SPEY CAST

by Fly Fisherman

The spey cast is merely a variation of the roll cast in that you actually make two loop casts in order to switch the line into another direction. As the line comes back to you after the first cast, swing your rod across your body in a vertical plane and slash downward to your right. This rolls the line in that direction at an approximate right angle. The same procedure is used to place the line to your left by slashing down to the left on your second roll or loop cast.
CURVE OR I-100K CASTS (Sometimes called “Shepherd’s crook”)

This cast is not easy and there are few anglers, even those considered expert, who use it regularly because they just don’t know how to do it. There are frequent occasions, however, when the curve cast is the difference between no action and a possible positive rise of the fish. Many skilled casters depend solely upon chance that their quarry will not be disturbed, or put down, by the leader preceding the fly over his rising spot. I know of two fishermen in the Middle West who use the curve cast eighty per cent of the time and their “luck” is just short of phenomenal. Both have been fishing and “practicing” this difficult maneuver for many years and rarely, under normal conditions, does the leader and fly fail to act as directed. In fact, it was in observing and studying the action of one of these sportsmen, on the Au Sable River in Michigan, where I learned how, after a fashion, to accomplish the curve cast. It did take many perspiring hours over a summer’s fishing before I felt even practically qualified to try to show another how to do it.
I have never seen a plausible description of the curve or hook cast in print whereby an ambitious caster could understand what the writer was getting at. Neither have I ever read or heard of any other system that would consistently work. This is the only one that I know of.

The curve cast to your right, which is described first, is the easier of the two and I would suggest that this be practiced conscientiously until you are satisfied that you’re doing it as nearly correct as possible before attempting the hook cast to the left. A longer, lighter leader with a full-hackled bushy fly is suggested in learning and practicing this cast.
You understand, of course, that as your line comes forward on a cast that it is describing a “U” shaped loop. As it approaches completion the “U” gradually, but speedily, is shaped into a -.I” upside down ( D. This is your curve. Now the problem faces us as to how to get this upside down “J” to drop to the water’s surface in that position.
You have an objective point in front of you where the line would extend and the fly drop, if your cast were to finish. Now, for practice purposes, extend your cast by shooting out extra line so that the junction of the line and leader reaches that objective point. Your cast will then extend over, by the length of your leader. Strip back about five or six feet of line and hold in your left hand, with your left arm extended to grasp it at about its mid-point. Start false casting and lower your rod to the horizontal position or nearly so, directing your casts at the objective point. For clearer explanation I’m going to ask that you use the clock face system, and the face this time is up, with your rod acting as a moving hand. Your rod, on the false casts, as usual, is working between 10 o’clock and 12 o’clock. Watch this closely now. On your forward cast, as the reversed “J” is formed, which will he as your rod is about to the 10:30 o’clock position, RELEASE THE LINE FROM YOUR LEFT HAND. Continue the movement of the rod in its forward motion to about the 9 o’clock angle. Stop there and point the rod tip toward the “J” so that there is no danger of disturbing what slack exists and no danger of pulling on the line to break the formation on the water. The line, from your rod tip to the fly, is called the “Live” part of your cast. By releasing the dead line from your left hand, the energy or traveling force of the live line is halted immediately. The line will drop to the water in that position. There’s no energy left in the line to straighten it out as on the normal cast. The inverted “J” starts floating in your direction, with the current, and the fly precedes the leader, to which it is attached, right over the nose of the wary two-pounder we saw rising there.
If there is a variation of stream current between the line and leader extending from you and the fly floating toward you, the belly of the line and leader will probably travel down and would eventually catch up with the fly and drag it, but there still is an interval of some distance where the line will have no influence on the fly and we get a drag free presentation.
If you are ambidextrous and can cast with your left hand, the formation of the left curve or hook, is just a matter of the same general action. But as few of us are fortunate that way, we’ll have to do it the hard way.

The left hook or curve cast, in direct contrast to the right which was an unfinished cast, is a finished cast PLUS. More power on the forward cast, in the left curve, is injected than on a normal cast. Again, for learning and practicing this maneuver, I would suggest a shorter, heavier than usual leader and a fly that will not resist the air to any great extent.
When you halted the transmission of energy or force by releasing line in the right curve cast, you inject added force at about the same point in the left curve cast. The same extension of line, as in the previous action, is held in the left hand. Your rod is traveling in the same horizontal plane as in the right curve cast. You are aiming again at a target point. On the forward cast, which is to be extra forceful, you shoot your excess line through but still retaining a finger hold upon it. Follow it through to the first or stripping guide, on your rod, with the left hand. As the line almost completes its run, JERK THE LINE SHARPLY BACKWARD WITH THE LEFT HAND.

 This causes the fly to swing around to the left, forming your curve, as it drops to the water.
Although a difficult action, I have seen the left curve formed exactly as is done with the right hook by casting across the body with the rod extending to the left Try it later on.
To possibly further clarify these “curve” actions you might proceed to perform the various moves in the normal upright rod casting position. In the case of the right curve cast procedure, done with the rod in its straight up, overhead operation, you will find that the fly will fall back on the leader. In the left curve cast procedure, the fly will complete its journey to the end of the straightened leader and then dive toward the water.
I must caution you now—do not become discouraged. If you can drop one good curve in your first ten casts you are a natural, yes a miracle caster. In your ‘next fifty casts you should have an occasional success. Keep going, with intermittent rest periods and it won’t be long until “occasional” becomes “frequent,” then practice and practice only, will develop constant skill in this most difficult casting procedure.

An additional hazard that must be recognized in using curves in fishing is that many times when the fish takes your fly you have a few feet of slack that must be retrieved hastily if you are to hook and get a secure hold on your trout.
Another movement or manipulation to create a curve cast is that of rolling your hand from its normal position, on the forward cast, in a counterclockwise twist so that your thumb, which was on the top, will be on the bottom. Care must be exercised in performing this action that the rod tip continues in the approximate same plane of travel as normally. After quite a bit of practice this movement will do the job fairly well but is difficult to control.

Practically all other craft casts are combinations of those listed. Becoming familiar with them and the necessity of combining various maneuvers will come to you readily as will their successful outcome as you practice the different casting exercises given.
A great advantage in becoming adept in the normal casting movements and familiar with the craft casts is that you may then concentrate on your fishing, your approach and the presentation of your lure, rather than the physical operation of your tackle.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: