We do a lot of spey fishing at our lodges in Alaska and British Columbia, and by far one of the most common mistakes we see spey anglers make on a day to day basis is not using enough bottom hand on the forward cast. At one time or another, every beginning spey caster has heard, “pull more with your bottom hand,” and for good reason.. It’s really important for producing powerful and efficient casts.
For anglers making the switch from a single handed rod to a double handed rod, it’s natural to apply the majority of the power on the forward cast by ‘pushing’ with your top hand. After all, there’s only a top hand on a single hander! However, with a long spey rod, this causes the rod tip to move in a big wide arc, thus producing wide inefficient loops on the forward cast. Often times, this is most characteristic of a forward cast that unrolls across the surface of the water as opposed to a nice tight loop that unrolls in the air above.
Instead, it is your bottom hand that should provide the majority of power for the forward cast, while your top hand acts as a fulcrum between your bottom hand and the rod tip. Pulling hard with your bottom hand exerts far more leverage to load the rod than punching with your top hand located further up the lever. So, simply put – Pull more, push less.
Sounds easy enough right? We know better. Using too much top hand can be a tough habit to break by explanation alone. Instead, the next time you practice, try this simple drill..
While keeping your normal grip with your bottom hand, only hold the rod with your top hand using the tips of your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Doing so greatly reduces your ability to push your top hand forward with any strength, thus forcing you to use your bottom hand to provide power. Continue casting this way until you are able to produce tight loops that are able to unroll entirely above the surface of the water. Once you can do that, return your top hand to its normal grip and you just might be amazed at the difference.