The Snap T
(aka Snap Cast, Snap-C, C-Spey, Circle Spey, Circle Cast)
originator: Günter Feuerstein (A)
The history of the Snap-T
Some situations demand a unique technique to make fishing these situations more effective and more economic. In the late eighties I developed a technique to make it possible to fish one of my home waters in a better way. The water was a drainage channel being about 5 to 8 meters wide and containing a very good grayling and rainbow trout population. The only problem was that fly casting was not that easy there because you were not allowed to stand into the water to present your fly. Wading was forbidden.
There was no back-space available at all as the banks were covered with bushes and trees and the only possibility for a presentation was to use the space above the water for your back cast. Because of the fact that nymph fishing was the only effective grayling technique in this water (bottom only feeding grayling population) I wanted to use a cast that should work especially well with the nymph and would avoid contact with the bushes and trees at the river banks. Overhead casts work well in certain situations, but the possibility of a heavy nymph hitting your rod and damaging it by doing so is always present. So another way of managing this special situation was necessary.
By playing around with my rod on the lawn in order to create something new I stepped over a helpful movement that solved my back-space problem. This happened in the eighties.
The GF pick-up cast, meanwhile known as Snap-T, was born.
I have showed this cast in several shows and courses all around Europe and in the United States since the late nineties. Thanks to Graham Anderson from Calgary who participated in my fly casting workshop on oval fly casting at the FFF Conclave in 2000 in Livingston/Montana, the cast got a huge push in North America. Graham recognized this cast to be very useful especially for fishing with double hand rods. So he asked me for the permission to give the cast a short name which would make it easier to teach it in North America. Graham proposed to use the short name Snap-T. I agreed to his proposal and Graham and his instructor colleague Floyd Dean were promoting this very special cast in several fly casting demos and courses since and made the name Snap-T popular in North America. It was the rising importance of the internet that helped to spread it fast around the globe. The cast is an important element of modern double handed casting now and was published in many magazines and fly casting books around the world.
How to perform the Snap-T
I usually distinguish between two Snap-T versions which I use depending to the situations. The Snap-T can either be used as an upstream presentation cast (shooting line upstreams in situations where only limitted space is available or for moving the end of the fly line and fly upstream to prepare for the presentation cast downstream that is following(Snap-T for double hand rods) or use its three different versions for fishing a downstream nymph fishing technique with the Loop (see 3rd Edition of my nymph fishing book.
The double hand version is used by many salmon fishers all around the world now.
The Snap-T upstream presentation technique
After you have fished out your nymph/fly and it has already drifted back to your bank some way downstreams below your place you drop your rod tip to avoid any slack between the rod tip and the water surface. Point with your rod in direction to your nymph before you start the cast.
This low starting point is necessary to make a long fluent movement possible to make the cast most effective. Do never forget that a fly line always follows the path of your rod tip! The cast is done in a sideways position. It is some kind of a side-cast.
right river bank - upstream presentation:
Be sure that your rod is in a sideways position and your reel is pointing upstream before you start your cast.
left river bank - upstream presentation:
Make sure your rod is in a sideways position and your reel is pointing downstream and that you are going to deliver a back cast. This means that the way you are handling your rod on the left bank of a river is the same as if you are doing the back cast of a basic/foundation cast.
The movement (example describes the fishing from the left river bank):
You start moving your rod now. Your rod tip tries to keep a straight path from the starting point into the direction you want the fly to land. A steady speeding up of the rod is neccessary to get best acceleration and highest speed at rear reversal point("stop"). Having reached this point at about 1 o'clock you move your rod tip downstreams under the path of the fly line that is on its way to the target. This means you actively divide the two paths to avoid the fly line to hit your rod tip. This pulling-back-movement can be round for beginners(some meanwhile call it Snap-C) T or v-shaped, but has to be very fast. The pulling back of the lower leg of your fly line is speeding up the upper leg of the fly line as the line is pulled around an invisible pulley. After that you release the line immediately (before it kicks back). If you want to cast longer distances you follow with your rod tip the direction of the cast in order to damp the rod tip movement and make the fly line shoot through the guides more efficiently.
How to haul correctly (left bank):
During the whole movement of your casting stroke, the line hand makes a single haul in the way I suggest on my pages. This means that the haul is done by the rod hand(!) only.
The Snap-T for downstream presentation (Double Hand version)
For double hand fly casters using the Single Spey with long, full lines for the final presentation cast, it is necessary to perform a fluent, quite powerful and aggressive movement to form the D-Loop as a lot of line has to be moved. As beginners have no experience and have not developed the necessary muscles yet they struggle with anchoring and timing. This often results in a little pause in the movement when the fly anchors. In slow moving water the result of the final presentation cast maybe poor but still good enough for them to fish the fly somehow.
But in fast water the situation changes. They start getting problems with the current, because if they move the line not fast enough, do not anchor the fly well above their position or are starting the forward cast too late, the fly will finally catch their fly line or - even worse - the rod(crossing path).
By using the Snap-T they get far more time (T stands also for time) for building the D-Loop and so they can easily present the fly to the target. The Snap-T for a downstream presentations can be done either with a single hand or a double hand rod. The principle and the performance are exactly the same.
The best technique:
When the line is fished out and hanging parallel to the bank downstreams it has to be pulled back in coils until the connection of fly line and running line meet the rod tip. In the moment the cast starts the rod is pointing downstreams. The only casting weight that has to be moved now is the shooting head (or belly) which usually should not exceed much more than 11 m and can be as short as 6 m or even less for heavy flies. *
Then the rod tip is moved upstreams in a side cast position(about 45°) towards the direction where the fly should anchor. This movement does not have to be fast! The direction is important. When reaching the rear(upstream) reversal point at 11 or 1 o'clock (depending from which side you look at it) the rod tip has to be moved downstreams and towards the water surface in a fluent, continuously speeding up movement. This second part of the cast has to be fast as by moving the rod tip in opposite direction of the cast, you pull back the lower leg of your loop and thereby speed up the upper one. The rod tip movement ends downstreams and slightly inside(towards the bank) from the path the rod tip moved upstreams. The fly is catapulted upstreams.
Allthough this cast is generally called Snap-T according to the most efficient (but also most difficult version) this movement which I have just described is more arrow-like and Arrow Snap would describe it much better.
Different versions of Snaps:
I always used different versions of the Snap-T depending on the aim of the cast, the tackle, the size and weight of the fly and the clients I was teaching.
Beginners I always used to teach to draw a circle or an ellipse like movement in the air with the rod tip. This is of course not as effective from the biomechanics point of view but safer, easier to perform and it provides steady line control. Who cares about power loss if it comes to move only 10 m of line? For my beginner version new names have appeared in the past. Snap-C is one of them. It is a nice name. I like it(despite of the fact my cast was renamed) and it fits to the term Snap-T, as the Snap-T also describes the path of the rod tip. The name C-Spey or Circle Spey also showed up, but for me Spey refers to Spey rods, which were very special rods that are much different from those on the market today. The name Spey in connection with these snaps also suggests that these casts can only be performed with a double handed rod which is not true. I use those casts mainly for long drift nymph fishing(see my book Successful Nymph Fishing For Salmonids) and you should not forget that they all originally derived from my single hand fly casting experiments in the eighties.
For the final presentation cast with double hand rods you can of course also use the Underhand Technique.
* So the technique also works for Skagit lines which are special short shooting heads which were in use in Scandinavia (developed by LOOP co-founder Göran Andersson) decades before Skagit was born. What is good with Skagit is the combination of the short Floating head and the T-tip(usually about 3m) which make it possible to fish a heavy fly deep and slow.
Long tapers and full lines can also be used for Snap-T but they require a lot of space behind the caster, make even more noise when forming the D-Loop and the final casting stroke has to be extended and will become curved instead of straight. Short heads are much more effective (Short stroke - straight line principle by GA).