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It’s All About the Sweep

Posted on March 07 2011

Spey Casting - Sweep
The crux of it all. Photo: Yos Gladstone

Brian Niska continues his series of spey fishing tips, taking us step-by-step through the elements of a spey cast.  The topic of the day is the sweep, and in spey casting there is no topic more important.

It’s All About the Sweep

The sweep is the part of the speycast where rod load is generated, making it arguably the most important component of any spey cast.  W hen done right, the sweep will start with a weight transfer at the caster’s feet, and move up through the body with a smooth turning of the hips and the shoulders. At completion the well played sweep will create a fantastic D loop, positioning the line behind the anchor point, in line with the intended target of the forward cast.

In the case of the circle and double spey casts, the sweep should begin with the rod parallel to the bank – the set move for these casts finishes with the rod in this position.  To begin the sweep, raise the rod tip up vertically from the water to about head height and sweep the rod in a slightly ascending path around the front you.   At the start of the sweep I like to feel that I’m leading with the back of my top hand in a move toward the middle of the river.

Keep your hands centered and close in front of you, and turn smoothly from the hips and shoulders.  Once the rod tip has rotated around you in a full half circle, drive the line straight back 180 degrees from the intended target. An overhead view of the rod tip path on these casts should look like a half circle with a straight line 180 degrees from the direction of the forward cast.

Not all casts have the full half-circle turn like the circle and the double spey. Casts like the Perry Poke and the snake roll utilize set moves that position line efficiently, allowing for a sweep that is closer to a straight line and ultimately more powerful. In these casts smooth acceleration through the rearward sweep is key while paying close attention to keeping the rod tip traveling in plane.

It is the rod tip’s path in this sweep that will determine the shape of your D loop.  A straight line sweep will create a pointed high energy D, while a sweep with an upward curve will create a slower moving rounded shape D.  Take care not to dip the rod during the sweep, as this will induce slack and take energy away from the cast.

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