Spey Casting Basics
There are times when using two hands can be better than one and even more fun. Welcome to the world of double-handed fly-casting or what is more commonly referred to as Spey casting. Spey casting, named after the river Spey in Scotland where it first began, can also be accomplished with single-handed rods, but for our purposes we are going to direct our discussion to casting techniques performed with double-handed rods specifically designed for this type of casting.
So what is a Spey cast? Basically it is a dynamic roll cast that enables the angler to change the direction of the cast. The movement of the fly line across the water with its aerodynamic loops and rolls is not only visually compelling, but exhilarating giving the caster a feeling similar to the sensation you experience when you hit a good tee shot in golf or smack a baseball squarely with the bat. In fact, more and more anglers are taking up this style of casting just for the fun factor alone.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Spey Casting
There is no denying the fun aspect of these casts, but aside from the sheer pleasure of it all, there are a number of practical angling benefits to consider.
The downside to consider is that the longer length of these rods makes them less efficient as fish fighting tools, landing a fish by hand can be more difficult, and transporting them can be a bit of a challenge.
Fly Line Choices
Long Belly Lines
Over the last several years manufacturers have made significant improvements in fly lines designed for Spey type casting. Unfortunately, this has also led to considerable confusion. To simplify matters, think in terms of two broad categories of fly line, the traditional or long belly lines and the newer shorter belly shooting head and Skagit lines. The longer belly lines were originally developed primarily for Atlantic salmon fishing. The head sections of these lines are generally at least 60-feet long and make it possible to easily cast over 100-feet even against the wind. Little or no stripping and shooting of line is involved and in freezing weather conditions this can be a welcome advantage because it helps keep your hands dry. Due to their length however, they are also the most difficult lines to learn to cast.
Shooting Heads and Skagit Lines
Skagit casting is a sub style of Spey casting using short, heavy Spey lines with heavy tips (typically the sinking variety) and/or large flies. Skagit casters use casts with waterborne anchors: the snap T, double Spey, and Perry Poke. As a rule of thumb shooting heads and Skagit lines tend to be between 3 and 3 ½ times the length of the rod one is using. These are the most popular lines for US based anglers in freshwater and are seeing increasing use in saltwater applications. The heads are available in a variety of sinking densities and are especially useful for overhead casting with double-handed rods. In the Skagit configuration, the belly of the line floats. With the addition of various tip sections they allow the angler to fish virtually all levels of the water column. Due to their shorter length, compared to the long belly lines they are considerably easier to learn to cast. In conjunction with a floating or an intermediate tip section, this type of line is ideally suited for the novice caster.
Important Spey Casting Terms
Long Belly Traditional Spey Casting vs. Skagit Casting
Traditional Spey casting uses touch-and-go anchors or waterborne anchors. Skagit casting uses only waterborne sustained anchors, meaning the sink tip and fly is allowed to sink beneath the surface of the water for a couple of seconds prior to the formation of the back cast D-loop and forward stroke.
TFO Double-Handed Fly Rods
TFO’s lineup of double-handed rods is designed to meet the needs of the most discriminating anglers using traditional Spey, Skagit and overhead style casting techniques. We don’t build tournament rods, we build fishing rods and at the 2009 and 2010 Spey-O-Rama casting championships some of the world’s greatest casters touted our rods as first class casting and fishing instruments.