The Underhand Technique
There are different ways to cast a double handed rod. But no other technique is as smart, flexible and powerless than the Underhand Technique.
Many specialists are of the opinion that the Underhand Casting Technique is by far the best and most versatile fly casting technique if it comes to salmon and seatrout fishing with double hand rods. The technique can be performed with nearly no backspace at all and is very versatile, so you can fish more or less any situation without much effort. The long line, deep wading technique, which is misleadingly called Spey Casting nearly everywhere around the globe, is mainly used at wide and open rivers. It is a technique that is designed to cast more or less straight forward or only slightly angled and is used to fish constantly on long distances. Due to the use of long lines which make angulated casts difficult it requires quite a bit of backspace. The Underhand Technique on the contrary is performed with shooting heads which usually do not exceed 14 m in length with the most common lengths between 8 and 12 m.
The Underhand Technique is, as the name points to, mainly performed with the lower hand (hence underhand). The upper hand is used as the fulcrum around which the rod is bent. It is only used for the lifts and the angulations. This deep loading of the rod (the lower the upper hand the deeper the loading) makes the caster cast with ease even on long distances. An Underhand cast is a gentleman cast. It is nice, elegant, nearly powerless, and very effective. Even women without strong muscles can perform the technique. The long-line casts on the contrary need power and are not as flexible. Nevertheless, their promoters are doing well by making everyone believe that if it comes to fly fishing distance casting is what it is all about. That is stupid. Flexibility and versatility is the key to successful fly fishing.
Skagit casting, which uses a great line system to fish heavy flies deep and slowly, helped to promote the use of short shooting heads for fishing and makes it possible to cast large weighted flies where no backspace is available. However, the use of heavy T-tips needs a longer stroke to the fly or streamer into the upper water layers. So it is a hybrid movement between lower hand (Underhand) and upper hand stroke but the use of shooting heads is an element of the Underhand Technique and was never a part of Spey Casting before Goran Andersson showed up.
The main elements of the Underhand Technique:
- shorter rods 12-13.5 feet, only for high water and bottom feeders longer rods up to 15 ft
- Shooting Heads (invented by Göran Andersson for LOOP)
- bottom hand is dominant
- top hand acts as the fulcrum
- rod is loaded from the butt towards the tip (!!!)
- only little body movement just after the lift
- Short stroke - straight line (of the rod tip)
- shooting of the line like an arrow (GA)
The wrong term Scandinavian Style
For a number of years some people have been trying to avoid using the name Underhand and call it Scandinavian style casting. If you talk about Scandinavian Style the question arises: Scandinavian style of what? Obviously, they regard it as a variant of Speycasting, which is absolutely wrong. Speycasting, as I pointed out, is something totally different and requires other equipment, too. Underhand is a technique, not a style!
Underhand is a Swedish and in this case of course a Scandinavian Technique but not a style as technique and style are two fundamentally different things!
Watch the father of Underhand casting Göran Andersson performing his well known technique:
Teaching Underhand - The Film
The Underhand Technique with single hand rods
The Underhand Technique can also be used with single hand rods. The SH rod is loaded according to the Short-Stroke-Straight-Line Principle, too, which means from the butt to the tip to make a straight path of the rod tip possible.[With the SH rod the loading impulse comes from the grip. The rod is bent around the base joint of the pointer (fulcrum, equates the upper hand of the doublehander). The pressure comes from the little finger and ring finger (equates the lower hand = under hand). The rod butt is stopped at the palm (equates the abrupt stop at the belly with the doublehander).
My SH Underhand variant:
The variant I use when performing this technique is a bit different. It is similar to the Underhand Principle although I use the pointer on top, which means my stop is a little bit different (at the lower arm instead of the palm). Besides that I am holding my rod not vertically but in a 45° sideways position. I don't come back to the center in the moment I perform the stop but stay in the 45° side position.