Four tips for Spey casting long belly lines
Four things to think about when casting long belly lines:
#1 - blending power from lift to sweep
Once the lift is completing and it's time to sweep, it helps to flex the rod early at the beginning of the sweep as if part of the lift, then let the line float back into the d-loop rather than the opposite which is pulling gently starting from the lift and flexing real hard at the end of the sweep / d-loop.
My theory on this is that it's easier to load the sweep early and let the anchor descend toward the water in a manner that cooperates with gravity than to try to lift it off the water at the end of a sweep that started weakly in the first place.
Power applied at the end of the sweep often encourages the caster to over-rotate, which robs the subsequent forward cast of most of it's energy as well.
#2 - Postion of hands == angle of rod
The bottom hand must be lower than the upper arm's elbow throughout the entire movement, including drift and rise. Anything else relieves the load on the top half of the d-loop, which lets everything drop down behind the caster.
#3 - Tilting the d-loop bottom-out
If the anchor is landing right beside you, it's very hard to fit a long belly line in such a small vertical space. If not canted outward far enough, all that long belly is crammed between the rod tip and the water.
Sweeping a little wider uses centrifugal force to keep the line tight coming around and places anchor out a rod length out to the side. Thus the d-loop is tilted bottom-out making the long belly much easier to fold into a d-loop and easier to cast with a light touch.
#4 - Anticipation of anchor, tightening the d-loop before the 'kiss'
A commonly noted rule of thumb for long belly lines is to begin to put a forward-moving load into the rod (albeit a slow and gradual load) just a touch before the anchor actually touches down. This does not mean creep, which is coming forward without any load - but a "pre-load".
Case in point:
If a caster starts forward too quickly, the anchor never touches to water and kicks out backward like a mule. That proves that an early forward stroke actually keeps the anchor off the water, as strange as that may sound.
So when casting a long belly line there is so much grain weight and momentum going backward that it's possible to start loading the rod forward a bit before the anchor hits the water, thus actually helping it stay off the water while at the same time providing the proper tightening of the d-loop and pre-loading of the rod that is important to realizing maximum power from a long stroke.
I agree with everything you posted if speaking about a single spey or switch cast. However, with the double spey, I've found that you can't use the "pre-load" forward movement before the D Loop is finished being formed with the long-belly line or the anchor will be pulled and the cast will collapse.
Also, since I've been using an underhand push along with a top hand pull to help power the D Loop in a single spey, I've found that I have to wait to apply this underhand push and top hand pull until after the line is aerialized from pulling the line up with the beginning of the rod sweep. I also find that making the rod sweep by rotating the body from the waist and not using my arms/shoulders to do so makes for a very energized line release from the water.
I have also found that the length of the rod figures into where the anchor is placed in relation to you. I've found with rods of 16' and longer, the anchor ought to be less than the rod's length away from you. This is very evident with 17' and 18' rods. When I place the anchor a rod's length away with the 17' and 18' rods, it is too far from the body to produce a good cast by virtue of the amount of curve introduced from having it placed so far from the body. Instead, I've found that with the 16' and longer rods, there is so much space available for the line, that placing the anchor about 13'-14' from the body works best. Notice that this is about the same place the anchor gets placed with rod of 15' or shorter.
Certainly a double, snap-t / circle, or any prolonged anchor cast would call for a different approach than light anchor casting, but you make a good point just the same.
What is your position on the snake roll and long belly lines?
On the topic of sweeping and d-loops... I would like to compare notes with you sometime on the water. I think it's likely that everyone uses a bottom hand push (I certainly do) however the timing and extent of power is where the techniques and personal preferences come into play. We might be talking about the same approach and not know it, but then again the words do sound different and I am sure it would be worthwhile as both of us have done a considerable amount of study in casting since we last cast together at the first Flyfishing Forum speyclave at Fall City years ago.
Perhaps you could post a video of your long belly casting, as the visuals provide so much where the words seem to occlude as much as they might reveal at times.
I would gladly post some video as well; a picture is worth a thousand words.
I don't use the snake roll with the long-belly lines because I find it takes too much effort to aerialize the line on the initial forward roll of the line, which is especially noticealbe when using a sink tip.
Alas, I have no video equipment so I don't have the capability of getting a video of long-belly casting.
I also agree that we are talking about doing the same thing with using the lower hand push to help accelarate the line into the D Loop. The point at which we add the lower hand push might be slightly different, or the amount of lower hand used may be slightly different; but it really is the same thing. The only reason I mentioned the lower hand push was you had left it out of your initial post.
I think you will find that students tend to over-push the butt and "trunk" their bottom hand but they seldom forget to use the bottom hand when both hands are on the rod, hence the mnemonic of hand vs. elbow position to prevent it.
Absolutely right on about most folks new to casting long-bellies trunking by using too much bottom hand! Heck, I've seen most new spey casters \being prone to trunking regardless of the belly length being used.
Another common error I've seen with newcomers to long-bellies is hitting the rod hard on the initial forward motion instead of accelarating smoothly into a hard stop with the power snap at the end of the foward spey.
I suppose I need to practice using the snake roll with long bellies and sink tips instead of using my preferrence, the double spey.
I use the snake roll a lot with long bellied lines (XLT in particular).
When I`m on still water, I nearly always use the snake roll for change of direction (30-40 degrees), when practicing my spey casting.
I find it easier to execute than the double spey, (when being repetitive) although I tend to use the double more when fishing.
With a lot of line out, (or with sunk line) I find a double snake or a larger spiral to work well.
OK, while you two are on this subject -- I've found that I can handle a decent length of line on the single and snake but with the circle and double I'm limited to about 65' to 70' of line out of the guides. Is there ways to handle more or is this typical? I try to toss a decent sized upsweep loop onto the water to pick up the extra line but the anchor placement is erratic. Then pulling all of that line back into the D-Loop, gets messy.
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