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Discussion Starter #1
I recently found this interesting site and find it interesting to learn about the American spey/twohanded fly fishing tradition.

I find it interesting to see that you almost completely use special fly lines like the RIos and so on. Here in Scandinavia, we also have access to these lines, and some use them, but the majority here uses special shooting heads, attached to thin shooting lines. These heads are becoming more and more specialised for spey casts, and also are now being made with materials which combine a sinking front with a floating belly.

These shooting heads are normally 12 - 13 meters for a 14 ft rod, somewhat shorter for shorter rods and fast sinking lines, and somewhat longer for full floaters and longer rods.

This setup provides for easy change between lines of different density, and are extremely efficient and makes for long cast.

What is your reason for only using these special spey lines, and what is, if any, your experience with shooting heads for speycasting on your side?

I should add that in our Atlantic salmon rivers there are thousands of skilled casters and the last ten years spey casting techniques have almost completely taken over for the old type overhead casts.

Best regards from Norway,
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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Welcome!

This is a good topic. Frankly I still like both styles, although I am expert in neither :p

When fishing long late summer and fall grease line style swings there is nothing like casting a line with little or no stripping of running line between casts.

Yet when fishing a cold winter run morning with a sinktip that means business, there is nothing as consistent to cast, nothing more versatile and effective as a compact shooting head system.

I do have a problem switching between the two, but that's getting better the more I practice. To bring an extended belly line around and back on a single spey, it takes a good sweep and kick. If you do that with a head, it will never anchor.

On a snake roll, there is so much less line and more grains that one needs to pull hard in the first roll to get the line out, then relax on the kick to avoid pulling the rug out - the opposite of an extended belly dry line where you can snake easy but must kick hard.

Another thing I noticed - although the snap-t uses a lot more energy and involves extra strokes, it is a super cast for heads with heavy sinktips.

It's good to have options!
 

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Junkyard Spey
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Shooting Heads

Howdy Norwegian, I'm glad you found this site. I'm always interested in seeing posts from fishers in other parts of the world. There is quite a bit of info here on shooting heads we just keep it buried under all the longer belly lines. ;) Do a site search under shooting heads, spey to skagit, or per stadigh and you will find some info.
 

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Norway: great question as I suspect the vast majority of

us don't know diddly about how you guys configure your lines (read that: never cast one, never seen one cast, etc.) Are the lines you're describing "commercially" available or are they 'hand made' to the casters spec's with a pair of sizzors, splices and glue?

Many of us (waaaaaaaay back when) used to do up our own lines because a standard 90' line was all that was available. You could choose a WF, a DT, or a few other 'specialty lines' lines like the Twenny's (sp?) designed for single handers. Then you went to work with the sizzors, etc.

Lots of lines now aimed at Spey Casters but, in general, all have reasonably "common themes" (there are some that were true ground breakers like the RIO Alctr; still one of the best lines ever developed IMHO). Other lines (like the "spey driver") were commercially available in limited (and pricey!) quantities.

Folks still talk about these lines and give 'glowing reports,' but 99% of us will never get the opportunity to try them out. Sad.
Fred
 

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Europe ?

Norwegien
I would have rephrased the question as Scandinavia v America and the Uk. Here in Scotland shooting heads are still fairly uncommon, I use one for fishing Collie dogs/ Sunray shadows and I still prefer the more traditional lines, but I was brought up on Double Tapers and WF lines are still a novelty.

Malcolm
 

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Any one who is curiouse about the Scandanavian style should seek out Goran Anderson. He is a Loop advisor, and an amzing caster. Does every one in Scandanavia cast like him?
 

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Hooked on Salmon
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Yes we all are cloned out of cells taken from the wrist tendons of the great "guru" - like him we all cast like Valhalla Gods and as the ol' vikings did, we fancy to reach the furtherst with the lightest gear possible...!!!

Jokes aside - Göran Andersson has ment more to contemporary Scandinavian casting styles that anyone else - he is an icon.

He comes from a solid casting background with a good many tough rounds against Rajeff et al. His father did too, and also was a noted rod builder. I bought my first serious seatrout flyrod from him, out of a car booth, at the river Dalälven north of Stockholm in the early 70's. (Then a Conolon fibreglass blank was hi-tech...)

As I understand it, Göran as turned any Flyfishing show he has been to inside out. Quite poosibly he is the best living caster around.

I will stop before this gets biblical. But it is tough not to slip into an avalanche of superlatives when writing of the man. I owe him an awful lot.

His style of Underhand casts with tailored shooting heads, that has been finetuned for over three decades now, very much is the result of his problematic back. That is worth noting - the longer the lines the more the strain. We keep em' short and probably fish further than most long liners at less effort. I do not say that we have more fun - but we certainly take less of a beating.

"Tight lines"

Per

PS. "Norwegian": welcome to the Club - I have been hanging around these pages for a few years now. It is a great space that gives one acces to one of most dynamic groups of fishermen I ever have come across. Much is to be learned here!! DS
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all fine answers. As they included some questions, I might try to answer some, despite Per Stadigh answered some.

The stripping of line is the major/only (?) drawback of the shooting head lines. I think why many here still sticks to the heads compared to long belly/ full DT lines (traditional spey - huh Willie Gunn?), is that when using a full line, you get very wulnerable in wind and it also requires more space beside and behind the caster - it takes away or at least reduces the major advantages of spey casts.

Yes, you could say that all of Scandinavia is full of casters inspired by the style of Göran Andersson, despite not everyone agree on his "renaming" of different versions of speycasts - or casts where you use the contact between line/leader and water to load your rod. Also, the technique used here has been developed and refined by many others besides Mr. Andersson, for instance the Syrstad brothers, among many ranked as the most far casting guys in this business.

Generally, Scandinavian salmon fly fishing equipment deliveries are dominated by to big companies, Loop (GA) with their connection to Sage, and to a larger and larger degree Aktiv Fritid, a norwegian company with very close connections to Loomis and the Rajeffs. Recently, Aktiv Fritid also have established in sweden, and tied up with professional fly anglers like Mikael Frödin and Håkan Norling, both guys with a reputation on this side. Both Loop and Aktiv Fritid have their own asian made rod series of cheaper prices than Sage/Loomis, excellent for spey casting with shooting heads. As someone said, both companies have special made shooting heads with a stepwise taper excellent for this type of casting, and also Hardy now has a similar offer. I recon these lines are made by SA or another big line manufacturer. These lines flood the shops along the salmon rivers these days.

We scandinavians like the idea that much of modern two handed fly rod development are done in cooperation between great american fly rod companies (I mentioned a few above) and scandinavian experts ;). Who knows... Anyway, its amazing to experience how new progressive rods handle the job of doing these casts. Recently we now see a huge growth in interest for shorter twohanders around 12 - 13 ft, but still for line 8 - 10. But that might be another topic.

Best regards,
 

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The UK perspective

Norwegian, I'm with Juro on this. Like Willie Gunn I come from a traditional UK background, although have fished in your country. You say that the stripping in is the major/only drawback of the short head style of line - I think there may be other drawbacks too, that should be considered.

It is nearly impossible to mend your line with a shooting head system. Of course, if you are fishing with a full sinking line the same is true once the cast is made and is fishing round. But with a floater or sinktip, mending is an important part of presenting a fly well, and it can only be done effectively with a traditional DT, or long belly WF.

Shooting heads tend to be heavier for their rating than conventional lines - so a shooting head for a#9 rod may actually be closer to #11 line. A typical spey rod is designed to be used with, say, 20-30 meters of line out, and you need a certain weight of line to make the rod 'work'. Obviously if this same weight is concentrated into a short head you will necessarily have a much heavier and thicker line. There are situations where this may not be important - again, if you are fishing a sunk line it isn't really an issue. But if you are fishing a floater in low water conditions, especially on flat, unbroken water, subtlety of approach is essential. I occasionally fish a stretch of the lower Wye on the England/Wales border, where much of the water is smooth and gliding. A #10 line is really too heavy there in summer conditions - it scares the fish. To succeed there you need to fish fine - some go as low as a #6 line on a soft-actioned double-handed rod - and a 'heavy head' would be quite inappropriate.

The stripping-in that is needed with short head systems seems to me not only time consuming, but also it doesn't make for pleasant fishing. With 27m/90' of line out, with your system you may have 14m/46' of running line to strip in each cast. It is prone to tangling, and has to be held in loops distributed among your fingers - some people even hold it in the mouth, I believe. This, to my mind, must be a real nuisance, especially when wading deep. Compare this to the enjoyment of 'traditional' casting with a floating line - a couple of steps down the pool, a few meters of line pulled in and shot again as your cast goes out; it's all so easy compared to a shooting head system. I confess I have little experience of shooting heads with double handed rods, but my experience with single handers leads me to think I would find it far less pleasurable. And let's face it, we generally spend a long time between hooking fish, so the casting needs to be reasonably enjoyable!

In summary, I accept that there are advantages to a shooting head system in certain circumstances. But these are mainly when you are fishing a sinking line. It is less appropriate for the conditions that generally prevail in the UK between, say, May and September - the bulk of the season.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi Gardener!

I was maybe a bit un-nuanced. And I think you are right when saying the two directions supplement each other. And that mending during the drift is a problem for sure with the shooting heads.

I started this discussion because I wanted to learn more about the full line advantages. However, what happens here in Norway, at least according to my feeling, is that at least the DT fans are loosing members. I guess also that on many of the long belly/specialty spey lines, you need to strip in many meters on the long casts as well. Or am I wrong?

Whats true is that here in Norway, shooting heads also compeletely dominates the floating line fishing. But our summer rivers generally are bigger, rougher, have more water and are far colder than a british summer river. This might be some reasons for the difference. Here a normal line weight is 9-10 in summer, also very light two-handed tackle is not commonly used, but maybe we should?

Maybe also the technique of casting a full line is more difficult? I don't know, except that it is very easy and effortless to throw long lines and cover a lot of river the way we do it here, cf what mjyp said about the Mortenson style. Except then for some stripping, and the lack of underway mending opportunity.

Personally, I think many Atlantic salmon anglers mend too much, and disturb the fly underway chuckle: - many could benefit from fishing a wetfly faster. But thats also another topic.

What is your favourite line for floating line, Gardener - a traditional DT or a special line ?









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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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In my own personal experience FWIW, I fished a DT to start, shooting heads through most years, and am now discovering extended belly lines as well. Each appears to have it's virtues and it's weaknesses, and conditions tend to favor one way or the other. I hope to try them all :p

They are all an important part of this great period in the history of two-handed casting.
 

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Norwegian, don't get me wrong, a #9-10 is still very much the norm in this country for floating line work. And you are right about the character and water temps of your rivers - indeed most Scottish rivers (the Highland ones, at least) are fairly fast and ripply too, though not as cold. My particular fetish for light tackle largely stems from this one particular stretch of water I fish, although I do feel the 'message' is applicable anywhere that has flat gliding pools. For this work I use a #7 Wulff TT line. With the 70' head just outside the tip ring this gives me a distance from reel to fly of ~95' before shooting line, which is certainly enough for most places there. It's by no means as easy to cast as a heavier line, especially with any wind, but it can be made to work. Incidentally, I have dyed this line dark green for further subtlety - garish colours are another pet hate of mine in these conditions!

I also have a #10 Michael Evans Professional Spey Caster (can't remember the head length, but it's quite long - it 's a few years old, from before he started making the two-tone ones) and a regular DT9F. So I do fish 'normal' floaters too, though since you ask for a favourite I'd have to say the dark green Wulff.

On your points about mending and the speed of the fly, I think there are occasions when you are right about fishing too slow, especially on slow water. But remember that a downstream mend can be used to speed up the fly just as an upstream one will slow it. And there are times when one just wants to lift the body of the line over a rock or eddy rather than perform a proper mend, in order to fish the cast round properly. This is particularly the case in low water when rocks and eddies begin to appear more - incidentally, another reason why I still favour a long rod in place of the more usually recommended single hander for light line fishing in low water.

As an aside, I saw someone last night who has just returned from the Spey, and to whom I had lent some tackle. Among the party on the river was a lady who was partially disabled in one arm following an accident. She had a shooting head rig on a double handed rod which my friend tried (overhead casting - I don't think he spey casts). Never having used a shooting head on a two-hander before, he said he couldn't believe how effortlessly the line flew out. And she said that without it she wouldn't be able to fish a river like the Spey at all. So I'm sure the point about the benefits of short heads to people who are less than fully able is a very good one.
 

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personal preference

IMO it's all down to personal preference on which method you use. I believe there are advantages and disadvantages for both methods and having tried them both in Norway and Scotland, I know my preference.

I must admit (and this maybe because of how I learned to Speycast...being a Scotsman) that I much prefer to fish with traditional "Spey lines" . Whether it be long or shorter bellied I still prefer this method over the shooting head. YES, I have been in situations, particuarly on the Gaula and even on the Aberdeenshire Dee, where I could have done with an extra few yards of distance. Using a shooting head (in the correct manner, which I have NOT mastered, I might add) would have gained me extra distance, but that's about it for me. I much prefer the feel and action associated with the traditional Spey lines. Don't get me wrong, I have watched in awe as these great Scandanavian casters throw their shooting heads, with minimum effort, across the big wide pools of the Gaula.....it's very impressive. However, as we all know in Salmon fishing more distance does't always equate to more salmon caught.

The other point, which has been mentioned here, is the pulling in of excess running line. Wading is fast running water, up to my waist, I do prefer just to pull in a few yards of line and re-cast. It just feels more comfortable!!

One negative point which I'll make against the traditional Spey lines is that most Mfgs have not taken on board the colour differentiation between the head and the running line, which was very nicely done by Michael Evans. It does make casting a whole lot easier when you are fishing in bad light or using full sinkers (i.e. Wet Cel II Spey taper). On most floaters you can mark the end of the head, but there again why should you have to....it can't be that difficult to colour code the lines. I guess this means that this negative for Spey lines turns into a postive for shooting heads, as you don't face this problem. I know it's minor, but it's still annoying.

Oh, I forgot, there is another advantage for shooting heads......you can interchange heads very quickly and easily, which means you can travel lightly. i.e. a couple of reels and a small box of different density heads...simple. It could save you dollars on excess baggage when you want to take your 30Lb monster back from Norway!!!!

As a final note, my colleage and I were the only 2 out of 12 rods who fishing the Gaula this year with traditional Spey lines.
 

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This has been a great thread and many good points have been made. Although I have criticized the short head windcutter lines in the past;I started double handing with shooting heads and still see their value. As several pointed out much stripping is involved however if it is done intermitantly during the swing with the right equipment much of the annoyance can be avoided. Gardiner also notes that line handeling can be a problem. I was taught the loops in the lips method many years ago and have found that The water keeps the loops from tangling, a major annoyance with shooting heads.
Running line is critical for long accurate casts. I am sold on the zero memory Amnesia monofilament . It slide like lightening through the guides and lies straight on the water.
It has also been noted that the ability to make more than one good mend is impossible with short heads but again choice of tackle can come to the rescue. I load my heads and running line on a centerpin reel with plenty of backing. Once the cast is out I can feed line from the Silex spool with virtually no drag which allows the head to drift downstream with very little line drag.
I can also utilize the dragless feed of the centerpin to alternately dead drift and swing the fly without causing the fly to rise in the water.
As a final advantage I can replace the shooting head with a slinkey for fishing deep fast drifts that could not be fished with conventional heads or long bellies and keep my flies working deep.
There is ,as I see it only one serious drawback, the cost of a good centerpin reel.
 
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