This casting technique is very important to learn for all fly fishers. Using this technique you can fish all the difficult spots on the river. Among salmon fishermen this cast is mostly used with a double handed rod, but the single handed rod fisherman should also learn this cast.
The basic technique.
The difference between single and double handed spey casting is not really that big, the biggest difference is how you apply power to the cast. In terms of single handed spey casting it is the double haul that loads the rod in addition to the basic technique. For double handed spey casting it is the scissor movement that loads the rod, i.e. the lower hand is pulled towards the body. Percentage-wise it is a good rule to apply 30% of the power with the upper arm and 70% with the lower arm. This ensures a good balance between loading the rod and stable movements in terms of the basic technique. The basic technique is more or less the same for both single and double handed rods. In this article I will, in a simple way, try to explain what’s important to keep in mind when learning to spey cast. You will see a picture of each rod type in the picture sequences.
Picture sequence 1: The lift-off.
Lift the rod calmly upwards; this makes it easier to get the line off the water. Another thing to keep in mind at this stage is that the rod should be lifted upwards alongside the body. This will help you in two ways: 1) you can lift the line out of the water with less hassle, and 2) the rod will be positioned in the forward position, so that your arms will be positioned at the right height and position at the moment when the whole line is out of the water. This will make it easier for you to move the rod in a vertical trail towards the stop point of the back cast, and also it will give you plenty of time and a long movement in order to perform a correct first phase of the spey cast.
Picture sequence 2: The spey loop.
Now you are entering a critical phase of the cast as the whole line is now hanging in the air. The goal is to make the leader land on the water, completely stretched out, this gives you the best possible chances of making a good forward cast. I order to do this the rod must move in a completely vertical motion towards the back cast stop point, when you get to this position you have to move the arms/rod upwards, then you stop the movement and wait for the leader to hit the water, this is the movement that creates the spey loop. It is very important to practise this a lot, also practise with different distances between the stop points. It is important to calculate where on the water you place the leader in terms of fishing in different tight spots, a long movement will put the fly down in the water behind you, and a short motion will place it in the water in front of you.
Picture sequence 3: Plan how to apply power.
Already at the moment you lift the line out of the water in the forward position and you’re about to place the leader in the water you will have to prepare the application of power. With a single handed rod this means that you already now will have to perform the first phase of the double haul, you have to do this as the whole line is out of the water in the forward rod position. You will give the line a short and distinct pull with the line hand, and then follow through with both the rod and line hand. With a double handed rod it is the lower hand that already at this stage must be moved away fro the body before the leader hits the water. This way the lower hand will be in its correct position when the leader hits the water. Do this movement too late (after the leader has landed on the water), and the cast will be ruined, as you will have created a slack in the spey loop.
Picture sequence 4: The angle of the cast.
You also have to plan the angle of the cast at an early stage of the cast, you have to angle the cast in the initial phase and not during the forward cast. This is best done as such: Place the foot that is closest to the bank in front of the other foot, this ensures you have more movement in your hips, enabling you to twist your upper body into the best position. When you are about to lift the line off the water with the rod in the forward position you twist both the rod and the body out towards the river, which means that you will place the rod at an angle towards the current and your upper body is at a 45 degree angle compared to the river. Now you can perform the first phase of the cast as described in picture sequence 2.
Picture sequence 5: The forward cast.
When you have angled the cast and the leader hits the water you will be in a position where the lower arm is away from the body and the upper arm is close to your shoulder. This is the correct position to be in for starting the forward cast. Now you pull the lower arm towards your stomach and at the same time decrease the angle of your upper arm, when the fighting butt hits the stomach you stop the movement. This way you will still have the angle of your upper arm, now the line is released at the same time as the rod comes to an abrupt stop. With a single handed rod you will now be positioned with both the rod and line hand in the back cast stop position, and now you will have to begin the movement towards the forward stop point with both hands. See the articles “The stop points” and “The double haul” in the menu “Casting”, here you can read more about utilising the power that is created in the rod during the cast.
All photos: Einar Nordgård.