Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Double Hander in the Salt

Here are some good videos I found on casting double hand in the salt. Double hand rods are especially suited for blind casting as it greatly reduces fatigue when you have to fire off cast after cast whole day long. Double hander can also handle wind and distance better. With the advance of Switch rods and modern Spey shooting heads, we no longer have to contend with heavy 15 foot rods that used to dominate the double hand scene not so long ago. 

Switches in the 10' - 11' range is especially suited for light saltwater estuary work whereas those handling big surf may opt for rods in the 12' - 13' range. Advancement in graphite rod making technology has also made double hander a lot lighter than it used to.

In this first video, the caster is using a T&T 10 footer 6wt employing snap-C, snake roll and switch cast with good effect.

In this 2nd video, Andrew Moy demonstrate the technique of double hand overhead casting in the salt. 

Here is another good video on using Switch rod in the shorline surf and estuary by Jeff Putnam with useful tips on how to time your cast in the surf. For some reason I am not able to embed the video here but you can follow this link to youtube:

Note: You can access all my blog post on saltwater spey by clicking on the "Saltwater Spey" link located on the right hand side under Labels.

Monday, December 19, 2011

TFO TiCr X Double Hand Conversion Kit

I have the TFO TiCr-X double hand conversion kit in my arsenal for a few years now but never really thought much about using it for Spey as this rod was mainly designed for overhead casting. Recently, I got interested in progressive action DH rod for saltwater Spey and started experimenting.

A true progressive action rod typically has a relatively stiff butt section with the upper sections bending progressively downwards as more and more load is being applied. This is in contrast to most Spey rods that are designed to be more regressive, loading quickly to the butt. TFO TiCr X rods attached to the beefy DH conversion kit is as progressive as it comes.

I had a chance encounter not long ago with a friend's TiCr X 6wt fitted with the DH conversion kit casting 400 grain Wulff Ambush line and was very impress with how well it loads and fire, easily forming tight loops. Before long, I started digging out out my seldom used TiCr X 5wt and tried fitting it to the conversion kit and to my surprise, it fitted rather nicely.

My on water session with the rod last Sunday blew my socks away. Matched with a 350 grain Wulff Ambush line (plus 15ft versi-leader), the rod was easily firing 100 foot cast post Perry Poke with insanely tight loops. It  has never cross my mind that a 5wt can have such performance. I have previously cast my DH TiCR X 8wt (with 450 grain Ambush line) but was never this impress. I think the key is in softening the top half of the rod to bring out the animal in it. Although the TiCr X conversion kit was originally designed for the 7 & 8wt TiCr X  rods, we know today that it will also fit the X 6wt, the non-X TiCr 6,7 & 8wt as well as the BVK 6 & 7wt rods.

This easily makes the TiCr X conversion kit a best buy from TFO for anyone wanting to make a foray into the double hand world. With just a TiCr X conversion kit, one can affordable own up to 4 Spey rods ranging from 5wt to 8wt with the corresponding single hander to boot. Two thumbs up for TFO!

The DH TiCr X 5wt will make its way to Maldives with me next year to do battle with Bonefish and Trevally. I am looking forward to it. I am sure the beefy butt section will have more than enough juice to handle the occasional big GTs.

Updated 21Sep2015:
Here is a video of TiCrX8wt conversion kit in action fighting Arapaima in Thailand. I was fishing with a 450 grain Ambush line but felt that the rod can handle heavier. I recently have confirmation from a fishing buddy that the TiCrX8wt DH handles 500 and even 550 grain very well.

Updated 29Mar2016:
I recently bought a 510 grain Airflo Skagit Switch to match with the TiCrX8wt DH and it cast great. I find it easy to fire out out 100 ft cast with this set up. The Airflo Skagit Switch is also great with static roll cast with minimum back space. I could easily roll cast 80ft with this line even with minimum D-loop space.

Arapaima on DH TiCrX 8wt

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Anatomy of a Good Spey Casting Line

Someone once asked me whether we can up-line a single-hand designated line and use it on his double -hander. The simple answer is yes but it will not Spey cast very well due to limitation of the design. It will no doubt over head cast well as it was designed to do just that but when it comes to Spey casting, there are some salient features needed for the line to Spey cast well. I will break up the Spey line into various sections and briefly discuss them here.

1) Section A-B:
This is the back taper of a typical Skagit or Scandi head. The back taper typically should be as short as possible so that it quickly merges with the thin running line (or shooting line). Since the purpose of the Skagit or Scandi Spey is to shoot line for distance, it make sense not to have too long a back taper. Typical back taper can range from a few inches to a no more than three feet. There are however exception to the rule. For the purpose of distance mending when fishing big rivers, RIO for example has incorporated a 25ft back taper to their RIO Switch line. This improved mending capability of course comes at the expense of shooting distance.

2) Section B-C:
This is the meat of the Spey line where most of the mass should be concentrated to optimize loading of  the rod. Once this section of line is aerialized by the unloading action of the rod, it will gain the necessary momentum (= mass x velocity) to pull the rest of the line (C-D-E) along for the ride. You can think of B-C as the drive train and C-D-E as being the passenger carriages on tow. In order to go the distance, this  lead section of the Spey line (B-C) should be as hefty as possible so as to provide maximum momentum for the shoot.

3) Section C-D:
This section of the line serves to link the power section of the line (B-C) to the anchor (section D-E) when a D-loop is formed. This section does not need to be as massive as B-C but should still have sufficient mass to turn over the sink tip (D-E) + fly. If this section is too light, it will fail to turn over the sink tip. If it is too hefty, it will put too much load on section B-C and slow down the overall line speed, resulting in a shorter cast. Rule of thumb is that this section must be less hefty than section B-C but must be at least as hefty as section D-E.

4) Section D-E:
In the case of a Skagit line, this section is the sink tip (or a long versi-leader in the case of Scandi). The main function of this section is to provide anchor for the cast. All spey cast require a good secure anchor to form before power can be applied effectively to the forward cast. If the anchor runs or slip, power of the forward cast will be lost and the cast will not go well. Another important purpose of this section is to turn over the fly. If we are using a heavy wind resistant fly, we will need a heftier sink tip (higher grain/ft)  to provide sufficient momentum for turn over, Otherwise if we are casting dry fly or small nymph, we can probably get away using lighter grain weight versi-leader.

Here are the profiles of some of the better casting spey line out there that embraces this general design philosophy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Skagit Set-up for Switch Rod

At a request of a friend wanting to start up on double-hander, I have put together a diagram to illustrate how a typical Skagit set up looks like. Some Skagit lines like the Wulff Ambush line comes integrated with running line whereas lines like RIO Skagit Short or Airflo Skagit Compact mostly comes as head only (~20ft) and will need a separate running line.

Every Skagit set-up will need to have a sink tip at the business end to bring the fly down. In the case of lighter Switch rods (4wt - 6wt), RIO versi-leader makes very good sink tips and is a joy to cast.

My preferred set-up for Switch rod is the Wulff Ambush line with RIO Spey versi-leader as sink tips. Here is my recommendation for the length of versi-leader to use for Wulff Ambush line up to 400 grain:

1) Floating versi-leader - 15ft
2) Clear Intermediate versi-leader - 15ft
3) Medium to Fast sink versi-leader (2.6 ips to 7 ips)- 10 ft