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Monday and Tuesday during our current dry :rolleyes: spell I went to my local river to try my Skagit 650 with my TCR 9129-4* and 7141*.

First of all, the Skagit 650 isn't recommended for either rod. I bought the 650 on the recommendation of Chris Andersen of Sage, another Sage person and Mark Bachman for my TCR. Rio's recommendation for this TCR is the 750. Rio's recommendation for the 7141 is the Skagit 550 and a 5' cheater. I didn't use a cheater with the Skagit 650 and the 7141.

With both rods with the Skagit 650, I used a standard Rio 9/10 15' floating tip, 15' Rio Steelhead leader and 2-3' of 10# tippet.

New Fish and Game rules prohibit targeting the protected Native Steelhead in the local river. So I used a Crease Fly size 4/0, Deceiver Stripper Fly 4/0, and various floating flies size 4 and some nymphs size 4.

Monday, with the TCR the river was still up and I had to shoot 2-3 rod lengths of shooting line to get near the opposite bank. I had been using my 5120, 6125 and Meiser 5/6 Switch rods the week before. So it took a few minutes to tune in the stiffer and less forgiving TCR. After about 5 minutes with the Crease Fly, I was able to shoot 2-3 lengths of shooting line. On about the 5th cast after finding the groove, a very aggressive 16 to 18 inch Native Steelhead pounded the Crease fly and hooked itself on the dangle. It was bright silver and a good sized one salt fish. It fought well and of course was no match with the Skagit and floating tip with the TCR. I released it after about a minute. I then went to the other flies, and I had no more strikes.

After about 2 hours the tide was coming back in and my narrow ledge was starting to disappear. I quit for the day. I knew that I had been casting a bigger and stronger rod versus the other lighter rods.

Yesterday, the river was down several feet, and I only needed to shoot 1 to 1.5 rod lengths of shooting line to bounce off the other side with the 7141 and the Skagit 650 with the same floating tip, leader and tippet connections.
It took about 5 minutes to get tuned in with the longer and probably stiffer rod than the TCR.

When I followed Bob Pauli's advice re slow and exagerated strokes, the fly flew out. In fact I broke the hook on two flies after hitting rocks on the other side. The rod and line easily handled big flies down to the size 4 flies.

At the end of the day I put on a big Striper Fly with barbell eyes and a size 4/0 hook. Using my ugly overhead/hand/under hand :saevilw: cast, the rod was firing the fly 80' to 90' up or down stream. At the end of the day, I was standing 40+ feet up stream from a bridge and was able to put the fly downstream and under the bridge another 40 to 50+'. Up to now, the only way to fish under this bridge was to launch my boat about 6 miles downstream and come back upstream from the bridge. The big stripers should be moving back to this area if there isn't any more rain. Now, :chuckle: I can drive 5 minutes from my home and walk 5 minutes and be casting for these stripers as the tide starts coming in.

Summary: The Skagit 650 performed very well with the TCR 9129 and 7141. For most of my fishing, these rods are too much rod in normal water conditions. My Sage 5120 and 6126 and Meiser's 5/6 and 7/8 Switch rods will be cery adequate for most of the time with a lot less effort to carry and cast.

Interesting comments from a former flyfisher, who saw me with the lighter rods last week and then the heavier rods this week. He said that he could see the lighter rods loading and doing a great job. He said the rods I used on Monday and yesterday looked like long pool cues with basically no give or apparent load in the casts inspite of really getting the flies out. He said I looked like I was having more fun :) with the smaller rods. He was correct with both observations.

*TCR is a Sage Factory rod. My 7141 was finished by a local rod maker with some faster eyes and different rod wrapping. Then, Bob Meiser, tuned up the handle and the male ends of the ferrules. Only the Spey Gods :saeek: know what the real strength of this 7141 is.
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