The Other Hand in Spey Casting

A well loaded rod is achieved through the use of both the top and bottom hand in a well executed two handed cast!

Frozen, snowed in and off my first Trade show of the season in Boise. I settle back into the chair in front of my computer, getting ready to talk more about the wonderful journey of Spey casting. So much is in a name, as from the words of Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet”. I agree with the smell, but the mind’s image is what would change with a different name. Here in the big egocentric US of A. we call casting that uses two hands Spey casting, even if it is with a single handed or switch rod. 95% of the rest of the world gives this motion the name double handed casting. Double handed casting, Two handed casting, and Spey casting…Some of these names help to give a clue the need number of hands/arms it takes to produce a…Spey cast.

The stopping of the rod in the forward stroke being demonstrated nicely here is what transfers the power used to make the cast into the speed and propulsion of the line.

He in the PNW and almost everywhere in our wonderful country I have heard the same nomenclature for the descriptions of the power produced by the “bottom hand of the cast”. I have listen to this and even bought into this for a while…until I really looked at the forces needed to produce a double handed cast. What came to light was that, no matter the length of rod or line system put on the rods, I still need the help of both hands to produce the EASIEST most REPEATABLE cast I could. In fact part of my two handed casting presentation deal with the fact that the decent cast can be made with only a hand on the top grip, and were again produced by placing both and on the bottom grip. This showed me that either hand can be used to make two handed cast but when both hands had a fluid cohesion, the rod followed a better path and was easier to move and stop the rod in the appropriate positions, and was easier to make changes to the cast without over working both mentally and physically to try these new ideas out.

 

A good example of the hand position at the completion of a two handed cast when a good stop is made. The top hand would not be that far out if the bottom hand had not come in and vica versa.

Now I am not saying the the bottom hand is not needed, or the top hand is the answer to all problem that deal with the forward stroke or key position of the cast. I am saying that either hand can produce good cast but both need to work together to make it better for the caster. I have notice that the stop needed in the forward stroke of the double handed cast, has more bearing on loop shape and power transfer from the D-loop into the forward stroke. The casts made with just the top hand were possible because the stopping of the rod made the power applied in the forward cast applicable to make the cast successful, same phenomenon happened  with just the use of the bottom hand. Stopping the rod…Just like a single handed cast made the cast possible. When both hands we used to make the cast and stop, less physical energy was need and a better feel was received back from the rod at the completion for the cast. Similar to those felt went hitting a baseball or golf ball solid, the feedback was instant and rewarding.

This man uses both hands in his casts!!! Mastering this has help make Gerard Downey the finest double handed caster to even walk on the planet.

Now I know about a million other things can go wrong during the cast, but I believe if you go out and just concentrate on making a clean stop in the forward stroke and worry less about what hand you used during the cast, you made find it becomes easier. Even a little easier is an improvement in my book. Lastly remember that the stop of the forward cast should as in single handed casting happen at 10 or 2 based on side of the river you are on. Don’t be afraid to get back to me with questions or experiences with your casting!!! Thanks and enjoy.

3 replies
  1. Tim Rawlins
    Tim Rawlins says:

    Good article Travis. Not much is talked about the top hand. I have talked with other casters about trying to break the rod between the hands at the stop. Interesting concept and maybe easier said than done?

    Reply
    • Travis Johnson
      Travis Johnson says:

      Tim, thanks for the comment. I don’t think it is as hard as it seems, but have noticed the more one thinks about it the harder it becomes. I believe in the correct Key position an even transfer is happening more organically than even most caster realize.

      Reply
  2. Keith Ricketts
    Keith Ricketts says:

    Travis: I took in most of your sessions in Boise and wanted to thank you for the effort you put into them. For the most part I am self taught after watching John and Amy Hazel’s videos. And, I have developed some bad habits that were easier to identify after watching your casting demonstrations and listening to the instruction. I was also fascinated with your discussion of the differences between summer and winter steelhead, anatomically and in their habits. Once again, great job in Boise and thanks for your efforts.

    Reply

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