There are two main Spey casts, a Single Spey cast and a Double Spey cast each of which will have slight variations on how they are executed. Single Spey casts form a loop on the upstream side of the angler and double Spey casts form a loop on the downstream side of the angler.

The resistance must be slightly greater than the power of the forward casting stroke acting on the anchor. The anchor may slide but not skip out prematurely. A shallow exit entry level of the line coming from the water from the anchor is created by the first low part of the sweep. this is where the power is applied during a Spey cast sweep and when the line breaks free the angler is coasting up in the circling up move. He is doing so in an entirely relaxed fashion as the line unrolls from the rod straightening and not because it was tugged, no tug was made. They key is loading the rod smoothly and allowing it to unload and reliance on the progressive loading and unloading rod action from applied leverage, not on sudden top hand tugs. The pressure must be applied on the first half of the sweep before the line breaks free. When an archer lets go of the arrow the bow straightens and projects the arrow, the archer doesn't try to help it unload by pushing the bow forward suddenly. When the line breaks free the rod unloads itself placing the line for you. Make sure the rod was loaded properly first. Properly means progressively smoothly and from the use of class one leverage against the water resistance of the line over the first half of the sweep.


In more recent times the Americans have labelled the Jump Roll cast as a forward Spey Cast or a Switch cast though this cast does not have a change of direction involved. in Europe this cast was always called a Jump Roll Cast and is considered as an accelerated roll cast (one in which the end of the line clears the water, travels through the air briefly and then sets down again) and not as any type of Spey cast as it does not involve a change of direction.

A Switch cast is considered to be a low aerialised single Spey cast in parts of Europe, at least it certainly is in Northern ireland. Not the elevated type seen on some dvd's. It certainly was a low level aerialised single Spey where I grew up in Northern Ireland, the line hovering perhaps only a yard above the water as it travelled upstream. Frank Elliott from the river Mourne being one of the finest practitioners of it. A Switch cast as we know it is a low sideways cast directly upstream similar to an overhead cast but keeping the line low and just over the water surface, the rod is re positioned after the line breaks free to the key position and as then the rod is driven down in the direction of the cast the rod tip ending up near the water surface. If it is done right (as Frank Elliot does it) a Concorde nosed V loop rips across the river at speed on the final delivery and the line lands straight as a telegraph wire with perfect fly turnover. Timing and power application is very critical of course, more so perhaps than with other casts. Frank Elliott uses two flies and you can see the two rings of the two flies landing perfectly every time with fly turnover and no tangles ever. Line speed of the final delivery is so good that he can cast into any wind including, as I have seen first hand, squalls feathering the water surface. It is an upstream wind cast.



On a Jump Roll Cast or on a Single Spey Cast, tension from line tautness is maintained on the anchor by the use of both a taut loop formation from the power application and rod loading used during the first part of the sweep, and through the use of continuous motion from circling up behind in an elliptical path with the rod tip smoothly changing direction and merging the back cast into the forward cast. The tension created from this relaxed and steady controlled elliptical movement changing direction and raising the rod tip ensures that the anchor does not ever begin to die completely or sink into the water and so create too much water resistance. When the direction is changed and the rod tip moves forward, the dynamics of the change of direction against backward momentum of the line maintains line tautness and creates a tension pulling on the anchor when it hits the water. When the anchor hits the water the line will stop due to the water resistance, if there was no tension maintained from continued movement of the rod tip circling up and changing direction it will soon settle into the water more. If there is still tension and a pull on the line it will not get a chance to settle down into the water more and will be held fairly taut on the surface. This circling up behind and continuous motion maintains tautness and tension on the anchor and is one of the most important parts of economy of effort single Spey casting. Sometimes from this tension and the trajectory used the anchor often slides into place as obviously the tension is created through line contact or traction on a fluid surface. If the anchor slides into place and barely stops just before leaving it is an excellent sign of very correct technique, it is a refinement that usually only appears when a deeper understanding and fine tuning is present. It is a refinement that presents the best economy of effort casting.

The anchor sliding into place can also be made with a pause if exactly the right incline and power application was used for the back sweep. From the feel of exactly what is required through using continuous motion first, the angler can then replicate the same tension with a pause once he knows the feel of what he is trying to achieve.

The straightness of the anchor on a jump roll or single Spey cast is ensured by the overall incline used for the cast, or the longer pull out of any shallow dip used, which are such that they ensure that the leader and end of the fly line touch down on the water surface first. If the belly of the line touches down first then the sweep was incorrect and the front taper and leader will squiggle into the water creating a piling anchor or even pass the belly's touch down position so creating a bloody L, (a sharp hairpin bend or right angle curve in the anchor).
Note: Some people will say this is caused by a making any kind of a dip on the sweep and tell people not to dip at all, however it is not caused by the dip unless it was excessive and the person did not pull out of the dip correctly. You can make a slight or normal dip using a shallow curving movement in the sweep to ensure the anchor places on the water, and as long as you steadily continue the sweep pulling out of the dip and elevating correctly then there will be no problem whatsoever caused by making a slight dip over the first part of the sweep. The dip is often made to aid correct line placement. The movement is like an oval where the bottom of the oval has a slight dip from a longer curve but the side of the oval is much more curved, the bottom of the oval is like the first part of the sweep and the side of the oval like the circling up started just as the rod passes the anglers position and as the line breaks free from the water. The angler coasts up in a curve over the second half of the sweep as line momentum created from the first part of the sweep carries the end of the line through the air into the anchor position.

You can also make a sweep without using a dip which is what the straight line incline does to create a V loop.


There is a single Spey cast using an upstream side D or V loop and a Double Spey Cast with a downstream side D or V loop. If the loop is rounded and high it is a D loop, if it is pointed and compressed in height and pointed (narrower from top to bottom) then it forms a V loop.


One of the categories for differentiating between the types of Spey cast, and alternative or replacement casts for a Spey cast that are variations on the theme, is the anchor formation. There are waterborne anchors, where slack line on the water is pulled up off the water and into alignment with the final delivery direction to form the D loop and anchor (double Spey / snap T/C). And there are dropping anchors where the line is traveling through the air and the end of it touches down in alignment to form the anchor (Single Spey / Snake Roll).

Technically there is no pause on a traditional single Spey cast and the back cast should blend or merge seamlessly into the forward cast from continuous motion and changing direction elliptically by circling up behind or from the use of drift and lead, however a pause can be made on a single Spey cast if allowance is made for it on the sweep. A slight pause is traditionally made on the Double Spey cast just before the final delivery and after the D loop forming move to prevent the anchor skipping or lifting out of the water on the final delivery power application.

The final delivery or forward cast of any Spey cast or replacement cast for a Spey cast uses the same principles as the final delivery of an overhead cast. Keeping rod tracking in plane and a smooth acceleration must occur, therefore keeping to the vertical and horizontal straight line paths. Generally the difference in height between the rod tip height behind and the rod tip height in front, in relation to the trajectory used of course, will determine loop width.

The angler's forward foot will face the final delivery direction before executing a single or double Spey cast, the upper body will return to re alignment with the final delivery direction during the sweep of the cast. The upper body and shoulder on the casting side will normally continue on past realignment when forming the D loop and circling up behind then come back to realignment as the final delivery is about to be made.

Becoming a functional Salmon Fly Angler
To become a functional salmon fly angler it is necessary to be able to cast a fly from either side of the river, generally regardless of obstructions behind or the wind direction, (an upstream or downstream wind). It is therefore important for the salmon angler to be able to Spey cast, and to be able to Spey cast off either side of the body. Having a basis of Overhead casting along with two Spey casts, a Single Spey cast and a Double Spey cast will allow the angler to become a functional salmon fly angler. The angler should also be able to execute the single and double Spey casts of either side of his body. This ability is what will allow him to fish virtually anywhere regardless of which side of the river he is on, obstructions behind or the wind direction.

Functional Fishing Casting - It is not usually necessary to cast any great distance and covering a medium distance of water well (from any side of the river, and in any wind conditions), without undue effort allows one to be a functional salmon fly angler. It will be relatively easy to cast of either side of the body regardless of whether you are right or left handed when correct use of the rod's loading and unloading action and the effect of fulcrum leverage and the body turning is understood.

There is a difference between functional fishing casting and distance casting. Economy of effort and fly turnover control is what is important for fishing casting, including turning the fly over into a wind. The angler should strive for complete control of fly turnover and directional control over the cast at whatever distance he is using. Distance without control of fly turnover or directional control is not always effective fishing distance.

Distance will come easily with familiarity and experience of Spey casting and longer distances for fishing are mainly achieved by shooting some line on the forward cast.

Specific distance casting techniques for longer distances are different from standard economy of effort fishing casting techniques and will require lengthening of the casting stroke.

Bank side Orientation
The angler will find himself fishing from one side of the river or the other. This is referred to simply as left bank or right bank. Left or right bank orientation is always referred to while looking downstream. If you are looking downstream and the river is on your right, then you are on the left bank. Another way of describing it is, if you are looking directly across the river, whichever hand is on the downstream side is the bank you are on.

Rather confusingly, the statement 'river left' is the American way of describing being on the left bank and not that the river is on your left. River right means you are on the right bank and not that the river is to your right hand side.

Wind Direction
The wind direction will influence or even dictate which type of Spey cast that should be used. As a D loop is formed under the rod tip during a Spey cast, it is usually kept on the lee or downwind side of the angler for safety reasons. The wind then also holds the loop taut like the spinnaker on a sailing yacht and helps maintain line tautness.
A single Spey cast is used for upstream winds and a double Spey cast is used for moderate to strong downstream winds. This is easy to remember as downstream and double both begin with a D. In a light downstream wind a single Spey cast may still be used with a little extra speed or slight alteration in the tilt of the rod tracking used. The final delivery is made before the light wind gets a chance to collapse or affect the loop.

Of course the wind is not always blowing straight downstream or straight upstream but may well be blowing down and in towards you, or down and across and out from you at varying angles. This may well mean that variation on technique will be required, a poked double Spey or an enhanced double Spey may be used instead of the standard cast to cope better with the specific wind direction.

As you must however also be able to execute those Spey casts from either side of the river, this will mean some casting off the left hand side of the angler. For instance on the left bank a single Spey is executed with the right hand uppermost on the rod butt, however on the right bank the left hand will be uppermost on the rod for a single Spey cast.
On the left bank a double Spey is executed with the left hand uppermost on the rod butt, on the right bank the right hand will be uppermost on the rod for a double Spey cast. Don't worry about trying to remember this as it will become fairly obvious on the riverbank. Whichever side the loop is forming, then normally the hand on that side should be uppermost on the rod. It is also possible to make the casts ‘cack handed’ with right hand off the left shoulder or vice versa, however it is much, much better to learn correct casting including what is called your off side, form your non dominant hand side.

Rod Grip
For Spey casting a double handed rod the hands are placed approx hip width apart (front of the shoulders). Dropping both hands straight down to your sides gives the correct width distance. Due to ergonomics or the physics of human anatomy, this is where we are most comfortable and have most efficient leverage. If the hands are too close there is a loss of effective leverage especially with longer rods and line head lengths. If they are too far apart it will restrict speed and movement.

The rod butt is held with the top hand in a handshake grip with the thumb on top. The thumb is placed on top, and is pointing along the rod towards the tip. The fingers are around and under the handle with the index finger separated slightly from the others. The grip should be very relaxed but just enough grip should be maintained with the top hand to keep the reel facing forward and prevent it from swinging about when casting. The thumb on top is important as it aids the correct alignment of the wrist and forearm when casting. The whole forearm and wrist are moved together in plane rather than the wrist being moved out of plane with the forearm. The forearm rotates slightly and steers round on the sweep of a Spey cast. The handshake grip with thumb on top is used for single handed rod casting also.

The bottom hand grips the rod so that the button at the very end of the rod sits in the ball of the palm of the hand. This is also known as a Scandinavian grip. Two fingers and the thumb grip the very bottom section of the rod butt. Alternatively you may also use another handshake grip with thumb on top.


Right hand up grip Usually which hand is placed uppermost on the rod butt when you make the final delivery is the grip being used. Right hand up grip is when the right hand is placed uppermost on the rod butt and the left hand palm is at the bottom of the rod. This grip is used for working the rod on the right hand side of the angler.

This grip is most often used when the angler is fishing on the left bank and using a single Spey cast, or any of its replacements, in an upstream wind. Or when the angler is on the right bank and using a double Spey cast, or any of its replacements, in a downstream wind.

Left hand up grip Left hand up grip on the double handed rod is one in which the left hand is placed uppermost on the rod butt and the right hand palm is at the bottom grip. This grip is used for working the rod on the left hand side of the angler.

This grip is most often used when the angler is fishing on the right bank and using a single Spey cast, or any of its replacements, in an upstream wind. Or when the angler is on the left bank and using a double Spey cast, or any of its replacements, in a downstream wind. It may also be used for overhead casting when a strong cross wind comes from the angler's right hand side.

Reversed Grip / Reversed Casting When working the rod on their left hand side, some right handed anglers may still keep the right hand up on the rod butt. They will cast with the right hand up off the left shoulder and the arms will cross over just before the final delivery. Such casts, which may also occur vice versa, are referred to as reversed casts, i.e. reversed single Spey, reversed snake roll. Reversed casting may sound difficult but for some right-handed anglers find it easier initially than switching hand positions and casting with the left hand uppermost.
I generally prefer anglers not to use reversed casting as the angle of the final delivery for presentation is usually much better using left hand up grip on the left side and this may be very important for presentation in fast water. However it is better to fish some parts of the water using reversed casting than to leave stretches of river or potential taking water unfished.

Stance The angler's forward foot should be facing the direction of the final delivery, as should his body after realignment. There is a left foot slightly forward stance and a right foot slightly forward stance. None are incorrect and whichever stance feels most comfortable for you should be used. Personally I normally recommend a right foot forward stance when casting on the right hand side and a left foot forward stance when casting on the left side. I believe this allows an angler to stay in plane better and have more control and weight shift on the final delivery. It allows the angler to ‘walk into’ the forward cast.

Over Powering A double-handed rod is usually used incorrectly initially through being over forced. Any time a double-handed rod is being overly forced it is not being used correctly. The full potential of its own loading and unloading action must be brought out very sweetly and smoothly. It is an essential to understand what a rod does by itself to understand how the rod should be used. The only thing a rod does by itself is straighten. If it is deflected into a curve then whenever it gets the chance it will straighten again. As it unloads it doesn’t just straighten and stop but counter flexes creating rod tip turnover speed. The effect of the rod unloading is better than anything overly forcing or rushing can do. This does not mean that power is not used, but rather that power is used in a very subtle way that still allows for and enhances the rods own capabilities. The grip must be light, the leverage and loading applied steadily, smoothly and with the right timing.

It is very easy to spoil, or not truly discover the rods full potential.


How the rod works
Before starting any casting it is adviseable to first appreciate or realise just how the rod works. This needs to be understood in order to use a rod properly. Just like any tool what it does, or the properties it has will determine exactly how it should be used. A fly rod really only does one thing by itself. It straightens. If a rod is deflected into a curve it will immediately start to straighten when it gets the opportunity to do so.

As it straightens, because of the taper of the rod, it will produce a rapid rod tip speed. As it is flexible it does not just straighten and stop but counter flexes, creating rod tip turnover speed. This rod tip turnover speed and the energy and line momentum generated from the rod unloading combined with the body movement of the caster is used to direct and unroll the fly line.



The Fulcrum
Where the top hand holds the double-handed rod is a fulcrum. A fulcrum means the point around which a lever rotates. It also means the point beyond which a cantilever extends into space. If we hold a rod out to the side parallel with the water surface and keep the top hand still and sharply move the bottom hand only in or out, and do so as an acceleration to a stop, the rod tip will kick over as the rod undeflects and try to project a narrow loop of line.

If we move the top hand during a cast but move the bottom hand further and faster, then the top hand still remains acting as a fulcrum although it is also moving or steering.

It will then also appear to an onlooker as if another fulcrum point or axis is created between the top and bottom hands as they move in opposite directions at the same time to change the angle of the rod butt. This pivotal point is created below the top hand and above the reel and is called the fulcrum point pivot.

Creating this fulcrum point pivot along the rod butt between the reel and the top hand shows the top hand has still maintained its role as the fulcrum. Keeping the top hand as the fulcrum provides the most effective leverage and rod loading.

Leverage Leverage and rod loading is created not only by the movement of both hands in opposite directions changing the angle of the rod butt but also by changing the position of the rod through a casting stroke. The position change made by arm movement, upper body rotation and weight shift.


Ergonomics / Economy of Effort Ergonomics is about working most efficiently in relation to the use of the human body. To hold any weight, or to apply any leverage, the closer it is to our centre of gravity the easier it is for us to support it. We have more power and leverage in our arms with our elbows bent.

From about belt height to ear or forehead height is where we most comfortably can hold and manipulate the fly rod. If we reach outwards or up unduly and straighten the arms the rod will tire us just from holding it. However as we also will be applying leverage, reaching will greatly increase the effort required. Reaching is entirely counter productive and it will in fact usually prevent effective leverage from being applied.

The casting techniques of Alastair Gowans are based around ergonomic principles. He really stressed the importance of ergonomically efficient casting to me and I learned some very good techniques based on these principles from him in Scotland.


Upper Body Rotation: Upper body rotation can be two things, one is trunk rotation where for instance you swivel around only to realignment by turning your whole trunk and legs from your ankles. Usually done after you have followed the sweep of the fly round to the dangle and are making a new cast again. The other part of upper body rotation is where the casting side shoulder is moved past realignment and moved smoothly back and forth by further rotation of the upper body to increase stroke length or to balance the stroke to a more comfortable position for the angler to make the final delivery. This is used for overhead and Spey casts, it is an essential on longer overhead casts. Obviously realignment is not necessary on overhead or jump roll casts but upper body rotation will still be used by turning the casting side shoulder further back and moving it forward again. It is also an essential for ease of execution of a well balanced sweep with correct D loop formation, line placing and circling up behind when Spey casting longer lengths of line.

Weight Shift / Weight Transfer: Upper body rotation may also be combined more deliberate weight transfer. This will involve some extra upper body movement with the caster gliding or sliding back and forth. The whole upper body moves back slightly on the back casting stroke and then forward on the forward stroke. This is a weight shift or weight transfer and as the angler moves back and forth he changes his centre of gravity much more significantly from the front to the back leg and vice versa. The amount of weight shift used depends somewhat on the stance used also and how far apart the feet are. Usually the feet are not far apart and not too much is used but stance is often adjusted and therefore distance of weight transfer increased for longer casts. Small amounts are referred to as weight shift, larger amounts as weight transfer.

Wrist, elbow and shoulder pivots: There are three pivots possible with the human arm, a wrist pivot, an elbow pivot and a shoulder pivot, sideways movement is possible as well as forward or backward movement and this all can be combined with rotation of the forearms and a controlled difference in height between the two hands. Also body movement through weight shift and upper body rotation. The rod can be tilted, manipulated, and steered in any direction and the rod tip steering in long flowing concave curves or along straight line inclines. It all allows effective leverage and rod tracking motions to be applied and an efficient, balanced casting stroke to be made. Almost anything is possible.

Some things are to be avoided however, like the bottom hand becoming level with or higher than the top hand (except before the shotgun lift or on the dropping follow through after the forward cast), or any convex movements. Convex movement is easily done and a natural movement, the desirable concave movement of a climbing curve sweeping out and in and low to high is a counter intuitive movement. It must be learned with attention paid to precision in the movement. The concave curve has two elements, overall low to high and initially swinging out over the river then in to plane as it rises.

Convex movement causing the rod to drop behind is to be avoided at all costs.

The Lift: On a single Spey cast one can't make the correct concave sweeping move unless one makes a correct shotgun lift first

Common element

Spey casts, or any of the alternative replacement casts for any Spey cast, all share a similar common movement to form a correct D loop, and also of course a similar forward cast.

That common element is a D (or V) back loop with tautness, an anchor / water contact with a shallow exit entry angle of the line to the water. The different casts are, more or less, all similar at the end parts of the cast.

The D loop is formed in the practically the same way on every cast, no matter which particular cast is being used.
Therefore, once you have the D loop forming technique under your control on both right and left sides, then you have the most critical part of the Spey casts (single and double Spey), and any of the replacement casts for a Spey cast, more or less learned.

They will differ as to whether or not the line was pulled up off the water surface, or pulled through the air before the D loop formed. The anchor or line stick forming then either because a part of the line dropped onto the water from the air, or a part was left on the water as the rest was pulled up into a D loop.

They will also differ in whether a slight pause is used at the end of the D loop forming move before the forward cast is made, or whether the caster merges seamlessly into the forward cast using continuous motion.


The most important thing in Spey casting is to realise fully that once you learn how to form a taut D loop properly its practically all solved. Properly meaning smoothly, steadily using the right rod tip path and elevation, and with tension or tautness maintained in the line at all times and critically formed from the use of directed opposing leverage.

Putting a few simple moves together via an exercise that allows for a couple of essential principles, will soon ensure the D loop forming technique is perfected off both sides.

Of course the forward cast must be right also but it is easier and indeed essential to learn that off a correct set up.

A cast must be made and learned in sequence, learning the correct lift and sweep for the set up comes first. Either an incline or climbing curve are counter intuitive movements, it is natural to do the wrong thing and make a convex motion. It is also natural to pull in behind out of plane.

Everything is inter dependent in Spey casting, that means that we should find the optimum at all times based on the overriding principle of economy of effort with full control. There is always an optimum for everything, if for instance the rod tip path is lowered then the tempo of the sweep has to be made faster, if it is raised the tempo of the sweep will be made slower. This is only one example but everything influences everything else.

The D loop forming move is the basis of everything in Spey casting and it is best learned using the incline exercise progression.

What is Spey Casting?

Spey casting is a technique for casting in more confined places where there is not the back space for overhead casting. Spey casting involves making a change of direction cast, doing so by placing the end of the line and leader on the river surface to provide the necessary resistance to make a forward cast. The end of the fly line and leader will be placed on the water and the rest of the line forms a taut curved loop from the water to the rod tip, this loop will be curving backwards behind the angler and the contact of the line with the water will be slightly in front and to one side of the angler. This back cast loop formed under the rod tip is called a D loop.

D loops are made by a concave rod tip path, formed ensuring a short part of the end of the fly line and / or the leader are making contact on the water surface, the rest of the fly line forming an aerialised taut back loop between the rod tip and the end part of the line and/or the leader making contact with the water surface.

The part of the line and/or leader in contact with the water is usually called the anchor, also sometimes referred to as the line stick, line contact, or the touch down. This creates traction on the fluid surface providing the necessary resistance allowing us to load the rod when we apply the leverage and acceleration of the forward casting stroke.

Due to the fact that the end of the fly line makes contact with the water in front and to the side of the caster, much less clearance is required behind when making a Spey cast. Overhead casting entails unrolling a loop of fly line straight back
over the rod tip, one that straightens out fully behind and requires enough space to do so.

Spey casts are generally used for fishing places where overhead casting would not be possible due to bank side trees and bushes or steep banks. However some people will use Spey casts all the time for safety reasons.

A Spey cast involves making a change of direction and there are two main Spey casts, a Single Spey and a Double Spey. A Single Spey forms a D loop on the upstream side of the angler and a Double Spey forms a D loop on the downstream side of the angler. There are many modern variants on the theme but each will be a replacement for one of those two casts.

The D or V loop and the part of the fly line and leader on the water should be aligned with the direction of the forward cast. The short part of the line on the water which is called the anchor, should be as straight as possible.

There should also be a very shallow exit/entry angle where the aerialised line forming the bottom leg of the D loop leaves the water. This will prevent the line from skidding out of the water when the pressure of the forward casting stroke is applied.
I have found that it is without doubt the most valuable exercise of all for learning effective Spey casting technique. Upper body rotation is used in every incline exercise which can be summed up as body, bottom hand.

There are four stages of progression of the incline exercise, the third one being the curve of the D loop forming move and the last one a basic single Spey cast. There is initially 1. a straight line incline without any lift, then there is 2. a shallower angled straight line incline with a small shotgun lift used first. Then there is 3. a small shotgun lift and a concave or rising curve circling round into the forward cast, then there is 4. A placing of the line on the water in front of the caster and outside of the rod tip, then a peel of the line merging into the power application of the climbing curve, a pause and the forward cast. Some say its similar to a snap T but there is no change of direction, no snap either. The line is placed on the water in front by a highish lift of the rid then moving the rod tip in a descending curve, starting towards the side that the uppermost hand is on and changing direction curving to the lower hand side and continuing well across and the rod tip dropping to water level. The movement is steady, the line will be away from the angler and outside of the rod tip path on the peel (tear as some say) and D loop forming move.

Occasionally I will start at step 3 with some people, which is a jump roll, and then expect that steps 1 and 2 will be learned to fluency by the person afterwards so that step 3 becomes very technically correct. Technically correct meaning that the power application and rod loading is made through leverage before the line breaks free from the water and not from any tugging just before or as it breaks free. The rod is loaded smoothly and progressively against the resistance of the line on the water and what places the line is the rod unloading itself without interference from the angler, the line therefore unrolling at the right tempo and touching down lightly onto the water surface, not being forced into the water. The overall tempo the caster uses over the cast especially the first half of the cast when the rod loading takes place then becomes critical. When the line breaks free the angler is circling up and effectively coasting around in a climbing curve to the correct elevation in a very casual and relaxed fashion as the line glides through the air. The bottom leg is unrolling at the right trajectory and the line is mainly held out of the water in a D loop through the concave curving rod tip path to the elevation used.

When making the curve in step three it is a rising curve with a long low part first until the rod tip passes your position where it is then curved up or circled up. After the low shotgun lift to about head height or just above the rod tip path must tilt out over the river first and then curve in again to plane (not past plane) as it rises to the key position.

There are several mistakes that can be made on the lift, a hinging lift can be used where only the hand uppermost on the rod handle is lifted and this raises the rod tip too high and looses upstream movement of the rod tip on the sweep, it is like creep in that it destroys potential stroke or arc length. When a shotgun lift is used the tip is almost as far away from you downriver as it was when you started the lift and sweep space upstream has not been lost. A hesitation at the top of the lift looses tension built up from the lift on the line. Also some people lift then drop slightly again as they start the sweep so easing tension and causing the line to die and sometimes the sweep to start to low and then effectively try to drag the line round dead line roll cast style, the benefit of the lift in clearing line from the water and making the sweep easier was therefore lost.

Though the low shotgun lift is to head height or just above when it merges into the sweep the resistance of the line and the curve of the sweep pull the rod tip down a little. The sweep will still be low and it is essential that the rod is moved out over the river with the tilt of the hands as the sweep is made though the top hand is still higher than the bottom hand. Progress is always being made upstream and there is a long shallow sweep initially until the rod tip is reaching the position of the angler when it starts to rise and will circle up. The rod is not raised significantly until it passes your position. To bring it up too high too soon is going to cause real problems, most likely a convex finish with a dropping rod tip will occur as the bottom hand is pushed out and an arch is made behind. Or the anchor will skip out when the forward power application is made as there will not be a shallow exit/entry angle of the line to the water.

There are two elements to a curve, the curve used on the sweep, low to high, and out and in.
Critically the top hand must always be higher than the bottom hand, they must never be level after the lift. The top hand must elevate when curving back in to plane so that when you arrive at the the key position at the end of the concave curving motion your top hand will be at forehead or top of ear height. You must look up to see your top hand as it is elevated to the thumb being approximately at the top of the forehead in height and look down to see the bottom hand with the thumb at about your chin in height. The rod tip path is concave overall which is a counter intuitive movement. An arched movement is intuitive however unfortunately incorrect as the rod tip drops behind and the energy is not ever directed or channelled generally in all the one direction or overall direction but in an inefficient variety of directions. Any arched movement or any convex movement or any dropping of the rod tip is incorrect and to be avoided at all costs. An arched movement causes a dropping of the rod tip behind and is a cause of slack.

Why should a concave movement work then? surely if it is a curve then it will dissipate energy in all directions also? The answer is it would if the power application was used the whole way through, however power application is only used over the first shallow half of the curve which creates a long movement upstream of the rod in the one overall direction and trajectory because of the resistance of the line bending or deflecting the rod causing a straighter movement of the rod tip in the right trajectory and overall direction. The real curve of circling up is done as a relaxed coasting move and so there is no power application during that climbing curve and circling up motion, at that point the line is unrolling.


The rod tip is pulling the line at all times or else the unrolling loop, which is unrolling at perfectly normal tempo and speed is maintaining tension on the circling up rod tip and vice versa, therefore the line is taut.

An arch is your arch enemy.


Any dropping of the rod tip behind is flawed technique at this stage, later in more advanced technique the rod can be moved back after the line breaks free from the water and after the power application when it has been allowed for. Initially however for basic fishing casting no such movement should be made.
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