Wide? Narrow? What "feels comfortable?"
Is there any definite effect on the space between the hands? My feeling is that a wider
grip--for me, though I haven't acutally tested this yet--might solve that "running out of
room" feeling in the last part of the forward cast, where the most power is applied right
before the stop (the stop being aided in this case by the underhand slap).
Since Spey casting is much more than just the forward cast, most will find it easier to lift, set the d-loop and otherwise manipulate the line to prepare for the final forward cast. The load on the top hand will be lighter in general, and less power needs to be applied from the bottom hand.
In my class I emphasize that "the body accomodates the arms, the arms do not accomodate the body". This is less true for underhand / short head styles but is a key concept for general Spey casting and a good learner's rule. A wide grip encourages the student to properly rotate the hips and move the whole body through the motions leading up to the power stroke of the final cast. This is very important to establish.
Beyond the initial learning curve there are many factors affecting the choice of grip style including the length of the rod, the design of the line, even the casting technique but in general when starting out I highly recommend the wider hand placement to establish good Spey technique.
Once you've examined the effects for yourself the answer becomes "whatever works for you" as it's a subjective thing in the end.
Great information as always, Juro, but I was acutally talking about overhead casting.
BTW it also turns out that I've mainly been concentrating on the underhanded spey casts, since that's the kind of equipment I have.... and the rod is great for
Mike Kinney once told me that a good thing to do while practicing the underhand is to place the hands closer together, I guess to get a better feel for the leverage involved. Would this apply to overhead casting, too?
Ah I see. As Yogi Berra might say "if you had mentioned that you wouldn't have to tell me that again". ;)
Yes I also like a comfortably wide spacing of the hands when casting with two-hands overhead. If you benefit from a mnemonic device (which I do very much) put the hands at least as far apart as the length of your forearm plus one fist. In other words put the bottom hand just below your upper arm's elbow.
Take a second to try that. Put the bottom hand below the upper arm elbow. Do a roll cast, a backcast, a forward cast, etc. Now put the hands closer together. Now wider. See what I mean?
There is also fishing to consider, not just casting.
I like a long handle to place under my arm while strip retrieving the fly. A short handle means I am holding raw graphite under the arm, or that the reel is in an awkward spot.
Moreover a big fly and often sinking line requires a roll-up move to get the head out of the guides and the line positioned on the surface for an instant between casts. The advantage of obeying what I call "the elbow rule" is that the roll up is comfortable and leveraged. You do one with every cast so that can matter.
The elbow rule is important on the cast as well. The bottom hand must never rise higher than the upper arm elbow. If it does the rod angle will go flat and the rod will lose it's load. This is what Simon Gawesworth calls a "trunk".
Not to sound repetitive, but there is no single right way (unless you are teaching a beginner with no previous experimentation of their own). You may discover a very effective means of overhead casting with two hands butted up against each other, who knows.
But in general the spacing I mentioned above and the casting/fishing considerations therein were gleaned from much time in practice on beaches like Nauset on Cape Cod and are thus offered in the hope that they provide some insight for your own journey into two-handed casting bliss!
A HUGE storm is forecast for our area very early tomorrow (sat) morning and most of the
day tomorrow, so I'll have to wait to try the forearm plus fist spacing!
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