There are a few critical components of a Spey cast that I like to emphasize in our trout Spey clinics, because they are the keys to troubleshooting when your cast heads south. Clinics, demonstrations, books and YouTube are all great resources, but they don’t offer much help while you are out on the water. Maybe your different, but when my cast falls apart I’m usually on the water, not in front of my computer.
I’ve had the opportunity to cast and fish with (and just observe) some great Spey casters in my life. All the great – and consistent – Spey casters I have spent time around have one thing in common. They are masters of anchor placement. And, they pay close attention to their anchor on every cast.
Most of us are stoked if we place our anchor in a target the size of a drift boat. Most of the time that’s close enough to keep us fishing. But the great casters are placing their fly in an exact spot when they set the anchor. Like in an area the size of a basketball. And they “watch” the fly into that spot. It’s not too far fore or aft, and it’s generally very close to them.
For novice casters, I recommend that you try and set your anchor within a rod length of you. You can get away with a rod length and a half, but we’re trying to improve, right? Get it close. You want that anchor to be lined up with your target, and generally even with your body position to whichever side you intend to launch from.
I won’t go into the “how” here, there are abundant resources for that, and everyone has a different opinion. But I will stress that you’re never going to be a great Spey caster if you “drag” your fly into position. You are going to have to aerialize that line to achieve close and accurate anchor placement.
These can be very touchy/Feedly moves, and you need to spend some time practicing. Mileage counts here, and you’ll be rewarded by taking some time from fishing while you simply practice setting the anchor. Each time you get in a new run, practice your anchor set 10 or 20 times before you begin practicing and fishing. As you move through the day, you’ll begin to develop muscle memory from both sides of the river, both shoulders, and in a variety of currents and wind directions.
Sounds boring for sure. But you will never be a great two-handed caster until you master anchor placement. I always encourage students to find their own style. There are plenty of great casters out there, and they all have different options of which way is the “right way”. Find the one that works best for you.
And the next time you’re struggling through a run, stop and focus on your anchor placement. Improving the anchor tends to improve the cast.