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Line choice for your double handed or Spey rod

Matching your double handed or Spey rod with the correct line. 

The late 1990s saw a massive leap forward with regard fly line design, especially for double handed, or, 

as they’re known in the US, “Spey rods”. Prior to this, apart from a few home made efforts from guys in Scandinavia, all we had on the market was double taper lines. Between 25 and 40 yards in length, pre 1990, those were the “go to”, must have product. Basically, we saw nothing else on the river. No one would have been in the least bit interested in what those lines weighed, or, for most of the time, what rod they fitted. My guests would come with a 15 foot rod and old line they got as a 21st birthday present from their father. Even after 20 years and 10s of thousands of casts, there was not a question that the line needed changing. A line was a line, and this one, although cracked over its full length, had sentimental value, and, it was still catching fish. Then came the revolution, the 1990s saw lines such as the Lee Woulf Triangle taper, Rio Accelerator and Michael Evans line hit the market. The the keen and decent fly-caster, those were like something sent from heaven, between 65 and 80 feet of line, not with just a simple double taper, but a taper much more conducive to Speycasting. For those buying into this new technology, gone were the days of turning the line when it became cracked. For attached to those new dynamic casting heads was thin running line, an idea born in Scandinavia where salmon fishers had been using home made shooting heads for some time. The idea was, the whole casting head could be cast from the tip of the rod and the running line pulled out by the the weight of the line and energy massed in the rod. However, at 65 – 80 feet, it still took a fairly good caster to master those and although easier that double tapers, they were still beyond the capabilities of most anglers. It quickly became clear to those up us in the business, that lines with shorter “heads” would be much easier for “Mr Average” to cast. The first of those I saw was the Rio Windcutter, a line which, in my opinion, would revolutionise speycasting, it’s relatively short, heavy, head making it much easier for Mr Average to load the rod, something that had always been a problem with both long double tapers and early weight forward lines.. Along with the windcutter came the first talk of changes to the old and totally irrelevant, AFTM rating system, a system based on weighing the first 30 feet of flyline in order to give it a rating. This system was never any good for spey-lines and Speycasting. With the windcutter came the first talk of “Head weight”, meaning the total weight of the casting head, which in the case of the windcutter was 55 feet. This is by far a better system for anything Spey related and should have superseded the AFTM system long ago, as mixing those has just served to make something which is confusing to the layman already, even more confusing. By weighing the full casting head we now had something concrete, something if we all had the same casting technique, would flex the rod in the same way. If only it were as easy as this! Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, we’re all different and because we are, even when casting the same line, on the same rod, the result is never the same, and why? Well, quite simply, our casting technique is different. A fly-fishing rod is an incredibly flexible piece of kit, to bend this in a uniformed way, as most very good casters do, looks easy, but in actual fact, is difficult to say the least and not only takes similar practice to that of a professionally golfer, but also, and very importantly, the right information, learning the basic fundamentals. After 40 years of learning and teaching, I know this what’s missing from 90% or more people’s cast. The golfer who originally picked up the club, hit it, and after a while saw an improvement, may get the handicap down below 6, however, for most, that’s where it stops, and the reason is, they have fundamental flaws in their technique, fundamentals that, without going back to basics, make it “impossible” to become scratch. So, looking at your casting, for most people [Mr Average], if you want to improve, all it takes is a lesson on the fundamentals, a one to one with a good teacher. By the same token, if you’re happy with your casting, you get by and don’t have any notion to be in that top ten percent, then enjoy the massive leap forward in the design of fly lines and the benefit they bring to your fishing. I’m asked so many times every year (which is why I’ve written this and made the accompanying video), which fly line suits a particular rod “should I pick the 7/8 or the 8/9? The answer to the question is, for Mr Average, it will be the heavier line. But who are you? Are you Mr Average? To answer this I’ve made two short 5 minute video clips which you can look at here - This will answer all your questions and ensure you pick the correct flyline. Please comment in the comments below the video.

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