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· Registered
149 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As the activity on the forum seems to stay in line with the temperature here in Norway at the moment (pretty cold/slow!!!), I cant resist to try this new thread, that is often touched in many posts and threads on this great forum. What triggered me now, was the discussion on the tackle forum about head lenghts for underhand casts. The answers quickly lead into a discussion about the difference (if any???) between spey and underhand technique. Dana laid out the pointer to his interview with Mortensen, which in my opinion don't contribute to clarify terminology and practice, rather to make it more dull and unclear.

As a caster who probably do something which is termed "underhand casting" by Mortensen, I resist to view it as not spey casting. In my opinion, the underhand technique is just a way of adapting spey technique to modern equipment, and the opportunity provided by rods and line. I would like to cite another great caster, Mel Krieger, which uses a term (if I remember right) "casts that uses the water to load the rod". This is what is in commoon for all these casts. To then make a principally distinction between spey and underhand casts is inmy opinion nonsense - at least if it only should be based on how you use and position your hands... I think it was very observant by Dana to confront Mortensen with his (Dana's) observations about what he (HM) actually did - and showed that he used much more than his underhand... There are several ways to load a rod, the essence is not your hand position and hand motions. Despite someone has proven to be effective, it does not say that there is no other ways...

I think it is unfair to the inventers of speycasting to try to present Underhand casting as something entirely new. I think this is done primarily among people with business interests here trying to sell products/courses/images. And it is a pity that this only confuses newcomers. Of course underhand casting is just a way of adapting the old spey technique. Maybe we should all gather around Krieger's definition and start to talk about casts anchored in the water.

Hope I tried to provoke someone now? Dana? Per? Willie Gun?

Regards from icecold Norway,

· Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
1,771 Posts
Interesting perspective, but if I may offer the way I have seen this discussion here -

I regard the distinction of underhand verses spey as a matter of respect, to honor the work that has been done by Mortensen and others with more compact heads, smoothly shooting lines, and powerful concentrated casts using the water (and rearward energy) to load the rod.

I have never interpreted the use of the term as means of separation to downplay it's importance, rather it's always come across to me as a way of giving the technique it's well-deserved recognition.


· Registered
2,095 Posts
Norwegian, the Provoker

So before the internet came to Norway, how did you provoke :devil: people during the cold/dark/depressing winters?

Of course, your ancestors stole the Spey Rods from my Scottish ancestors, altered/bastardized it and dared to call it Spey Fishing via the underhand casts.:tsk_tsk:

Being a newbe to this two handed rod stuff, I really don't care what people call a cast or try to define two handed casting. I have 3 Spey Rods and two of Bob Meiser's two handed switch rods.

So being the typical American Mongrel, I will steal, adapt and modify any technique to meet the needs of the day based on the river/stream that I am fishing on/in and for whatever fish that I'm after at that moment.

One day in 2001 while Shad Fishing on the American River in Sacramento, I adapted and bastardized was able to PO Classic Spey Fishers, one handed fly casters and spinning rod guys all at once.

As I walked to where the Shad normally were, there was a long line of spin casters, then single handed casters using shooting heads and long sinking tips, and then Speyers casting WC's with huge 9 and 10 weight rods at least 15 feet long.

I was able to get up on a little bluff and watch them before I went down. They were fishing deep and as far as they could cast out and getting nothing. Then, I noticed about 50 yards below the last Speyer with a telephone 10/12 weight T$T were hundreds of Shad at about 3 to 5' deep. For some reason they weren't on the bottom.

So I put on my MS 6/7 floating line on my puny little 7136. Attached a Boles indicator and ran a 5' section of 8 pound fc tippet at a right angle. Then, I added a sliding tungsten bead and attached my orange shad fly with chain link eyes. Since it was mid afternoon, I went with a smaller fly a size 6.

Then, I went about 50 yards below the last classic Speyer using the T$T 16 foot, with probably a 12 weight Accelerator line with the heaviest sinking tip and a Loop 4 reel. As I made my first ugly and puny cast, he glared as he boomed out a cast 2/3's of the way across the river and hollered "What are you doing, fishing for half pounders?"

I didn't reply as a 4 pound hen was on my first cast within seconds. After catching her, I just held up her and said "Nice half pounder!" . He just glared, stripped out more line and boomed another cast even further out and across the river and came close to hooking a raft full of drunk college kids going downstream on the other side of the river.

Five shad later while using my really ugly backward water load and lobbing semi forward cast of my line, the fly, tungsten bead and Boles indicator, I now had several spinners and single handed fly casters below me. As they passed behind me, They would holler and ask what type of fly I was using. I would show the fly and say a size 6 orange Shad fly. They laughed and kept their green size 4 or 2's on and continued to fish unsuccessfully using their classic styles and flies that hadn't worked all day.

I quit fishing in about 1 hour after 12 shad released and several with early/distand self releases. My old right shoulder was aching but feeling good. I saw one other shad hooked and lost in this time. I think that the fish had been snagged instead of fair hooked.

As soon as I left the guy with the T&T telephone pole moved down and the guys below me moved up. I watched them for about 5 minutes as they continued to do what had been unsuccessful with no strikes. I went up on the little bluff and hundreds of shad where still there at the same depth. Every fisher had their flies going 3-4' feet under the shad. Sometimes the Shad moved to get out of the way of their lines or leaders.. The T&T classic Speyer was casting about 75' to 90' out in the river away from the the shad as he continued to make picture perfect casts with his sinking tips.

It was a great day. I had a lot of fun catching fish and POing Classic Speyers, one handed guys casting shooting heads and the spinner guys who live on the river.

· Registered
3,042 Posts

I think in essence you are right, the use of the "underhand" is a way to more effeciently load "modern" rods. If you consider modern to mean the stiffer Euro-style rods rather than the so-called traditional rods like the old Sage 9140-4 and 7136.

You also say that it is nonsense to differentiate between spey and underhand styles - that there are many ways to load a rod. This too is good thinking, my use of the bottom and top hands at the same time evolved with very little conscious thought on my part. In fact, it wasn't until Dana pointed it out to me after video taping my reverse spiral roll that I even thought about it. I was just doing what I felt was necessary to load the 10151 and the stiffer CND 16 1/2' prototype I'm fishing now. As you say, the lower hand getting involved loads the stiffer bottom sections quite effeciently - it worked so I was doing it.

As for the confusion for beginners, yes I think that it is an issue. However, I don't think that the generic use of the term "speycasting" is going to dissappear anytime soon. The term is just way cooler than double-handed, or water-anchored.

The problem presented by the emergence of the "underhand" style in the lexicon of Speycasting is that it was a term no one had heard of and at first it presents a confusing mental picture. When you first hear underhand you think of tossing a ball underhand. When Derek Brown demonstrated an underhand cast I totally missed the distinction not knowing what to look for. In fact, I said to myself "what the hell, that doesn't look underhanded!" When I finally got that it was the dominant use of the bottom hand in the casting stroke it made perfect sense and I find that this is the case with most people just discovering Underhand Casting.

I don't consider underhand casting something different, rather as you say a refinement that builds on the older techniques. The application of the bottom and/or top hands I think are dictated by the rod action, very soft rods will necessitate more top hand and very fast rods more bottom hand. As well, the length of heads being cast will also impact the style, but to a lesser degree than the rod action (you can top-hand a short head and underhand a long belly).

You make a good point here Norweigan, I personally don't think it too controversial. As our sport continues to evolve I think a melding of all the stuff that works is innevitable.

· Speyngineer
167 Posts
Hello Norwegian & al,

The discussion about the Underhand Cast (UHC) and its differences to Single Spey Cast (SSC) is quite interesting, as I have myself had same kind of toughts as Norwegian. Originally UHC was developed by Göran Andersson from Sweden (Loop), somewhere in the late 80´s. It has been marketed in Scandinavia very heavily as a single cast, very similar to SSC, where the main difference is the use of a short shootinghead and a long leader, and the point being to use the leader only as an anchor. Btw. the UHC was also advertised to be suitable to singlehand rods, so the use of the lower hand cannot be the reason for the difference.

To my understanding there is an ancient Scottish cast called the Underhand Cast or Planet Cast, where the line actually does not touch water at all. In this respect it would be decent that proper names form different casts were used, as if we start now to talk about the Underhad method as all the casts with a doublehander, where the lower hand is in charge at the power stroke, we shall mix these definitions totally. Also many longliners have used for ages the active lower hand in the spey cast, so called push pull-motion of both the arms.

I am sure that if one performs an overhead cast with a short shootinghead and applies the power with the lower hand, it is not called the Underhand Cast, is it? As Norwegian mentioned, here in Scandinavia the UHC has been marketed heavily as a cast that can only be made wtith certain type (brand) of FF gear, and I think that the name of the mark need not to be said aloud.

I myself use short shootingheads for sunkline fisnhing, as my idea is that the line should be as long as one can roll onto the surface with one rollcast, which means about 9-10 m deepwater express lines, 13m type II sinkers, 15m intermediates and long floating lines, Wulff TT Spey e.g. The casts I use are in my mind Spey Casts, Singles, Doubles and Snake Rolls, despite the length of the leader and flyline.

It sure looks to me that the UHC boom has hit the USA and Canada, which is kind of sad, if things go there as they have went here in Scandinavia, where one sees longline speycasters on the river only when looking at the reflections from the water surface.

Btw., personally I have found the biggest practical disadvantage of the short shootinhead casting being the "running line management", which tends to get more and more difficult to the square of the length of the cast. I have lost several Atlantic Salmon when trying desperately to sort the tangles out with fish on. Also the stripping and its importance as a part of the fishing is in my mind overadvertised, as maybe the first couple of meters when strippimg sure are so, the rest of the stripping is usually "empty".

PS. It is about -25 to 30 Celcius Degrees cold here in Finland too (about 0 Deg Fahrenheit)

· Registered
2,100 Posts
Lohi, What does this mean?

I do not understand the following.

"It sure looks to me that the UHC boom has hit the USA and Canada, which is kind of sad, if things go there as they have went here in Scandinavia, where one sees longline speycasters on the river only when looking at the reflections from the water surface."

Thank you in advance for clarifying.


· Registered
15 Posts
Doe's it really matter

It seem's to me that what it all come's down to is adapting to what condition's dictate at the time. Which is one of the first thing's I learned when Derek Brown gave his first seminar here in B.C. So whether it is underhand,upper hand stance,etc. like he said do what work's and don't think there is only one way to excecute a cast.

· Hooked on Salmon
161 Posts
Dear all,

Of course I have followed this thread carefully, but as it has puddled on so well I have been reluctant to move in. Lots of good things are being said. May I add a few thoughts;

1) As I know Göran Andersson personally, I feel it to be fair to let you know the actual "evolution" of this cast, as I recall it. It was developed over a good many years and only got "brand named" when Göran got involved with the budding Loop (then Karpen) company in the mid -80's. (Loop have survived so well on an amazingly natural marketing instinct, if you ask me)

Göran originally experimented with the switch cast, a linear cast where the line lands on the water. In the 60's when I was a budding trout fisherman all books dwelled on the switch cast that we worked out *sses off to perform with floppy fibreglass rods, and later with canewands. A well performed switch cast went much further than a simple roll.....

From there the Underhad proper developed. I doubt that Göran even was aware the various Speycasts, back then. Also in UK they were pretty much an oddity up to the -80's, save in small circles on a few rivers, where tradition ruled. Today's boom is as evident there as in the US. Just read Trout&Salmon from the 60's up to the mid-80's and see how little was written about Speycasts. The overhead casts predominated there, as well asin Scandinavia. I think the books by Falkus and Oglesby ment a whole lot in re-establishing the Spey. It would be interesting the hear some Scottish views on this!

I think that the Underhand is an example of "the wheel being re-invented". The key difference is that Göran aimed at getting the shooting capacity of the line up first. Rather than sending a full line out, it already from the beginning was conducted with shooting head rigs sprung out of the casting world, where Göran was a leading figure, also internationally.

When Loop became Scandinavian agents for SAGE in the 80-s, it all boomed. Göran had some influence over the design of the Euro series and the new rods made the technique leap. We used to order tailored lined from Göran made specially for the early 14' and 16' Sage rods. Rods like the first 14'/#10 or #9, as well as the recently discussed 16' still hold their ground.

People like Mortensen, the Syrstad brothers and scores of other wonderful casters are much more recent phenomenons that now are developing this branch of doublehanded casting further.

There is no clean definition of how to cunduct it - some, like me, use upper hand and sheer power more than others that rely more on the butt hand and more controlled movements. Göran hardly moves his arms at all - he sends the line miles just circling the rod within the narrowest of cones. But that's him....

I have met several of the best casters that uses more traditional Spey techniques. It is great fun to watch them in action - like Dana, Tyler or Way Yin.

Still, and this is not ment to pick a fight, they all are big and powerful blokes. In my mind you need to be precisly that to cast a Grand spey or a XLT a very far distance. It is not only a matter ot technique - it is also is a matter of strength and force. There is the biggest shortcoming of the "old" techniques, if you ask me.

More backs are getting broken, more elbows blown up, and the entire experience becomes ever so tiring. The weight alone of the line brings discussions up of how to balance the rod. Heavy reels are hauled around as a result.

We Underhand casters, at least most of us, aim for the lightest gear possible. Even women with good technique cast vast distances. I feel all this to be beneficial and see the oncoming age as a lesser problem than I would if I still relied on full lines and tip heavy rods.

If the price is some tedious retrieving of shooting line I am prepared to pay it. (As said so many times before - the number of bonus fish I get when retrieving that line probably pays for itself...)

Even if I am strong convict to this style of fishing, I do use full lines in situations like on the Dee beat we fish, where one can fish constant lenghts of floating line for maybe 30-40 cast when working a linear pool. It is effecient and fun. But when working the potholes and smaller pools on the same beat I switch back to my Underhand rigs. One becomes ever so more flexible with it.

Hope this adds more than annoyment!!


· Speyngineer
167 Posts
Bob, my message was that there aren't many longliners on Scandinavian rivers, usually when I'm there casting e.g. TT Speyline, I'm the only one as far as I can see. And furthermore, I think the diversity of different styles, as well as maintaining traditions would be a good thing.

Per, your description of the development of UHC was very interesting to read, as I wasn't aware of all the details. I don't want to discredit Göran, as I think that men like him and Simon Gawesworth are genious, having developed our sport with new casts and variants of the old casts with new features. But it would also be fair to the forefathers of the todays speycasters that whenever the wheel is reinvented, it is still called a wheel.

· Registered
2,095 Posts
Per Stadigh posted the following:

"I have met several of the best casters that uses more traditional Spey techniques. It is great fun to watch them in action - like Dana, Tyler or Way Yin. "

"Still, and this is not ment to pick a fight, they all are big and powerful blokes. In my mind you need to be precisly that to cast a Grand spey or a XLT a very far distance. It is not only a matter ot technique - it is also is a matter of strength and force. There is the biggest shortcoming of the "old" techniques, if you ask me.

"More backs are getting broken, more elbows blown up, and the entire experience becomes ever so tiring. The weight alone of the line brings discussions up of how to balance the rod. Heavy reels are hauled around as a result. "

I stumbled into Spey Rods/two handed rods due to a right shoulder/upper arm injury in the late Spring of 2001. That coupled with a bad right elbow that was hammered in a Shad Season trying to hurl shooting lines with heavy sinking heads and a very windy summer that required double hauls on every cast for trout fishing on our rives.

After my last shoulder injury, I was unable to single hand/double haul and shoot shooting heads. With my lighter 7141, I can cast for a long time without having to take a rest. With my 10151, an Accelerator 9/10 with tips and a Loop 4 to balance the package. 30 to 45 minutes of casting with this rig require a rest or at least a change in casting styles.

My older son, who fits into the big guy category is a little over 6' and 200 plus pounds. He was an excellent wrestler and athletic. His techniques to fish the Delta for stripers and to fish for steelhead, big trout on big rivers and shad with his big Spey rod, has been to over power his big rods, the shooting line and long hand built shooting heads. He recently injured his elbow and the area below the elbow this summer. He has to wear a tennis elbow wrap during fishing. Then, after fishing, he uses a special wrap that allows him to use heat or cold on his elbow and area below the elbow. He now has an rx for a potent non steroidal to take after fishing for a few days.

He just bought Rio's Striper 26' DC line with the 350 grain head built in which makes it easier for him to cast. He is 36 now, and if he wants to continue to fly fish, he is going to have to learn some new tricks with his old rods and move up to the shorter two handed rods like Meiser's and get a shorter and lighter spey rod/rig for his shad and steelhead fishing.

On our next trip on the Delta, I will let him use Meiser's 10'6' 9/10 weight switch rod with my Rio Striper 26 DC/350 grain. With a simple over hand cast I can get out 90 to 100' of that line with no double hauls, false casts and not hurt my shoulder or elbow. With my crude underhand, I can get about 50 to 60' casts with this rig.

We are truly fortunate to live in this incredible time with great rods, great lines and great people to teach us how to do different casts with these different rods. The only right way, is the way that works for us, when we are fishing at that moment. Some of us want short rods, some of us want long rods, we require different lines on the same rods that our friends use. Nobody is wrong except when they try to dictate what casting style, rod, line and technique that we all should use.
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