Master Your Left Hand Spey Cast
By Jock Monteith 18th April 2023
If you're a salmon fly fisher there's a massive tactical fishing advantage in learning to Spey cast. As the vast majority of the population are right handed learning to use the less favoured left hand will open up a completely different dimension to your salmon fly fishing approach.
Left Hand Lead Spey Casting Ease
The biggest barrier for many salmon fishers is indeed daring to use their left hand to perform the Spey cast however I can assure anyone with that level of self doubt that their initial thoughts on this are completely illusionary and 100% self-misinformation. Smoothness of lift and swing are the real weapons in mastering the Spey cast so obviously your less powerful left hand is going to be 'naturally' easier to train than your hard hitting dominant right! Don't kid yourself on that a right hand double Spey will do from the right hand bank of the river as a stiff upstream breeze or restricted down stream loading space will only mean you're fishing in danger of hooking yourself or less effectively for distance (when required).
Spey Casting Mirror Teaching Principle
The key to mastering the left hand lead Spey cast is to firstly train your mind to Spey cast using your right hand which will in turn give the precise commands to your hands to completely take on board your entire understanding of every component of the cast. Learn how to 'lift' your fly line correctly which is where the majority of Spey casters fail as the short stroke shooting head casts have distracted from this vital elements of the Spey cast and many instructors don't teach the ascending high smooth lift or even understand what I'm referring to here. Once your brain and right hand are in full control of proceedings then all you're looking for from your left hand is simple mirror image duplication.
Left Hand Salmon Fishing Application
One of the River Tay salmon beats I used to frequent had the most amazing right hand bank on one of its main holding pools. The problem for many was that there was a high bank leading into fairly deep water so no one ever attempted to put a fly through it from the right hand side. All of the fly fishing took place from the left bank where there was nice easy tapered gravel wading which was crazy as the right bank was aligned with the running and holding zone for salmon due to a sharp right hand downstream meander. On the occasions I'd put a fly through it I always got hold of salmon and recall a few days where I caught 2 or more from one swing through this perfect pool as salmon just weren't seeing a half decent controlled fly presentation from that non favoured side of the river.
Deploy A Different Salmon Pool Approach
When salmon fishing conditions are tough and fish are lying in the pools (whether you're aware of their presence or not) don't ever think you're going to nauseate a salmon into taking your fly as that's highly unlikely going to ever happen. What you need to do is come in from different angles that the salmon aren't expecting and try to 'pick a fight' with salmon by getting right inside their heads. Get your fly moving in an unexpected manner and keep it completely unpredictable and watch the difference. This is why sub surface thoughts of fly control & stream swim behaviour are so essential in salmon fishing as a one dimensional right hand Spey cast 'launch & hope' specialist will have little chance of catching a fish with the 'repetitive' boredom they're creating in the minds of resident salmon.
Diversified Salmon Fishing Tactics
Having the ability to deploy your salmon fly effectively from either side of the river regardless of the wind conditions is basic tactical preparedness that every salmon fly fisher should have in their fishing skills bag. Thinking 'outside the box' when fishing conditions are tough on the salmon river will often provide the tactical adjustments that'll eventually grind out the only fish of the day however to get there you must have these skills and the tactical agility to deploy a new approach when you see the normal fishing approaches failing. There's a far greater sense of satisfaction when you hook & land a fish that's required a tactical rethink than any fish that appears from the robotics of a normal salmon pool fishing approach.