Spey Casting originated with long double handed rods on Scotland’s River Spey in the middle of the 19th century. It has since been refined and is now used in all sorts of fishing around the world, with both double and single handed rods.
In recent years Spey Casting has evolved into three distinct regional styles, the original classic, Scottish style has been joined by the Scandinavian, “underhand” for casting short shooting heads, a style that suits their forested wild rivers. More recently the “Skagit” series of casts were developed for Steelhead fishing on the North West Pacific-coast rivers of the USA and British Columbia, specifically the Skagit River in Washington Sate.
These newer regional casting styles are now becoming part of mainstream Spey casting. The classic single and double Spey have recently been joined by the snake roll and variations of the snap casts, such as the snap T and circle cast. The Skagit casts are used with shorter, heavier heads to cast heavy sink tips and big flies. These casts rely on a sustained waterborne anchor to load the rod. The Circle cast works with large, weighted flies and coupled with the double Spey will dig out very heavy sink tips, while the Perry Poke can be used to realign the anchor in a confined space.
Underhand casting a shooting head certainly makes fishing a very fast sinking line, very much more comfortable. Goran Anderson is credited with originating this style of casting on Scandinavian wild streams, where the heavily wooded banks did not allow enough space for the large D loop formed by a conventional long belly line. A shorter rod with a short shooting head is easier to use in a confined space and the final delivery is made with short stroke produced with the use of the bottom hand only.
The same set-up has found a use when saltwater fishing and will enable a long cast to be made where a back-cast is not possible because of rocks etc. A double handed rod can also have an advantage over a single handed. For example, after stripping in a fast sink shooting head or weight forward line, it can be rolled out and then lifted off and recast overhead in one go. The extra length also helps with line control or to hold the line clear of breaking surf.