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chrome-magnon man
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I'm going to try something different this month. Rather than publish the newsletter as a pdf, I'm entering it as a post.

Let me know which you prefer, this or the pdf.



Connections
by
Dana Sturn
speypages.com
copyright 2005 all rights reserved​

Recently while out practicing with a friend the importance of connections was brought home once again. I’m talking about connections in the fly line, and specifically the line/leader connection. In single hand casting a lot of thought goes into this connection, but most spey casters that I know don’t think a whole lot about it. Generally, in a spey cast we aren’t too concerned about delicacy or perfect transition of power: as long as the leader turns over and takes the fly along with it, we’re pretty happy, right?

For years I’ve been using a short length of Maxima Chameleon nail knotted to my fly line, then perfection looped to my leader. The connection was durable, the line and leader seemed to always roll out ok and I never really gave it much thought. I’ve been doing it like this for years and it’s just become a habit for me.

At the end of a long spey cast with a standard casting system everything seemed to turn over good enough, though I had noticed that fellows using a similar set up often had their loops open up near the end of the cast, the leader not turning over cleanly. But I hadn’t noticed this with my casting, so it must be a technique thing, right…?

While tuning some shooting head lines for an upcoming video shoot, I noticed something rather interesting: I couldn’t get my leader to roll out cleanly and consistently, which was annoying and mildly alarming. Unless my technique was flawless (and whose is on a consistent basis, right?) I would get this weird opening and looping of the leader near the end of the cast. This problem was made even more apparent if there was any headwind. So I worked and worked on my underhand technique because I presumed that after months of casting longer belly lines I was doing something wrong and needed to refine my shooting head method. While my casting improved, I was still having this problem with the leader. I went back to some of my personal video of some fo the best underhand casters in the world to see whether or not this problem appeared in their casting, and it did from time-to-time, otherwise their loops were great. And so I did a lot more thinking, a stressing. Had I lost my edge?

Several weeks ago I was out casting once again, this time with a video camera along as I wanted to see how the loops looked after weeks of practice. They seemed better from my perspective, but to really be sure I needed a side view of the outbound loop and leader at the end of a cast. Fortunately I had asked my friend Poul Bech along to serve as my videographer. Poul is the vice president of the Steelhead Society of British Columbia and an avid angler and spey caster. Actually that’s an understatement: Poul is among the top 10 steelheaders I know. Poul’s background in the sciences has made him an acute observer, and as the line rolled out he say things like “great!” and “beautiful” for the first few casts, and I was feelingpretty good about everything.

Then he got kinda quiet. One, two, three casts went out, and he didn’t say anything. Then after a few more casts he said” good” again and then was quiet for a while.

Uh-oh.

I knew what was happening. Like me, he noticed the leader problem and was studying it. We discussed it and I tried a bunch of different approaches to the cast but couldn’t completely eliminate the problem. I could make it less evident, but not eliminate it. I handed the rod over to him to see if it was a style thing, but the same thing was happening at the end of his casts. We then started to experiment with different leader combinations, compositions, and lengths, and things got better, but not by a lot. Late in our casting session Poul was casting and I decide once again to change the leader. Poul stripped in the line as I walked down to the water, and as he handed me the line tip he looked closely at the line/leader connection.

“Have you ever thought of changing that loop?” he asked, referring to the length of Maxima.

“No.”

I learned a long time ago to trust Poul’s intuition, so I clipped off the Maxima and watched as he folded the line tip over on itself and whip finished the tag end to the main line to form a small loop. We then looped the leader to this and I made one cast and Poul said “that’s it!” Even from my perspective behind the line I could see a tremendous improvement. The leader now rolled out as it was supposed to, a smooth tight loop straightening above the water before dropping. Then, Poul took the rod and cast so I could see the side view of the loop. The problem had truly disappeared. We figured that since the stiff section of Maxima was stiffer than the end of the line it was opening up the loop as the leader started to roll over, bleeding off power and defeating all the effort that went into the creation of a tight loop in the first place. Eliminating this connection eliminated the problem.

Here’s Poul’s method for creating a loop in a fly line. He tells me that he has had zero loop failures since he started using this method several years ago.

Step One: fold the end of the line over on itself to create a loop

Step Two: using a length of monofilament (Poul likes 10lb –15lb material, not too stiff) whip finish the tag end of the line to the standing line to form the permanent loop.

Step Three: before tightening the whip finish, pull on the standing portion of the fly line to create the desired loop size.

Step Four: tighten the mono wraps by pulling smoothly on the tag end and standing end of the mono.

Step Five: trim and you’re done.

This method works very well, especially in the field if you have a loop failure or any concerns about your loops. Poul can make a “Field Loop” as he calls them in about a minute with mono leader material he has in his vest. For a completely bomb-proof version Poul uses Fireline for the wraps and coats them with superglue.

Here is an image of the completed loop:

finished loop #1

And here are a few videos of the process:

Field Loop

Whip Finish
 

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JD
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3,641 Posts
connections

Dana,

Interesting,,,,especially since we all have probably done this nail knot butt section thing ourselves. Just out of curiosity, what test was the Chameleon butt section? And what test was the tippet? You eliminated the butt section altogether,,,,right?
 

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Thanks for posting this. I will be trying this with several of my spey lines and tips.

By the way, the new Windows Media Player, download, does a great job with your videos and eliminates the need of storing of them as a home page item.
 

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Ooops.

I forgot to say, that this is an easier way for me at least, to view your news letter and to access whenever I want. The attachment of the videos is great for those of us who can't visualize what the words are trying to tell us.
 

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Ty and a suggestion:)

This works fine Dana re- delivery method. Interesting point on connections- I just ripped off my clever hollow core/home made loops and tried what you suggested- instant turnover improvement -ty!!:)))) BTW I,d love to hear your thoughts on Spey casting building blocks- ie- learn the switch first? /add a change of direction for up and down winds and river left/right etc etc. How do see the process of developing and expanding fishing casts evolving for a neophyte???

Will
 

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chrome-magnon man
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5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the feedback!

I can post both pdf and html versions of the articles from now on. I am glad that you are finding the video links easier to access in the html versions 'cause the video links in the pdf versions are a little fiddly to do.

Will,

I will make the learning progression the subject of my next Refining the Spey.
 

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EAT IT!!!
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338 Posts
Dana,

Just a little confused. Now that you have eliminated the 30lb butt section, what is the thickest part of your leader? Are you using mono leaders, and if so what does the taper look like without the butt section?
 

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chrome-magnon man
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5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I use my standard underhand leader--the LOOP LNL--and just tie a perfection loop in it, and then loop it to the loop in the fly line. It is a mono leader: butt diameter is .028 and the leader tapers over 17ft to .016.
 

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I'm not that good at tying this knot yet, but it really works.

Last week, I removed my nail knotted butt material from my Rio W/C 5/6 and from the floating tips of my WC 678 and MS 7/8.

Yesterday, I tried them on my Sage 6126-4 with various good size flies with the Rio Steelhead 15' leaders and Rio's 12' sinking leaders with about 1' to 2' of tippet material at the end of each leader with loop connections.

It was very windy yesterday. This knot improved the performance of all 3 lines. The WC 5/6 performance increase was good but not outstanding like the improved performance with the WC 678 and MS 7/8.

I had zero L's or Jack knives in the air at the end of my casts. Most of my casts had for me, good loops.

What was interesting and rewarding were the Double Speys and Single Speys off my left shoulder. With my old nail knots and butt material with the loop, the jacknives or L's at the end were a constant or hitting the water with the tip of the line before the fly hit the water.

Inspite of the wind, I was able to cast as far into or cross wind from my left side as from my right side with some pretty good loops. The performance with the Rio 12' sinking leaders was excellent.

The only downside was snapping off three flies. The first was with the WC 678 and sinking leader during one of my first casts with the new knot. I had my finger on the line and cork. The cast went out so fast and far I accidently stopped it mid air, and the tippet snapped between the knots. I went from 8# tippet to 10. Later, I snapped one off on the backside of the D Loop again in the middle of the tippet. Then, I went to 13 # tippet and at the end of the day snapped one off again on the backside of the D loop. The last two snap offs are probably due to poor technique, but without the wind resistance of the Nail knot and the tempering of the length of the butt leader material to the perfection loop, the fly, tippet, leader and line are really moving.

I will be buying some Fireline today and will work on better knot tying. The Loon UV Knot stuff seem to work well with my bad knots. All 3 knots held up.

Thanks again for this help.
 

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Dana: What if you got a reallt heavy tip, for instance a Guideline shooting head? Since the tip of those lines are thicker than most speylines, isn´t there a chance that the whip knot loop will be just too clunky and lead to other problems?

I tried out a new way of connecting the leader to the fly line recently, which sems to work great: I remove about 10 cm of the coating, then tie a non-slip loop knot (as shown by Lefty Kreh in a magazine some time ago) and them smear the whole thing with Aqua Seal, all the way from about 1 cm above where the coating starts to the loop itself. Makes the connection pretty mobile bit stiff enough to transform power.
 

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I tried your nail knot loop for a WC 8-10 and it´s super. Doesn´t rattle in the guides, turns over well and it´s easy to separate it from the leader loop. Tied it with Fireline (15 turns) and added some super glue. Actually tried to rip it up but it´s so strong I guess I´ll be having a brain haemmorhage trying to pull it apart! :hihi:

Great tip, Dana!
 

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Dana, I finally got some Fireline. There was only the Fire Line Green 20# test, and it works well. I wrap the Fire Line ten times over the new loop. 7 winds will work, but the knot is not as reliable in the tightening process. Any more than 10 winds becomes a problem for me in controlling the knot for the first part of the tightening process.

When you put pressure on the knot after tying it, whatever is around the fire line as a lubricant/protective fuses together in and along the knot. I have to really apply pressure with teeth and forceits to get the knots to hold. Once the 'fusion' appears, the knot is set.

To keep the loops a constant size and test them during/after the knot tightening/fusion process, I use the end of a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point. I insert the end w/o the clip about 1.5 inches past the black end of the tip. That allows a nice small loop, and I can test the knot before removing the pen.

After the knot is tested, I apply the Loon UV knot goop and let the loop rotate in the sunlight and for a few minutes. I have broken pencils when I inserted them into a loop to be able to apply pressure, when testing the knots. The finished loops lift and hold 10, 15 and 20# dumbells.

I will redo the loops that I did with tippet material even though they held up well in casting practices.

Sunday, I tested a few of these new loops with the Fireline and the performance was as good or better than the tippet tied loops.
 

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Dana,

Don't know if you will see this but I'm wondering what the advantage of the whip finish over a nail knot is ?

Gillie
 

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Good Stuff

I've been fishing this system a long while now, but more out of necessity because I cannot tie nail knots; especially trying to wrap large diameter mono to a tapered fly line tip . I've struggled through a few nail knots, but never became adept. I have more confidence in loop to loop splices and you do not need to worry about how worn that nail knotted mono butt section is getting.
 

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Mr. Mom
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Just saw this thread. I grew up at the ponds in San Francisco, and the casting gurus who also fished (yes there are casting gurus who do not fish) used to always give the same advice: If you are going attach leader butt between your line and leader, cut the fine level tip back, or completely off the line. Sounds like the spey boys are discovering the same thing. Cool!
 
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