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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Switch Cast - Spey Casting 101

The “Switch Cast” is also referred to as the “Forward Spey Cast” is is like an energized Roll Cast.

Unlike the Roll Cast, the line never stops moving and is in constant tension. Like a Roll Cast, a "D" loop of line forms behind the rod tip, and the forward loop rolls out above the surface of the water.

This is a single directional cast which is also a non-change of direction cast just like the “Roll Cast”, but is much more dynamic. It may have limited use in actual fishing situations, but as an instructional cast it is very important. The "Switch Cast" is the essence of a Spey Cast. It has the basic elements of a cast.

  • The Lift
  • The Anchor
  • The "D" loop
  • And The Forward Cast.
After learning the "Switch Cast" the final delivery of any spey-type cast is mastered. Once you have mastered the "Switch Cast", when learning a new cast the line positioning moves can be the sole focus. All spey casts end with the elements of the "Switch Cast".

Here's a video showing both the "Switch Cast" and the "Single Spey Cast" from Tight Lines in NJ.

Anchor Types and Positioning

The Switch Cast positions or anchors the fly to the side of the caster to form an elongated "D" or "V" shaped back loop. The size, shape or depth of the back loop may change depending on;

  •  Choice of the style of casting, Skagit, Traditional, or Underhand
  • The type of cast you select to throw
  • Situation, lots of room, moderate room or little room behind you to set up the cast.
The Switch cast is valuable to practice mastering the various "D" and "V" loop sizes and shapes. Practice them all.

The Fundamentals of the Switch Cast - Three Steps

The Lift and Sweep
  • The “Switch Cast” starts with the rod pointed at the line on the water and then continues with a lift with thrust that smoothly and  progressively builds to the top of the lift which is to nose height or about to the 9:30 or 10:00 position.
  • The thrust becomes stronger as the rod smoothly swings into the dip at the start of the sweep, think of a shallow dish.
  • At the start of the lift, the rise of the rod and the dip that follows work together to enhance the strength of the lifting thrust.
  • The rise of the rod followed by the dip work as opposing forces.
  • The lift and dip must be smoothly coordinated and regulated so as not to disrupt the cast. 
  • An efficient cast will minimize the height of the lift and flatten the dip into a streamlined movement.
  • The dip or start of the sweep is directed and directs the momentum to the desired anchor point.
  • During a spey cast it is critical not to misdirect the path of the dip. The path needs to be controlled. Smooth movements are best.
  • Developing and regulating the amount of power or effort applied is very important.
  • The correct applied power and tempo allows the "D" loop to be placed properly and in the desired position.
Placing the Anchor Point

  • As a general rule the anchor point will be off to the side and slightly ahead of your position at about a rod's length away.
  • Place the rod in your right hand (for right handers) and extend and point the rod ahead, then tilt the rod tip about six to eight feet to the side. This is the target for your anchor.
  • The goal is to have the anchor point closely aligned with and parallel to the target line of the forward cast.
  • When setting up the anchor placement if it is skewed or misaligned the line will not clear smooth;y and may cause many errors. 
  • Work on getting the "Lift and Set" formed properly and you will then have better control of your anchor placement.
Developing a Proper "D" Loop
  • The "D" Loop is an aerial loop of line that forms behind the rod tip.
  • The "D" Loop, with the grip of the line anchored to the water surface is the resistance that loads the rod to propel the cast.
  • It is desired to have an oval "D" Loop or a "V" loop that is energized and maintains constant tension.
  • A "D" Loop forms with an incline sweep of the rod that drives the back loop well above the water and will help increase the dynamics of the cast.
  • The "D" Loop should be positioned 180 degrees from the target
  • When transitioning from the "lift and set" the rod drives and sweeps back and "Circles Up" to form the oval shaped "D" loop behind the rod tip.
  • The "Circle Up" is an upward circular rotation of the rod to redirect the line to a new path to travel.
  • The "Circle Up" motion is vital to keeping constant tension in the cast.
  • The rod "Circles Up" to the "Key Position" where the rod accelerates smoothly forward towards the target
The Forward Cast
  • From the "Key Position" the forward cast starts
  • The lower driving hand pulls inwards towards the waist.
  • The upper hand extends forward as the elbow lowers and bends open
  • Stop the top hand at the 10:30 position
  • Use the upper hand a the "pivot" to become the "fulcrum"
  • This will "Flip the Tip" to allow the cast to fly to the target


The "Switch Cast" is the essential part of all spey casts. Practice until the power and tempo is correct. Get this right and the rest will come easier.

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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.