I myself am new to all things spey. So I know where you are coming from. If Skagit is your choice the Rio
or the Airflo skagit heads are both good choices. I have both and I like them equally. I am using the shooting heads with a running line. I did this instead of purchasing the full Skagit line. I figured that for the price of the full line I could buy 2 of the shooting heads. Gave me the ability to try out more that one line. I think the Skagit full line runs about $100 and for that money you can get two shooting heads. Am I tight or what. Anyway, I believe regardless of weather you are using the head only or the full line I believe you will need a cheater. The cheater will be necessary to achieve a total line lenth of 3-3 1/2 times the lenth of the rod. The heads on the Rio
lines are I believe 27' long and the Airflo are 25'. The cheater makes up the difference.
I also include in the total lenth my sink tip. So the head of the line + the cheater + the sinktip = 3-3 1/2 times the rods lenth not including the leader. This I believe is the guideline. This is not written in stone, just a rough guideline.
I myself have been spey casting for about 4 months. The best thing I have done so far (From a learning aspect) was to attend a Spey Clave of some sort. Also everone will tell you get some on the water lessons from an instructor. I can see the value in doing that so I myself am going to get a lesson in the spring.
Watch the videos, I have not gotten the Skagitmaser DVD yet, but it seems to come highly recomended. Other videos are available.
Well I think I have rambled long enough here. But ask questions the people here are a wealth of info.
Tight Loops And Long Lines,