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Discussion Starter #1
I'm very new to fishing with a two-handed rod. I'm curious to know what casts you use the most when fishing? My knowledge is limited. I'm guessing that things like belly length and line type matter. I've been told (and read, and taught) that factors like the side of the river you are on and the direction of the wind make a difference.

Thanks!
 

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Hello Brent:

I'd suggest learning the Circle cast as a dependable upriver anchor cast (use when the wind is blowing upstream), and the Snake Roll as a downstream anchor cast (when the wind is blowing down river). I'd actually recommend you start with a mid-length belly line (65-75 feet), as you won't groove into any difficult to break casting habits which frequently occur if all you cast is a short belly line.

With these two casts, you will be able to reliably fish just about anywhere, with just about any gear, floating line, sink tip, anything...

Dana has some great video and instructional stuff on his Spey Pages. There is a wealth of knowledge "on tap" from members of this Board as well, who will be happy to give as much advice as you can handle!
 

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I would second Way's top two. The only one I would add is a passable ability to double spey off either side although the two he mentioned will cover 90% of your needs.
 

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#&%*@^# Caster
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Just chiming in to say I agree with Way and Sinktip. I use the circle and snake for over 90% of my fishing. I had an easier time learning the snake instead of the double but they are fairly interchangeable. I like the snake better when fishing sink tips.

-sean
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Way, Sean, Sinktip: Thank you for the helpful information.

I'm trying to learn to cast right hand up and left hand up. Also, I've been reviewing Dana's videos quite often. So far, for me, watching the video and then visualizing what the line needs to do during the cast has helped me. Also, I've found that experimenting has lead me to several breakthroughs.

Also, I wouldn't have made it this far without a heck of a lot of help from River Run Anglers crew.
 

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A quick explanation on why I threw in the double. First, I simply prefer the double with short lengths of line out. Also, until the snake becomes second nature, it is helpful to be able to see the D-loop form and this becomes difficult when fishing first/last light. Finally, every once in a while, you fish a run where you are tight to a high bank and have branches or trees overhanging. One particular run I fish regularly requires the Snap, the Snake and the Perry Poke (or some similar bastardized double) be used at least once throughout its length.
 

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I agree with Sink tip if using short lines such as the WC, Delta or even shorter skagit lines I think the double is easier and more forgiving than the Snake. Once you go to long bellies I prefer the snake for most river right/downstream wind casts.
 

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chrome-magnon man
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I like to teach the circle and double spey to newer casters because they are very similar casts. Both involve moving the line upriver in some way; both involve laying that line back down on the water again; both involve pulling the line off the water and into a D loop, and then a cast, and the timing once you begin to lift the line off the water for the D loop and cast is similar for both casts. For these reasons I've found these casts to be easier for new casters to learn together.

HOWEVER...the casts I use the most when fishing are the single spey and the snake roll with floating line; circle and snake with sink tips.
 

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I agree with Dana, the easiest casts to learn are the double and circle. The only difference between these two casts is the way you set the anchor. The D-loop stroke and the forward stroke is identical. Sticking to these two casts will bring consistency to your practice enabling you to minimize the time it takes to become proficient. They're easier to learn because you're setting the anchor with one stroke and developing your D-loop with another stroke, rather than doing both things simultaneously as with the single and the snake roll. I also recommend that you use your eyes to watch your anchor and D-loop. Watch the anchor to see that it's placed properly and that it comes out of the water and travels in a forward direction rather than slip backwards toward the bushes. Watch the D-loop for size and shape and to make sure that it is in line with your target area. It's very important that when you turn your head to watch the D-loop that you avoid turning your body and shoulders.

I wouldn't get carried away with what casting style to emulate (ie; skagit, underhand, or traditional), they all use anchors, D-loops, forward strokes and all the basic fundamentals of fly line casting apply. The difference between these styles is nothing more than the little things that the individual instructor emphasizes during his/her lessons.

My recommendation for a beginning line would definitely be a Skagit head. These lines are a lot heavier than any others and so it's very easy to feel the loading process and thus works to acquire a sense of rythm and timing that is so critical. The difference between casting a Skagit head and a mid-spey line is truly the difference between throwing a baseball and a wiffle ball. As a steelhead guide / spey casting instructor I can't emphasize enough how these lines have drastically reduced the time it takes me to get new casters casting well enough to catch fish.

These two casts, with this line, will meet any fishing situation.

I am very curious about the bad habits that occur when someone does most of their casting with a short head. Way?
 

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Indicators Anonymous
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Scott O'Donnell said:
I am very curious about the bad habits that occur when someone does most of their casting with a short head.
i posted this not too long ago

On a side note, there was a period of time where short heads, and Windcutters in particular, recieved a bad rap because many people labeled them as a 'bad habit creator' for beginers. Over time, I have found that label to be a little harsh and believe that it takes plenty of skill to cast a Windcutter/Short Head/etc. 90' when you consider all that is involved such as rod stop, managing coils of running line etc. If someone who has never picked up a longer belly line can effectively cast a shorter head far enough, with an adjustment in timing and lift and such, that caster will have the skills to cast a longer belly or long belly line just as far as well.
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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IMHO, "bad" habits wouldn't be my choice of words, but "less particular" might fit. 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

.02
 

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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.

Quote:
"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.

Quote:
"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.

Quote:
"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.

Quote:
"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."

Well put.

Quote:
"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.

Quote:
"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.

Scott O'Donnell
Scott Fly Rod Pro Staff
Rio Products Pro Staff
Nautilus Reels Pro Staff
Kaufmann's Streamborn Spey Casting Instructor
Northwest Steelhead Guide (Fly Only)
 

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Here We Go

Well I think Scott has put it best. If you want to learn how to cast well enough to fish ASAP then you will probably want a short head line to start with. This I am sure will invite a huge arguement over short vs mid vs long belly lines. If you want to learn how to cast solely for the puprose of casting and doing so over the course of time. Then you may want to look at all the options available? I firmly believe that the quickest way to learn how to cast in order to fish is with shorter heads such as the RIO WC or even the new SKagit lines. Especially if you are fishing in areas that require the use of sink tips. As for what type of casts to learn first. I personally think the double spey and the snap T are the two that I would look at learning first. Nothing against the snake roll or the circle or the single spey but I think the snap T and the double are the easiest to learn and will allow you to cast in 99% of all situations that you are likely to run into on the water. This is strictly my personal .02 on the situation.
 

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I can only speak to my own experiences. I am way too new at this to tell others how to go about it.

I started with a MS with tips and was muddling through but couldn't quite get my casting where I wanted it. I had the long term goal of fishing GS and XLT simply because I enjoyed the idea (I still hope to do this). Last year I was on the Deschutes and spent some time at the Fly Fishing Shop in Wellches and did casting lessons with Amy Hazel. Both sources steered me towards WC and Delta lines. My casting has improved considerably. Now, I realize it may have more to do with having some good instruction than changing lines, but I certainly find the WC easier to cast. I have gone back and played with my MS lines that I still have and I cast those better now also. This summer I am hoping to work on refining my cast once there aren't many fish to chase.

The short of it is I found it easier to learn on and get to a competent level of fishing on th WC. I'll let you know how I do once I try to move up to the GS and XLT.

Gillie

By the way, as far as casts are concerned, I do most of my fishing with the DS, Circle, Reverse Circle, and Reverse Double. In my humble opinion if you can double spey and circle spey and then do them off the opposite shoulder you can fish anywhere. However, I am really trying to master my single spey.

Gillie
 

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Not to change the subject but since Dana, Juro and Scott are present I'd like to point out to Brent that he is talking to some of the top casters on the planet (Way too for sure) albeit from 2 different camps. I had the pleasure to watch all three at Spey Days last Sunday. IMO, throwing the mid length lines is a joy both from an artsy standpoint and it reduces stripping to a minimum. Most pleasurable (almost addictive) and pretty versatile. Juro, I was particularly smitten with your casting, very sweeeet. Would like to know what line that was. I have the CND Skagit also, minus the talent.
That said, I've been interested in the Skagit buzz and picked up the new Rio line last Friday at Kaufmanns. Around here (NW) sink tips are almost mandatory for 2 or 3 seasons of the year. I've been playing with this each day and am now quite certain nothing throws tips as well (or easy) as a Skagit line. A hot knife in butter. I would guess that getting from zero to catching fish would be quickest too since the timing is not as crucial as when throwing long bellies.
I love casting mid length (65'ish) and double taper lines (Summer, Fall and when conditions allow) but for Winter/Spring around here I'd vote Skagit as the more useful tool.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I didn't mean to start trouble! I was lucky enough to catch the Speydays last weekend. Awesome. I saw Dana, Juro, Nobuo, and Ed Ward. I know how lucky I am to witness and learn from these experts. I have also been able to have the expert help from Aaron R., Mike Kinney, and Brian Styskal. (The last three are probably getting tired of my "style" of casting and all the questions :chuckle: )

Well, here's an update:

I borrowed a CND Solstice 13'4" and a Rio Midspey 6/7 from speybum last Saturday. I was alternating double speys and circle casts. I was on the the last few feet of swing before the hang down... BANG! Even though no one was around I said out loud: "NO WAY!"

I'm still laughing. My first steelhead on a two-hander! It was a 5/6 pound hatchery buck. I'm still on Cloud 9.
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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Scott O'Donnell said:
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.

Scott O'Donnell
Scott Fly Rod Pro Staff
Rio Products Pro Staff
Nautilus Reels Pro Staff
Kaufmann's Streamborn Spey Casting Instructor
Northwest Steelhead Guide (Fly Only)
Scott -

Quite the contrary brother! You've started to shift my thinking a bit on this topic as a result of your convincing comments. Clearly you are speaking from a position of deep experience, and the fishing argument is unquestionable with shorter spey lines.

Perhaps it's best to say that all lines and styles should be understood and explored by the beginning caster so that they might find their own way into a natural fit. Of course like the rest of us this might change over time, and the exploration is without question a huge part of the experience.

Brent -

CONGRATS!!! Best of luck on your future learning curve, you are in good hands on the Speypages and off to a great start with that fish. The positive outcome of this discussion, even if it sways, is that you may have become a little more conscious about the different styles and philosophies as you begin the journey into Spey universe!

Dave -

Thanks for the compliment, although I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Must have been being extra-careful as Nobuo-san watched like an eagle ;) I was equally smitten watching all of the amazing loops flying around out there from other caster's rods. I had a variety of lines on those rods, as did Nobuo and Tyler. On the Skagit the 8/9 Midspey, 8/9 SA, 8/9/10 Windcutter, 9/10 Carron, just to name a few - but Dennis Worley's Scandi head was a Skagit casting wonder on that rod. It was too heavy for my tastes in touch-and-go casting but that head could put a mean wallop in to a perry poke. For my schpeel I had the Steelhead Specialist with the Jetstream but frankly I like the Rio Mid 8/9 with the Wulff tip enhancement best. The Thompson with the Grandspey 10/11 was a perfect fit per Tyler's recommendation, and my favorite on the salar is the Tournament Carron, a match like few others IMHO.
 

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Brent - to quote Mushu "You are a ludky bug!"

Juro - Apparently I mistook the Steelhead for the Skagit. So that was a Carron Jetstream. While distance often is a goal, I always pay attention when a line unroles horizontally then drops like a leaf. Very classy. I know steelhead aren't usually that picky but it turns my crank.
 

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Scotty hits the cast beatifully

Just like to support the writing of Scott O'Donnell. Learning to cast with a shorter belly line is more easy since you load the rod with an eassier to control lenght of line to get a good feeling for the combination and casts. If you want to fish with a longer line, it usally comes to adjusting your timing to the slower (longer) movements of the longer line. I don't see any problems coming out of teaching with a short belly line. I personally do think that most fishing situations (for both Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead) are much more comfortable coverred with a belly/ head that is between 35 and 50' long (lets say 14' rod + 20'-40' running line (to strip in/ shoot out) + 40' head + 6'- 10' leader = 82' - 102' lenghts of line out (Thats for steelheadfishing on the Skeena system quite a bit, I ctch most of my fish between 25' and 60' distance). In this excample you only have to strip in (after each cast) some 20' -40' feet of line (takes two to three seconds, thats as much of time to straighten out and load a long belly line.....) . So if you want to fish practically and in an easy an effective way take the Scandic heads or short belly fly lines.
 

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Controversy?

Nice, lively, interesting discussion. As long as it doesn't degenerate into people/casting style BASHING, it should be fun.

I agree with using the Circle/C and DoubleSpey combo when teaching novices on Skagit casting methods. Except for the actual act of setting the position of the line onto the water, these two casts are otherwise very similar.

I will however, throw my marker in with the "developing bad habits" camp. There is enough difference in actual casting procedures between the different styles to distinctly separate them from one another. These differences may appear "small", but the amount of time and effort that it takes to ingrain them into one's casting "psyche" to the point where the individual can employ them in a "second nature" capacity is substantial. Trying to "unlearn" these "small" details in order to take on another casting style is no easy task for most people. An example: In most approaches to "longline" casting, a "lift" is instituted at the end of the "sweep", prior to the "pause" while waiting for the D-loop to form. This "small" move takes considerable conscious effort and practice to master to the point where it becomes "automatic". However, this same move applied to a sustained load procedure such as I use in my "style" of Skagit casting, would totally destroy the cast. And believe me, from what I have seen, once a "small casting detail" such as the lift has been learned, it is at least as difficult to "unlearn" it.

So, my position is and has been, that the quickest route to learning Speycasting and being able to FISH EFFECTIVELY is to research all styles of Speycasting as much as possible, then pick ONE style that best suits one's personal situations of fishing. Then, pick ONE instructor that SPECIALIZES in that style and learn TWO casts - one for upriver winds and one for downriver winds. Learn to do these two casts from BOTH shoulders, whether by switching "hands up" or doing them "reverse" doesn't matter - it is up to personal preference. Use/practice only THOSE TWO casts until becoming ABSOLUTELY proficient with them under the majority of fishing conditions - be aware of the temptation for accumulating a bunch of "artsy fartsy" casts that look "cool" on the river, but really don't serve any purpose other than to slow down one's Speycasting learning curve. After becoming familiar enough with two basic casts that they are "second nature" most of the time, THEN one can move on to "experimenting" with other types of casts or other styles of casting. But at this point, most people that have taken up Speycasting for FISHING purposes then realize that there is no valid FISHING need for going beyond this point.

For what its worth... I was fortunate enough to be in on the leading edge of the "Speycasting phenomonon" of North America. My friends/peer group have been using doublehanded rods for more than a dozen years. My friends/peer group have, in the past dozen or so years, had incredible influences on tactics for flyfishing anadromous salmonids in North America and Russia's Kamchatka. They are all EXTREMELY good casters with their chosen style of Speycasting and in my opinion/observation the best anglers. A notable fact is that they are all ANGLERS first, casters second, and they don't encumber themselves with a bunch of "extraneous" types of casts, using only the same two or three casts all the time - simple and efficient.
 
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