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.

The Same Old Questions

Fishing a Mid Belly line on a fine summer day on the Deschutes.

Fishing a Mid Belly line on a fine summer day on the Deschutes.

Winter has gripped my house and surround area, leaving me to do fun stuff like dig out boats and paper work. I have also been doing a fair amount of reading. I love golf another esoteric invention of Scottish origin, imagine that. I will also say more has been written about golf than will ever be written about Spey casting or even fly fishing for that matter. I have read a few really helpful things and a few things that were unfitting for the problems I have, and a few that I was not ready to learn. The best part is that no matter how old the books I am reading, the books cover the same problems for the average golfer….That’s me for sure but seems odd that with all the people that golf and how  much time that is spent analyzing the golf swing that new problems have not be brought forth by the presentation of different ideas.

Good casts cover the water better!!

Good casts cover the water better!!

There seems to be the same parallel in the world of spey casting. The same problems exist and the same answers are given for the fix. I also love Spey casting, and I am a  bit better than average. I can also tell you that the question I ask about spey casting have changed and are not longer the same as the rest of the casting world. I will also so the the answers that I need to give have changed. The thing I see is that Spey casting is a 3D movement having height, width, and depth. The Spey cast also is alive, well it should be, it has feel and tempo giving it a beat and power its breath. If you casts it pieces stopping at all the point of the cast it is kinda like watching Frankenstein walk, cumbersome and rigid. At the same time watching a runner move can be amazing, never a wasted movement each motion having a reason and purpose, fluid with the flow and never contradicting the other motions. The questions we ask in a single dimensional fashion, and as it has been we receive a single dimensional answer. Is it that the questions are the wrong ones, or are the answers bad???? Well to be honest neither… just like the questions and answers it is more complicated than that. So what needs to happen is that in depth answers and better how to, will in turn bring a progression of the questions that should be asked.

This type of thinking again is not new. This seems to have gotten us to the point we are at now. I think we can go further.  I believe any person can Spey cast. I also believe that for the majority of us that spey cast, beginner to master we all strive to be a little better than we are, not really ever satisfied with what we can done and have done but imagine that more is attainable.  For that small pushing in the bulk of our small but growing spey community we are ready for more info, better answers that will bring about new questions and push together the knowledge base we all desire to know.

Now I am not blaming any person or group of people for where we are now, they all help get us here. That’s right you and I, I personally know that more is too come, and if I still have questions and a desire to know more, I am sure you do too. Now let’s talk about one of these so called “Single Dimensional” questions and answers, shall we.

Crisp cast is picked up easily and clean from the water, correct stroke length not wasted movement or power.

Crisp cast is picked up easily and clean from the water, correct stroke length not wasted movement or power.

 

The first one that comes to mind is long line, long stroke… so does this mean short line short stroke? Seems simple but this is the problem, it is not that simple. I am all for simplicity but a generic statement is not meant to bread inspiration, it just provides a temporary band aid for the knowledge that should be given at that time and place.  I never hear people complain about getting to much information, I do hear them complain about hard to understand and over pontificated explanations. I once excepted the “Long line, Long stroke” answer. Until I went out and really spent some time casting, like 3 to 8 hours a day. This simple question became more complicated when line styles were changed, sink tips were applied, and anchors were being watched. Just like a spey cast as being a series of simple motions creating a “Oscillation Motion”, no movement is difficult by it self but when each motion relies on the one before it the entire picture looks different. To simplify the more anchor one has the longer the stroke need to remove it from the water to perform the cast. At the same time if one has a sink tip, the heavier or longer the sink tip the more energy and motion it will take move this heavier mass. For the last angle the deeper the water gets around the angler the the different timing one gets to make a cast and then the anchor placement, amount of stick and tempo of the cast change. So the simple statement of “long line, line stroke” is not wrong, but not the answer as complex as the question.

Aero Heads loads like a Skagit and is easy like a Scandi

Aero Heads loads like a Skagit and is easy like a Scandi

So the line between information given and information needed becomes grey not black and white. Better teaching ideas and principles will educated and bring about new questions from those willing to learn. For the one example I presented the same critical angles need be looked, for understanding, for teaching, for growth in our sport, for line design, for the future of caster yet to come. I hope the readers enjoy this and start thinking about what they want to know because, your questions are different then mine. Shoot me over a couple questions and lets start being better.

Looking Forward to 2017!!!!

That was the right way to finish a tough season!! Looking forward to a big 2017!!

That was the right way to finish a tough season!! Looking forward to a big 2017!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to an exciting fishing filled 2017!! After being away from life for the past 17 days I am ready to get back at it!!! There are still some openings in all the up coming months but space is getting tight, if you are thinking about booking a trip now is the time! I feel this will be one of AWA’s best years and we here would like nothing more than to get you out on the water!!!

 

Kicking ass in 2017!!!

Kicking ass in 2017!!!

I also want to thank each and every person that climbed in an AWA boat or a casting pond/class with us as well. Your drive to fish with the best and become better anglers in the process is why I do what I do. So with that I promise to work harder and to teach better in the up coming year! Cant wait for whats to come!!!!! Talk to you all soon!!! Thank you all

 

Travis Johnson