Spey Running Line Management
By Jock Monteith 17th November 2021
When fly fishing for salmon with a Spey line it is important that you understand the logical way to manage your running line if you're fishing a longish line. The following information is what works well for me up to a 40 yard delivery.
The Advantages Of A Spey Line
One of the many advantages of fishing with a medium or long bellied Spey line is that you don't have the huge amount of usually overly thin & often springy running line to try to manage between each cast. Spey lines significantly reduce the amount of running line you need to manage and wasted fishing time in having to strip your shooting head all the way back until the head section is slightly overhanging the tip ring of your rod and ready for recasting. If you're fishing a shooting head at any sort of range this can often make you wish you'd been born an octopus!
Effective Spey Fly Fishing Time
If you add up all of the above shooting head running line 'stripping in' time that is required for a medium to long cast over the full course of the salmon fishing day you'll be surprised by the fishing time & water coverage you've lost. A Spey line cuts the line stripping process in half while fishing a 25 to 40 yard line, allows you to control the fly with a mend 'to the fly' when the fly line is fully extended upon touchdown and allows you much more 'ease of handing' of the running line between each cast. The best method I personally found was to limit yourself to 3 big loops of running line even when the full 40 yard line was being utilised.
Storing Your Spey Running Line Loops
The collection and storing of these loops would be done with my bottom hand at the butt of the rod and below the fly reel. These loops when drawing in line would be stored firstly with the biggest loop, then a slightly smaller biggish loop then finally another smaller one. The first big loop would reach approx the length of my 15ft rod so there you already have 30ft of tidy running line storage and so on. Logically at delivery release time the smallest loop would fly first followed by the next biggest loop then again followed by the largest loop and they all will exit the rod rings without any frustrating butt ring jamming issues.
The Spey Cast Power Stroke Bullet
You may think that only fishing 3 big running line storage loops between long casts will exert too much water pressure or drag (in faster water) on the trailing larger diameter running line of a properly thought out spey 'fishing' line. If your Spey cast lift has been high & smooth enough and you've turned your upper body a little upstream of the target through the smooth controlled swing and precisely & visually brought your peripheral vision into play to 'absolutely' nail your timing off the water you'll still create (and even at long range) that beautiful line slap off the butt section of the rod as it lets you know it likes your form!
Nothing Beats 'Control Optimised' Fly Swim Time For Catching Salmon
Nothing beats the magnificence, elegance and effectiveness of learning & using a medium to long bellied Speyline with all of the huge fly fishing satisfaction benefits i.e. fly control 'to the fly', running line management ease, increase of effective fly fishing time, less chance of a drowned fly line when playing a good fish and no running line rod ring jamming issues. When I watch the majority of salmon fishers who can throw a long line with a shooting head or Skagit system and start counting down the lost effective 'fly swim' time from an aimlessly drifting fly which loses on average one third of its potentially 'effective' fly swim time during each cast I wonder if this design of casting system has also played a part in generally reduced salmon catches over the last few decades in addition to the other better understood and more obvious stock management, in-river predation & ocean mortality factors.