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#&%*@^# Caster
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Discussion Starter #1
Guess this is as good of place as any to post this.

This year I am dedicating myself to actually practice my casting since it is something I never do except while fishing. This has worked out OK but I am of the feeling that the better caster you are the better fisherman you can be. With spey casting it seems consistency is the hardest thing to get down and I will go through rough spots where I just cannot seem to cast at all where as the next week I look like a true spey jedi.

Now that I am with the speypages I should probably learn how to cast :chuckle:

To do this though it is going to be early mornings 3-4 times a week at a local lake and 30-40 minute sessions max. Practice will be done with a 15 7/8 Loomis Grease Liner and a 7/8 XLT. Trying to get a handle on long belly casting.

As with anything a structured game plan reaps the best rewards and I am trying to come up with a defined practice plan. Times when I have practiced before have meant a lot of screwing around with a ton of different casts and not really working on the fundamentals that make all these casts work.

A little long winded but I am looking for some tips on how you guys that practice a lot structure your casting sessions to get the most out of it.

Thanks for any help you can offer,

-sean
 

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Junkyard Spey
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7,112 Posts
Hey Sean...

I think you have hit on the right idea. Most people only practice or use a spey rod when fishing. For most there is not enough time to fish let alone just practice spey casting.
While still being a "24 handicapper" I found that my casting became much improved last summer when I started going to the river for an hour almost everyday, standing in one spot and just casting.
 

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loco alto!
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If I'm lucky I'll get to practice once a week, most recently working on casts with my weak hand up.

I have found it helpful to first develop muscle memory with a "user friendly" rod, my 13'9" 8 wt Burkie. The moderate action and shorter length makes it easy to feel the cast, and control the rod sweeps and stops. This, in turn, gives me positive feedback to refining technique.

Surprisingly, the muscle memory developed transfers well to a more challenging rod (bigger stiffer T&T 1509) that I use for actual winter fishing.
 

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Steelhead are cool!
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Be careful Sean! All I seem to do any more is practice my casting! :D
Each practice session concentrate on doing one cast for the majority of the
time and then at the end run through all your fishing casts off both sides.
That will help you decide which cast needs work for your next session.
 

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"I have found it helpful to first develop muscle memory with a "user friendly" rod, my 13'9" 8 wt Burkie. The moderate action and shorter length makes it easy to feel the cast, and control the rod sweeps and stops. This, in turn, gives me positive feedback to refining technique."

I have a damaged old right shoulder, and a torn right bicep that never has healed over 3 years. As a result, my lightest and shortest spey rod, my Sage 6126 is my preferred practice rod on the river and for dry practice in the house. I keep the reel with the line on the rod in the travel case, if I can't get to the river. I do some dry casting practice to keep the muscles used to the movements.
 

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The idea of dry casting suggested by Grampa Spey is a good one when you can't get ouyt on the river or lake. For single handed rods it is pretty easy to practice even without a rod in your hand by just going through the correct hand/arm motions to get the muscle memory down. I think it is better to use a rod or rod section with the reel on with two handed casting as it helps coordinate how the two hands work together. This of course assumes you know what the correct hand motions are for the various casts! Otherwise you are just teaching muscle memory with the wrong motions!
 

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Here we go again!
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620 Posts
The fishing can be very sporadic on my home water with long lulls between schools and runs of fish. I go about 3 days a week anyway and the last year has been one of continuous casting practice where a few fish are accidentally (sort of) hooked here and there. You can sucessfuly do both (practice and fish) if you try to fish each cast, although you are only practicing per say. What I mean by that is, make your cast, mend it and follow it's drift down, then make another cast. You need to know what to do with the line once it's out there right? If you don't let it drift down to the dangle or wherever you're going to pick it up then you'll not be familiar with handling the line from that position. I made this mistake at first, getting my switch cast going but then had trouble with a single spey. Hey, why throw it out there if you aint gonna fish it?

On another note, please post your thoughts on that Loomis 15' 7/8. I am unable to find anyone or any place where this rod can be tried, seems to be a shortage of the model. I'd like to know how it compares to the 15'2" 7/8 solstice if you've cast that rod.
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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1,771 Posts
Sean -

First of all, I saw you casting last week and you are already there dude!

Refinement:

We may have discussed this off-line before but here is what I recommend:
  • Before you go, decide on what you are going to practice that day.
  • Bring a video camera and tripod.
  • Film yourself casting for 30 minutes, concentrating on the nuances for the cast or casting feature you are targeting today. Any more than 30 minutes and it turns into information overload when analyzing later.
  • I use hand signals to the camera so when I review the 30 minute tape I can remind myself of what was in my head at that moment. I plan to upgrade to a remote microphone as radio shack has some nice ones that aren't too expensive.
  • Review the tape, using freeze and slo-mo, identify the faults and strengths and develop the agenda for the next day.
  • Repeat until you are ready for the next topic.

Sounds a little anally-retentive I know but you make huge leaps and bounds once you get the momentum going from session to session. It sure has helped me refine things.

Save the tapes, label them and watch the old ones in a month or two - you'll be amazed at the difference! I find myself dissing my ol' self in no time. Family thinks I've lost it. Maybe I have :D

Consistency:

The second thing I would recommend is develop a mental sequence for each cast. If you have a mental sequence clearly in the head for each cast, someone should be able to say "do a left-up reverse snake" and you should be able to just follow the sequence like the thread of execution in a software program (and we know you are awesome with that). Over time, each link in the chain can be refined and the sequence becomes more and more natural to execute. It's amazing how much analysis can be invested into every little link in the sequence, a lifetime's worth. But not being clear about the sequence means inconsistency, as it's this mental thread that puts the body into motion even when there are long lapses between sessions.

And believe me I know about long lapses between sessions :Eyecrazy:

I've had it with winter!

Best of luck bro, let me know if there is anyway I can help out.
 

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Pullin' Thread
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4,694 Posts
Moose,

The Loomis 15' 7/8 is noticeably faster and stiffer than the CND Solstice 15'2" 7/8. Both are excellent rods and the right one for you is a matter of the action you prefer.
 

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Here we go again!
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620 Posts
flytyer said:
Moose,
the right one for you is a matter of the action you prefer.

I have cast the Solstice courtesy of Mike at the Red Shed. He tried to get me a Loomis demo to try eventhough he does not sell them.

How's that for service!

I loved the solstice but really want to try the Loomis. (as do a good # of guys down this way, Hint Hint Loomis, c'mon, make a demo available to the Kiene's guys)

Hopefully there will be one at the SF Speyorama, but that's still not the same as moving water.


Sean, I realize you'll be practicing on still water to work on mechanics. I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents on fishing while practicing for those who get bored with the repetition. I still head over to soft water nearly every day I cast, pick 1 cast and just fire it over and over to build muscle memory and refine technique. I need to start working on left hand up on river left. Talk about HORRIBLE :eek: Like Pat McManus noted about his own casting, I look like an old lady fending off a bee with a broomstick.
 

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#&%*@^# Caster
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Discussion Starter #12
Hey Moose,

Around early April if you guys still have not cast one I will be happy to send mine down for you, Simon and others to give a whack. I think you will like it. Going send it out in a few weeks to a friend and when I get it back I would be more than happy to let you guys test drive it.

It is more an 8 than a 7 as it was built around carrying 80-85' of the 7/8 xlt. A lot more powerful than the solstice which I think the 6/7 xlt loads better.

-sean
 

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What to except from Practice

Great advice from everyone on what to practice. A small thought on what to except from practice sessions. Remember that you WILL have peaks, plateaus and valleys. It is very import to walk away from the task at hand and let the mind and body do a little "reminiscing". Practice at varing tempos(sp?) remembering that a s-l-o-o-w-e-r tempo is usually better. We all tend to rush throught the casting cycle so we can get the next cast right away! A side note is to cast with a friend, it makes casting an event. Guard against becoming addicted to practice, it casue things like: "Let's go casting" instead of "Let's go fishing"; When fishing you want to cast again instead of fishing the swing out; and, "There's no fish here today so let JUST practice". Klem

ps., enjoy
 

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Here we go again!
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620 Posts
Very kind offer

sean said:
Hey Moose,

Around early April if you guys still have not cast one I will be happy to send mine down for you, Simon and others to give a whack.

It is more an 8 than a 7 as it was built around carrying 80-85' of the 7/8 xlt. A lot more powerful than the solstice which I think the 6/7 xlt loads better.

-sean

I'll take you up on that! I'll PM you with some specifics.

We found that the 6/7 XLT was just a tick light on the Solstice, a 7/8 slightly modified was absolutely fabulous. Intersting note, several guys tried the rod with the new Grandspey and those casters who favor a fast rod preferred the grandspey while those who like a bit softer feel preferred the XLT. They definitely do behave differently. The Solstice rod definitely does have a lively feel to it, will be interesting to see if the Loomis handles more line AND still feels alive.
 

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practicing

i practice twice a week on the lake and the river. on the lake my 10 yr old son video tapes me with my tripod and digital video camera. it has helped me alot on reviewing my casting and technique. i fiqure at the rate my son is going with the practice he has been doing at aarons on saturday he will better caster than me by time he is 13. :chuckle: :hihi:
 

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Practice

I agree with Moose on this one! Muscle memory is really the key. The various components of the lift, sweepback, circle up and so on must become second nature. I, for one, when I discover some sort of problem (fault) try to get back to the basics. Since I'm new to the sport, I have many. I do spend a lot of time at practice. I'll have a really good day when all is going just dandy and then another when all seems lost. The key is to not give up. STAY THE COURSE! I do understand that the learning process is never linear but rather a series steps or plateaus. I think it's important, when things go wrong to focus on the fundamentals. In other words, don't try to overcome the next hurdle until you've cleared the last one. You don't want to practice mistakes.
Stan, a humble beginner.......................
 

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EAT IT!!!
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338 Posts
Dana's suggestion of practicing ONE aspect of the cast at a time (lift, D-loop, nice easy grip, forward stroke) is by far the most productive. Also don't over do it. Practice a little at a time and stop if you are at all fatigued. Tired practice builds bad habits. In single handed casting, practicing making perfect backcasts and that ONLY made ofr a solid foundation for everything else. 10 minutes at a time of perfect backcasts once a day for a week does wonders. So start with the lift for spey casts and once that is perfect concentrate on forming the worlds most perfect V loop. When I had all of the parts well ingrained casting a single hand rod, the one thing that really helped to improve my casting as a whole was practicing casting with the LEAST possible effort. This drastically increased not only my efficiency but also my line speed and power when I did crank up the effort a notch. My two handed casting lags far behind, but every improvement I have made has come from breaking down the pieces and simplifying what I was practicing. With time, I will one day not suck!
 

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Simply Practice Routine

I start each practices session with (1), the flix to the stop, (2) from Key position through to the stop, (3) Circle-up to Key to Stop, (4) the Lift and anchor set all the way through the entire casting motion, (5) a few overhead cast to get timing, loop formation, tracking and a feel for power application. Repeat entire sequence with the non-dominate hand. This simple routine takes about 10 minutes per hand. The reason a I go backwards through the casting cycle is: Each step is clean and I don't practice bad thingies just to get the line "back out". My biggest problem, since I have started practing daily, is not to think practice when I go fishing. Good luck Sean, Klem
 

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steelhead bum
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My practice routine is similar to Klem's, I begin with a relatively short line (50 feet or so) and go through the motions with the short line to make sure that all of the pieces are working. From there, I'll continue to add line until the head is near the tip-top. I'll make a few more casts, and then begin to shoot some line until I'm casting as much as I can cast well. I like starting with a few over-head casts, then I'll work into some forward speys, then when things are working well, I'll work into the other casts. One suggestion is to try to perform each of the casts as slowly and with as little effort as possible, then build into more aggressive casting, using more energy.

I cast most days, my practice session varies between an hour and 2 hours and work both my left and right-sided casting. To break it up, I'll also switch between moving and still water. Near my house, there is a public lake complete with boat docks. They work out nicely because I don't need to put on waders, and secondly, by looking at each piece of the cast (as it's been mentioned before) on still water one can really focus and see what's working and what needs some attention. After most of the kinks are worked out, head back to some moving water and start out by not wading too deep until the casts are coming together.
 
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