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Setting Up for the Sweep

Posted on February 22 2011

Spey Casting - Setting Up for Sweep
Here's one option. Photo: Yos Gladstone

It’s time for the next in our series of spey casting tips from Brian Niska.  Any time we need to run something about spey casting, we call Brian and he just rattles this stuff off – just think how much you could learn if you joined him for a week of instruction at Alaska West.

Setting Up for the Sweep

In my last post we discussed the importance of starting every spey cast with a lift – to enable consistent and precise anchor placement. When done well, this initial lift transitions smoothly into a ‘set move’, distinct to the specific speycast that you are making.

Set moves are unique and varied, ultimately limited only by the creativity of the caster. Many involve a rotation of the rod , a purposeful dump or a sudden cut or downward motion of the rod tip.  Speycast names are typically descriptive of their set moves, featuring words like spiral, reverse, single, double, snap, roll, cut, poke and circle. Each of these casts uses a different set move to position the anchor so it lines up underneath the path of the rod tip on the forward stroke.

All speycasts can be divided into two distinct groups based on their anchor type – either touch and go (line kisses the water) or sustained (line left to soak). Typically, the sustained anchor casts work better with the sink tips and large flies we use for tidewater chinook salmon on the Lower Dean and Bering Sea kings at Alaska West.

Regardless of their anchor type, each of these casts begins and end the same. They start with the lift and finish with a move 180 degrees from the intended target. In all cases, the line follows the rod tip and the end of the set move will result in the anchor being placed under the forward path of the rod tip.  When this move is complete, not only will the anchor be in place, but the rod and caster will be in a position to start the ‘sweep’ .

The sweep is the part of the cast in which rod load is generated. The rod travels around the caster in a circular motion and then finishes with a straight line motion 180 degrees from the intended target – but we’ll learn more about the sweep next time!

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