Daiwa Alltmor: the Classic UK Spey
Out here on the west coast the
name Daiwa is associated with entry level fishing tackle, and many experienced
anglers steer clear of it. But there is a growing realization among Northwest
Spey casters that Daiwa-UK has
long been known in Europe for it salmon rods, and some of the finest UK anglers and
casting instructors favour the rods (compare the handle image below and the rod
Simon Gawesworth is using throughout the RIO
International Spey Casting video). Daiwa-UK (the rods are made in Scotland) is not as well known on this
side of the pond as Hardy or Bruce & Walker, and this is unfortunate, because
most who have cast the Daiwa rods and favour a classic Spey action will tell you
that it's tough to beat the casting qualities of a Daiwa.
Recently I had the good fortune to acquire a previously
appreciated Daiwa Alltmor
Salmon Fly AMF 15 (15ft for line weights 10 -12), and managed to find some time
in between Christmas shopping and diaper changes to fish it on British
Columbia's Thompson River. The trip gave me a chance to cast the Alltmor
and to reacquaint myself with its wonders.
I first bumped into this rod four years ago while assisting at a casting clinic. Ron Schiefke had the rod along, and I was encouraged by the principle instructor to try it as he was of the opinion that it represented one of the best of the currently available Spey rods. A few casts convinced me that this rod was unlike any that I'd fished previously, very smooth and incredibly powerful. At the time it was lined with a RIO
Accelerator 10/11 and we really had to back off on the power stroke to
prevent the fly from entering the river like a golf ball hitting a water hazard.
We swapped lines, stringing up a custom long-bellied
Spey-Driver that had a head length (combined belly and tapers) of over 100ft, and the Alltmor
easily picked it up and turned over the extended front taper and 15ft
What was amazing was how little power was needed to straighten out the
line, even at distance. By the end of the school I was trying to figure out how to get my hands
on this Spey, but a few seasons went by before I cast the rod again, this time
during the late fall of 1999 on the Thompson. During this trip I used the rod
for several days, and tested a variety of lines, from extended taper full
floaters to custom long-bellied lines designed especially for sink-tips. The
Daiwa handled all wonderfully, and was a joy to fish for long hours in difficult
conditions. However, it would be another season before I was able to connect with a
fish, so the Daiwa remained a great casting rod with unknown fish-fighting
The Alltmor has a classic medium Spey action. Under load, the rod bends progressively into the mid section. It is backed up by a powerful butt, useful for lifting long lines. Although the tip section is fairly stout and powerful as well, the rod is well-balanced and does not feel overly heavy in the hand.
Casters used to Scandinavian and American-designed rods will
notice that the first stripping guide in the butt section is much closer to the
handle on the Alltmor than on some other rods. In the Scandinavian and North
American traditions casters rely heavily on shooting to achieve distance, and a
stripping guide placed farther up the blank facilitates this, helping to
prevent the running line from wrapping itself around the rod when line is shot.
In the UK, distance has been traditionally achieved by picking up and throwing
the entire length of line to be fished, so stripping guides can remain
closer to the handle. Despite this, the Alltmor shoots line just fine if you
want it to.
The Alltmor is constructed of HM58 High Modulus graphite with internal ferrules. The 3-piece blank is sanded and finished in a rich purple with lighter purple accenting thread wraps. Silicon Carbide butt and tip guides, hard chrome intermediates, and a downlocking alloy and hardwood reel seat all combine to give the rod a distinctive look.
The butt cap is finished with a heavy-duty contoured rubber button that
protects the rod if I have to use it as a leaning stick when removing my stream
One of the really nice things about most of the UK rods is
that the handles are built with both casting and fishing in mind, and the
Alltmor is no exception. An extended bottom handle gives the caster a good
positive lower grip for applying power with the bottom hand, while the top
handle is long enough to accommodate a range of grips during the cast, and
provides additional leverage when you˙ŭve tied into a monster.
7000Ts Speycaster; custom Winter Line; Spey-Driver
reel: Hardy Marquis Salmon
Test casts were conducted on the Thompson
River under actual fishing conditions. Two steelhead were landed,
weighing @ 12 lbs and 16lbs, providing insight into the rod as both a casting
and fish-fighting tool.
Designed in Scotland to lift and throw heavy long-bellied
double tapers the Alltmor necessarily has a lot of backbone, but it
is as comfortable with 60ft casts as 120ft casts. Despite its power, you
don˙ŭt want to rush this rod. A relatively slow and easy stroke is required,
and casters should ensure that they don˙ŭt try and muscle the rod as this will
cause tailing loops. A relaxed casting style allows you to realize the rod's
potential, and it picks up long lines and changes direction with ease.
I worked the rod through all of the classic casts and their
modern variants, including the Underhand cast. No matter which casts you favour,
it is important to respect the Alltmor's incredible power. Unlike some of the
North American rods, the Alltmor does a lot of the work for you, and if you try
to really hit the line out there on the forward stroke you'll often end up
snapping the line forward too early and quickly, causing it to land in a heap
short of the intended target. It took me a little while to get my timing and
power stroke tuned up for the Alltmor, but once I did, long casts with long
lines were easier than with most other rods I've cast.
Like all Scots, the Alltmor never shies away from a
challenge. The design is well-suited
to playing sizable steelhead and salmon on big rivers--it is limber enough to allow you to really feel the
fish, but has more than enough reserve power in the butt to put the lumber to a
fish that's working its way to the white water. The 10 - 12 handles big
steelies quite nicely, and it's a perfect match for larger summer and winter run
fish on waters such as the Thompson and Skagit.
My floating line of choice for the Alltmor would be the Airflo
7000Ts Speycaster in an 11 weight. For dry line work experienced
casters should try a 15ft Loop Poly Leader with a 5ft tippet; if you find this
too long, try an 10ft Airflo Poly Leader with a 3ft - 5ft tippet. For sink-tip
work, consider my custom Winter Line.
For traditional UK casting methods, as well as newer casts such as the Snake
Roll and the Snap-T, Daiwa excels. The Alltmor is a superior Spey.