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Discussion Starter #1
Now that the run of Claves is finished for the winter/spring season in the PNW, and I have completed my Euro Demo Tour, there are a couple of observations that I would like to share. At the end of my demo's here, when I open the floor to questions, most of them are as regards equipment, such as what rod are you using, what is the sink tip material, how long are the leaders, etc. In Europe, the vast majority of questions were about casting technique, casting theory, or casting application. From what I have seen at our stateside Claves as compared to the shows and demo's I participated at in Europe, the "average" Euro is more skilled at casting than the "average" Yank.
Here is the "difference" that I noted, albeit from a somewhat limited and small "sampling". Most Euro's seem to realize that casting skill is acquired through an understanding of casting, along with consistent practice. Most of "us" seem to believe that some technological advancement in equipment is going to provide a "magical" combination that will suddenly give us the ability to cast like masters.
I would venture to say that because most salmon fishing in Europe is going to cost a notable sum of money just to set foot into a stretch of river, most Euro's are not very willing to "waste" any portion of their on-river fishing time trying to figure out how to cast... they do that BEFORE they get to the river.
I am literally quite amazed at the numbers of people here in the PNW, many that I know personally, who jump about from one casting technique to another, and/or who are continually acquiring new rod/line outfits in a quest for the "holy grail" of casting. I often wonder how many "Speycasters" have more than $1200 wrapped up in "Spey" equipment, but have not invested any money into casting lessons? Regardless of what is said, Speycasting - either Traditional, Underhand, or Skagit - is not "easy". It takes good instruction and practice. Now then, rollcasting a Speyrod, THAT'S easy.
Nowadays, the vast majority of Speyrods made by the "most mentioned" rod producers, are extremely capable casting tools when coupled with the proper lines for the specific casting technique. If you have such an outfit, but your casting is not going well, then it might be time to consider seeking some "outside" advice, before blaming the rod.
 

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I made the long trip to the Sandy Clave last week and although it was fun to play with different set ups, the best part of my trip was that I arranged for some private casting instruction. Coming from NY there is a major lacking in spey instruction in the area.

A little bit of fine tuning made a world of difference. I certainly didn't fix all my casting problems but I can actually tell what I'm doing wrong now and work on fixing it. I also developed a feel for a good casting stroke.

The only real tackle changes I made was looking for line reccomendations to load my rod in a fashion that suits my casting style.

I must have talked with the right guys while I was there because one of the biggest peices of advice I came away with was to settle on one technique / system and master it before I jump around and experiment with different casting styles.

For me personally I came away with the goal / plan to work with windcutters and skagit heads (mostly skagit heads) and master these so that I can start to focus on the fishing at hand and not have to worry about casting while I'm on the river.

At least to start with, I left with a goal of perfecting the double and snap T off both shoulders since that will allow me to fish in any situation regardless of bank or wind direction.

Don't get me wrong, I left definitely wanting to add a rod or two to my collection. But I want to keep the systems very similair. I just want different set ups for big river vs. small and rivers where I know the fish tend to run small vs. bigger chinook and steelhead.

Gillie
 

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Discussion Starter #4
...

...nothing wrong with being an equipment junkie, as long as one realizes that "collecting" should be done for the joy of collecting, or wanting to try different things, or trying to find the absolute perfect "match-up" in equipment, and not as a "fix" for attempting to make up in lack of skill. I, myself, seem to have a uncontrollable attraction for fly reels...

Another "lesson" that could be learned from the Europeans... most of the anglers I interacted with were Underhand casters. When they buy a new shootinghead for their rod, they think nothing of cutting that baby up until it perfectly suits their particular rod and casting stroke. It pretty much seems as if "fine tuning" lines is considered a "normal" fact of fishing over there. I believe that many anglers here would find that some of the rods they own and have "outgrown" would become surprisingly favored again if they took the initiative to "customize" lines for those rods. A prime example is the "soft, wimpy" 7136 Brownie. A custom tailored Skagithead will cause most people to reconsider any thought about this rod being "too limited" in capabilities. For a substantial period of time (before my Loomis affiliation), the 7136 was my MAINSTAY summer rod, and was also pressed into service for at least HALF of my WINTER steelheading. This rod has no problem casting 9' T-14 tips when used in a Skagit casting capacity.

Also, I get the impression at the Claves that Skagit casting is thought of as only a sinktip method of casting. While it is true that the method was developed for casting sinktips, the fact is that it works very well with floating tips also. Those of us that demo Skagit casting tend to do so with sinktip lines in order to illustrate how the method develops potent enough energy to make casting sinktip lines with only little to moderate amounts of effort when compared with other casting systems. Casting floating tips requires so little effort as to be almost unbelievable, and yet the amount of line speed that is developed is awesome. It blows me away how many people are more impressed with seeing distance than in how versatile a system is. I don't think that any other method of casting can match the versatility of Skagit casting, however, at next years Sandy Clave I am going to have a 15' Stinger rigged with a floating Skagit head just so's I can rip a couple of casts over the other bank, and "wow" the distance junkies. Heck, I may even feel cocky and do it with a 14'.
 

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Skidrow Woolley Fly Club
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I still prefer to fish my old 8124 even though I have newer more expensive rods. The 8 or more year old line is match so well to this rod and I have become so accustomed to the combos casting characteristics that I fish it without even thinking about the casting. I am able to make short casts along with the occasional 100 footer when needed with no effort or thought. I would guess the belly of this line is over 7 or 8 years old and I have no idea how many running lines have been used on it. If something were to happen to my trusty old 8124 I am not sure I could go on.
 

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fly on little wing
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Equipment cure all

RA,

Very true, very true. I have a golf background and most guys will shell out $$$ for the latest driver technology. They still hack away at the ball. The same amount of $ invested in lessons, while keeping last years driver, has a much better return on the dollar.

It's just harder to find a casting pro than a golf pro.

However, I do see benefits. Good used equipment for sale.

Gary
 

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Ed, Point very well made. This is comming from a recovering equiptment junkie, but I still like to purchase a new rod or two to see if I am missing something.
Leroy................
 

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Funny you should mention the old 7136 as this was once my prefered rod for year round fishing years ago. My 9140-4 sat in the closet as it seemed to big and heavy to be any fun for all day fishing. As the spey casting journey is ever evolving some of us peek over the other side of the fence and like what we see and decide to give that a try just to make sure were not missing out on anything. In the last year I can't think of one bad rod I have casted, I can usually find the right line as there are many to choose from to make any rod perform well short or long line. Some of the old rods really sing with the new lines that are coming out now which has me reaching into the back of the closet and pulling out rods I forgot I owned.
 

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Ed and others - great posting, a reply from the other side of the "pond" is needed.

It is interesting to see that each continent tend to make "cultures" saying that everything they do is the best. I have had the pleasure to visit and cast with americans, first Steve Choate in Thompson, later to fish and gather with Steve on the Gaula, then meeting all three of the Loomis team on their Scandinavian trip this year. This experience has been extremely interesting, with my basis in typical "Scandinavian" style casting.

After meeting with the "Americans", my main motto in the writings, demos and lessons I give here is that each style, technique and "subculture" have their experts, advantanges and value. It is funny, but I guess Eds posting here probably have helped Scandinavians to raise their self-esteem, after the fact that "our" casters did not do as well as many here expected in the Spey-O-Rama (I am sure at least Knut will hit back strongly in the MUSTO...). It is a fact that most Scandinavians underestimate long lines without having tried them, and very few at all know the Skagit style (untill Ed came this spring). Still, many claim their underhand cast is all they need to know. Yes, many on our rivers have a reasonable technique, but I advocate that there are interesting in it self and also for casting and fishing technique to acknowledge all types of gear and style!

Many Scandinavians have looked upon long line casting as "old fashioned", only lately this attitude is about to change, maybe first when people accept that a long line caster need to have a far better basic technique than a shooting head caster... One major advantage for North America (and Scotland), I think that many Scandinavians underestimate the fact that you have an extremely long fishing season, you can stay on salmonid rivers almost year round, while most here stick to a short season of three months (where most fish only a week or two), maybe somewhat extended with an early trip to Scotland. Our long and icy winter makes training difficult during several months, and also it is just the last couple of years we see that a "clave" culture is about to establish. That, too, is something we are grateful to you to have established.

I also want to say a big thank you to this clave for being a big contributor to establish specasters worldwide into one big community. Thats globalisation with a big +!!! :)

Norwegian aka Oystein Aas
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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I'm not sure I agree completely, although the observation is interesting and largely probable. Even some of the most dedicated north american "fishermen not casters" I know are all becoming dedicated casters studying, practicing - even when they say they are not "casters" :lildevl:

Personally the cost of Spey gear kept me using what I had and forced me to focus on striving to understand casting and devoting practice even where there were no fish around and my gear updates came much later in the learning curve when I could really tell the difference (within my own style) and had good reason to spend more $.

Working with CND has given me the opportunity to experience an unbelievable array of gear from the Atlantis on the beach to the Salar with tournament lines to the Solstice for greased lining on a summer stream, trout trackers, etc. I'm totally beyond hope now. But I find that I do dedicate much time to study and practice, and to Riveraddict's point I am glad I have and have benefited a lot from not getting too hung up on the gear and staying focused on study and practice.

As far as the 7136, I loved that as well but having cast a lot of rods since would say that (a) it is very particular about the way it's loaded and not very versatile (b) was not the right tool for some of the large winter fish I ended up losing - but I loved it and the reason I used it when I shouldn't. :rolleyes:
 

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RA,

I don't guide. Or do the claves. Prefer to cast alone or with a few friends. Of the people I fish with, or have observed casting, I have not seen what you are talking about to a great degree. Casting skill being better at one location or another. Russia, Scotland, Ireland, Quebec, BC, and mostly the lower 48.

I do agree with your points about the 'latest and greatest' being bought under the fallacy it will make a caster better.

Over the years I have observed a distinct skill difference between the average 'full service guided' angler and the 'public do-it-yourself' angler. Maybe your guiding brings you closer to a type of angler that follows the old saying "If you have the money you won't have the time, or if you have the time you won't have the money".

Mark this on the calendar Juro!!! ;) ;) ;) I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. And even relate EXACTLY to the 7136 points as I did the same thing.

William
 

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About Euro casting in relation to US casting

For the last 18 seasons I devide my (salmon/seatrout/steelhead) fishing time between Canadian waters and Scandinavian waters ( 5 weeks in BC and 3 weeks in Scandinavia). So over the years I'v seen both side of the pond and their fisherman/speycasters. Based on this I would like to back up Ed his observations and I would like to add a couple of points to the discussion.

In Europe you will see different styles (genarally spoken) connected with an area. You will see Underhand casting with shooting heads in Scandinavia. You will find long belly lines and DT lines in Scotland. What you also will find is that each area has its own 'way of castin', its own technical approach which will be translated to a more or less uniform instruction for casting. So the young Scandinavian boy or girl learns it the Scandinavian way and the young Scott learns it in a propper Scottish way. There is a lot of commitment for your (local) way of casting which helps to develope this way of casting over a long period of time. Which results in good understandig of technique in combination with a very natural approuch by the fisherman to his or hers 'own' way of casting. So you have large area's where people cast with the same technical background and make eachother better by working together out of the same principals.

In Canada and the US they miss this traditional background and they have to start almost 'blank'. That does not have to be bad, but it does result (to my honest opinion, no offence here) in al lot of experimenting (thats good) but also in many 'ways to do it...', with many experts. And everyone is preaching his 'way to cast..'. What lacks here is a reverance to a kind of basic technical standard from whereout you can discuss other stile. I mean you can compare, like Ed did in Scandinavia, Skagit casting with Underhand casting. But then your public needs to now something about at least one of the two casting syles. Again I don't want to critic the US side here. i think that many wonderful things develope at your side of the pond. Great rods and fly lines. A fresh thought on casting (skagitstyle). I'm only trying to explain some reasons behind the difference that Ed noticed.

Alow me to some point that may help:

When you start with speyfishing stick to an all around rod (lets say a medium action 14', #9 rod) with one of the midbelly lines and focus on a basic style of castin (like described by Simon in his new book). Work with this combo for a year or two before you realy start to experiment with a lot of different styles. Don't focus on distance castin. Focus on castin nice tight loops and focus on forming nice sharp D-loops. Focus on loading and unloading your rod. And please fish a lot.....
 

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Discussion Starter #15
...

A lot of great points and observations being brought out here! Ullsock, your advice is right on the money.

I was educated in a practical way to the fact that it tends to be the circumstances of fishing that steers the formation of angling approaches, while fishing for a couple of days in Ireland (the ONLY fishing we had time to do!).. I fished the first day with a 12 1/2' Stinger, selecting this particular rod because of how small the stream appeared when I first saw it (averaging around 70' to 90'). However, it turned out that better than 2/3's of our fishing involved standing out of the water on grassy banks that were elevated from 3 to 7 feet (nice and blustery too!). The short rod, short line (Skagit head) combo really sucked in this situation. The next day I used a 14' Dredger with a Skagit line. The longer rod definitely helped out, but my Skagit head (that's all I had) still presented problems because of its shortness. I could see where a 15' to 16' rod/long line would have had a real advantage in this circumstance, and I now think I know part of the reason why the long rod/long line combinations are popular in the U.K. and Ireland.

To give a little idea of why I think that casting skills are more refined in Europe, at the shows and demo's quite a few people would ask, after the presentations, to try Skagit casting. Usually, within 5 to 10 minutes of coaching, the majority of these people would have picked up a rudimentary, but very workable understanding and practical performance of the cast. This is something that I have found to happen only very occasionally back here in the States.

And now for something that should stir up a bit of commentary. I believe that using the same size rod (length, line designation), that a shootinghead system SHOULD be able to outdistance a longline system EXCEPTING for one particular problem - the running line is impossible to handle effectively, and once more than 50' to 60' is in play, it produces too much drag in the water, and that's if you can manage to have it run "clean" (without tangles), which in itself seems about impossible.
 

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RA... have patience - it is only 6 more days until the rivers re-open then you won't have to keep yourself entertained by stirring up controversy :D (then it is off to Alaska :smokin: )

As for your last supposition, I think you may be right. However, the "shooting head" would need to be considerably longer than the standard one. This would be so to allow for the longest casting stroke possible - in order to get maximum line speed without ripping the anchor from the water.

At Spey-O-Rama Knut Syrstad was rocking casts over the pool that averaged about 160' (but his rod was 5 or 6" too long so he couldn't use it in the competition). His line, though technically a "shooting head" with running line, was in fact an XLT cut and used as a head.

Quite possibly your style of Skagit casting would allow for a much longer casting stroke as the water-load would maintain the anchor better than a splash and go style would. Never-the-less, as you say a long-line distance caster will be carrying 100'+ line in the belly and "only" shoot 50-60' which is indeed alot easier to consistently do than to carry 50' and then shoot 110' :Eyecrazy:
 

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Skidrow Woolley Fly Club
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You guys are giving me a headache.

I still say just huck it out there and see if a fish comes along. The fish don't care what the cast looks like.

June 1 can't get here soon enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
...

Kerry,
You are right, the fish don't care. But, if you can't get the fly to the fish in the first place then...
I have always been a fisherman first, caster second. I wouldn't have any use for casting if it wasn't for the fish. HOWEVER, the better that one can cast, the more opportunities for catching fish that become available. A more skilled caster, as compared to an "average" caster, can cast farther, cast more accurately, and continue to cast into greater conditions of wind. More distance means being able to cover fish holding lies that most other anglers cannot. Accuracy means being able to put the fly into brushy pockets and tree shrouded cutbank slots that rarely get fished. Continueing to cast into greater conditions of wind with precision is the difference between being able to actually fish effectively in the wind or just wasting one's time. To this statement let me add that because I am a fisherman first I personally do not strive to produce needlesharp wedge type loops when casting. Even though this seems to have become the ultimate goal of most casters, I instead am seeking to create as much line speed as possible. In my experience, line speed is the factor that will allow for the most consistent attainment of being able to fish in adverse conditions or challenging circumstances. And no, high line speed and needlesharp loops don't necessarily go hand in hand!

Kush,
6 more days! Yikes!!!! Don't think I can last that long!
Managing 100' of running line is something that I don't think is possible on water. PLEASE, somebody prove that it ain't so!
 

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#&%*@^# Caster
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Was thinking while fishing stripers in Cape Cod with a 35' shooting head and shooting 120' of line overhead from a stripping basket and things worked fine. Could be an interesting proof of concept to use a stripping basket to see how far one could throw a shooting head. Do not remember seeing anything in the rules that said you could not use one....

Still from watching the distance comp at San Fran the few folks that used shooting heads were nowhere close to what the longer heads were getting distance wise. The traditional skagit and scando heads are just too short to compete with the long bellies. Like tyler days they would need to be extended and the way most distance folks throw a long line it is nothing more than a long shooting head anyway...

Why are europeans possibly better as a whole that the US/Canada guys? Practice. Most of the guys from the other side of the pond I have talked with understand the importance of proficient casting as it relates to being a better fisherman. A lot of locals around here poo poo the idea of being a good caster relating to fish catching ability but I have never met a fish hawk who casts like crap.

I like Ullsocks recc of learing to cast by 'traditional' means first and then branch out into other styles. Would switch out the medium action rod for a fast rod but there creeps in those personal preferences again....

Ed I see you are using a stinger now with your skagit lines. Fast rods can cast those things quite well :)

-sean
 

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RA,

"More distance means being able to cover fish holding lies that most other anglers cannot."

I am at first inclined to think you may be having a change of heart. But a complete definition of 'more distance' will be needed. Why would you need to worry about 100' of running line when the longest cast 'required' is 85'???

I am confused on this statement: "Even though this seems to have become the ultimate goal of most casters"

Is this a bad thing to want? Or a 'justification' of your casting 'results' differing from the perceived 'ultimate goal'?

William
 
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