New Spey Rod And Reel Question - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-01-2013, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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New Spey Rod And Reel Question

So I am a total noob when it comes to spey as i have only single handed fished. On my last trip out to BC i became obsessed with learning how to spey fish.

I ended up buying a Winston bIIx 13'3" 7/8 wt and a Hardy Fortuna x 2 reel

I am planning on swinging streamers for Salmon and Trout.
I am interested in Skagit casting too

Im not really too sure what backing to use, what running line to buy, what shooting head to buy and what type of leaders and tippet to buy.

All suggestions welcome

Thanks in advnace
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-01-2013, 06:30 PM
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It's 95% about the line

First, congratulations on selecting one of the best rods available in one of the most generally useful size ranges. (I used a friend's for a few minutes.) I'll leave it to others to recommend lines, which are all-important for getting the rod functioning. You should be clear in your mind what kind of casting you'll be doing the most; that will determine your line of choice.

The other tackle items are easy. I'm not familiar with that reel, but I hope that it has plenty of line and backing capacity, which is probably more than you realize. For trout, 75-100 yards of backing should do; steelhead and salmon may require twice as much. 30 lb. dacron, or 40-50 lb gell-spun line for greater capacity, are standard. Leaders: tapered and around rod length for floating lines; short, like four feet, for sinking tips and flies, level or tapered.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-01-2013, 06:48 PM
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For winter fishing deeper water with big flies, Most turn to a skagit shooting head setup. this requires backing, a running line, the head, a sink tip, and a leader of 2-6ft long. the running line can be anything from thin fly line, a proper running line, or a mono running line. I started with a rio running line, but switched to a mono running line as i like the way it casts better. Your setup for Skagit will look a lot like mine as I'm fishing a 13'3" 7wt. I have the backing, at least 250 meters, then half a spool of 36lb mono running line, then a Airflo Skagit switch 540 head (you can use any skagit head from 510 to 570 grain, so many choices), then 10 feet of t-11 sinking tip, then a 4ft 10lb piece of mono for a leader.

for summer fishing I have chosen to use a compact scandi head in place of the Skagit head. I have a set of Rio poly leaders from 7 inches per second to floating to attach to the head. Add a leader, tippet and fly and you are ready to fish closer to the surface.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-01-2013, 07:53 PM
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skagit skagit skagit

For that rod, a full length skagit line (28 - 30 ft long, 450 - 525 gr) or a nice scandi (40 ft, 500 gr) would be fun. In my opinion, folks who are new to spey should focus on skagit casting (also termed underhand casting, I think) because it is simply easier. But, be aware, it does require more line retrieval and the gear can get downright confusing. I made the mistake of purchasing a "long belly" line as my first spey line. I ended up breaking a rod trying to cast that line - and when I finally bought a skagit line (and a new rod) things began to click. I can now reasonably cast a mid-spey, but have no idea what I will do with the long belly. Skagit is the way to go.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2013, 02:40 AM
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Hi Drock,

You have one of the most versatile easy to cast two hand rods on the market. Great choice of the rod, and you have the reel.

As was mentioned in an earlier post, you will want backing, shooting line, skagit head, tips and leader. To cut your eduction short, you could consult with a fly shop which know spey fishing or contact Poppy at the Red Shed.

If you are fishing rivers, my suggestion would be 125 yds of 30 lb dacron backing. If you are new to spey fishing, consider a coated shooting line as it is easier to hold on to. For a skagit head/tips, you might consider for first purchase to be a multi tip skagit head in the 540-570 grn range. The Skagit shorts 22-24 ft heads are a good choice to learn with. If you choose the multi tip line you will receive a wallet with floating, intermediate type 3 and type 6 sink tips and you are set to you.

There are all kind of different sink tip options from T-14, poly tips, Mo tips and on and on. My suggestion would be to start simple with a multi tip skagit head. The tips will be matched to the line size and you will be ready to go.

Leaders for sink tips range from 3-5 feet depending on how spooky the fish are and water clarity. You can use straight mono, say 10 lb, or you can build a short tapered leader. I prefer the tapered leaders made as follows. 18" 25lb maxima clear, 12" 20 lb maxima clear, 12-24" 10 lb maxima clear. If you want a lighter leader, drop down to 20 lb, 15 lb, 8 lb.

You get that rod setup with right and you will be in heaven and catch a ton of fish.


RL Winston Rod Co. Pro Staff
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2013, 03:33 AM
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Dear drock,

Welcome to the addiction.

Like almost all things in spey, there seem to be as many philosophies about what equipment setup to start with as there are speycasters. My personal philosophy is to choose the setup with an eye to establishing a solid foundation of technique. A new shooting head is cheap, in the grand scheme of things. You can, and probably will, tweak your lines, leaders, tips, and running lines endlessly to adapt to different fishing conditions and changing personal preferences. But your first few weeks out casting can have a surprisingly long-lasting impact on technique development. So, my advice would be to worry less, right now, about what you're going to fish for, and how, and more about what will help you establish a well-rounded foundation as a speycaster, particularly meaning to:

(1) Build a solid understanding of the fundamentals of the spey cast -- rod loading, anchor, D-loop formation and proper alignment, avoiding errant tip movements.
(2) Recognize and overcome the bad tendencies introduced by single-handed muscle memory.
(3) Become comfortable early on casting off either shoulder.

Most people these days start off with a skagit or scandi head. Aside from being very effective tools for close quarters and winter conditions, the upside of the skagit systems, as has been alluded to, is that they are perhaps the easiest to get to "do something". The flip side of this is that this more forgiving nature also makes it easier to ignore, or indeed develop, certain casting faults. The other downside is that they are something of an extreme case in terms of spey equipment. This goes double for the "switch" or "short" heads (20-ft length). Skagit heads aren't a natural fit for touch-and-go casts, and thus are limiting of horizon in a certain sense. I think there is a lot to be said for starting with a scandi system. Scandi lines are also relatively easy to learn to cast -- not too short, not too long -- and I think offer more rounded practice with both touch-and-go and waterborne-anchor families.

There are tons of line choices, a good shop can help you put something together. My personal choices in that configuration would be:

For a scandi setup, the SA scandi extreme, probably around 480 gr. Airflo scandi compact in the same weight, also an option. For running line, something in the 30lb range in a contrasting color, e.g. the orange Airflo 30-lb to contrast the Airflo scandi, or one of the Rio running lines (I like the blue .035 one, as most of my heads are green or orange) to contrast the orange-bellied SA scandi.

Poly leaders for the scandi head are a good match. A floating leader and maybe one sinking one (pick your sink rate) to get under the surface some is good, IMO.

30-lb dacron backing, whatever color your running line is not (white always works), enough to fill the reel when your thickest line + leader is loaded on. I don't know your reel, put on more than you think you'll need, take off what you don't need. What you need is going to sound like way too much if this is your first spey reel. 250 yds or more is not unheard of on a big reel.

For skagit heads I like the Airflo compact, good turnover with heavy tips. Add a couple MOW tips, plus tippet, you are good to go. 10-lb maxima covers a lot of bases. You could go for either the medium (T-11) or heavy (T-14) tips in this range. A 5/5 and a 10-ft straight sinking section would be a good start. 10-ft of T-14 is harder to cast, messier, but, turns over big flies better.

It goes without saying that hiring an instructor would be a wise investment. You've got the rest of your life to fish. Getting rid of bad habits takes, at least, ten times as long as acquiring them. Also, the 7/8 weight range is a very popular one, a good instructor may well be able to help your try out some different head systems to find your precise line weight preference.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2013, 08:45 AM
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i also have the 7133. it absolutely sings with a 460 grain afs scandi. i wish i had started with this rod/line combo, i learned witha shorter rod/same line. i am glad i started with a scandi. even tho the learning curve might be a little longer, in the end, i think i became a beter caster for it. skagit lines are still shooting heads, and are very easy to cast. if i had only an hour to learn before fishing, i would go that route. if you are talking trout,and summer steelhead, the scandi does a great job, and i find it more enjoyable to cast. also a better tool if you want to learn touch and go casts. skagit lines are synonomus with winter steelhead, and will throw the big heavy flies, and sink tips better. scandi=ferrari skagit=mack truck. just remember, they're both shooting heads, and both are easier to cast than long belly lines. both are also great tools to have. remember the line needs to be right for the rod, and right for you. have fun, and enjoy the ride

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2013, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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hey guys thanks for all the info!

way more than i expected. i have been watching lots of youtube videos as an intro. i will be heading out a couple times with my friends who spey once i get my reel (arrives in a week) so i can line it up.

For sure i will be just practicing my skagit cast whenever i can.

do you guys ever practice your cast on grass if you can't get out to the water?
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 03:53 AM
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Originally Posted by drock View Post

do you guys ever practice your cast on grass if you can't get out to the water?
Oddly enough, where I live, it's easier to find water than grass.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2013, 06:01 AM
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You may want to look at a Rio Scandi Versi Tip line. i have found it to be an excellent line to learn with.

If you are casting on grass which is fine, make sure to coat the line with ample Line Dressing. It'll protect the line/head from being over abraded or chaffed. Because casting on grass has very little line stick, you can also build a leader to cast on the grass with.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-05-2013, 01:36 PM
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Casting on the grass is more difficult because you don't get the line stick/anchor that is required to load the rod. If you try it you should make a grass leader by putting several blood nots in a 20 lb leader and leave the tags about 4" long so they grab the grass. This will provide a bit of 'water' stick.

Ed Ward's skagit master video is a good training tool.

Also, if you want to dial in your rod with all the lines and sink tips, you could contact Steve Godshall - sorry don't know his number, but you could contact him through RB Meiser's website. He can match most common rods with the right line for you.

That being said, it is not that difficult: I would buy a 510 Airflo compact skagit, a 30' piece of T11 (cut into 8', 10', 12'), and some running line (fly line that is nice on the hands). Then you need to get a ~450 g skandi head line for floating line work.
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