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9 Questions On Spey Casting You’re Afraid to Ask

9 Questions On Spey Casting You’re Afraid to Ask

Like learning anything new, it can be quite intimidating when you first decide to dip your toe in Spey Fishing For Salmon. It shouldn’t be! After all, Spey fishing is just another fun way to fish. It’s not better or worse, harder or easier, simpler or more complicated than ‘normal’ fly fishing.

If you love your fly fishing you will love getting into this. Below are some of the questions that quite often get asked when people are interested in trying out this method. I am sure there are millions of other questions and I for one would love to hear your comments and advice.

What is Skagit casting?

Skagit casting is a type of Spey casting that was developed on and around the Skagit River in Washington State.  Skagit casting uses fairly short, fairly heavy lines that are good for casting big flies in big sections of the river.  In the Pacific Northwest, it’s the most popular form of Spey casting, as of 2013 at least.

How do you say ‘Skagit’?

The ‘a’ is short and the ‘g’ sounds like a ‘j’.  Start with the word ‘scab’.  Drop the ‘b’.  Then say the word ‘jet’ but replace the ‘e’ with a short ‘i’ sound.

What’s a Polyleader?

It’s a coated, tapered leader used mainly in Scandi casting (more on that below).  They come in different sink rates, just like sink tips do.  ‘Polyleader’ is the term that Airflo uses; ‘Versileader’ is how Rio says it.

What is Scandi casting?

Scandi is short for Scandinavian.  It’s a type of Spey casting that generally uses lines that are a little longer and a little ‘thinner’ than Skagit casting, and it’s more appropriate with smaller flies.

Which hand goes on top?

Usually, right-handed casters have their right hand on top.  Some anglers (who are more coordinated than we are) can fish with either hand on top.

spey casting in canada

What’s a ‘Poke’?

Poke is short for the Perry Poke, which is a Skagit-style Spey cast.  It involves ‘dumping’ your line on the water in front of you before you cast, so it looks pretty strange the first time you see it.

Why do you make all those extra moves in your cast?

Most Spey casts involve a couple of steps and it might seem like there’s a bunch of wasted time and energy compared to just a simple forward and backcast.  The early steps in a Spey cast are just there to get your line and your fly in the right position for the final forward stroke in the Spey cast, which is really just a big roll cast.

Why are you always talking about ‘grains’?

Different types of Spey casting use different weights of lines, even on the same rod.  There’s also a lot of personal preference in which weight line goes on which rod.  So it’s often not as simple as saying ‘Buy a 7 weight Skagit line for your 7 weight rod’.  Lots of modern line systems – especially Skagit systems – have totally abandoned the idea of calling a line a ‘7 weight’ or an ‘8 weight’.  Instead, they refer to the actual weight of the head, in grains (15.4 grains is 1 gram).  It sounds more complicated than it is – it’s really just a simpler way of talking about lines, by saying how much they actually weigh.

Should I try it?

Yes, you should.  It’s really fun and there’s no reason to be intimidated. We’d recommend taking a casting lesson on your first day – both to learn the fundamentals and to make sure your rod and line are set upright.  If you’d like a recommendation on who to contact about a lesson in your area, leave us a comment below and we’ll point you in the right direction!

If you fancy going on a trip but have limited or no experience in Spey casting, do not worry as we run hosted trips each year to various destinations around the world. Our hosts and guides on hand will be there to assist and teach you everything you need to know.

If you are interested feel free to call me on 01603 407596, you can even join me personally on a trip. Alternatively, view all our Salmon fishing destinations.

Tight Lines,

Blog Comments

  • Darren Bremner

    Peter, As you know I do quite a bit of Spey casting through the season, in fact I’m only 10 miles from the mighty River Spey. I’d agree with you about not being afraid of Spey casting, like any cast the timing comes with time and practice. One piece of advice I would give anyone who wants to give it a try though is tuition!!!! There are loads of good YouTube and DVD tutorials out there and these are a great help (I’d recommend either Scott Mackenzie’s Spey Casting Masterclass or Ian Gordon’s Blue Charm DVD), you will certainly finish viewing them and understand the mechanics of the cast. For as good as they are though, I’d still recommend an hour or 2 with an instructor who will help you no end. To put I into perspective, earlier this season I had been out a couple of times and was struggling to put any length of line out in the winds that we were being subjected to. One day with a ghillie who also happens to be an instructor and I was putting out the full head and most of the running line, doing new casts well and just generally fishing the pools much better and easier. It has boosted my confidence no end (not that it’s helped me catch any salmon yet) so that now at the end of my days fishing I come away happy and not sore.
    Tight Lines

  • tom mintmier

    Do you know of any instructors on the east coast. I have been looking for a year and a half and haven’t been able to find one. Built a switch rod for fishing in the great lakes area a while back but I would really like to take some instruction and learn the right way to cast in the begining. Took me fifteen years to correct most of my bad form from where I taught myself to flycast with one hand. Any leads would be greatly appreciated.

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