Fly Fishing Traditions

Fly Fishing Traditions Blog and Website
"It's about Life & Fly Fishing"

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Double Spey Cast - Spey Casting 101

The "Double Spey" is a two directional cast. One in which the fly will anchor on the downstream side of the caster. Therefore this cast provides a level of safety when you encounter an downstream wind. This will prevent you from wearing an "Streamer" as an earring. This is one of the easier spey cast to master. It can be done at a very slow pace. With that said , the cast must maintain a tempo that progressively accelerates into the forward stop position. 

The ability to form the "Double Spey" at a slower pace makes this cast ideal for sink tips. It is just a good overall cast.

For a right handed caster the "Double Spey" is one of the primary "River Right" casts.

For a right handed caster the "Reverse Double Spey" can be utilized from "River Left" and is thrown over your left, off shoulder or "Cack-handed".

Here's a You Tube video of casting instructor extraordinaire, Bill Lowe, as to how to make a "Double Spey Cast". 

When and why to consider using the "Double Spey" 
  • Downstream Wind - D for Downstream remember "Double Spey"
  • When you are fishing "River Right"
  • When using heavy sink tips 
  • When using bulky flies
  • Makes little disturbance on the water
  • Minimizes line positioning and maximizes fishing time
Situations when to use a Double Spey Cast for a Right Handed Caster
  • Double Spey From "River Right" with an downstream wind over your strong shoulder (Right Handed)

  • Reverse Double Spey from "River Left" with an downstream wind over your off-shoulder (Kackhanded)
Fundamentals of the Double Spey Cast

The "Double Spey" is broken down into two phases which makes it a two-dimensional cast. The first portion is a line re-positioning move from the dangle straight downstream followed by a "Switch Cast" to cast the line in an across the river direction. 

How to perform the Double Spey Cast

  • For a right handed caster the cast starts with the angler on "River Right".
  • The line on the dangle directly downstream.
  • Face your shoulders in the direction of the forward cast and to the target area.
  • Start the cast with the rod tip at low to the waters surface With the right hand in the top position on the rod.
  • The cast stars with a "lift and sweep" movement. This is a mild version of the "Shotgun Lift" as described in the "Single Spey". cast. The lift is done by raising the rod tip vertically from near the surface of the water to about chest high.
  • As the rod rises to the top of the lift in a continuous motion, sweep the rod with a low rotating swing from downstream to upstream, driving the loop of line upstream.
  • Use the rod but to drive the line positions to attain a smooth thrust.
  • The beginning of the sweep is where the maximum effort or thrust is applied to lift the line from the water. The amount of effort and/or height of the lift may vary with the length and type of line being cast.
  • The sweep is done with the rod held at a low angle with the tip about shoulder height, driving the belly of the line upstream.
  • The task is to sweep the line upstream far enough so the fly anchors just below the path of the intended final forward "Switch Cast".
  • The end of the fly line should be about one rod length downriver and slightly forward of the casters position.
  • As the fly sets to the anchor point from the initial "lift an sweep" move, the rod is redirected in a smooth transition downstream, folding the line over itself.
  • The rod returning downstream drives the line to the point where it crosses the path of the forward cast. In a smooth continuous motion the rod rotates to a new oath, in an inclining plane drawing back behind to 180 degrees from the direction of the forward cast and the target area.
  • It is very important that the "D"loop is in straight alignment to the forward cast.
  • The rod "Circles Up" forming an aerial oval which brings the rod to the "Key" position for the forward cast.
  • From the "Key" position accelerate smoothly forward as the passes vertical and thrust a flick into the stop. 
  • The loop forms and zips out well above the water, just as in "Switch Cast"

The "Double Spey" is one of the basic casts that you need in your arsenal of casts and you will find uses for it in many fishing situations. 

It is a great advantage to take a lesson and have a knowledgeable instructor help you master all the basic casts. Fly Fishings Traditions' classes or individual instruction could be your ticket to the spey world.

You can contact Clay at to arrange for personal instruction.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Switch Cast - Spey Casting 101

The “Switch Cast” is also referred to as the “Forward Spey Cast” is is like an energized Roll Cast.

Unlike the Roll Cast, the line never stops moving and is in constant tension. Like a Roll Cast, a "D" loop of line forms behind the rod tip, and the forward loop rolls out above the surface of the water.

This is a single directional cast which is also a non-change of direction cast just like the “Roll Cast”, but is much more dynamic. It may have limited use in actual fishing situations, but as an instructional cast it is very important. The "Switch Cast" is the essence of a Spey Cast. It has the basic elements of a cast.

  • The Lift
  • The Anchor
  • The "D" loop
  • And The Forward Cast.
After learning the "Switch Cast" the final delivery of any spey-type cast is mastered. Once you have mastered the "Switch Cast", when learning a new cast the line positioning moves can be the sole focus. All spey casts end with the elements of the "Switch Cast".

Here's a video showing both the "Switch Cast" and the "Single Spey Cast" from Tight Lines in NJ.

Anchor Types and Positioning

The Switch Cast positions or anchors the fly to the side of the caster to form an elongated "D" or "V" shaped back loop. The size, shape or depth of the back loop may change depending on;

  •  Choice of the style of casting, Skagit, Traditional, or Underhand
  • The type of cast you select to throw
  • Situation, lots of room, moderate room or little room behind you to set up the cast.
The Switch cast is valuable to practice mastering the various "D" and "V" loop sizes and shapes. Practice them all.

The Fundamentals of the Switch Cast - Three Steps

The Lift and Sweep
  • The “Switch Cast” starts with the rod pointed at the line on the water and then continues with a lift with thrust that smoothly and  progressively builds to the top of the lift which is to nose height or about to the 9:30 or 10:00 position.
  • The thrust becomes stronger as the rod smoothly swings into the dip at the start of the sweep, think of a shallow dish.
  • At the start of the lift, the rise of the rod and the dip that follows work together to enhance the strength of the lifting thrust.
  • The rise of the rod followed by the dip work as opposing forces.
  • The lift and dip must be smoothly coordinated and regulated so as not to disrupt the cast. 
  • An efficient cast will minimize the height of the lift and flatten the dip into a streamlined movement.
  • The dip or start of the sweep is directed and directs the momentum to the desired anchor point.
  • During a spey cast it is critical not to misdirect the path of the dip. The path needs to be controlled. Smooth movements are best.
  • Developing and regulating the amount of power or effort applied is very important.
  • The correct applied power and tempo allows the "D" loop to be placed properly and in the desired position.
Placing the Anchor Point

  • As a general rule the anchor point will be off to the side and slightly ahead of your position at about a rod's length away.
  • Place the rod in your right hand (for right handers) and extend and point the rod ahead, then tilt the rod tip about six to eight feet to the side. This is the target for your anchor.
  • The goal is to have the anchor point closely aligned with and parallel to the target line of the forward cast.
  • When setting up the anchor placement if it is skewed or misaligned the line will not clear smooth;y and may cause many errors. 
  • Work on getting the "Lift and Set" formed properly and you will then have better control of your anchor placement.
Developing a Proper "D" Loop
  • The "D" Loop is an aerial loop of line that forms behind the rod tip.
  • The "D" Loop, with the grip of the line anchored to the water surface is the resistance that loads the rod to propel the cast.
  • It is desired to have an oval "D" Loop or a "V" loop that is energized and maintains constant tension.
  • A "D" Loop forms with an incline sweep of the rod that drives the back loop well above the water and will help increase the dynamics of the cast.
  • The "D" Loop should be positioned 180 degrees from the target
  • When transitioning from the "lift and set" the rod drives and sweeps back and "Circles Up" to form the oval shaped "D" loop behind the rod tip.
  • The "Circle Up" is an upward circular rotation of the rod to redirect the line to a new path to travel.
  • The "Circle Up" motion is vital to keeping constant tension in the cast.
  • The rod "Circles Up" to the "Key Position" where the rod accelerates smoothly forward towards the target
The Forward Cast
  • From the "Key Position" the forward cast starts
  • The lower driving hand pulls inwards towards the waist.
  • The upper hand extends forward as the elbow lowers and bends open
  • Stop the top hand at the 10:30 position
  • Use the upper hand a the "pivot" to become the "fulcrum"
  • This will "Flip the Tip" to allow the cast to fly to the target


The "Switch Cast" is the essential part of all spey casts. Practice until the power and tempo is correct. Get this right and the rest will come easier.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fishing Report - April 10th, 2014

I swamped out my drift boat and fished the Lower Yuba the other day with my fishing buddy, Frank Rinella, and we had a pretty decent day. The river was running about 650 cfs. and was murky, green. The visibility was about 2 1/2 feet. I'm thinking that Englebright is all mucked up and releasing all this off colored water. With the weather we've been having lately the visibility should be better. The weather was clear and we had a slight breeze throughout the day.

 Lately I have been teaching a group of spey casters the "how to's" of spey casting and haven't been able to get out much to fish, so this was an opportunity I was exited about. I'll tell you that once you're a captain of a your drift boat, you row and get your kicks that way, at least I do anyway. So, although I was behind the oars about 90 percent of the time I still managed a few fish myself when we anchored up or when I took a turn up front. I was good with that, usually I catch one fish say, "OK, I'm good" and hop back in my rowers seat. Such is the life of many guides.

We caught fish in the 15" to 17" range, all using tight line nymphing techniques running flies right on,or near the bottom. The fish we managed to hook up were located in the middle to lower ends of the runs in medium to walking speed water. The fish took;

  • Sucker Spawn - Oregon Cheese
  • Maroon Spitfire
  • Red Copper John
  • March Brown Soft Hackle
  • March Brown Nymph
  • Tan Caddis Nymph
All of the fish were very colored up, which I take as being "Pre-Spawning" Their colors were much darker and had pink on their fins. We carefully scouted the areas where we have seen our resident rainbows spawn in past years and did not see any fish on redds or podding up in or near the spawning areas. My guess is that it is probably a week or two away. 

With that thought in mind, it's my personal opinion that once these fish are on their redds we should let them be. I know it's hard to pass up fish when they are all podded up, but this is their time to repopulate the river with their offspring and we really should let them do their thing. If you can't help yourself then fish a dry with a short dropper and at least make them come up to take it instead of dredging nymphs right on the bottom through the spawning fish. Enough said, I'll get off the soapbox.

I did a seining of the surface film when we saw a few fish rising at about 1:00 and did not come up with much except an few Pale Morning Duns that were about size 18. We didn't spend much time using dries although we had one nice fish take a March Brown Soft Hackle that was trailing off a Skwala Dry. 

We did not encounter anything that you could really call a hatch until about 3:00. There were swallows buzzing the water and taking bugs off the film and in the air. They were very small and I could not identify what they were. We were floating through some walk and wade anglers so I didn't stop and seine the water to do a positive identification. I believe that fishing dries or dry droppers would have been successful though.. Unfortunately I had to get off the river and could not find out.

I'll get back out soon and have an update.