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$500 to spend

3590 Views 19 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  jalthoff
Advice: if you had $500 to spend on an 8 weight rod for Great Lakes steelhead and salmon in rivers ranging from roughly 60-300 ft wide, what would you buy? Say 90% swinging, 10% nymphing. Or maybe swinging all the time...

Open to all ideas from full spey to switch, new or used, to building my own (though I've never done that before)... Just want the most for the $$.
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I’ve been Spey casting Great Lakes tribs for almost 20 years now.

Based on rods I’ve owned in your price range my recommendations would be:

First, for Great Lakes steelhead get a 7 wgt.

Second, don’t buy a used rod unless you can cast the rod before buying.

Next, I can’t say enough good things about Echo rods. The two I own are SR models lined with Wulff Ambush lines. I don’t know if it’s the rod or the line but I believe that getting in tune with these set ups has actually helped improve my overall Spey casting. Even improved my long line casting.

The most pleasant surprises are my two Cabela’s Lsi rods. I bought them in the online bargain cave for about $150 each. THESE RODS FLAT OUT CAST. I love the lightness of my Winston rod in my hand and the powerful feel of my Sage rod but I can’t throw significantly better casts with them than I can with my Cabela’s rods.

Finally, one of the most frustrating things about Spey rods is matching the rod with the right line and then that combination has to match your stroke. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to guys who said they bought XYZ rod and were never really impressed with it. Then one day they try a new line and all of a sudden it becomes their favorite rod. Plus what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. I know two other guys who have the exact same Winston rod I had. We each had strong preferences for different lines on the exact same rod.
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