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chrome-magnon man
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With all the interest in Skagit Casting right now I've been wondering what the next phase of spey interest will be.

A few years ago extended belly lines were all the rage, and the XLT and GrandSpey were burning up the bandwidth as folks debated their respective merits and whether or not longer bellies were superior to other lines. These were great discussions, and sometimes quite heated, and there was a sense of some real experimentation going on among a small group of spey enthusiasts. After a whille lines were developed and brought to market, and everyone seemed to want to be a long belly caster.

Then, word got out that "Skagit" lines were in R&D at Scientific Anglers, and suddenly everyone wanted to be a Skagit caster. We went from "long lines good; short lines bad" to a serious interest in shooting heads, which is what Skagit lines are. Tapers and applications were discussed, and now everyone is interested in becoming a Skagit caster.

It seems to me that line development drives the interest in various aspects of spey casting, so if we are now all keen about shooting heads,will we soon swing back to our interest in longer bellies? Or will we make a pit stop at the mid belly lines for a while?

If we can categorize spey line styles as shooting heads (or short heads), mid bellies and long bellies, we can debate the merits of each from various perspectives, but there is overlap. A good example of this is my approach to underhand casting long belly lines. Now, there are some who have told me it can't be done, but I manage it quite well. Is it "pure" underhand casting? Of course not, it is an adaptation of the casting style for use with long belly lines. I am using very different tackle than the classic underhand casters such as Goran Andersson. I guess if underhand casting is as much about tackle as technique, then I'm not "Underhand Casting" with a capital "U". But since I can underhand cast with the classic tackle as well, I feel safe in saying that my approach is an adaptation--perhaps even an expansion--of the underhand cast.

I see Skagit casting moving into the realm of the undehand cast, in that you need a specific type of line, rod, and even fly along with the casting technique in order to do it "right." I believe that Ed Ward has really hit on something quite unique in his conceptualiation of the Skagit cast, but it is important for students of spey casting to recognize that much of what Ed talks about can be and is applied to other forms of spey casting. The continuous load concept is something that skilled longline casters must do if they expect to cast lines like the XLT and GrandSpey with the full head out. Does this mean that someone might figure out how to Skagit cast with long belly lines, as I've done with the underhand cast?

So once we have explored the intricacies of Skagit casting, where will our enthusiasms take us? I think one area of the spey that has been long neglected is the classic double taper line, and it is probably high time that someone developed a modern version of these lines. What this would look like is hard to say, but I think the lessons learned in the development of the XLT and GrandSpey could be applied to the next generation of long belly double tapers.

And then I'll see if I can underhand cast those, too...!
 

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Dana,

You have just completed my justification to purchase a 4 1/2" Perfect. The double ended XLT/GS. That would be one serious back taper. All jesting aside, I think you pose an interesting question.
 

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loco alto!
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3,109 Posts
The Cortland Spey step taper DT's were kind of like that, 120' long, and the fishable belly was 80-90' before it started to ramp down too much on the "other side." I always thought these lines cast great, perhaps not as refined as modern long belly tapers, but definitely onto something. Maybe a 5" Perfect?
 

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Swinger of Flies
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103 Posts
Maybe folks will in time take a liking to all forms as all of them have a practical application while on stream. I am sure there will be groups within each following that never stray from a style and will fish water accordingly.

I personally havent gotten a thorough understanding of this skagit style. A double spey is still a double spey in my book....without regard to the length of the belly or if one applies a little underhand power, etc. It does seem however that the craze is short belly lines. I would hate to think that with all the new technology and developing styles that the "traditional" methods will fade into the sunset. Look at single handers - Bamboo is old school and how many older seasoned dry fly fisherman have moved away from "dura-super-scrim, hexa-mega" styles of graphite and gone back to bamboo.

As for me - I'm sticking to long bellies and fishing big water as much as I can. This time of year I can fish all day and my hands only get wet and cold from tailing steelhead....not stripping line. I dig it that way and was also a consideration for me picking up a 2-hander. It is cool though to be a part of something like this 2-handed gig that is evolving here in the PNW.
 

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I don't think long belly lines will go away. With the new skagit lines coming out and all the talk, it is just one more trick to add to the bag. I might agree with Ed that you can always use a short belly line for any kind of water but not a long belly but I started out with long belly lines and they are still my first love but gotta say the short line stuff is a kick to try and master as well. For floating lines I think I would always first reach for the long belly unless in really tight quarters.

I will say I am not a big fan of mid belly lines. If I am in tight quarters or throwing heavy tips or flies I will reach for a short belly line. If I am not in tight quarters I would opt for a long belly sometimes even if throwing heavy tips and flies (though I think it takes a bigger rod and heavier line than an equivalent short belly rod/line system to thow the heavy stuff effectively). I can do anything with a long belly I could do with a mid belly so see no reason to clutter up another reel or spool with a different tye of line.
 

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EAT IT!!!
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Please allow me to be the Devil's advocate. The developments we have witnessed in spey fishing recently have grown out of the need to be more effcient, not out of technological development. Yes, it is a chicken and egg arguement, that the need for effciency drove the technical development, but hear me out.

The succesful comercial spey lines were marketed as a more effecient means to cast than the DT's which were then in use. An hell, it is amazing the difference in ease of use between a DT and a Windcutter.

Long bellies such as the XLT and Grandspey grew out of a dislike of the stripping short belly windcutters that before were all the rage. More efficient fishing due to that lack of need to strip after each cast.

The Underhand technique was developed by Goran due to the lack of efficiency in picking up and casting long bellies with their huge grain weights. He wanted a less fatiguing more effecient way to fish and developed shooting head techniqes to maximize his effenc

The Skagit technique seems to be the MOST efficient manner of casting very large flies and high density tips without the need to use extremely heavy rods. Also the efficiency of casting in tight quarters were maximized. A long belly fisherman would need to cast a 10 or 11 wt to move the same tips and flies a skagit caster can cast with a 8 or nine weight system.

Each development grew out of a specialized need. The tackle and techniques that followed were a way to maximize efficiency and make fishing and casting more enjoyable.

As DT's, by nature are not as efficient as a long Belly such as a XLT or Grandspey, there further development will only come from those who wish to fish a DT, not because it is the best way to do things, but because that's how they WANT to do things. A extended belly line will always, by basic design be more efficient as the thin running lines allow greater shooting and the continuous forward taper simply wants to tranfer energy better than a level line. If you simply DON't want to shoot and can pick up and cast a 120 foot line, an even longer belly is what you want, not a DT. So are super extended extra long el grande bellies the wave of the future? I guess we will see?
 
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