I hate to say this because it sounds too simple; but the trick is to force yourself to do it. Start with 50' or so of line and work up to longer lengths as you master the opposite hand up and the shorter distances. Also, don't forget to periodically cast with your opposite hand up when fishing.
When I started out with the two hander I tried the reverse casts and found them awkward , uncomfortable and had no consistency. Very early in the learning process I realized that if I was to continue with twohanded rods I would have to learn to fish left or right hand on top. I started out planning my fishing and practice sessions to river right/left and wind conditions that would force me to use the opposite hand. During periods of little or no winds I alternated between right and left hand casts. When I encountered problems with a particular cast I found performing the cast with the opposite hand helped me correct the problem almost immediatley. To assist in muscle memory I used a tip from a member of this board, I used a section of rod that was about 30 inches long and performed the motions of all casts while watching TV. After a little over two and a half years I am comfortable casting with either hand with my left hand acheiving distances that a about 95 percent of my right. I still have consistancy problems with both hands performing a Single Spey when the change of direction is greater than 45 degrees.
Like Nike says--Just Do It! Most helpful to me in this matter has been the evolution of my lower hand providing the greater percentage of the power in the forward stroke. In the beginning I tried to follow Derek Brown's rec of using both hands equally. Reading more and more on these pages of Mortensen's emphasis on the lower hand as the dominant power hand, I now use my lower hand as providing at least 75+% of my power. It makes absolute sense since in balancing my rods at about the top of the upper cork, the farther away from that point of balance the power is applied(i.e., toward the rod butt), the more leverage one can achieve with the least amount of effort. To the point of this thread: I found with left hand up and my lower right hand near the butt(I am right-handed), I felt less uncomfortable with left hand up because my dominant right hand was now providing most of the power. .. and my upper, non-dominant left was being used more as a fulcrum than as the main power producer in the forward stroke. I lost the feeling I had of my upper left hand/arm as being too 'weak' to make the cast. As the practice continued, the left hand up began to feel more and more natural... and cross-overs/reverse casts felt forced and UN-natural. 0.02 from a very average caster.
I spent four days on the Deschutes (White River was WHITE) below Macks. Six good fly fishers and only one SMALL fish landed. Terrible catching but good casting and fishing was had. You know I have forced myself to use the non-dominate hand up. Lots of frustrating practice at first then small signs of improvement. All that to say, on this trip I casted 60% of the time non-domonatie hand up and felt confident the casts were OK. Still lots of room to improve but there has been great progress. I have been practicing all the casts left hand and used all the casts on this trip. The point is: all the practice paid off big time on the river. My next step is to improve the loop form to equal the dominate side. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train. Klem
Left hand up for a right hand dominant caster can be very intimidating indeed. I finally just forced myself to start working on it and was pleasantly surprised when I did. I can shoot more line on my left handed circle cast than I can with the right and my left handed double is almost as good as my right. The snake roll is another story. I haven't spent much time trying that with the left hand up but it's still a fishable cast if I need it. As was stated by others: Just do it! It's the only way you'll get better. The cool thing is that you shouldn't have any bad casting habits with the opposite hand and therefore you don't have to break any bad habits!
I find it interesting that nobody has spoken up as a proponent of the reverse casts. Maybe this is a sign that it really isn't the way to go. A few weeks ago I spent a few days getting some spey casting instruction and rather than putting the non-dominant hand on top we focused on reverse circle and reverse double spey casts to deal with that situation. So far I have found the reverse circle to be a great cast. I guess down the road I'll have to work on casting with my left hand up.
It's interesting that you talk about not being able to bring the rod back on the reverse cast. If you watch John Hazel's video (and I've also had instruction from him) he sites bringing the rod to far back as a major and common error in spey casting. He goes on to say that part of the beauty of the reverse circle cast is that it prevents you from bringing the rod too far back when it is performed by the right handed caster becasue the shoulder acts as a block. Certainly there are different styles of casting out there. I just find it interestring that what one person finds as a limitation to a cast another can find to be an advantage.
I learned speycasting with Mike Maxwell and always have my right hand on top, irrespective of which side of the river I am wading. Consequently, the left-hand-on-top isn't a problem for me. That's fortunate, given the word "ambidextrous" was not around when I came to this world.
I'm not so sure that Hazel is correct about bringing the rod too far back being a probelm. I base this on the way Ian Gordon casts for distance (as clearly seen in the photos on one the Musto threads). He has the rod fully extended behind him with the rod almost horizontal to the water when forming the D loop, and he is casting 59+ yds doing so. IMHO, it has more to do with how well a person loads the rod, powers the cast, and how fast and postive his casting stop is on the forward spey than how far back one brings the rod for the D loop.
I do find the reverse single and double spey to be useful if for instance I'm fishing down through a run on river right and tress limbs would interfere with a dominant right hand up double spey. Simply moving to the reverse single spey for the few cast needed to move beyond the interfering tree branch or branches is far quicker and easier than changing hands for 3-6 casts. However, if the wind is blowing upstream when river right, I will use a left hand up single spey when fishing because it is easier on the body to execute it for hours.
I don't doubt that dropping the rod tip to that point helps with power castig and long distances. I can tell you as a rather novice caster that keeping the rod more vertical as I transition from from D loop to my forward stroke has helped me to be more consistent with my casting. In the future I may need to find a different stroke to maximize my casting.
I realized after reading your latest post that I forgot to mention I usually have to rod back quite far when casting; however, I make the D loop move more or less sidearm with the rod nearly parallel to the water on the way back. This keeps the loop from opening up and losing energy, which I suspect is what Hazel is talking about. Also, I use long belly lines almost exclusively and moving the rod back this way makes it easier to toss their whole belly length. If you keep your rod more or less vertical when forming the D loop, you cannot move the rod back nearly as far without the loop becoming far too wide and losing the energy of the cast.
I just turned off the presidential debate to thrown in Hazel's DVD and reviewed some of his segments that discuss dropping the rod tip. I would hate to misquote him on a public forum like this.
I don't know if you have had the oppputunity to see his DVD but he keeps the rod tip on alevel plane with the rod at 45 degrees until the forward cast. I have to admit that it appears different than many other casters I have seen.
He talks about losing power and the load on the rod if the rod tip dips.
I don't know if this affects casting style at all but I can also tell you that he leans towards WC and Delta length bellies. I'm currently castin a T+T 1309 with a WC and this casting style works well. I do have an interest in casting some longer belly lines down the road and I don't know if this style will translate well or not.
I would encourage you to take a look at the DVD if you get the chance.
If you keep your rod at a 45 degree angle, you can't lower the rod tip on the sweep when forming the D loop because either the loop opens up so far the cast just about dies, or the line collapses on to the water, just like Hazel says. However, if you make your sweep into the D loop nearly sidearm and the rod parallel to the water, the loop doesn't open up nor does the rod tip dip to cause the line to collapse onto the water. Instead, you have a tremendous amount of power added to the sweep because the angle between the rod and the line is much smaller. This also allows you to move the rod quite a distance behind you without having the loop open up or the line collapse.
I'm still at the learning stage myself, but one thing I noticed is that I tended to cast RH uppermost whenever I can, which means that I was only ever casting LH up when the conditions dictated :tsk_tsk: . Consequently the only time I was casting wrong handed was when the wind was gusty and blustery and coming from my right - hardly ideal conditions in which to learn to cast!! I have noticed a marked improvement in my casting off my left shoulder by forcing myself to cast this way and get some practice when the wind is light and conditions are good. :smokin:
Hope this helps.
It is the loop opening up and the power being lost that he warns of. That along with too much line stick. After your last post it sounds as if you are doing a similair thing as him i.e keeping your rod in a constant plane , just that it is a lower plane than his 45 degree rod angle. Does this sound right to you ?
Do you think that sweeping the rod more paralell to the water is more important with longer bellied lines ?
My final question is based on the other part of his technique. Not only does he keep the rod at the 45 degree angle, he advocates a forward stroke heavily based on pulling with the underhand and a high stop position for the forward cast. I have always been confused by the concept of underhand casting. Is this technique more consistent with underhand casting ?
Regarding rod plane, yes, your understanding is correct. I tend to keep my rod at a lower angle thoughout the sweep and D loop formation.
Keeping the sweep closer to the water is not very important at all. It is just something I prefer to do a lot of the time. You can cast long belly lines with the rod parallel to the water or with the rod at a much higher angle. The important thing is keeping the rod motion pretty much on the same plane as make your sweep and form the D loop, and this is the same whether using a short belly or a long belly. You just need to apply more power to the long belly sweep and D loop formation because you are aerializing more line.
It is pretty much underhand casting. Keep in mind that underhand casting is only one way to do it. You can also use the bottom hand more or less as a fulcrum and use the top hand to apply power to the cast. Or you can use both hands in concert to apply power to the cast by pulling with the bottom while pushing with the top. All of these work, and one is not superior to the others, they are just different.
The high stop is important in order to keep the line aerialized above the water on the final forward delivery (or forward spey) regardless of angle of the rod on sweep and D loop formation or whether casting with power being applied underhand, top hand, or both hands. If the stop is not high enough, the line will either roll out along the water and not above it, or slap the water and not go very far.
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