Skagit casting is not really much different than any other style of Spey casting. It should be slow, smooth, fluid, effortless, beautiful, efficient, and effective.
1) Cut the hook off of your fly, stand in one place and practice for an hour, minimum! Allow yourself to shoot only one rod length of shooting line if you are in a slump or if you’re just starting your Skagit Casting career.
2) Form a big D loop. Practice this. How do you know if your D loop is big? After you sweep, abort the cast before the forward stroke and watch your D loop before it collapses or try watching it all the way through your cast. Might wanna wear some safety glasses or have somebody watch your D and give feedback.
3) Keep your anchor, which is your fly (and maybe a few or more feet of sink tip) close to you. Depending on the length of your rod, your fly should be within a rods length away from you, I dunno, like 8 to 12 feet? Not too close, or you’ll be wearing it.
4) Don’t try to cast too hard.
When you’re fishing and your casting starts to fall apart, reel in some running line and limit yourself to a rod length or two and stick with it. Make consistent, straight, uniform casts. It’s very satisfying.
5) Pull with the bottom hand. Yes, use your top hand, but always remember to pull with your bottom hand, this principle applies to all Spey Casting techniques.
6) Don’t go at it like your killing snakes.
7) Don’t get crazy about “ripping” a white mouse through the water. It will happen on its own, you just kinda “peel” it off the water.
6) Every part of your cast should be smooth.
7) Your cast should feel heavy throughout the entire cast.
8) Your cast should be fluid.
9) Hold still. If you’re Skagit casting, hold still, don’t lean and rock and thrust and move your center of gravity everywhere and all that stuff. You might rock back a little on the sweep but these aren’t long bellies. Hold still. Cast with your hands and forearms. The rest of you should be like a statue. Unlike most styles of Spey Casting, this technique is unique to Skagit Casting alone.
10) Flip the tip. Don’t kill it with your top hand. Just flip the tip, like you’re throwing a ball for your dog with one of those dog ball throwing things. But keep your tip down to avoid your fly smacking your rod if its weighted. I’m not implying that you should necessarily tip cast your Skagit head but when your D loop is fully loaded it should not require undue effort to make a nice cast.
10) Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. I believe it was “honest Abe” Lincoln who first said that.
11) Don’t “rear back” and Lay your rod parallel to the water before your forward stroke. This is common with people switching from single hand overhead casting to Spey casting. It kills your cast. Instead, after the sweep, using your forearms, wrists and hands, effectively drawing the letter U with your rod tip, in the sky, not laying it back and pointing at the bank behind you.
12) Your cast should be relatively slow and fairly continuous but if you need to pause a little after the sweep that’s no big deal, just don’t stop, for too long, or everything will sink, and the cast will require extra effort in order to launch it effectively.
13) Skagit Casting should be relaxed, efficient, and effortless, within reason.
14) Let the rod do the work. Keep your hands in front of you. Use your bottom hand to help you throughout the entire cast.
15) Take a break. Eat a PBJ. Drink water. If you are tired and sore after a day of casting, even if you are making some long casts, you are doing something wrong. You shouldn’t feel too beat up after a day of spey casting, especially Skagit Casting. When in doubt, go back to #1)
16) Take a lesson or let a friend help, or at least get your wife to watch you. Its amazing what another pair of eyes will do to help you cast.
17) Have a friend video you casting and watch it. It may be better or worse than you think. Take a video and email it to me.
18) Make sure your outfit is balanced and dialed in. Seek the help of an experienced caster or fisherman.
19) Lose the weighted fly until you are comfortable casting a non-weighted fly.
20) Start with a lighter sink tip. If you’re still struggling, try 8-12 feet of T8. Its good stuff and easier to cast.
21) Limit the rod noise. Strive to eliminate all rod noise unless its an emergency.