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I usually pick a rod on the size of the steelhead in the river. On most of the smaller summerrun a 7/8 rod is all the bigger rod I like to use. Even on a big river such as the Snake, where one can use long casts I stay with a 7/8 rod because of the fish size. With larger fish such as the Thompson and Skeena system I feel very confortable with a 9/10. For me any larger rod is not pleasurable in the handling of a steelhead.
 

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rod size

The fish size can have much to do with rod size but water size and maybe more importantly terminal tackle plays a bigger part in rod selection for me. Some rivers, the fish like really large bugs and often you need to go deep with heavy tips - even if the fish are not big, I would opt for heavier gear to help throw the big flies and or heavy tips. On the other hand, systems that are small but have big heavy fish would likely also call for a heavier rod though you can put alot of muscle into a 7 wt spey rod! Probably more than a conventional 8/9 wt single handed rod.
 

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In my opinion it is neither.. the size of the gear you'll be using should determine the rod size. If you are fishing leadcore in deep water or a 24 foot head or heavily weighted flies you should be using a longer and larger lineweight rod. If you are doing only floating line work with unweighted flies you should be using a lighter lineweight rod.

For my own purposes (steelheading)I have decided that a 10 weight is really overkill for what I need.

I am going to end up with 3 spey rods and they will cover all the bases.
14'3" 9weight for fishing heavy sink tips in the winter with big flies. It will also be my main rod if I ever get to go to the Thompson.

13'9" 8 weight will be my all around summer and crossover rod for anytime I need maximum performance. This would likely be my main choice for anywhere where i can only take one rod and would certainly be my choice for floating line work on the Skeena system (if I ever get to go again)

13'9" 7weight This will be my Oregon Washington summer floating line only rod. The Deschutes for instance is a very large river but the fish are small and the gear needed is small with floating line and unweighted flies so a light rod is the way to go.

So the conditions/location/size of fish all play a roll in decidng upon a rod pick the rod that is right for the conditions you'll be fishing.

if you want a rod that will do it all look into 14 footers around 8 or 9 weight
 

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Licensed Curmudgeon
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As much as I love my 13'-14' rods, I've concluded that they're overkill on the rivers I fish most often,(Milwaukee & Sheboygan).
I picked up a discontinued Cabelas 10'8wt PT series blank at a giveaway price, & I'm building it as a mini-spey rod.
60'-80' should be effortless, & will cover 99% of those 2 rivers.
Once the rivers cool down to sink-tip conditions, I'll probably go back to muscle rods.
Another $0.02
 

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Hi Silverdoc: You have gone spey on me again. pleas not mu new classic varient Mickey Finn on the thumbnail.
You can catch steelhead on any water with a fifty foot cast provided you fish early and late and sack out in between.
But I agree that size of fish is the primary factor in rod choice. My double handers run from a custom 14' 6wt to a custom sage 16' 10wt;but my meat and potatoes rod is a 14'Talon 10wt with a 4"slinkey sinktip and a 1 oz thill floating head fished from a custom centerpin It gets down where the fish live.
 

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chrome-magnon man
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mini-speys

silverdoc, I did something similar with my old Sage 8100. I had a local rod maker/guru/genius/wizard see if he could create a detachable extended fighting butt that I could use as a bottom handle for spey casting. I've used it on some of the smaller summer streams around here and on the upper Dean. Works great!
 

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Why not a usual singlehanded rod? My Winston BL-5 (#8, 9") manages Windcutter Spey with ease even with sinktips... You mean an elongated bottom handle for ease of cast or for ease of fish landing?
 

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Spey Rods

I too have started using slightly smaller gear on certain rivers such as the Sheboygan and the Milwaukee and a few other that shall remain nameless for now. I started with a 9140 for my first rod but have since picked up a loop 11'3 spey rod..I cant wait to get out there this fall and see what I can do with this thing. Still playing around with tips and lines etc... until I can get something put together that I am comfortable using and able to present flies properly under different circumstances. I cant wait to get out this fall and see how it goes. Good Luck and Tight Lines!
 

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I agree with roballen and Rick J. The terminal gear should determine the size of the rod. I wouldn't dream of casting Deep Water Express tips with a rod rated for less than a 10 weight. OK maybe a good, strong 9 weight with the 550 gr, versioin of Deep Water Express and then it wioll only handle about 10 feet of it. For 700 gr, Deep Water Express, you really need a 10 weight or higher.

Also, it you are fishing #1 and #2 bombers, #1 or #2 Waller Wakers, or flies #1 to #3/0 or bigger and making casts of 70+ feet, you realy need the heavier rod to cast them well. For geased line summer work, anything bigger than an 8 (Ok maybe a 9) weight is too much rod, especially if using low water flies #10 to #4.
 

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Lately my son has joined me during my stints at casting the spey rod, often beating me out of my time with it. I have gone to taking my 7 wt. 10' with me and fish using some of the spey casts I have been working on since the rod has a 3" butt. Absolutely love the reverse snap-T and have found it my "go to" cast instead of the roll cast or overhead. It is sooo effortless and allows me to fish with quite a bit of bush in the vicinity. I use it for fishing sink tip leaders and hitched dries.

A big (huge) thanks to Dana and Dec for the video.:)

ws
 

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Rod Size

I usually base the size and type of rod that I am going to use on the river that I am going to be fishing and that tactics and flies that I will be throwing on a given day. I never go to a river with just one rod and say this is it no matter what. I have never given the size of the fish that I am after any consideration in the rod that I am going to use simply because I have no idea what I am going to run into. May all be under 5lbs or I may hit the magical 20lb fish. But I plan my attack on flies and presentation along with river conditions as opposed to fish size and or species? If the waters are low and clear I tend to down size, if the are high and off colored then I go a little bigger as a general rule of thumbe since I will probably have to throw bigger flies on heavier and longer sink tips. Good Luck and Tight Lines!
 
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