Converting a Windcutter into a GL shooting head
After mucking about, at different times with four spey rods, I figured, that with the acquisition of the fifth, I should purchase a "real" spey line. Well, like pretty well everone else here, I was steered toward a Windcutter. Had I bought the tips version, I'd probably would still be a happy camper, but no, I bought the floater.
What a useless line for my waters. Straight out of the box, it wouldn't turn over anything that would sink a fly and when used on some smaller rivers, to cast the full head would put you in reach of the far bank. There's plenty of advice around about cutting the Windcutter back but I couldn't bring myself to chop such an expensive line. So I bought an Airflo Delta instead and loved it.
After watching the Windcutter collect dust for months, last January I got up the nerve to do some line surgery and chopped 10' off the front taper plus I cut the head off the running line. On the decapitated and de-tapered head, I added braided loops. When I tried the line reversed, it went like stink but the braided loops caught in the guides so bad, it put the rod at risk.
After finally getting around to making some smaller loops, I took the line out to the Credit today for a better field test than the first attempt. The cut down head is now 44' and when used reversed, the very short 3' rear taper becomes the front taper with the very thick 20' belly right behind it. As you can imagine, the turn over force is greater than any pike line in existance. This arrangement will turn over pretty well anything you care to put in front of it, sinktips, Polyleaders, mono & shot, mono, shot & a bobber, and all of the above with a brass tube fly.
But will it cast?
I'd pull the head in until the loop was in my hands, leaving about 30' of line outside the guides. I'd then execute an abbrieviated double and make an 80' cast. The mono & shot (4 BBs) turned over like I had a trico dry on the end. Once I aclimatized to the quick, underhand powerstroke, I could keep the D-Loop so compact that it barely reached behind me on an across stream cast. On downstream or upstream casts, it didn't go behind me at all. While the wind was the wrong way for singles, I tried a some, and after a few fits and starts, they started banging out too. Even a snake roll worked. After a while, I stopped trying to catch fish and concentrated on expanding the repertoire. More extraordinary, I started casting with overhead-like precision. It's hard (at least for me) to position the fly accurately with a spey cast, but this was duck soup.
If you hate your Windcutter floater - try decapitation and reversal -- you'll love it.
BTW, I was using a reversed Windcutter 9/10/11 on a Lochmor X 13'6" 9 wt.