Distance casting generally requires a longer flight time of your loop, and line speed. The longer your loop takes to unroll, the more forward momentum your cast has and the further it will travel. Short heads however turn over sooner, it’s just physics and this limits distance.
Here are a few tips to get a little more air time with your modern, compact spey head.
• learn to drift with a simple backwards and upwards lift of the rod top late into the D loop, simply drift the rod tip up to your final set position by raising your elbows to increase your stroke length for more acceleration. This also brings the larger, stronger muscles of the shoulder into play. Don’t overdo it however and blow your anchor. It doesn’t take much drift to increase your stroke.
• Raise your trajectory on the shoot. Once the head straightens inertia will still pull a bit of running line from your stash, so give it space to do so. A flat trajectory cast will fall and touch down too soon. Its gravity, folks!
• Pullback. Following the stop simply pull the rod tip upwards and backwards a short distance to increase tension on the shoot. Pullback decelerates the bottom leg of the loop and accelerates the top leg of the loop. This also raises the position of the running line and buys you another few feet once you lower the rod.
• Learn to coil line. If you have 40’ of running line simply laying on the water, that’s a lot of water resistance your shoot must combat to free the line and send it back out there. Loop the line in descending sized coils or simply strip several times and clip under the fingers of the bottom hand, then strip a few less times and clip beneath the top hand ( i.e.: seven strips and clip under the bottom hand, then strip five times and strip under the top hand. ) Let this slip from the fingers as the loop pulls forward.
• Play with overhang. Longer overhang will allow for a longer stroke, deeper rod load and ultimately increase line speed.
• Your 180 degree game must be tight. Your anchor, belly and D should all line up directly with your target, and you should track your rod tip straight forward along the inside of your anchor to send it long, fast and true. Out of parallel loops will never go far.
Bonus Tip from Vaz:
We asked Rene for his top tip for slinging distance with compact heads,
“Keep your stroke short to work with the shorter head, accelerate quickly and ease into a stop to reduce tip bounce. Once you get used to a smooth but short application of power you’ll get these heads singing with very little effort.”
To be fair, I personally don’t often require 80 odd foot casts to cover the positions most fish live in. They’re usually along the drop offs, seams and edges and with careful wading I can usually get closer with a shorter, much more controllable line to manoeuvre throughout the swing. However being able to hit that 80’ cast when needed is a great tool to have in your arsenal, and there’s no disadvantage to becoming a better caster, right?