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Discussion Starter #1
Ed,
I know you didn’t sign up as referee, but your opinion will be appreciated.

Your posts in the “Convergence” thread stated the following:

“…what basically distinguishes Skagit casting from other types of Speycasting (it ain't the casting stroke, or the action of the rod, it's the TYPE OF ANCHOR!”

This brought to mind a recent discussion on this board in which I disagreed with Dana’s narrowly defining Skagit casting as [to the effect] “that practiced by Ed Ward.” In so defining, Dana included continuous loading as a necessary component of Skagit casting. I disagree with Dana because it is my opinion that continuous loading is a requirement dictated by rod choice, not by a sustained anchor. Dana’s defense is “That’s what Ed does,” which is perfect if one accepts a narrow definition.

Following is my post to Dana. I will appreciate your comments, especially with regard to broadening, or not, the definition of Skagit casting.

“Skagit Cast: I would disagree with Dana’s definition here, and in other recent posts, that suggest defining the Skagit cast as Ed Ward’s style. Mike McCune stated, “There are as many definitions of Skagit casting as there are practitioners [of Skagit casts].” Mr. McCune’s opinions are equal to any in the area of Skagitdom.
As an example of potential error committed by tying Skagit casts to one individual, I believe Dana has characterized an essential element of Skagit casting as continuous loading. [Dana, thanks for teaching me the continuous loading technique at the Spey O Rama!] It is my humble opinion that continuous loading is a characteristic of the Ward Skagit style because of the very slow rod action he prefers. With these very slow rods, continuous loading is the only way to get heavier sunken tips out of or off of the water. For example in our [three guys at GGACC in San Francisco] Skagit line article soon to be submitted for publication, the lightest Loomis Dredger was the only rod, of seventeen tested, that required continuous loading to cast a 200-grain, 15-foot tip with Rio’s Skagit Spey lines. The very slow rod may have benefits, but is far from necessary for Skagit casting, and its requirement for continuous loading does not create a key element of the cast.
Therefore, a suggestion is that we be a bit broader in defining Skagit casts”
 

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Bob,
The term "Skagit casting" started as a reference towards a system of casting that focused on using a sustained anchor to achieve the casts. This is the definition that I consider to be the TRUE, BASIC, and EXCLUSIVE MEANING of Skagit casting. As I stated in the "Convergence" thread, if this were in fact not the case, then there wouldn't be any reason whatsoever to distinguish it from Underhand casting - they both use shootinghead lines and a bottom hand dominated casting stroke. It is the sustained anchor that is the BASIC characteristic that separates the two. As for continuous load, I now consider that to be the characteristic that separates MY style of Skagit casting from all other styles of Skagit casting. Quite frankly, I have seen Skagit casting conducted with lines longer than the recommended 3.5 x rod length formula, and also with a predominant upper hand casting stroke, usually by folks that are used to casting "Traditional Spey" style with long belly type lines who then try their hand at Skagit casting - an approach that I don't feel derives the best results. But in every case, the sustained anchor was where the load for casting the rod was achieved. The fact is that all of the current available "Skagit casting" lines were developed or patterned off of models that were specifically targeted towards achieving optimum performance from sustained anchor principles, regardless of whether one uses in conjunction the continuous load concept or not. It is also a fact that the main difference between a head designed for Skagit as opposed to Underhand, is in the relation of weight to a given rod rating. Because a true, sustained anchor Skagit cast forms its casting energies AFTER the flyline has been set onto the water, thus abolishing any inertial energies formed during the initial pickup of the line, a properly matched Skagit line will weigh considerably heavier than an Underhand line for the same rod. Just so that there is no confusion about this statement, this is as would be applied for achieving the optimum performance from true Skagit casts. As far as I am concerned, there isn't a valid arguement that I have yet heard to counter any of the points that I have made here. A rod matched with a Skagit line properly weighted for true Skagit casting can perform splash-n-go types of casts - a point that I do not deny. However, none of those splash-n-go casts would approach the performance level of any true Skagit casts conducted with the same outfit because the lines were in fact designed to work off of SUSTAINED ANCHOR principles. So, to answer your question, Skagit casting is SUSTAINED ANCHOR casting, and whatever variances there are beyond that would define the different "styles" within the genre.

Once again, I will say, if you are not achieving better performance with a C or Circle Spey, Doublespey, or Perry Poke over Singlespeys and Snake Rolls when using a Skagit line, then there is something wrong with the match up of the line/rod or in one's technique.

One other interesting note. The trend for rods over the past years has been towards faster and faster actions, to the point that fast rods from 5+ years ago now feel "medium" in action compared to current fast models. I just state this because I find it quite amusing that people refer to the rods that I designed as "slow" or "soft", when the truth is actually in the other direction, that most of the current "fast" rods are a few degrees above and beyond that into the class of "ultrafast". But hey, that's the American way - more horsepower baby!
 

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Riveraddict said:
Ed, great post, like to point at your following text pieces:

The term "Skagit casting" started as a reference towards a system of casting that focused on using a sustained anchor to achieve the casts. This is the definition that I consider to be the TRUE, BASIC, and EXCLUSIVE MEANING of Skagit casting. As I stated in the "Convergence" thread, if this were in fact not the case, then there wouldn't be any reason whatsoever to distinguish it from Underhand casting - they both use shootinghead lines and a bottom hand dominated casting stroke. It is the sustained anchor that is the BASIC characteristic that separates the two.
In terms of what differs Skagit casting from the many other variations, the text above realy points out THE MAIN CHARACTER difference in what fills in the term SKAGIT CASTING. All the other mention items as continious loading, slow rod, fast rods, more/less underhand, long heads, short heads have ONLY TO DO WITH STYLE.

It is also a fact that the main difference between a head designed for Skagit as opposed to Underhand, is in the relation of weight to a given rod rating. Because a true, sustained anchor Skagit cast forms its casting energies AFTER the flyline has been set onto the water, thus abolishing any inertial energies formed during the initial pickup of the line, a properly matched Skagit line will weigh considerably heavier than an Underhand line for the same rod.
Right again. Since I use both head systems for some 15 years now I would like to share with you why I use both.

In salmon fishing we usually use smaller and not so heavy flies as the 'half chickens' being cast out to chase steelhead. Casting a light/medium fly makes is possible to cast a underhandcast with only a splash and go anchor (in this remaining as much energie in your line system as possible and using this build up energie for the forward cast). Its a tight fairly fast way of casting (style issue). If you would like to compare it with single hand casting: like casting a dry fly with a short casting stroke into tight small loops.

On the other side of fly sices are flies like 6-8" sting leeches with lead eyes, 8"intruders with lead eyes. To cast thes flies you can not use the splash and g anchor. The flies will bounche around like crazy and need a longer anchor and (pulling) loading stroke through the water to load and shoot them away. Therefor the sustained anchor. When comparing it to single hand casting: Cast a heavy weighted clauser fly, you will try to open up your casting loop a little bit and you will try to make a longer pulling casting stroke.

So yeah I agree with Ed's post and hope, since the great fall steelhead season is here now that we all cvan enjoy some fishing now.
 

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chrome-magnon man
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Bob,

I'm glad that you posed this directly to Ed, and enjoyed reading his reponse. The article you are referring to in your posts was intended to discuss the issue of continuous rod movement (drift) versus continuous rod loading such as what Ed refers to in his interpretation of the Skagit cast.

Another thing I wanted to do with the article was to elicit further debate about how to actually define "Skagit Casting." Some folks that I've talked to over the past few years have an idea that any cast made with a Windcutter-type line is a Skagit Cast; others say that the way that Dec Hogan casts is Skagit Casting; others say Ed Ward is the true Skagit Caster. As an instructor one thing that I'm interested in is providing some relatively accurate way to distinguish the various casting styles from one another. Right now there are some in the Spey community (such as myself) who say that all these anchored casts are "Spey Casts" and then we break them down into various subsets (traditional; scandinavian; etc); others argue that for example the Underhand cast is a completly unique cast and should not be considered a Spey cast at all. I'm interested in coming to some conclusions about this thing we are calling Skagit Casting. In a previous version of that article I had a longer discussion about how to perhaps define Skagit Casting, but it took away from the focus of the article so I edited it out.

In the article I observed that the continuous load and sustained anchor are characteristics of Ed's style, and argue that this is perhaps how we should define "Skagit Casting." My reasoning for this is that Ed is the person best known for and most commonly associated with the idea of Skagit Casting these days--he wrote the original article, and has been the champion of the method here and elsewhere. In my article I wrote:

Because Skagit Casting as a distinct casting method has only been clarified over the past few years, it is important to remember that there are a few different ways to look at the Pacific Northwest steelhead styles. In an effort to differentiate among theses approaches, I offer that we should refer to the Ward method as Skagit Casting, according to his name for it, and perhaps develop another name for the styles that also grew out of the Pacific Northwest steelhead scene.
In the absence of an accepted definition, it seems fitting to me to generally define the concept in the manner of he who best defines it both in prose and practice.

I think one of the problems we are having in the discussion of Skagit Casting is that there currently does not exist one commonly accepted definition, and this is where all the back and forth is coming from. Ed says it is sustained anchor, yet Dec Hogan doesn't always cast with a sustained anchor, and many folks think of him as a Skagit caster. So is Skagit Casting the term we use to describe all of the methods developed in the PNW over the past few decades, or is it a term we use to describe one or at most a few of these methods? This problem of course is common at the outset of the creation of any new philosophy or practice, and I look forward to continued debate towards an accepted definition.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Dana, let me see if I have this right.

1. In an earlier post I challenged the narrowness of your definition of Skagit casting, asking only that the element of continuous loading be deleted from your definition.

2. You replied to the effect: I [Dana] choose to define Skagit casting as Ed Ward’s style of Skagit casting, therefore continuous loading is a mandatory element of the definition.

3. I re-pose my challenge as a new post, asking Ed Ward to referee.

4. Ed Ward agrees a broader definition of Skagit casting is valid, one WITHOUT continuous loading. Ed comments that his personal style includes continuous loading.

5. You, with all respect, talk around the point in a follow-up post, but do not accept a broader definition.

Golly, my friend, this should clear up misunderstandings of Skagit casting—you do not accept a definition of Skagit casting that Ed Ward does!

:lildevl:
 

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chrome-magnon man
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Bob,

I'm actually not overly concerned about how we define Skagit Casting, only that we define it. Respectfully, I don't think it will be you or I (or even Ed possibly) who will define it; I think that through these and other enlightened discussions the Spey community will eventually settle on a commonly accepted definition, but I'll bet that the interest in Ed's approach will eventually place us somewhere pretty close to a definition that describes what Ed does.

As was observed in another recent post, Ed Ward is too much the gentleman to ever suggest that his particular brand of casting is the way that we should understand Skagit Casting; however, I certainly don't have a problem putting it out there for consideration. As a casting instructor I am often asked to demonstrate/talk about Skagit Casting, and by "Skagit Casting" virtually all the folks I've met in the past few years have really meant "show me what Ed Ward is doing", so I show them sustained anchor/continuous load casting.

Following what I've written both in my article and above, perhaps we need to look at Skagit Casting as a family of casts and casting methods (similar to how we now tend to view the larger set of Spey Casting) in which Ed's singular style is but one high profile example? I'm quite happy to refer to Ed's approach as "Ed Ward's Skagit Casts" if it will help to clarify things. We will of course need to get Mike and Scott and Mike Kinney and John Farrar and Dec and others online here to discuss their particular interpretations of Skagit Casting. It would certainly be interesting to discover how each of these notables deals with the idea of Skagit Casting.

I'm glad we're having this debate; what makes me most pleased is that my article motivated you to make your original post which started this particularly lively discussion, and that other similar debates on other threads here and elsewhere will ultimately move us towards a definition that we can all share.
 
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