Scandinavian Casting- learning to use the bottom hand

For more on Scandi Casting see: Some things I’ve Learned about Scandi Casting …

 Part 1,

Part 2,

Casting with a Granbo top hand tamer,

Scandi progress report, Scandinavian Casting Faults, Fixes and Improvements and…

 Scandinavian Spey Casting Issues.

After my last post about Scandit casting, or maybe it is more aptly called Skandit casting, it was brought to my attention that my style really had very little to do with Scandinavian casting in which the power comes primarily from the pull of the bottom hand. Or, more bluntly, You don’t know what the hell your talking about, was insinuated.  I can’t argue with that.

My casting style uses more top hand. At least it appears to. I do use bottom hand but not enough and definitely not enough early on in the cast during the lift and the sweep which puts the bottom hand into position for the forward cast.

So here are a few clips me me trying to use more bottom hand and less top hand.  I still use more top hand than the style requires but old habits die hard.

Also I need to lean into the cast more as I am actually leaning back during the forward cast which is a big no no and a flaw I struggle with.  So there’s that.  It feels very awkward and to do it correct a guy should really take lessons from an expert.  But I can’t say that it isn’t fun and rewarding learning on my own when I hit a forward cast using predominately bottom hand which rarely if ever happens on the following video. I am using a #8 Rio Scandi short body with a 15′ floating tip but I seriously need to drop five feet of tip and about 75 to 100 grains for my 12’7″ 7/8 Beulah Classic Spey rod, to make it easier…

The more you use your underhand during forward delivery the lighter you can go with the shooting head. The use of underhand increases shooting head speed thus increases the load of the rod and the energy of the cast. Also the flatter and faster you sweep the lighter you can go with the shooting head in switch cast and single spey cast. That’s why the snake roll is such a powerful cast – high line speed!….Janusz Panicz

Here is me flailing around at the beginning of my scandi journey. A little painful to watch. 

Here is more recent video after practicing all summer.

Here I am after over a year of practice.



Here is a quote by Cloner from Speypages who is a disciple of the Underhand Wizards and performs beautiful Scandinavian casts using lots of bottom hand.  Not to be confused with the Underhand Technique.

There is one hint I can give you about the true Scandi/Underhand casting. Something very simple but hard to pick up by most people learning this technique without the instructor. To be able to propel the line forward using your underhand (by pulling your underhand toward the body) you first have to push your underhand away from your body during the sweep

In your video I can see you sweep and propel the line with your upper hand only. In Scandi style you push away with your underhand in the first phase of the sweep and then rotate your body. Both hands are in front of your body all the time. The upper hand does not pull at all and you keep your elbow close to your body. That’s it. Finally during the forward cast you pull your underhand and the upper hand locks and blocks the rod in the +/- 11 o’clock position. By blocking the rod with your upper hand the tip bends toward the front and transfers the energy onto the shooting head…Janusz Panicz, AKA Cloner.

Here is Janusz performing a single Spey.

Single Spey cast, LTS Explosive 13’6″ #9/10 6pcs, RIO Scandi F+S3 from Janusz Panicz.

Here is the master Jan Erik Granbo…

Here is another one where he uses a belt on his arms to limit upper hand movement.

I feel like wrapping a belt around my neck and upper arm to keep my arm in front of my body!

Then there is this one below. About three quarters of the way through he does a series of consecutive switch casts.  That is what I will concentrate on for the next week or two until I have the idea grooved into my grey matter.

I will leave you with a quote from Tropher Brown as to what his definition of Scandinavian casting is.  See the entire conversations here.  It’s excellent.  

My definition, for what it’s worth: “A short-stroke spey cast with a shooting head and a kiss-and-go anchor.”

The kiss-and-go anchor and the weight of the head (lighter) separate this style from Skagit/PNW-style casting.

Stroke length, in my opinion, does not differentiate Scandi-style casting from Skagit-style casting. The length of the stroke should be proportional to the length of line beyond the tip of the rod. In other words, short line = short stroke (and long line = long stroke, or, at the very least, a LONGER stroke). As the relative head lengths of a Scandi-style shooting head and a Skagit-style shooting head are very similar, so too is the stroke length for both styles.

I’ve fished with a lot of Scandinavians. The Syrstads in Norway. Henrik Mortensen on several rivers in Canada. Many, many anglers from Denmark and Sweden. No Scandinavians I’ve met or fished with call their style the “underhand cast.” Not one. Henrik Mortensen’s definitive book on the subject, released by Stackpole two months ago, is titled, “Fly Casting Scandinavian Style.”

ALL double-handed rods, even surf spinning rods, require the use of the bottom or “under” hand. It is more informative to speak of the relatively “quiet” top hand in Scandinavian-style spey casting. This quiet top hand is made possible by the relatively short length of line beyond the tip of the rod. There is just as much “under hand” in a long-belly stroke with a 95-foot head. As the top hand is far more active with the average long-belly stroke (as compared to the average Scandi-style stroke), the bottom or under hand may APPEAR to be less active with the average long-belly stroke.

I’m not sure that the “underhand cast” referred to in Alexander Grant’s day and the “underhand cast” as popularized and successfully marketed by Goran Andersson of Gavle, Sweden are, in fact, one and the same cast. I suspect they are not. More research required!

Tight loops,

Topher Browne

P.S. It is certainly possible to execute a sustained-anchor cast (snap-T, double spey) with a Scandi-style shooting head. I’ve never seen a Scandinavian who does so, however!

Many of the very best Scandi-style casters use only ONE cast: the single spey. When on the left bank/river left, the single spey with right hand on top. When on right bank/river right, the single spey with the left hand on top. No snap-Ts, no double speys, no snake rolls, and no off-shoulder or cack-handed casts. I use the single spey and occasionally add the snake roll when I want a high angle and a fast fly for Atlantic salmon in high summer.

If I ate and enjoyed ludefisk (which I do not), I’d probably eliminate the snake roll. Just a bloody Yank, I guess!

For more on Scandi Casting see Some things I’ve Learned about Scandi Casting Part 1, Part 2, Casting with a Granbo top hand tamer, Scandi progress report, Scandinavian Casting Faults, Fixes and Improvements and Scandinavian Spey Casting Issues.

6 thoughts on “Scandinavian Casting- learning to use the bottom hand

  1. Why not make a video while using Granbo’s belt restraint for your upper arm–it might be very funny watching your tip section sail across the river…

  2. Good work, Tim.
    Its challenging trying to duplicate someone else’s style, but it looks like you’re including the major components. I’m certainly not an expert in analyzing or casting in this style, but I did notice several differences between your efforts and those of both your “mentors” here:

    Both Granbo and Panicz propel the line rearwards in the lift/sweep sequence by pushing away with their lower hand rather than drawing back with the upper. Thus the upper hand becomes more of a stationary fulcrum rather than a moving one. Their lift is also more separated from the sweep into two motions rather than your continuous lift/sweep move.

    Both finish with a higher stop than you by first taking the rod back to a lower angle above the water before their forward stroke commences, and by not opening their upper arm angle beyond 90 degrees at the release (note your upper arm nearly always straightens out and becomes nearly horizontal, which lowers your release and softens it, no matter how abruptly you stop your lower hand).

    Someone who casts exclusively in this style could probably point out additional or perhaps more important differences, and I’m not a judge of what is proper, just noting what I see.

    For what its worth, once a line releases from the water in a touch and go lift, very small changes in force, direction, tempo and duration will produce large changes in the outcome. I will be very interested to see how adding this style affects your performance with ones you already use.

    1. Thanks Greg, Thanks for taking the time to weigh in. I always appreciate your take, you have an analytical mind that is able to see details I miss. I am anxious to take your suggestions to the river and improve my casting. I always try to sweep with my body but as you point out my dang top hand gets carried away and doing its own thing! Hope to see the results soon and get your take as I progress.

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