Sorry about this Brent, but the worst possible advice a new caster could get would be to start with a mid-length line. I was afraid my post would ignite the old short belly vs. long belly feud. It won't be long before this thread will have to be moved from SPEY BASICS, perhaps to a new category called CONTROVERSY. Now you're put in the unenviable position to sort out the information from both camps and decide who makes the most sense. Best of luck and hopefully you'll pick up a few fish along the way.
I believe your question was to what line to use and with what casts. It's obvious that, given your location, you'll be doing a lot of winter fishing which means sink tips. With the exception of Kaufmann's spey schools all my teaching is done while guiding, which means I need to get the angler casting well enough to actually catch a fish, not next week or month but today. I can't think of a more difficult task than to try and teach a new caster a double spey and circle spey with a mid-length belly and sink tips. If I understand Juro's reasoning then it would make sense to teach a new single handed caster to start with 60' of line and a double haul.
"If your intent is to eventually learn a casting style that supports 65, 75, 85 or even 105ft heads in your fishing applications then working with short head lines (54ft or less) can build muscle memory that will not necessarily be ideal for the transition upward in length."
Hopefully your intent is to catch fish, but if your intent is to cast long belly lines, then the muscle memory you'll develope, and understanding of the basic fundamentals you'll learn with a short belly line will make the transition quite nicely.
"For instance, the shorter the line the less particular the lift technique; the easier the sweep, the smaller the d-loop, the less important the shape of the D-loop and timing of the stroke, the easier the anchor is to set and slip with less critical anticipation timing, and the more abrupt and forward oriented the casting force can be applied. There is nothing "wrong" with this, in fact for these very reasons it is a great beginner's approach."
When using sink tips and large flies the lift technique is monumentally important. The heavier the tip the more "particular" it becomes. The rest of this paragraph is accurate.
"If the caster wishes (or you suspect he/she will based on where they fish) to become proficient with long belly lines I would agree with the camp that suggests recommending a mid-length line for initial instruction. The transition to extended belly line casting can be harder if the arms and mind are grooved into short belly casting."
Again, "if you wish to become proficient at casting long belly lines". Making a transition in any direction is going to take some practice, I don't see where making a transition in any particular direction would be more difficult than another.
"The caster may have no interest in learning long belly casting technique. They might live in an area where long belly lines have no application, and with deep winter steelhead fishing only (e.g. some GL areas). 54ft head length ranges certainly are practical, functional and catch a lot of fish. Shorter Skagit heads might be even better."
"Yet in some fisheries, and for the traveling spey angler there is a need for long belly casting not to mention a certain unmistakable joy in casting long belly lines that for some, myself included, is at the core of Spey casting and arsenal."has it's place along with Scandinavian, Skagit, and overhead casting with two-handed rods. It has a deadly application in certain fisheries just as the others do in other applications and is part of the well-rounded caster's arsenal."
There is simply no fishing situation in the world that can't be met with a short bellied line, but can be with a long belly, the opposite, however, can be said. There is certainly no arguing with an individuals joy or the satisfaction of eventually becoming proficient at all the availlable techniques.
"Bottom line is that if you plan to learn long / extended belly casting then it's easier to learn if you start with mid-length lines not because it's bad or good but because it's less different."
The bottom line is that regardless of your future intentions, it is easier to learn with short bellied lines.
Juro, I sincerely hope that you don't hate me now. We are, after all, homeboys. I'm originally from Brockton and would absolutely love to fish the Cape with you some day. I'll even bring my XLT. BTW, beautiful web site.
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