Spey Casting Tips with Andrew Toft - Mackenzie Spey Lines

Glasgow Angling Centre has teamed up with Andrew Toft, World Champion Spey Caster, AAPGAI Master Instructor and part of the Mackenzie product development team to offer spey casting tips and instruction.  The goal of the series is to help you recognise the symptoms and common faults associated with Spey Casting and to make you more aware of your equipment, the materials used and how this impacts on casting performance.
Andrew Toft Spey Casting Instruction
In part one Andrew talked a bit about his background, competing, spey casting instruction and his involvement with Mackenzie products. In part two Andrew discussed Mackenzie Double Handed Spey Rods, the importance of rod tip speed, and the care and maintenance of your Mackenzie Fly Rods.

In this latest article, Andrew discusses Mackenzie Fly Lines and touches on the subject of fly line coatings, something the fly angler may take for granted but contribute significantly in fly casting efficiency.

 Mackenzie Spey Lines
Most anglers would not pay much attention to the materials that their fly lines are coated with but these contribute significantly, including tensile strength, stiffness and durability. I personally have always favoured slightly softer coatings for most of my fishing, mainly because they cast neatly and form good loops efficiently. However they do have their down sides. If they are too soft, integrity seems to suffer and there will be an element of increased friction due to line sag within the rod rings. This would be more noticeable when we try and shoot any distance.
Mackenzie DTX G2 Spey Lines
By comparison overly stiff lines will often retain a lot of memory and can be less manageable when forming tight loops due to the rigidity of the core and coating. Innovations in fly line technology have provided a combination of supple materials that are PVC free and are excellent for most fishing situations. In addition, one of the greatest advances in fly line design in recent years is the ability to use low stretch, coated, core material. This material has on overall stretch of around six percent compared to previous lines of up to twenty percent. This helps increase sensitivity while fishing and there is very little energy lost while casting as the line responds immediately to any small movement.

We carry out extensive sample testing on all the Mackenzie Spey lines and now use low stretch power cores with supple Polyurethane coatings on all our lines which minimise line sag but retain excellent durability. As mentioned above the low stretch power coating also aids rod loading while Spey casting.

We offer 3 different Mackenzie Spey lines in the range which come in various sizes, the 51ft, 56ft and 64ft to cover many different fishing situations and casting abilities. There is also a multi tip version of the very popular 56ft Spey line which includes four interchangeable tips. 

  • 51ft Head – An excellent all round compact Spey line, rear weighted for effective rod loading.
  • 56ft Head – A personal favourite, mid length Spey line for medium to large rivers with excellent turnover and presentation.
  • 64ft Head – Reach the farthest lie in the biggest pool with the 64ft head Spey line, extended front and rear tapering provides excellent stability at the farthest ranges.

Mackenzie fly line profiles: basic overview of the WF Spey line.
It is beneficial when choosing a Spey line to understand how the profile of a particular line may suit your needs better over another. The line you choose should match your casting ability and the chosen head length should not be unnecessarily long or too short. Spey line profiles don’t generally have complex compound tapers and are mainly made up of a tip, front taper, belly section, rear taper, and running line - some longer lines may have more than one belly. The tip front taper, belly and rear taper collectively form the “HEAD” length of the line.

The tip section – This is often level and can range from a few inches in length to a few feet on larger lines. It's main function is only to protect the front taper when adding or connecting leader material etc without significantly affecting the line profile.

The front taper – This is the section between the belly of the line and the tip section or front end of the line. It’s main function is acceleration which combats wind resistance and provides smooth energy transfer.

There was a time when you would choose a Spey line with a short front taper if you intended to add tips but this is now no longer necessary with the power core Spey Lines.

The belly section – This section is the larger diameter section of the line which is responsible for most of the weight and energy in the line.

The rear taper – The rear taper can vary in length which can alter the behaviour of the line. Longer back tapers provide a much smoother transition from the belly section to the running line at the rear. Short steep back tapers are more common in compact lines. The back taper can also help to stabilise the line during flight, this is especially important with longer lines.

Our range of Mackenzie Spey lines have been designed using proven profiling and tapering combined with the most efficient, up to date coating to maximise the performance characteristics. The shorter belly section allows for weight to be distributed where it matters, within the D-loop! The longer front taper provides maximum speed and turnover while stability during flight is achieved with the perfectly balanced rear taper. This is only made possible due to the unique supple coating combined with the low stretch core. This combination helps retain a lot of speed in the line which is ideal when adding additional tips if required.

Andrew Toft is an AAPGAI and FFF Master certified instructor providing Spey Casting Instruction from beginner to advanced levels. Contact Andrew here for more information.

The full range of MacKenize Fly Fishing Products are also available instore or online from Glasgow Angling Centre.