The Skagit Double Spey was at one time my worst and least favorite cast. I used my arms too much. When I learned from watching videos and getting advice from the likes of Greg, Bruce, Ed, Travis and Janusz Panicz to keep my top elbow close to my side it forced me to keep my unruly arms inside the “box.” It also kept me from getting lost during that long time it takes to sweep around to firing position.
The other thing I learned that has helped me lately was to SLOW DOWN or as Poppy says, and has said for years, “stay off the gas.” In particular, with larger flies I don’t get crazy about “tearing” my line off the water. I prefer high and slow for large flies.
When I cast lighter payloads I can get more power when I peel the line off the water. It feels good, its fun, it loads the rod up and helps me with my timing. I did pull off a decent Perry Poke the other day, with a bigger tip and fly, complete with the coveted Skagit line peel, because I slowed down.
One of the problems that happens with the peel is that there is a tendency to peel really fast and then you have to fight your head to slow down for the rest of the cast. You can peel the line off the water without getting crazy. I see guys on the river ripping line around like their hair is on fire while neglecting to build a big fat D loop. They hammer the poo out of their forward cast. Sometimes their cast flies ok, but mostly they are using way to much effort and I’ll bet they are pooped in no time and their arms are sore and possibly their backs.
So if your just learning to Skagit cast try a higher slower sweep and don’t worry so much about ripping that line off of the water, I’m not saying its bad, I’m just saying let it take care of itself. If your technique is correct the line will peel itself. When you sweep around, feel for the heaviness of the line as you sweep it out and around. Keep your cast at that speed. Don’t accelerate, just maintain that nice belly in your line with the high sweep until it turns into a nice big D loop and then do your forward cast. See if that helps.