Re: New to spey casting...advice on Sage TCX--7126-4
I don't know if you'll come back to read replies but will add what little I may know.
I believe that if you are wanting to execute 'traditional' Spey casts, a long or mid belly line will be much easier for this. The rod length you have is just 6" shorter than the 13' Hardy Marksman that I have been using since June.
I find that for short range casting on narrow channels a simple flip or roll is all that is needed but when the water opens up and you want repeated deliveries of the fly at distances of 50 - 90 feet the short head will not be optimum for this.
The length of the head 36' is about the minimum length you may need for the setting up of traditional casts. Due to the rod lengths (12' 6" - 15') some casts are much easier if you can simply sweep and setup with at least 50' of belly extending from the rod tip. With shorter lengths I have trouble because the entire cast, (the sweep - the anchor - forming of a proper D - etc) all of these become so abbreviated that casting becomes much less graceful.
For over head casts the longer belly also provides some advantage in that you do not need to strip in line to reach the 30' mark before lifting the line into a back cast. I would say that you should seek out some casters who are using long or mid belly lines and learn what and how they are using. If rod length becomes the restricting factor then you may want to bump up to at least a 14' rod. Since I find a 13' very nice on most rivers when matched with a 60' belly, your 12' 6" should work just fine once you zero in on the proper line. As for the fellow teaching Spey casting for 15 years, there is a large gulf between casting and fishing.