Chucking Chickens

In her last article Silja gave a few tips for casting pike flies, however in this short article I want to discuss how you can lift your game and start chucking chicken size flies.

Chucking Chickens

I’m often asked if this or that rod can throw big flies.  The thing is, it’s really about choosing the right line for the fly size, rods are just tools to move the line around!

So we want to throw half a chicken (not literally, but a big fly with lots of material, and sometimes some oversized dumbbell tungsten eyes and stuff) and want to make it as much of a pleasure as possible, and less of a pain. Now normally I would start talking about casting mechanics, offering a course and stuff, but no! Lets look at the tackle part. A really excellent caster can throw  half a chicken on your average 5 weight rod and line, but that takes some really good skills, and is definitely not a pleasure to do all day. If that skilled caster is going to throw big flies all day, he/she will choose the right line for the job. Big flies are best thrown using a heavy line. And short lines are easier to move around than a long line. So short and heavy.

The twohanded people have long known that, but we also want to use a soft enough rod that fighting your average 5 lbs pike isn’t too much of a killer. Twohanded people have got that one sorted out as well;-)

Enter Skagit, soft rods for medium fish, but heavy duty lines to throw big bulky flies.

Well those twohanded lines are too heavy for my singlehander I can hear people cry. Nope, they come down in sizes that are easily matched to a singlehander. Your average 8 weight singlehander would have a grain window as a recommendation from 260-330 (17 to 21 grams) for normal scandi type shootingheads,  but will comfortably cast even more!

OK, but Skagit is all about sustained anchor casting and you shouldn’t try to overhead cast them without a helmet and exstra life insurance I now hear.  Ah, but we’re not going to go that heavy, it still has to be a pleasure and not a lot of pain to cast it. ECHO Skagit switch lines and ECHO skagit compact lines are very short, and even though they throw big flies, like the rubber chicken in the clip above, a little more length and less chuck and duck mentality is required. Enter the ECHO Rage compact! Originally a crossover between scandi and skagit (scandit!), it performs very well on a singlehander throwing huge flies 8)…  and for the really huge ones, size up,  turn it around 😎 😎 and shorten the leader

Happy chicken chucking pike hunting!

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. mkuczara

    A really interesting article.
    What would be your line recommendation for a #9 one hand rod to cast that big pike flies?

    1. Lasse

      Hi MK

      A rage 360 would be my line of choice. And I would turn it around 🙂


  2. mkuczara

    What about Skagit lines? Are they equally good? Do they perform better than say Outbound short?

    1. bff

      The Rage was designed as a skagit head for chucking “dry-flies” at steelhead, we call it a “Scandit” sort of in-between scandi and skagit… the heads we are talking about are shorter than an OB-Short. Thes (skagit) heads have loads of mass per metre (grains per foot) which is what you want to chuck chickens.

    2. mkuczara

      So my take away is that Skagit lines would work perfectly. Do they (Skagit lines) have to be parried with a polyleader/tip as you would normally do in Spey?

      1. bff

        Good morning MK – yes you are correct Skagit or Skagit type heads/lines are ideal and that is the whole point of Lasse’s article.
        For Pike fishing I would normally use a length (say 1.20/1.50m) of strong mono (0.45/0.50mm) as my leader but if I find I have problems getting the fly to turn over then I would consider putting on a poly leader (predator?). We need mass in the leader to turn over large heavy flies …


  3. mkuczara

    One last question – as we use here the overhead cast -When choosing an appropriate line – do we have to take into account polyleader weight (grains) or its mass is neglibe/irrelevant?

    1. bff

      Hi MK if you are using a 2hander or switch and lets say the switch rod has a recommended grain weight of 360grains for spey/skagit casts, then I would recommend a line weight of approximately 300grains for overhead casting. In other words for 2handers/switch rods approx 4grams/60grains less than the recommended weight for a spey line.

      A 10ft poly leader weighs roughly 1.8/2grams so theoretically you should take this into consideration as well. In practice however being as most modern rods have a pretty generously engineered grain/gram window I would say its irrelevant.


  4. Andrew Parker

    Like the “turn it around” for overhead casting Lasse: will give it a try

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