Anchors in the waves?

fatbillybob

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I'm continuing to self teach skagit in the surf. I have no still water around me and I'm don't think grass at the park works for waterborne casts. That means I'm learning in the waves. I'm making progress my casts are pretty nice but I'm trying to get more consistency. I need help understanding the anchor. I have difficulty seeing where my anchor/leader lands in the waves and it is moving at wave speed. For various casts like single spey or switch the anchor touches down at particular places before the forward cast and be optimized. Maybe if I had still water and could see what was going on I could answer my own question. But at this time every time I go out I have a new question. What effects the position of the anchor during the various casts? Is failure to get the anchor in the right spot based more often on how much head is out (physically too much line out) or more of a set-up failure (moving improperly like dipping rod tip) , or rod tempo (too fast set-up breaking the anchor)?
 

Ard

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Long enough without an answer so I'll provide what I can sight unseen.

I have fished in the surf myself and so have a bit of experience with what you are facing. It sounds however that your surf may be a bit heavier than what I have dealt with. First off, when all else fails you go to overhead casting. You may be amazed at how well and quickly you can train yourself to do this with both hands on the grips. You'll figure out how to shoot line if you decide to use overhead techniques.

For water anchored casts you are going to need to rely on timing. Not just your timing as in the casting strokes but timing for the placement of the anchor point. Waves generally have a sort of rhythm or cadence to them and you will need to be in tune with this to be able to place the line properly and then execute the cast before the line is moved away too far. Essentially I'm saying to place the line (Anchor point) in a troth between 2 waves slightly ahead of your dominant side (I don't know if you are R or L handed) Place the line forward of where you are standing so that as you rotate the rod back over the shoulder the anchor point is actually moving into the optimum spot for you to launch the forward cast.

I don't know if you can picture what I'm trying to say in those words and I live way too far away to say I'll meet you at the beach and show you.
 

duker

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I think Ard's got it. . . .

I'll confess: I've never surf fished with my two handed rods, but I do practice with them on the lake in front of our house, and have practiced casting when the wind was pushing small-ish waves towards the shore. And yeah, when that happens it becomes very difficult to set an anchor and maintain that anchor during the cast. The waves push it out of place and you lose a lot of the "stick". I try (and I want to emphasize "try") to do what Ard suggests--set my anchor in the trough between the waves and then complete the cast before the anchor gets messed up. As he says, when fishing in surf or wavy stillwater that timing is even more key than in moving water.

I also like his suggestion of overhead casting, if you can manage that with your rod and have enough room for a backcast. Another option might be to try the "touch and go" casts like the single spey or snake roll which aren't dependent on an anchor.

What kind of fish are you surf fishing for? I bet a big striper would be lots of fun on a two-hander.
 
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fatbillybob

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Thank you both! What's posted make sense. I agree with using the overhead cast. As a 2 hand newbie I'm enamored with spey versatility doing my best to learn it. I live so close to the beach I'm out for an hour or so pretty regularly early in the morning with minimal people but living in LA county all too often there is someone walking their dog right behind me. Overhead means I have to scan the area before every cast. For me thigh deep in the surf and a well cast switch or single spey put people I have'nt seen out of my strike zone. I can hardly wait to use these techniques on a river with trees at my back where it used to be impossible to cast when overhead casting was my only tool.

Sounds like I really need to work on this, "Not just your timing as in the casting strokes but timing for the placement of the anchor point." Thanks!
 

Ard

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Learning in challenging conditions may prove beneficial in the future. When you take your fishing to a river there will be all sorts of water conditions, some relatively calm, slow moving, fast currents even back eddy's to your right or left. You still have to be aware of where you intend to place the line as you prepare for the next cast. You'll get what I mean first time you fish a freestone river with varying currents.

Another thing you're going to encounter will be when you start casting / fishing on the side of the river and you start to feel that you have things figured out. Then you find that you must, or you want to wade across and approach from the opposite side of the river. When you do this everything will change, things will be as if reflected in a mirror. Your cast that you were using just a few minutes ago, the one you felt comfortable with? Everything is different now. The flow of the river is no longer coming from your right, it is coming from your left. This is where and when you may want to slow down, take a moment to think about the change in dynamics and figure out what changes you need to make in order to get back in that groove.

I'm not an instructor but I've started many people on their way in both single hand and Spey casting. I'll provide online advice the same as I would if we were together on the water. I suggest that you focus on making what I call 'fishable casts' meaning 40 foot or so. If you find that you are easily reaching out farther than that try not to become a 'Boomer' meaning someone always reaching for the opposite bank. Wanting to cast really far seems to be endemic with fly casters, they naturally want to cast longer lines. Learning while keeping the casts within a very manageable range can be helpful in several ways. First off a shorter cast requires less energy to be input by the caster. Less energy can mean the difference between just messing up a cast and actually stabbing yourself or your waders with a hook point. Keeping the casts within a control zone also allows you to train yourself in many of the basic steps of good controlled casting. It also may help you to focus on fishing the water that is nearer and to be more thorough with your approach to fishing subsurface flies.

Whether at the beach or on a river being in control is important, always, and I mean always, know exactly where that fly is before you commit to the final forward cast stroke. You will quickly recognize the factuality in that advice because that fly will leave from wherever it is and then take a course following the rod tip. Mistakes result in line wrapped around the rod tip or the fly striking the rod or you. I don't know if you ever skied but this is sorta like skiing in that people who think they are ready for the double black diamond runs on day 1 or 2 often get injured. With fishing it isn't really injury that can be the big threat, it is frustration and disappointment.

Before I hit 'Post Reply' I'll leave you with one last bit, when you get away from the noise of the surf, when you are on a river in a peaceful place your hearing is going to pick up sounds you may not notice standing in the surf. I'm talking about sounds made by your rod and line. If you can detect a very noticeable swish sound while casting, I'm talking about a very noticeable sound of that graphite rod slicing air .............. I believe this to be a sure sign of inherent problem with the casters use of force in their casts. Too much speed & force is the source of the loud swishing sound. This is most often the result of the timing. The timing is off to such an extent that you are not able to utilize the weight of the anchored line to load the rod but you have discovered that simply applying more speed to the forward stroke will overcome issues that should be more closely addressed. Good Spey casting whether with a Skagit head or a full Spey fly line should be fairly absent of swishing sounds. Other noises like slurping = stuck anchor or poofing noises = no anchor. These sounds can serve to train you into good casting style. I've been on rivers where there were other people fishing, I'm not always sequestered away in the more remote areas. While at those places I've seen people fishing far enough away from me that I could actually see the cast then a millisecond later hear the swish and slurp as I saw the cast collapse in front of the angler. Some can pull it off and send casts way out there but the sound indicates lost energy so try to cast quietly.

Need more, I'm always around until the ice goes out ;)
 

fatbillybob

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Thanks for taking the time! River dynamics. Yes...definately part of what makes the sport fun and challenging. Skiing, I get that. When I was young I've been dropped off by helicopter but too old and unfit for that now. What you post makes perfect sense especially what you hear. Interestingly, what I can't hear on the beach also attracts me to spey. As an older guy I find I'm inconveniently turning my whole body to look before I overhead cast instead of turning my head. The minimal spey cast space needed behind me is very attractive and cuts down the size of a potential impact zone. I'm always barbless with sunglasses for eyeprotection too. I put a clouser minnow in my ear once. That's a story for another time...
 
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LOC

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Sounds like you got some great advice and insight already from Ard and Duker!

This is stuff I've learned myself so take it for what it's worth.
Take advantage of the calm skinny water to cast with your right or left hip facing the beach. In the skinny you won't have to deal with lumpy water. Just go far enough out so your anchor does not hit the sand (perhaps two rod lengths). If you are right handed stand with right hip toward beach to simulate river right. The white water will be pushing your line towards the beach. Your casts should be parallel with the shore. This will give you a more consistent practice field to work with and you should be putting a fair amount of time making practice casts during a session mixed in with trying to catch a fish. You can also use this approach fishing large keyhole type structure. I do this a lot at a certain beach. I don't fish from the front of the hole I walk around to the side and swing my fly across with the surf.

For fishing, your timing your cast waiting for the white to water pass but I think you know that. You may have to speed up or slow down your strip to optimize that timing. It's best not to stop stripping altogether and lose the tension because in the surf (facing the horizon) your fishing neither river left or right but river towards you. I myself let the water dictate if I am going to anchor a cast or simply let it fly overhead. You can't force a anchor if the water is not setup for it.

Using this same idea of casting parallel to the shore I would go scout out some spots around King Harbor where it's protected. I'm sure you can find a spot on a slightly submereged rock or perhaps somewhere around the kayak boat launch area to practice on still water from the sand. Take a look on the low tide. You'll probably catch a bass. Ok good luck.
 
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fatbillybob

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If you are right handed stand with right hip toward beach to simulate river right. The white water will be pushing your line towards the beach. Your casts should be parallel with the shore. This will give you a more consistent practice field.

I myself let the water dictate if I am going to anchor a cast or simply let it fly overhead. You can't force a anchor if the water is not setup for it.
Yes! I discovered the more "consistent practice field" idea out of frustration. Necessity the mother of invention. Good to know I'm on the tight track.

Lightbulb! moment...you are so right "let the water dictate". We beginners learn one tool and force it everywhere. We are playing checkers when the game is chess. It seems so simple.
 
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LOC

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I got out this morning and my go to spot was not setup right. My backup spot had a guy standing right where I wanted to be. So I jumped over to the surf side and that was craptacular as well because of a lot of loose salad in the water. Instead of bailing I hung out and did a comparison of casts to see which ones worked the best in open surf.

I was standing in your typical S. CA beach break surf. A long gradual sloping beach with a outside break and a smaller inside break.
For the most part your dealing with getting hit by walls of white water not unbroken waves or waves breaking on you.. The water depth is constantly changing from knee high to the top of your thighs. I had to jump a few times to avoid getting the jewels wet because I was trunking it.

I had no intentions of catching a fish so I wasn't trying to set my anchors in good water. I was doing exactly the opposite. I was timing my casts to anchor in the worst possible water. That in my mind is going to let you know which cast is going be the most effective.
The winner is the Perry Poke. Specifically a spiral lift to Perry Poke. It makes sense it's the most linear of casts compared to the variety of C-style options. The spiral helps lift the head out of the surf with a little extra pop that flips it around quickly before you dump.

Ok as you were...
 

fatbillybob

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The winner is the Perry Poke. Specifically a spiral lift to Perry Poke.
Pretty awesome of you to go trying this stuff and reporting back.

I saw spiral poke on youtube. Not sure if same as you call spiral lift to perry poke. If it is the same I still see 2 places to mess up, 1st getting the fly quartering to the right if right handed and then dumping the line to make the anchor then tear and cast all in moving water. As a much better caster than me did you try snake roll? I was thinking an aerialized snake roll cast would be good? My problem was either I lack snake rolling skills and or I was having difficulty getting my sink tip out of the water with whole skagit head out the guides to aerialize the line.

One day maybe we can fish together. You will have fun. I'm not a comedian but my casting will make you laugh.
 

LOC

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Pretty awesome of you to go trying this stuff and reporting back.

I saw spiral poke on youtube. Not sure if same as you call spiral lift to perry poke. If it is the same I still see 2 places to mess up, 1st getting the fly quartering to the right if right handed and then dumping the line to make the anchor then tear and cast all in moving water. As a much better caster than me did you try snake roll? I was thinking an aerialized snake roll cast would be good? My problem was either I lack snake rolling skills and or I was having difficulty getting my sink tip out of the water with whole skagit head out the guides to aerialize the line.

One day maybe we can fish together. You will have fun. I'm not a comedian but my casting will make you laugh.
The only Spiral Poke video I've seen and I have watched it multiple times is the one where the woman is casting from river left.
It's one of my favorites of a straight forward casting demo.

So yes it's technically the same cast but it's way easier due to the fact that your not adding a big change of direction to the cast.
I do a straight tall vertical lift and as you are going up add the spiral which helps the line out of the water. From there you let it kick out behind you and the fall on the water. That entire sequence can be done no matter what the water is doing.. Think about how you do a standard water haul with a single handed rod in the surf. It's basically the same move and you can execute that cast without having to think about timing the lift. So now at this point I'm standing there with my rod stopped in the firing position with my line on the water behind me. The surf is actually helping to keep tension on the line. So at this point the waves are not doing anything to really screw up the cast. Dumping the line you yell “timber” and drop the rod tip down in front of you like a falling tree. This where you can have the waves screw with your cast but it's most likely because your dumping the line in a pile instead of a nice loop. If you dump in a pile the waves are going to add slack on your sweep.
Executing this move though also does not have much to do with being in the surf. It's the same way you would dump on river or still water.
Going into the forward cast is when you need to pay attention and make some timing adjustments to keep tension into the D-loop.
That said, even when you flub this part you still get a fishable cast. I'll be spending a lot more time in the surf in the coming months and I'll try to refine it as much as possible. If I come across any good a-ha moments I'll let you know.

Snake roll, If you are refering to the touch and go style I found it to be one of the hardest to execute in the surf because I'm trying to get the anchor to touch down flat and even to load the rod. If you are referring to the overhead cast that’s actually one of the most powerful casts you can do with the two handed rod especially if you shoot line or add a drift.

Yes on fishing the water together. I have fun fishing with all types of folks. I could be out chasing fish with a master casting instructor and the very next day I'm out having just as much fun sharing the water with a friend who’s pitching live bait on a spinning rod. So no matter the skill level you’ll fit right in!

:)
 
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fatbillybob

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Yes that's the video I was watching. I'll have to get out on the water and try it. I'm racing up at laguna this weekend taking some exyrs time hiring the guide who got me excited about fishing the beach. I hope to gleen new actionable skills.
 
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