other seems to be "can long belly lines be used in tight spots?" or more to the point "long belly lines can't be used in a certain tight spot on the Dean River and other spots like it." This is probably best suited to the "Destinations" or "Technique" sections of the Clave, but since you've raised it here we can certainly look at it.
You mention that shooting head systems of 38ft - 55ft would work best in this spot and you seem to be advocating that the best setup on the Dean is a shooting head. I think in some cases this would be true, but it would depend on casting skill and on fishing distances, which you've also mentioned are not long on the Dean. A skilled long belly or extended belly line caster can cover a good amount of fishable water with limited backcast room--that is one of the big advantages of fishing a two-hander. Let's take that 40ft shooting head you used last year. Hang the entire head out the rod tip and put a 15ft leader off the front and you have fishable casts of over 60ft, depending on how long your rod is. Shoot a little line into that cast and your fishing distances increase. Now, depending on the design of a long belly line, I would say that in general a shooting head is likely to have more grains in 40ft than a long belly with a fine front taper, so it would load the rod better, but a skilled long belly caster compensates for this, just as one would do when casting short with a single hand rod. A skilled caster could easily hang 40ft of a long belly out the rod tip and cover the same water as the shooting head caster, with no need for greater backcast space. A skilled long belly caster could even shoot some line into this cast (although a limited amount and not nearly as much as the shooting head with thin running line behind it) in order to cover more water.
Things get even easier for the long belly line if the line you are using is a Windcutter-style line. Hang 55ft of a Windcutter or long belly out the rod tip and cast, and (without shooting line) both casters will be fine. If there is sufficient room behind the caster to move a 55ft head around, then 55ft of long belly line can be moved just as easily.
Of course, if we are talking about long distance shooting here then a caster skilled with shooting heads will have an advantage--but what fishing distances are we talking about?
And of course your question hinges on the assumption that you need to throw a D loop behind you to make a spey cast...but you don't need to do this in order to make a spey cast. Advanced casts like the Square Cut and Chip Cast pretty much eliminate the need for a D loop thrown behind the caster (between the casting station and the shore) so the long belly guys can actually reach out there a fair ways in all kinds of tricky spots that would seem to be the exclusive domain of the shooting head caster.
So, this goes back to my earlier posts--technique is a critical issue. A shooting head is a great choice, but not the only choice. Good casters will modify their technique so that they can cover any water with the line system they are using. Given the spot you are talking about, if I knew I was going to be fishing it I would probably take my shooting head system along. But if I had been fishing long belly all day and that spot was one I came upon, I would simply modify my technique so that I could fish it.
BTW, Tyler is away in Seattle so I don't think you'll hear from him until next week.
Very good article, Dana! Very thorough and understandable. You touched on the subject of consistent casting. In my opinion, this is one of the most overlooked, yet important aspects of steelhead fishing. I am a real stickler for my casts laying out with at least 90% accuracy and form. The name of the game in chasing steelhead with a fly is line control, and if one's casts lay onto the water in a heap, or the last 15' collapses into a pile, then basically one has just blown their chances for making a good presentation of the fly. I think that one of the pluses for shootingheads is that once the entire head has been put into the cast, from that point on, any cast that is made is done so with a constant amount of line weight, no matter how much further one decides to cast. This contributes to casting consistency.
Dana this is all about the new caster. No, it's not about destinations (the particular spot on the dean was just an example). And technique has alot to do with the basics (there is going to be overlap).
You keep refering to skilled long belly casters. Get your facts straight. I thought we were talking about what is easier and more efficient for the newcomer. A newcomer won't know about all these skilled long belly casts and modifications. Why would one modify how a line works best (doesn't leaving that much of a long belly inside the rod tip mean there will be less grains outside the tip thus making for less efficient ?). Isn't this why shorter bellies are designed to have more grain wt in their lenght. Dana, you as a skilled caster make it seem that all these modifications are simple yet you had huge difficulties flailing out bad casts and having hissy fits on the very cutbank we've been refering to. Not great for your credibility for a newcomer, expert or any of us to see.
Long bellies are efficient at making longer casts. But it's not all about distance. There is no need to cast long in order to catch fish. Most fish caught aren't out in the middle of the river yet much closer to shore. Dana when you were catching fish, how far out were the majority? It is a big fault of many people to overcast( just because they can) Everyone gets caught up in it, because it's fun. Let's not forget what the true beauty of 2 handed casting is. It's the ability to fish all areas of a river efficiently with little or no room behind.
So this brings me back to, why modify how a line works best (long belly/longer cast), in order to fish a river where; there are tighter quarters, no need to make long casts, and no icing issues.
A newcomer will probably only have one line/rod/reel setup (unlike yourself). And that first line that they purchase will have a huge influence on their first 2 handed fishing experience.
Is a long belly a better system (in these instances) for a beginner, or expert like yourself? Wht is a chip cast and square cut cast?
obviously we have different recollections of the Dean. While I'm not ashamed to admit I don't cast perfectly all the time (I think if you've been following this site for any length of time you'd be aware of that), I'm not prone to hissy fits while I'm casting so you are clearly thinking about a different person. And obviously too you have an agenda in your posts, which I suspected earlier but was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Why not come out and say it from the start: "I saw Dana Sturn making some bad casts so I don't think he knows what he's talking about!" rather than playing games? Bad casting happens to us all. What's your point?
I know you're having fun playing "Shatter the Expert" but you're off on the wrong track and after the wrong person. As anyone who knows me or has been here for a while can tell you, I don't consider myself an expert, simply a student of spey casting who is happy to share what he has learned along the way with others and also to learn from others. I often talk about my bad casts, poor fishing days, poor trips and so on, so if you think you are embarassing me in front of the thousands of people who visit this site you are fooling yourself.
Keep in mind too that it is quite easy to hide behind a handle on a website and take shots at people, which says a great deal about your credibility--why don't you let us know who you are so we can deal with all of this in the light of day?
I've been very clear in all of my posts about what I'm discussing here and have answered all of your questions--sometimes more than once--but you are focussed on something quite different, so I see no need to repeat things for you. Go back and read my posts again and I think you'll understand.
Bob, I'll put some stuff up on the square cut and chip cast in the Techniques section along with video down the road when I get some time.
Meantime, PKK, why don't you enlighten us about these casts? You seem to know a lot about these sorts of things.
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