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Discussion Starter #1
I'm having some trouble switch casting a new RIO GrandSpey 8/9 with my 15' Winston (Derek Brown) 8/9. The problem is that the line appears to go out just fine but the leader ticks the water on the way out, about midway (45') down the length of the line, and is limiting the power of the cast. Throwing 60-70' feet with this line, which is what I'm used to with my SA Mastery Spey, works just fine. Only I'd like to be able to pick up most if not all of that head out beyond the first stripping guide (where the two colors meet). About the only thing I have found to come close to getting rid of this fault is to aim the cast, what feels to me, extremely high. I'm concerned that'll lead to a new set of issues down the road.

The Mid-Spey and Mastery lines cast well, I can pickup the whole head outside of the tip, cast a decent loop, and shoot plenty of additional line. Something in my form is manifesting itself with the additional length and weight of the GrandSpey. Any comments appreciated.
 

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Pullin' Thread
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Wilson,

Since the GrandSpey is me line of choice, I'll venture a possible answer without having the benefit of seeing you cast, but based on your desription of the problem. It sounds like you are either 1) throwing a trailing loop, or 2) not aiming the cast high enough.

Since you mentioned that when you aim a lot higher, the leader doesn't hit the water as the line is unfurling during the cast, I suspect you problem is two-fold. First, the "D" loop needs to have a lot of energy put into it when casting these extra-long belly lines. Make sure that you 'snap the rod' back when forming the "D" loop.

Second, use a longer forward casting stroke that has more power added to it when casting the GrandSpey instead of just adding more power to the stroke that you have been using with the shorter belly lines. The longer stroke prevents you from overpowering the rod and forming a tailing loop with the longer GrandSpey. The Derek Brown 8/9 with 8/9 GrandSpey is one of the sweetest casting combinations I've cast. However, it is also very easy to overpower the cast if you do not make your casting stroke longer because this rod is a powerful 9 weight.

The last possibility is that you are not beginning the forward casting stroke unitl after the line touches the water for the anchor. The extra-long belly lines really should have the forward casting stroke begin a split second before the line splashes down for the achor formation. When you start the forward motion just prior to the anchor splash down, you keep the rod and line under tension and keep the energy up in the cast. Thus making it very easy to cast the extra-long belly lines like the GrandSpey. And doing this with the extra-long belly lines also helps to prevent the tailing loop that would have the leader touch the water as the cast was unfurling.
 

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chrome-magnon man
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tailing loop

Unless you are casting sidearm, the problem is indeed a tailing loop! The top leg of the outgoing loop is dropping below the bottom leg, pulling the leader down with it and causing the fly to tick the water. Aiming higher might prevent the fly ticking the water but won't eliminate the tail. This is a common problem for anyone (including me!) moving between head lengths.

When I teach my Spey classes I usually end up casting Delta Spey or MidSpey style lines for most of the day (these are the head lengths most commonly used by people I cast with), then I switch to my long lines for a distance casting demo on Day 2. As it turns out the last school I did a few weeks ago in Ontario had me using the GrandSpey 8/9 for this demo. Guess what? Fly ticking the water for the first two or three casts! It didn't help of course that I had never cast that particular rod and line combination before, but once I made the adjustments all was well.

A longer casting stroke is generally a good overall solution to tailing loops, however it will not fix what most often happens in this situation with spey rods and long lines--slack in the line. Even with an extended casting stroke, if there is a lot of slack in the line the cast will tail because the longer stroke isn't loading the rod, it is just tightening up the slack line. Near the end of the extended casting stroke the rod begins to load against the now tight line...but the amount of stroke length remaining is too short for the line length. The result is a tailing loop.

flytyer has noted the importance of a large, dynamic D loop as a cure, but how can you be certain you are set up to make one of these during your casting cycle? I suggest looking at your fundamentals. With long line casting there are all sorts of places slack can creep into your cast. Before you cast, you must start with a tight line and with your rod tip at the water's surface. During the initial lift, your rod must stay loaded--lift smoothly. During the transitional phase of the cast (motions between lift and D loop formation) watch your rod tip--a bent rod is a loaded rod. If your rod straightens you have just introduced slack into your cast. Keep your rod under constant load throughout your casting cycle (of course with some casts there are in fact a few casts going on: the Snap-T for example involves two separate casts--the line repositioning cast or "snap", and the delivery cast that follows--that combine into one spey cast. During such casts the rod will have to unload and then be loaded again).

Now when you go to form your D loop again make certain that you load your rod with smooth acceleration in a straight line path followed by a firm stop--this will form one of those Simon Gawesworth pointy V-shaped D loops that we all strive for. Once your rod unloads to form the D loop drift your rod tip back and up slightly so that you keep in contact with the line to maintain line tension and avoid slack as the D loop forms. Also watch the line tip as it is travelling towards you and begin your forward stroke a second or two before the leader touches down. Yes, the line hasn't actually touched down and you are already beginning your forward stroke. You will need to experiment with your timing here to get it right, and it will vary depending on how much line you have out. Generally you will be easing into the cast while the line is travelling towards you and accelerating through the leader touch down and the rod stop that follows just afterwards to form the forward loop in the delivery cast. Your final acceleration occurs just as the leader touches down. The effect is the "splash and go" Simon Gawesworth speaks of in the RIO video.

Don't rush the forward stroke--ease into it, feel the rod load up as you accelerate towards the final stop of the rod. George Roberts has a great expression to describe this move with single hand rods. He says "Pull the rod into a bend." It is the same feeling with a spey cast. Pull the rod into a bend by easing into the forward stroke and accelerating to an abrupt stop. Remember that the forward stroke is also made along a straight line path--this will form a tight loop.

Returning to casting stroke, once you have mastered the problem of slack, you can begin to increase the line length you can carry. But the longer the line the longer your casting stroke needs to be. Most of us stop our top hand somewhere around the position of our ear when making the D loop for traditional spey casting, and this position by itself, even with the longest forward extension of the arm during the delivery cast, won't allow us to easily move a long line. So you will need to incorporate either some alterations to your casting stroke to increase stroke length, or incorporate body motions to increase stroke length. Body motions are easiest. Simply by shifting your weight from your front foot to your back foot on the back cast, and back foot to front foot on the delivery cast, the added distance the rod tip travels is dramatic. Experiment with "stepping into the cast" on both back and forward casts to extend your casting stroke to help you move a longer line.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for your replies. I spent some time on the water this evening and after some closer inspection I have to agree that I've got a fair amount of slack in my D loop. I spent some time over and under powering that rod to get things right, but that seems to be the ticket.

When I was able to get the rod loaded on the back cast the slow gradual stroke came natural and I was able to fire the cast out fairly well. I'll continue to work on this as well as my aim, still a little low for a distance cast.

As a follow up, just how much power are you putting into your back casts to form the D loop. I'm finding that I really need to pull with all I've got on my top hand, as well as get my shoulders and weight back, to get the rod to load properly before the stop. At 5'9''/200 I'm not a little guy and it seems to be a lot of effort to move this line compared to the Mid-Spey. I will say that the effort on the forward cast was about half what I was putting in (when done right) so maybe the trade-off is worth it.

Anyway, thank you again for the help. I'm off to Gaspe in two weeks and have everything polished up but this last bit.
 

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Pullin' Thread
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Dana,

Thanks for adding the stuff I left out of my abreviated explanation on how to cure a tailing loop with the long belly lines. You wrote an excellent explanation of the dynamics involved and what needs to be done.

Wilson,

Yes, it takes more energy to pick up and cast the long belly lines like the GrandSpey. I don't know how much more energy I put into lifting the line into the "D" loop; but I do use my body by rotating my upper body from the hips to help pick up the line and move it into the "D" loop while not have my arms do all the work when casting the long lines. This spreads the work over a lot more muscle and also moves the rod quite a bit more than just using your arms to lift the line into the "D" loop.
 

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Using a spiral single that Steve Chote so ably demonstrated at the last couple of spey claves to begin the initial line movement on a single spey will greatly reduce the amount of effort you need to put into your back cast in forming the D loop
 

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Dana,

How about a less technical possibility. Isn't the 8/9 Grandspey a little bit too much line for an 8/9 rod - even a Derek Brown?
 

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Tyler,

I like the 8/9 GrandSpey on the Derek Brown 8/9. It is one of the combinations that I really like in the Derek Brown series of 2-handers. There are other 8/9 2-handers that I would not use the 8/9 GrandSpey on though because it is too much line for the rod, like the Sage 9150 for instance.
 

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chrome-magnon man
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Tyler,

while I haven't fished this particular rod and line combination, I fished this rod with the 8/9 Accelerator when I reviewed it and I think I wanted a heavier line on it then, which would make the GrandSpey 8/9 not a bad match, particularly at the casting lengths wilson described. However, what wilson describes is the classic tailing loop situation in a spey cast two hander. Perhaps a somewhat lighter line might make it easier to lift and throw the D loop, as will the snake/spiral single RickJ describes, but even with a lighter line and/or fancy casting, the more line you have out the more likely this problem with slack will appear. Maintaining line tension throughout the casting stroke is the solution, and will--with practice--allow anyone to move and cast with tight loops very long lengths of line, even the entire belly of an XLT!

wilson,

since you are used to using the same rod for both MidSpey and GrandSpey you will certainly need to put more "oomph" into your backcast to form your D loop with the GrandSpey. But keep in mind that the backcast D loop formation is an acceleration into a stop just like the forward delivery cast. After the lift, move immediately into the backcast with a smooth acceleration, watching the rod tip to make certain that it is loading well. You will notice that the rod is loaded very deeply just a split second before you stop it to form your D loop. Paying close attention to your rod load will make moving a long line easier. Once you master this moving a long line will begin to feel effortless, and switching back the the MidSpey will feel like you are moving a feather.

Practice with a comfortable length of line on the GrandSpey--shorten up if you need to when you are starting out. Once you feel comfortable with a set length, add a few more feet and practice again until you become comfortable with it, then add a few more and so on. This may take a few weeks of time, but the payoffs will be huge. You'll notice that the more line you have out the slower your casting cycle will seem to become, because you'll really notice the time it takes to ease into and then accelerate through both casts. This is because it takes a longer casting stroke to load the rod more deeply. Also your stops on both backcast and forward cast must be rock solid to effectively transfer all the energy stored in the rod into the line. Another suggestion is to change at least a small angle of direction while you are switch casting--casting a shallow angle single spey--as this slight pivot of the body will help you to load up the rod and maintain line tension.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Kush,

I had wondered about that myself. My tailing loop problems were really starting to come about when I got to the point of where my top hand is holding where the line colors change between the head and the running line, about 15 feet of head inside the top. I do know I can't get any overhang with this line like I can with a MidSpey or SA Mastery.

I've played around with different lengths and just assumed that it was a fault manifisting itself with the additional weight and length (which is true). If that line is too heavy to keep 85-90' outside the tip I'd like to hear a recommendation. If I'm carrying too much head outside the tip then I'd like to know what is more appropriate. That last question is a huge "it depends" on the individual casters ability I'm sure.

I will say that when it loads right it feels right, shooting the rest of the running line should not be a problem. However, "right" is only about 10% of the time.

Thank you all again for the replies. If I release another 15 pounder hooked on the far side of Petite Saumon (second named pool) on the York River in Gaspe I will salute you all!!!
 

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chrome-magnon man
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back taper

The GrandSpey has a 10ft back taper. I find that I have to vary where I hold the line for casting distance depending on the rod I'm using, how deep I'm wading and how much sleep I've had (or port the evening before! :D). Most of the time I hold it about where the colors change, but on some rods I strip in a few more feet so that the back of the head is about 1/2 way down the blank. Every rod and line combination has a "sweet spot" and a little experimentation will determine the perfect match. Even with a good deal of belly in the rod rings the GrandSpey still shoots very well.
 

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Pullin' Thread
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I second Dana's post on how much of the GrandSpey is pulled in the rod guides. If you start with the line's color change in your fingers, you will have a great starting point from which to experiment and find the sweet spot for your particular rod. Also keep in mind that when using sinktps, the sweet spot can move requiring a little bit more line to be pulled into the guides for optimum casting, this is especially true with the really fast sink rates like RIO's type 8 or faster tips.
 
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