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Easy Casting "True Spey" Action Distinguishes the Lamiglas Traditional Spey Rods

 

    design        components        test cast

  Mike Maxwell is the patriarch of Pacific Northwest Spey casting. He has written articles and produced videos on the subject, and his book The Art and Science of Speyfishing is the authoritative text on his methods, asMike Maxwell well as an excellent overall introduction to fly fishing with two-handed rods. Years before the advent of the long rod renaissance that began in the mid-80s along the steelhead streams of Washington State, Mike was refining his singular technique and using two-handers to deadly advantage on the rivers of British Columbia's famed Skeena system. At one time or another many of our best known Spey casters have studied under Maxwell, and his ideas have influenced the thinking of many of our current rod and line designers. For example, the "power hinge" popularized by Jim Vincent and his RIO Acceleratorÿy´ fly lines is a concept Maxwell devised many years before as a means of increasing the casting efficiency of standard long-bellied double taper fly lines. Even the phrase "true Speyrod" is credited to Maxwell, coined to distinguish "full flex" moderate action rods from other two-handed designs.
    For many years Mike, along with his wife Denise (a former champion tournament caster), ran a fly shop in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the couple still run a successful steelhead lodge and guiding operation on the Bulkey River. Mike previously marketed true Speyrods under his own Gold-N-West label, but recently joined forces with Lamiglas to produce a new series of traditional Spey rods.


Design

    The Lamiglas 4-piece Traditional Spey Rods have a moderate action and a full flex design, the rod's slower taper and relatively stout tip section directing the load of the cast down through the blank and into the powerful butt section. Because so much of the rod flexes so easily, it is necessary for casters using conventional techniques to slow down their casting cycle to achieve optimum performance; casters familiar with Maxwell's casting technique will find the rod very powerful and responsive. Some anglers used to the light, faster action rods might initially find the Lamiglas a little tip heavy, but this characteristic is an integral part of the rod's design and complements the true Speycasting style, and when balanced with a larger reel and long-bellied Spey line the rod's casting and fishing performance quickly erases this sensation.  top

Components

    The Lamiglas series of Traditional Spey rods is an updating of the true Speyrod concept Maxwell devised years ago. The 4-piece rods are available in three models: the LS 1358, 13-1/2ft  for an 8/9 line; the LS 1459, 14-1/2ft  for a 9/10 line; and the LS 1551, 15-1/2ft  for a 10/11 line. The rods feature long premium quality Portuguese cork handles, attractive titanium-finished reel seats, Fuji stripping guides and hard chrome snakes and tip. Smooth finished black blanks are accented with emerald green thread wraps.  top

lamiglas speys


Test Cast

Lines: RIO Windcutter 7/8/9, 9/10/11; RIO MidSpey 10/11; Airflo Salmon/Steelhead        
    SpeyCaster 11             
Reels: Loop Traditional 4, Ross Salmon/Spey V, Hardy Marquis Salmon #3

    Test were conducted on British Columbia's Thompson and Fraser Rivers, and at a local park using a grass leader. All lines were floating, and for on stream testing a 15ft leader was used.
    The test rod was the LS 1459, 14-1/2ft for a 9/10 line. Although the rod is rated a 9/10 it  handles a range of lines. Long liners will like the Airflo Salmon/Steelhead SpeyCaster 11, the RIO Accelerator 9/10, and the Mastery Spey 10/11; those favoring the shorter -bellied shooting head-style lines will find the Windcutter 9/10/11 a great match; the 7/8/9 also performed well, as did the new RIO MidSpey 10/11.
    Lamiglas lists the rod's action as slow in their online catalogue, but I found it more on the medium side of things. "Moderate" would be the best characterization. A relaxed, easy casting cycle with accents in the right spots will effectively load the rod and produce efficient casts at all fishing distances. The full flex design gives the rod tremendous sensitivity and allows the caster to feel the rod loading, making it easy to judge one's pace and application of power. These qualities, along with a very reasonable price tag (under $400 US), make this a great rod for the new Spey caster.
   The rod executes all casts well, and is particularly good with the double Spey and snake roll. Don't rush these rods: slow down and allow the rod to load well into the butt section and you'll be surprised by their power and responsiveness.
    The LS 1459 is a big water/big fish Spey rod in the classic style. A good choice for sink tip lines and winter rivers, it will also perform well on the Thompson or Skeena for large summer fish. If smaller fish are expected, I would opt for the LS 1358.
    While the rod retains many of the characteristics of  the original Gold-N-West true Speys, it is lighter and less "noodley"-feeling than its predecessors. A criticism sometimes leveled at the original rods was that they were too heavy, noodley, and difficult to cast using any technique other than the method Maxwell practices and teaches as "True Speycasting."
    This is a myth.
    Video analysis of Maxwell's "body rock" casting method reveals an important key to the efficient use of the true Speyrod with conventional technique. The torso movements Mike uses in his method reduce the speed of the casting cycle and move the rod through a series of broad arcs that effectively load the rod. Conventional Spey casters can achieve similar results by slowing down their casting cycle and executing long strokes with the rod. Properly loaded, the true Spey rod almost casts itself, the caster needing only to execute a long, smoothly accelerating forward stroke culminating in a hard stop. This approach will serve casters of the new Lamiglas rods very well.
   On my first afternoon with the LS 1459 I hooked an uncontrollable Thompson steelhead that tore off downstream then reversed its course, running straight at me before throwing the hook. There's something positively magical about hooking a steelhead on your first day out with a new Spey rod, and since I'm a great believer in magic and ritual when it comes to pursuing the silver ghosts, my Lamiglas will continue to work its wonders wherever steelhead and big water meet.  top

 

special thanks to John Posey, Todd Vivian Mike & Denise Maxwell, & Leroy Teeple for their assistance with this review

images used by permission of Lamiglas and Mike & Denise Maxwell

greg pearson illustration