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I was flogging a long, wide run today on one of the rivers that transport Cascade snowmelt to Puget Sound. Already tiring after an hour's fishing, I was letting the 16-foot Alltmor lob automatic 90-footers to midstream, when an old acquaintance appeared. After asking permission, he fished quickly through the lower part of the run. Then we stood on the bank and caught up.
I noticed that he was using a single-hand 9-weight, although he's used spey rods. Comparing recent results, we comiserated about the glut of silt that still remains from floods of the last two winters. Yes, we've had to relearn a lot of river bottom. Nevertheless, he hooked into 43 steelhead the previous winter/spring season.
To clarify, I haven't the remotest doubt of the truthfulness of that number. For years, I've known him as one of the masters of this region. The last time I'd fished with him all day, he'd guided our mutual companion to a 20-pound steelhead. He ties spey flies of museum quality. And he quietly keeps dipping in and out of our rivers like a hungry ouzel. (I might add that during the cold war I was a military intelligence analyst in Germany; much of my work was to evaluate the reliability of our sources of raw intelligence, many of whom were neurotics, double agents, and social misfits who would rather lie than tell the truth.)
He has a foot-by-foot knowledge of our steelhead rivers, compared to which my 34 years on the same streams barely enables me to go and return without getting lost. He knows which corner seam holds steelhead only when the nearest gauge is between 18 and 19 feet. He uses an assortment of sinktips, none more than 12 feet, with the weight enscribed in tiny script on the sleeve of the upper loop. He fishes whenever and wherever the steelhead are, including deep runs against heavily timbered banks, from the bank. But mainly he looks for soft, shallow water near shore, mini-seams and slots where he swims flies where others stand to start casting.
And for that, he prefers the close-range control of a single-hand rod. Spey rods, for the most part, cramp his style.
My vision swims; the floor beneith me trembles. Have the last nine years been a digression, a mistake?
I need an intervention, or a new spey rod.
 

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On this side of the Atlantic double handed rods are used because they allow longer casts with less effort over the course of a days fishing. They do allow an angler to cover a lot more water and to more easily cast the large flies/tubes associated with spring/autumn(fall) fishing. However, when the water is warm and the river is low, a single hander should always be given consideration.

I hope I'm not teaching my granny to suck eggs here. The single hander can offer more delicate presentation of the smaller flies required under summer low water conditions. I often find when the water is low, flow is reduced, and ideal fly presentation involves some form of line stripping/retrieve, that the double handed rod is just a pain in the backside. Taking all that line in, only to have to roll cast the head length back out before you can load the rod for another spey cast, just takes all the fun and subtlety out of fishing.

There is a time and a place for both and we shouldn't be blind sided by fashion or familiarity.

I would always suggest a few short casts into the shallower water before wading in. Too manty times now, I have waded into the water only to see fish move away.
 

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There doesn't have to be a lot of line to strip in and roll back out, just use a Skagit or short head. Also, the switch rods or shorter two handed rods like the Meaiser 11' 7" are just as delicate in presentation as a single handed rod and work great for tight situations.
 

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yes!!! most definitely you should give up all your spey rods and take up the single hander. I have an address where you can ship all those unwanted long rods to :)

I still love throwing a single hander. I have often gone to spey type casts with them at least to change directions before putting up one or two false casts. I fish the Klamath in California which has a great run of half pounders and they are sure alot more fun to hook on a 4 or 5 wt single hander! I am seriously thinking about one of Gary Anderson's 12' 4 wts for this river!
 

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A spey rod can be a remarkable tool for controling a swing in close, just as it is for casts made at distances. While the urge to bomb casts out is hard to resist, a spey rod can make for effortless fishing at short distances. Don't give up the long rod, just don't put the fishing on auto pilot and launch 90 footers because it feels good. Remember, it is a FISHING rod! And that, sometimes is tough to remember as two handers are so darn much fun to CAST.
 

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Nooksack Mac said:
Spey rods, for the most part, cramp his style.
My vision swims; the floor beneith me trembles. Have the last nine years been a digression, a mistake?

Question not your faith and turn a deaf ear to the witness of blasphemous heathens. Walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and carry a long stick! :smokin:
 

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It really is using the right tool/rod/line at the moment.

It really is using the right tool for a specific job for the river and conditions and the size of the fish you are fishing for. That calls for adapting your casts/lines/leaders/tippets/flies to the right rod for that moment in time.

My first Spey Rod was the Sage 7136 and first line was the Rio WC 678 with tips. I caught a lot of fish as long as I didn't have to go deep. A lot of those fish were caught with a Boles Indicator attached to the head with tips 1 & 2 removed. I could lob cast 50' upstream and mend it down stream up to 60'. That was very effective with one cast covering up to 100' on one drift. :lildevl:

Then, I bought my Sage 7141 for tip fishing and added the Rio Upgrader, and it was effective. Then, I went to Rio's MS 7/8 with tips for the 7141. That was and is a very effective combo. The MS 7/8 with tips is my favorite line for casting and fishing.

The next year I became addicted to the longer lines and bought the Grand Spey 7/8 with tips. I had a lot fun casting and my fishing results plummeted. Looking back I was really only interested in casting. I fueled that addiction in January of last year with the purchase of the ARC 1409. It made casting the Grand Spey even easier than the 7141. So the 7141 went into the closet with the 7136. I seldom used the sinking tips even in the winter time. Any 5# or under fish that hooked itself was worn out very quickly dragging the heavy Grand Spey around. That fueled the addiction to casting long and not to worry about fish as they weren't fun to catch. :eek:

Then, shad season opened and I went to the Lower Russian, and it was too low to use my ARC 9140 or even my 7141.

So I decided to order a new Sage 6126. By the time it arrived, the Shad season was in full swing on the American. I went there with my new Sage 6126, my old MS 7/8, loaded with the tip compensator and the type 8 and my shad flies.

The rod worked very well and in a few casts I had dialed in a run where shad should be at about 50 to 60' out. Well an amazing thing happened, I started getting strikes. Then, I started really fishing again and striking back. Before the afternoon was over I had caught and released at least a dozen great shad from 3-5 #'s. I had rediscovered the fun of fishing. I had the right rod with the right line for the fish and river conditions. :hihi:

On return trips I used the same rig in the mid day and switched to my old WC 678 with the tip compensator and type 6 tips in the later evening, when the shad were closer (40 -50'). Some were within 20 to 30'. I had cured my addiction to long lines and was back to fishing. I had no problem of roll casting 20 to 30' to where the shad where of making a short lob cast and then catching them.

Later that summer and into late fall, my 6126 became my #1 rod for the waters I fish. It was/is easy to use from 30 plus feet to 70+'. The MS 7/8 is my line of choice if there was no great wind. If there was a strong wind, the WC 678 with the upgrade became the line of choice. Either line casted with the 6126 required about 1/4 the effort, energy and concentration that the GS 7/8 did with the 7141 or ARC 9140. :)

However, the 6126 is too much of rod with our half pounders, the ocean cuts that love a dry fly, and the one to 3 pound trout in my local waters. So I have ordered a Sage 5120 to be made for me to fish those waters for those smaller fish. I have a WC 5/6 floater which will be the main line. If I need sinking tips, first I will try the 12' Rio sinking leaders attached to the end of the WC 5/6. If that doesn't go deep enough with the streamers, I will try a Rio Skagit 450. The 5120 should be a great rod to indicator fish with the Rio WF6F line which I have. Last but not least, it should work well for the small mouth bass on the Russian River. They are very spooky and aren't big enough to offer a good fight when I catch them with my 6126.

Again, it is the right tool for the job at the moment. Meiser's 5/6 Switch rod will be handy for fishing from my feet to 30' and really tight quarters. That rod works very well w/Rio's new Nymph line in smaller waters and with brush all over and above.

I'm sure that my new Sage 5120 will re open new and old fishing areas that I have stayed away from since the long line/big rod addiction. :roll:

If I need a bigger and stronger rod, I will have my 6126. If the fishing is in small streams with really tight quarters, I will have Meise's 5/6 Switch rod. The main thing, is the smaller rods and MS and WC lines, I am now back to fishing not just casting long lines and going "Oooh" when I finally got a good cast. ;)

However, with my old damaged shoulders, a single hand rod is not an option.
 
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