At Alaska West and BC West, we do a lot fishing with spey rods. There are a bunch of reasons that we like spey fishing – line control, less fatigue, the pure enjoyment of making a good cast, and the ability to cover a lot of water.
Spey rods let you cover more water because they make it easy to cast a long ways. Since we generally use Skagit-style spey lines – short, heavy heads connected to running line of one type or another – casting far means stripping off and managing some pretty good lengths of running line.
Managing your running line well helps prevent tangles and allows for easier long casts by minimizing the drag associated with pulling bigs loops of line out of the water when a cast is made. Here are a few tips to help with tangle-free, long, slip-free casts.
- Hold loops of descending size. Long casts require that you hold multiple loops of line – you’ll have a hard time shooting 40 feet of running line if it’s dragging below you in a single loop on the water. As you strip in your running line after a cast, count your strips and hang on to the line in descending counts. A simple pattern for a cast that shoots 7 strips worth of line might be to count 4 strips, hold a loop, count 3 strips, hold a loop, and then make a cast. Holding a couple of the same length is OK, but for some reason that our brains are too small to figure out, loops of ascending size tend to tangle. One pattern for a mega-cast might be 5-5-4-3. Many anglers have their own pattern that works well for them, but just make sure your loops are of the same or descending size.
- Hold loops, not coils. This one is a little hard to describe, so bear with us. If each time you hold a loop, you place it in the same direction on your hand (e.g. front to back), you wind up with coils of line that that tend to tangle more. Instead, use an old climber’s trick and alternate the direction that you hold your loops – pass the first one front to back across your hand, the next one back to front, the next one front to back, etc. This will result in loops that lay cleanly across your hand, and are again much less likely to tangle. Like many of our spey fishing tips, this one comes from Ed Ward, our head guide at Alaska West.
- For mono running lines, try some rubber tape on the cork. Many anglers prefer using mono running lines like Rio Slickshooter, or even plain old 40 pound mono, for easy long casts and less drag in the water. One of the downsides of mono running lines is that they can be hard to pinch against the cork, especially when your hands are wet and cold. Try wrapping some plain rubber tape around the cork wherever you pinch off the running line (for many anglers this is right on the top end of the cork) – it’s much easier to hang on to mono lines against rubber tape. Important note: don’t use rubber tape that contains any adhesive (electrical tape = bad) as the adhesive will really gum up your line. The right stuff is pure natural rubber with no adhesive on either side, and can be found at a plumbing store, often labelled ‘splicing tape’.
Happy long, tangle-free, slip-free casting!
Arnold Bohringer says
Several fly fishing people talk about the old climbers trick of alternating the direction that you hold your running line loops.
( the description by writers is quite hard to visualize )
Cannot some qualified person create an illustration of the hand,and how the loops should be stacked/lined ( front to back,back to front )
upon it? This sure would be helpful.
Arnold, thanks for the very good point. We’ll put together a post explaining the ‘old climbers trick’ in more detail.