Much as I like Spey casting, overhead casting is my favourite form of fishing casting with a double handed rod,

In overhead casting a loop of line is unrolled back and forward over the rod tip, the line unrolls out fully in the air behind the angler and enough clearance behind is needed for it to do so. It is sometimes referred to as overhand casting in Scandinavian countries. Spey casts use loops placed under the rod tip rather than over the rod tip and rely on water resistance from the end of the line making contact with the water maintaining tension, allowing the angler to make a cast.

Overhead casting is a great technique for a basis to learning how to manipulate a double handed rod properly and how to tip cast with one. It is perhaps the best cast for understanding how the rod tip works, how it counter flexes on the stop, feeling how the rod loads and unloads, feeling the stop and its effects, and for learning an acceleration and the techniques of loop control. Good overhead casting technique is an absolutely an invaluable asset. Overhead casting technique should not ever become neglected because of Spey casting. Part of good technique is line height management or control behind, especially important with todays Spey line profiles.


The style of overhead casting I use is, as usual, the continuous motion Fulcrum Fly-casting style that I use for all of my fishing casting. The top hand moves along a straight line rising incline to make the back casting stroke.

Overhead casting takes two main forms, shooting head casting and shorter bellied Spey lines used with fast action rods or tip action rods. Or, casting with a more progressive action rod and medium to longer bellied lines. Some people, myself included, will still prefer a more progressive rod action for everything because of the feel. I don't mind using a faster action rod with shooting heads but wouldn't use them for long belly lines as a choice. Some may use a fast action rod for long belly lines, it will always come down to personal choice.

What matters about overhead casting is as usual exactly how the rod loads and unloads, or is loaded and unloaded by the caster. The angle the rod is positioned at when the back cast is completed, is important, as is fluent continuous motion for line height management behind.

The fundamental techniques for overhead casting correctly is the same as for single handed casting, some position change is made before the main angle change to the stop.

How the body is used from weight shift and upper body rotation to increase power application economically, and to enhance stroke length will be important. Preventing the top hand from ruining the cast will be critical and the top hand acts as the fulcrum in this style during the power application even when it creates stroke length, apart from the initial part of the lift where the rod will hinge briefly at the bottom hand The top hand steers along an incline to the correct elevation during the power application phase, the bottom hand applies the power, pushing out in an opposing manner and creating first class leverage by keeping the top hand as the fulcrum. At the critical moment both elbows lift.


Initial Tip Casting Overhead Casting Exercise
Aerialising a short or medium length line by overhead casting while experimenting with angle change and position change teaches how the tip of the rod does the casting through rod tip turnover speed, and how loading is improved with some lateral movement. How an acceleration is all important in controlling loop shape and fly turnover. How reaching is unnecessary, how the bottom hand can apply the power of the angle change and the top hand remain as the fulcrum.

Loop shape determines everything.




A parallel Loop If the loop of fly line unrolls out fully without tangling, crossing over as a tailing loop, or collapsing into squiggles it is generally what is called a parallel loop. The leading edge may be rounded or a V shape. Technically a V shaped loop is not a parallel loop as the two straight edges would converge. I much prefer V loops and consider them to be a result of more technically correct casting.


Making an acceleration during the casting stroke is an essential in overhead casting on both the back cast and on the final delivery. A very smooth, progressive acceleration to the stop of the angle change, a slow to fast movement is critical. Speed and power has to be applied progressively with the fastest part at the very end of the casting stroke in accordance with making an acceleration. This is what prevents tailing loops (the line running into and crossing over itself knotting the leader or the fly catching the line). Tailing loops are one of the most common problems in overhead casting. Fly turnover is controlled largely by making an acceleration or as I like to say a pure acceleration - just to emphasise the point as it is so important. It may not technically be a pure acceleration but it is an acceleration made progressively and very smoothly. As Phil Gay says a slow to fast movement. I find this simple statement, slow to fast, a great teaching aid.

An overhead cast is normally described in simple terms as an acceleration to a stop moving backwards. A pause, to allow the line to unroll out behind. Then an acceleration to a stop moving forward. In the continuous motion Fulcrum Fly-casting style I use there is no waiting while stopped dead, or dead pause space used, the pause time is used by making a continued relaxed raising of the rod from continued shoulder pivots (elbow lifts) keeping the top hand seamlessly moving along the incline after than angle change has stopped. The position change continues seamlessly and in a very relaxed manner.

An Incline: It is important that the trajectory of the back cast is both backwards and upwards along the straight line rising incline
and that consequently as the rod tip is turning over it is rising. The rod tip is not ever being pulled down behind as it turns over, not even an inch. This determines the trajectory of the line behind and ensures the deflection of the rod in channelled as much as possible in the one overall direction. During the power application and final angle change, the rod tip always rises as it turns over and as it reaches the furthest position it is brought to behind during the power application and counter flex.

Continuous Motion: In continuous motion casting the arms / elbows keep rising seamlessly from continuing shoulder pivots before, during, and after the forearms and wrists have made the fulcrum pivot angle change and locked into place stopping the angle change, After the stop of the angle change there is an immediate relax of the grip. The elbows continue rising slightly to control the line height behind and then they will change direction to start the lead into the forward cast. There is no stopped waiting time. There is continuous motion used and keeping to the incline not only ensures the rod tip was rising as it turned over and is channeling the energy all in the one overall direction but it also really prevents the unrolling line from dropping excessively behind as the rising rod tip counteracts the normal sag from gravity and keeps the loop narrow. With heavy headed Spey lines this becomes really very important, as does the trajectory created by the incline. The difference from using continuous motion as far as line height behind is concerned is quit signficant. There is a significant difference. This is all important when practically fishing and it cuts out any nuisance value involved with the fly catching bushes, scrub or river banks, or breaking flies of rocks and gravel banks.

Apart from anything else, the smoothness tautness and flow from continuous motion casting means it is worth doing for that reason alone. overhead casting with continuous flowing motion is a joy in itself, greatly removed from the stopping and starting, shock wave creating and forced style of casting often witnessed as supposed overhead casting with a double-handed rod.

he elevation that the power application and angle change is stopped at along the incline is very significant, it must be in a normal comfortable position, in the comfort zone to allow fro continued motion without reaching. The thumb should stop the angle change about top of ear height or forehead height in elevation. The elbows are still well bent and we are very comfortable and have allowed for a further relaxed lifting along the incline also in a very comfortable position.

Rod tracking: Rod tracking or staying in plane is also very important as is the stroke length used for the amount of line out. The longer the line the more weight is outside the rod tip and the longer the stroke must be to load the rod and build up line momentum. The longer the line and stroke the shallower the angle of the incline used for overhead casting must be, it is also more difficult to maintain rod tracking.

Rod tracking or staying in plane on the forward cast is controlled by using the GAIA APGAI system of keeping within the box (as expertly taught by Gwilym Hughes and Mark Roberts). This keeps the rod tip traveling in a straight line and prevents it from curving to the left or right as it moves forward.

Over hang: Over hang is the amount of thin running line after the shooting head, or rear taper of a Spey line, that is outside the top eye of the rod. When casting shorter bellied lines the amount of overhang is critical and the cast may only be made just past the end of the head or belly of the fly line, a little overhang may be used but it is limited.

Line slip: Some line slip may be used on the last back cast to increase overhang on the final delivery, usually only a couple of yards but perhaps more. This allows the angler to cast further and to maintain better loop shape for longer on the forward cast.

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