Tournament Spey-Casting has became very popular in recent years with many competitors travelling to far flung destinations around the World to compete in various events. Some of the creativity in rod design and line profiling has been filtered into the fishing tackle which we use today. I am interested in all forms of Fly-Casting and distance Spey-Casting is no exception. I have spent many years experimenting with suitable rod actions and line profiles and more importantly specific techniques and casting mechanics. Competitive spey casting distances have almost doubled from the outset due to advances and innovation in both tackle and technique.

Success in distance Spey-Casting does not automatically mean that you are a very good Spey-Caster. It means that you are good at distance Spey-Casting. Control using economy of effort and finely tuned technique across the broader range of skills within the spectrum of Spey-Casts requires a greater level of technical knowledge and skill.

That said, there are significant skills which can be gained through understanding the techiques that are essential to achieve extreme distances both when fishing and tournament casting. Time invested in this skill can be valuable in many ways.

Distance Spey-Casting while fishing is not essential but advantageous. You will often see fishermen who can cast to the far side of the river catching fish in near the side, but you won't see the fishermen who can only cast near the side catching fish at the far side of the river! The fish at the side may have seen many flies, the ones in the middle may only see a few!

If you are interested in Competitive Distance Spey-Casting there are two main factors that you must consider: equipment and technique.

     

                                                                             
The Double handed rods used in competition are usually 15 or 18 foot in length. The most efficient rod action would best be described as a progressive powerful action with fast recovery, which means that the rod flexes throughout it's length in a hyperbolic curve,(it is powerful not soft). Only then can the rod work as one unit!
If the butt of the rod is overly stiff it offers resistance to the middle and tip. Not only does the rod lose it's natural rhythm and balanced power but it lacks thrust, part of which should come from the rod's own momentum. If we have a rod which is very light, as soon as the rod is stopped the thrust stops as there is less momentum due to the reduction in weight. A more balanced rod will continue to provide thrust as the caster brings it to a stop. Every cast we do is dependant on rod tip turn over speed but this speed is usless unless we have the thrust from the butt of the rod. This is where the power comes from.

The debate about rod action is soon put to bed when it has to out perform others. You will not see many tip action rods out perform proggresive actioned rods during competition. The thrust from a proggresive fast actioned rod is naturally greater as more of the rod is working.

Distance casting techniques are greatly dependant on technical strength and not physical strength, however, it is important that the person using the equipment has the ability to bend the rod to it's full potetial. There is little point in having a powerful actioned rod if we are unable to bend it efficiently.


                                                         



15 ft rod 74-76 ft shooting head
18 ft rod 90-100 ft shooting head

Over the years there has been many tried and tested line designs with adjustments in profile to enhance the performance characteristics of the line. Any line will almost certainly have to maintain speed in order to maintain shape. (No speed, no shape).
Balance and stability have to be correct and weight distributed in the correct proportions. There are some 'off the shelf' lines available now a days but I have always preferred to design and make my own competition line profiles using sections of line and knowledge I have gained during the countless hours of testing.
If you prefer to experiment with your own line this can easily be done using a few basic tools. You will require a scalpel,2/3mm clear electrical heat shrink tubing, a vernier to measure the correct diameters and a suitable heat gun.


1) Cut a two inch neat tapered slice at the end of the line sections you wish to join.

2) Place the line inside the shrink tubing (leave an inch or two either side of the join to avoid damage) and marry them together to form an equal diameter to that of the line.

3) Use the heat gun to carefully shrink the tubing and when the line begins to melt together it can be rolled between two flat   objects with slight pressure to form a neat welded join. (Be careful, it will be hot). Inspect the join making sure there are no    gaps, if so repeat the process carefully until the line is evenly joined.

4) Allow to cool and remove shrink tubing using a scalpel.

These joins should not be used for fishing lines as they may not be strong enough.

 


The following descriptions are based on RIGHT handed casting RIGHT foot forward although the principles remain the same for LEFT hand.

The following chapters relate mainly to tournament casting using Fulcrum Fly-Casting Techniques and the precise movements required to make extreme distances possible. However, there are some principles which can really sharpen your skills while fishing.


Any rotational movement or weight shift (which is essential for efficient casting) must start from the ankles, therefore the stance must be wide enough to provide stability whilst moving back and forth and rotating the upper body. My preferred stance to maximise the use of the body efficiently would be to start off with my leading foot pointing in the direction I am going to cast. Then move my rear foot back until both are wider than shoulder width apart. The rear foot can then be turned to form an angle of 80 degrees as I look down. This provides a stable platform to accommodate any weight shift or rotational movment.

                                      
Prior to any casting movement the rod will be positioned out in front of the caster at around a 40 degree angle to the waters surface with hands around shoulder width apart. The rod should be placed in the palm of the upper hand with fingers visible on top, and the lower hand should grip the rod with the palm on top and fingers underneath. Then turn the shoulders until they come in line with the toes resulting in the right shoulder facing the intended direction of the cast. The rod is then raised to around chest height with the right elbow tilted inward slightly so it is positioned more in line with the centre of the body. This also naturally dips the shoulder down slightly, and, during any body rotation as we start the casting movements the right shoulder will follow a slight incline which will be co-ordinated with the initial movement of the hands. This helps keep all our movements compact and more importantly, if we look at the position of the rod we have made adjustments to significanly cut the angle of travel as the rod tip is now almost aligned with the intended direction of the V-loop.



When the body and arms are in this position, we are now ready to commence the casting movements and form that dynamic V-loop behind and exactly opposite the intended casting direction. As said previously, the movements begin at the ankles and the upper body begins to lean back and rotate with the bottom hand slightly proceeding the movement of the upper hand. This, combined with the effectivness of simultaneous body rotation and weight shift provide the most effective leverage. If done correctly the rod unloading when the line breaks free will then keep everything channeled in the one direction and at the right trajectory with the rod tip moving a long way in the one direction.

The key is steady, ultra smooth movements with a correct overall speed that, most importantly, allows the rod to load and unload efficiently in a gradual incline. Therefore not an arched convex curve with a pull in or pull down behind. The furthest back position the rod tip reaches is arrived at by the rod tip (rising) to get there no matter how (slight) the (incline). The pace of the aforementioned movements is extremely important to achieving the correct result and line speed. If done correctly as described we will be able to form a very compressed and dynamic V-loop, allowing us to drift backwards and upwards until the rod is correctly aligned 180 degrees opposite to the target area at around a 30 degree angle to the water's surface. In this position we have opened up the casting arc allowing force and speed to be applied progressively over the furthest distance.

With the V-loop fully extended behind the rod we can then start the accelerated forward casting movements. Efficient control of the body is critical with the movements starting from the feet and progressively uncoiling up to the midrift and finally the upper body, arms and hands. This must be correctly timed as the anchor momentarily slides into place. By doing so we can utilise the rearward energy and mass in the V-loop before it slows down and becomes less efficient . During conventional Spey casting techniques it is also very important to balance the energy applied rearward in the V or D loop proportionate to the energy to be used on the forward cast although it is rarely mentioned. Keeping the body and rod in the correct plane of movement is of the utmost importance in order to channel all the energy in the one direction. Maximum speed should be kept until the end of the casting movements and the rod should be stopped at the correct power angle. This allows the tip to deflect in the same direction as the intended flight path of the line and form a neat, fast casting loop. If the rod is pushed or stopped too low, the deflection of the rod tip will bring the lower leg of the loop with it resulting in loss of directional power and speed.