Recently I received a message from Rob asking if he can learn to spey cast and successfully swing flies with his everyday trout gear.
Here’s a secret: that trout rod you have in your garage will allow you to spey cast. Spey refers to a style of casting, and this can be performed with any fly rod, single or two hand. Specialist gear is not required, however in some situations ( tight surrounds, heavier tips and flies, sustained anchor casting ) a short skagit head will make life a lot easier.
Longer rods will also make life easier, yet can prove heavy and clumsy and so this is where the shorter ‘switch’ style double handed rods come into play to allow more comfort and control with 10’ plus rods.
A standard long belly line will allow you to deliver woolly buggers and other standard wets at distance, and if you cant, you simply need to work on your roll casting technique.
However there are times when you may not have the luxury of casting space or need to throw something a little heavier. It takes mass to move mass... or maybe you just dont have the luxury of getting out enough to get your roll cast legit.
Airflo Skagit Scout
The Airflo Scout head is a short, dense, skagit style head packed with grains, speccing at 13.5’ / 150gr through to 18.5’ / 480gr.
Short heads come into play when used on shorter switch rods or single hand trout rods and deliver your fly without the need for much, or really any casting space at all. But the main benefit for me is being able to strip the fly closer into the rod tip than is possible with a longer head, allowing me to work flies through pools and along the banks in bush clad backcountry rivers. They allow me to send a decent cast from pretty tight places using flies that would require a pretty substantial D loop to move on standard, single hand fly lines.
The Airflo scout taper profile allows for longer, smoother casts than many other modern, shorter heads and more versatility and precision when casting lighter tips. However my 250gr scout will still turn over a t-10 flo tip on my single hand 6wt, and I rarely need a heavier tip than that.
You can loop on a flo tip to turn over bigger, or heavier streamers, or a 10’ polyleader for when more delicate presentations with woolly buggers and other standard sized flies are called for. You may run a miracle braid running line for all round control and handling in colder conditions or choose a mono running line and shoot for real distance.
Overhead casting with the Scout and a mono running line is also very achievable, and can open up distance on larger stillwaters, and other big water scenarios.
Heres a Tip: Cast at a higher forward trajectory with modern, short heads. Short heads have limited flight time as they straighten rapidly, and flat trajectory casts simply won’t travel far. Launched off an elevated trajectory they will still pull line once the loop has straightened to give you those precious extra yards.
Ok, one more tip: Use much less top hand, and much more bottom hand to achieve a fast, tight loop and keep those hands close to your body & elbows in. A short, crisp compact stroke is required to avoid blowing out your anchor.