James Reid Wallden's Steelhead Special - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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James Reid Wallden's Steelhead Special

I recently took delivery of another on of James' very special sticks, this time a heavy single hander.
However much I love his double handers, I'd been wanting a more powerful single hander to cast overhead to larger fish and when I suggested the Wallden's to James a few years back to replace a rod choice that was on my list but no longer thought viable, he was delighted to oblige.
As with all of James' rods, it's beautiful. I'm sure that it follows in the same vein as with any of his rods - be they for trout or salmon/steelhead, single or double handed - that it will be a wonderful casting and fishing tool as well as looking the part.
The process of working out the rod specifics with James is always an incredibly enjoyable process, and I think what sets him apart from most other makers. Apart from the flaming, which is done at the start of the process, the final three months is where selection of all the components, wrap colours/schemes, guides, spacer wood and seat selection all come together between maker and prospective new owner to produce the final result. No off the shelf selection here!
From the outset I went for a variegated flaming, as seen on the rods by Paul Young, but not as pronounced and more subtle. I chose instead of the usual agate stripper, a classic hard mildrum wire frame blued. The seat was a classic downlocking Garrison screw down seat, also blued. The wooden spacer was a beautiful rosewood, not the usual JMR dark walnut, showing lots of character. The wrap choice was something James had suggested on a previous rod, which whilst struck my fancy and interest at that stage but passed, I decided it was right for this ome; it was a translucent dark cherry, with black and red jasper tipping. Anyone who knows James' wrap work will know that he's well known for his colour preserved, eye-popping combinations of wrap and tipping. Though I really love this on my other rods, I fancied a more classic touch (with just a tad of the outlandish in the jasper tipping) on this gem.
The sexy curves of his single handed grips on the most perfect corks, round off a most handsome rod.
As if to give the final nod of approval, the rod model's namesake posted his thumbs up n my IG feed.
Enjoy, I'm sure I will!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
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Some more shots, courtesy of James
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 06:33 PM
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This looks like you are going to have a good time together. What line wt are you planning to pair it up with?
Cheers,
Mark

He who shall not be able to make a trout fly, after studying these diagrams and directions, must be deficient in either brains or manual dexterity. : Edward Fitzgibbon 1853
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Mark,
I'm sure I will! James suggested a line which is true to an 8 weight, rather than a half weight line, and closer to the bottom of the grain scale rather than the top.
I eventually chose the Rio Gold WF8 which is a little high of the AFTMA scale for an 8 weight (210 +/- 8) but finding a low grain weight 8 is tough, unless I go for a heavy 7. It also has a longish head of 47' or so, which I think it will like.
I'm taking her out on a local trout reservoir tomorrow to try her out with the new line and stretch her legs, but my intention is to use her for skating riffled flies for atlantic salmon (hopefully Iceland!)
Cheers,
Steve
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 09:00 PM
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Another stunner. I'll bet she casts as sweet as she looks. Let us know.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 02:18 PM
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Absolutely gorgeous, James sure knows how to craft a stunning rod.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I got out onto the reservoir today with the line as mentioned, the Rio Gold Intouch, WF8F at about 218gr.
It was blowing a gale so not the best conditions for a rod test, but nonetheless I proceeded with a range of short to long casts. Despite being a tip actioned, fast actioned (for bamboo) rod, it roll cast pretty well and cast easily in the short distances and pretty accurately.
As I moved into the medium to long ranges it felt just as comfortable, though hampered by a strong wind at my back. Double hauling didn't overpower or spoil the cast and it felt very stable at distance. Line shot very well with a resounding buzz on the reel at the end of the cast.
As James made this rod as he would for himself, with extra hollowing, making it lighter and faster, though reducing its line weight by 1/4 to 1/2 a size, it did feel a tad on the slow side with the 218gr line - it still did feel very sweet to cast depite the raging wind.
As such I've just put in an order for an SA MPX but in a 7, with a first 30' grain weight of 200gr. This is I believe the sort of grain range that James had in mind so I'm looking forward to testing that and finding the sweet spot. The slightly shorter head at 39' will also help it cast more easily in strong winds as I will be able to get the entire head out for shooting much quicker.
I was very pleased at my little taster this afternoon, I can imagine that when I dial in the right line, it'll be a champ at casting long lines and fighting fish. It's no wonder that its namesake takes this same rod (with saltwater fittings) on his yearly trip for Bonefish!
Cheers!
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 04:50 PM
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I don't begin to know how they compare, but on my Obuchowski 7 wt, I played with a few lines and settled on the SA MPX as a really fine solution. I've yet to get a chance for much more that test casting, but will be looking forward to skating late summer wand fall with he combo.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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I don't begin to know how they compare, but on my Obuchowski 7 wt, I played with a few lines and settled on the SA MPX as a really fine solution. I've yet to get a chance for much more that test casting, but will be looking forward to skating late summer wand fall with he combo.
James made me a "Reo Especial" a few years back, it's a 5/6 81/2' swelled butt rod which I used for seatrout from northern spain which prefer the dry fly. James suggested the MPX/GPX which is a super line for that rod; it casts long and short, is delicate enough for a dry fly yet stable at distance. I didn't initially go for it for the Wallden's because it is a half weight line, but the 7wt looks like it will be just the ticket for this 8 weight!
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 04:22 PM
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That looks good. If you are looking for true to line weights Barrio will have a range; with some stating half weight up. Rio Grand is close to a full weight up. Also check out different line designs; Wulff TT is what I also prefer on bamboo. I am not sure if they go up to 8 weight.
Cheers, Mark
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He who shall not be able to make a trout fly, after studying these diagrams and directions, must be deficient in either brains or manual dexterity. : Edward Fitzgibbon 1853
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 08:16 PM
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Check out 406 Fly Lines - they’re designed true to weight with bamboo and glass in mind.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by msrampant View Post
That looks good. If you are looking for true to line weights Barrio will have a range; with some stating half weight up. Rio Grand is close to a full weight up. Also check out different line designs; Wulff TT is what I also prefer on bamboo. I am not sure if they go up to 8 weight.
Cheers, Mark
Thanks Mark.
I had a quick look at the Barrio lines, they're very reasonable in price but there is no grain info and heads look too short or too long.
I used to use TTs a lot when I fished Winstons. Nice lines and they shoot well but because of the wedge taper it takes a bit of line out to load the rod close in because it's underweighted.
As I stated, the MPX was perfect because the 7 is exactly the grain I'm looking for and a nice head length of 39'.
The Grand was too heavy even in 7 and a 6 too light.
I think this is more of a shooting rod, where it loads with one false cast and boom! So the head needs to fairly short and aggressive, but not so much that it lands with a crash.
Cheers,
Steve
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 11:40 PM
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I suppose it depends on the taper design of the rod as well; I liked the TT because most of the bamboo I like and use has an inherent swing weight which helps to throw the lighter weight and then loads up for longer casts. Judging from what you have said maybe try a steelhead/salmon taper. It is hard to say without trying out the rod, sometimes you have to play and see. Hope you get a line that works with your casting style and rod. Either way, best of fun trying.

Cheers,
Mark

He who shall not be able to make a trout fly, after studying these diagrams and directions, must be deficient in either brains or manual dexterity. : Edward Fitzgibbon 1853
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-18-2019, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevilla315 View Post
Thanks Mark.
I had a quick look at the Barrio lines, they're very reasonable in price but there is no grain info and heads look too short or too long.
I used to use TTs a lot when I fished Winstons. Nice lines and they shoot well but because of the wedge taper it takes a bit of line out to load the rod close in because it's underweighted.
As I stated, the MPX was perfect because the 7 is exactly the grain I'm looking for and a nice head length of 39'.
The Grand was too heavy even in 7 and a 6 too light.
I think this is more of a shooting rod, where it loads with one false cast and boom! So the head needs to fairly short and aggressive, but not so much that it lands with a crash.
Cheers,
Steve
Maybe check out the Scientific Anglers SBT line, it might be what you're looking for.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-19-2019, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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Maybe check out the Scientific Anglers SBT line, it might be what you're looking for.
Thanks I checked it out.
It's more of a single spey line and very short at around 24' but 200gr for a 7.
I use a similar line by Vision for a mainly single handed spey rod, but this is an overhead rod for long casts and controlled swings. The line should be able to cast short and long and control a fly at distance.
Thanks for the suggestion!
Cheers
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