I fished the 10160 for my first few years and believed it to be the "best" rod out there. Could cast a country mile and handle just about any situation with it concerning wind, weather, and water. It has been several years since my last venture to the Thompson and I have no reason to fish such a rod anymore. When I return, I will fish either the Scott 15' #9 or the ol' "noodle" 9140-4.
Looking over my journal, have spent less than 5 days out of my last 150 steelhead fishing anything bigger than a 7136. Of my last 60 or so days on the water it has been with one of the little 6 weights, Scott 11'9 or Sage 6126. Found the 6126 to be much more capable compared to the old 7136, easily covering more water with less effort. Fish primarily the Clearwater, however I would not hesitate to use the 6126 on ANY BC stream aside from the Thompson. :devil:
I'm 63 years old, and have the typical shoulders of most males over age 40, bad shoulders.
This past May I re injured my right shoulder, my casting shoulder. I can't do the overhead and side arm casts required with a one handed rod except for simple nymphing and roll casting.
A friend with a similiar problem recommended the Sage Traditional 7 weight, 13'6" rod. I bought that rod, and I have the Orvis new Large Arbor reel. My first line is the Rio Windcutter 6/7/8 Interchangeable Tip.
My first trip last year to the Yuba was a great success. I hooked and released 12 beautiful rainbows using the Fox Pupah both as a wet fly and under an indicator. I had a huge fish, probably a big Brown strike and go down to the bottom and roam around until he came loose.
During the summer I was able to nymph my home waters, Putah Creek with excellent results.
In September we went on vacation in S. Oregon. I did great with the half pounders on the Rogue and was basically unable to control hot silvers. What was great on the Rogue and other Oregon rivers was the ability to get to the trout/fish hanging out in seams 50 to 65' out in the river. You know where most of us can't cast to get to. That is why the trout/steelhead/fish hang out there.
I have just added the Windcutter Upgrade, the 30' long replacement for tip #2. It is a great improvement. I have on order the Rio Mid Spey 6/7 for surface, streamers, slack line indicator fishing and classic Steelhead Swinging of the Fly. I have yet to use the Windcutter sinking tips except for shad fishing.
I have fished 6 hour stints with my new Spey rig with just minimal breaks and my shoulder aches a little the next day but no real problem.
The other great positive surprise is the lack of deep wading needed to Spey. I took an unplanned trip down the upper Rogue 3 years ago last November and about bought the farm. With Spey fishing you need only to get out about knee deep. This places us in less wading danger and less getting tired while fighting waist deep water. My home waters, Putah Creek becomes very dangerous with high water flows. I was able to use my Spey Rod to successfully fish and not wade in dangerous spots.
I have tried the 6 weight Speys and found them not be suitable for me.
The one fall back with my traditional 13' 6" 7 wt Sage is its or my inability to cast a heavy steelhead or coho rig more than 45 to 50'.
The Sage European 14'1" 7 weight appears to have the backbone to lift the heavy flies and sinking tips and cast them out good distances. The local Sage Rep uses this rod on all of his steelhead fishing in California and Oregon. That includes the biggie steelhead on the Smith! This rod had a great write up by the Welches Flyshop. They like both seven weights. They recommended using the traditional rod early in the morning and in the evening when the steelhead are close. The rest of the time use the European 14'1" 7 weight.
This season I watched a young fisher use the European 14' 1" 7 weight to boom out a steelhead rig, 80 to 90' on the Yuba. He was catching the steelhead out a few feet from the opposite bank. He let me try a few casts and I was getting out 70 to 75' in a few casts with his rig with less effort than a 60 ft cast with my traditional rod. He was the only fisher to hook and catch any fish that day.
I will keep my Sage 9' 4 LL, and Sage 8' 5 wt for small streams, and my La Fontaine 6 wt for its roll casting ability and for my wife.
I will sell the rest of my rods or trade them.
Yesterday on Putah Creek, my home waters, I caught and releashed a 7 lb fish, lost several in the 4 to 6# range, and hooked two 4 #ers. I used John Judy's slack line indicator system and a size 18 Black Caddis Pupah. With my Spey rod I can chuck it upstream 40 to 50' and get a drift from there to the same distance down stream. Just the math alone means better fishing and less stress on the old shoulder. If this drives the purists nuts, so be it.
The small Spey Rod has made this a great season inspite of a serious shoulder injury, and these rods should enable me to fish for about two more decades!
First let me preface this with I do not care either way how someone chooses to pursue fish. I have my preferred methods of course but realize everyone has the same goals as myself which is to enjoy ones self on the river and maybe hook up once in a while. As long as your are respectful to the resource I do not mind if you plunk,drift fish , or swing flies.
It is not a matter of believing you cannot catch a steelhead on a small fly. We all know you can and it can be an effective way to fish if you like drift fishing methods with a fly rod. Many people employ the old stonefly nymph under an indicator method in our neck of the woods and do quite well for salmon and steelhead.
The rub is though this tactic is akin to drift fishing. You are basically drift fishing with a fly rod and those tactics are better suited to using a drift rod instead of a fly rod IMHO. I am a very pragmatic fellow and just feel you should have the right tools for the job at hand and a drift rod is the right rig for indicator fishing.
Another popular method in the great lakes area is fishing with a big lead slinky which also in my views warrants a drift rod. Fly rods are not made for to do the above things.
Swinging a fly for me just feels right and the *proper* thing to do with the long rod. It is a nod to those who have come before me and I feel great being a part of it. Yes I might not catch as many fish as the drift or bait guys do but the ones I do make it that much more special.I am convinced I could catch a great lakes steelhead on a swung fly and hope to get out there one day to try it out. Hopefully I can get you to show me around...
I know I am opening myself up for some flames but please know I am not a judgemental guy and the above are just my personal views on the subject.
I purchased my first spey rod this last year. A 7136 from Sage. It is the first spey rod I have ever had in my hands. I have taken several casting lessons and find it a pleasure to cast.
I purchased it to fish primarily Deschutes River Fall Steelhead. I fish it primarily with a floating line and occasionally with a itermediate tip. Primarily swinging wet flies and some nymph fishing. I caught my first steelhead this last Fall and found it a most enjoyable experience.
The 7136-4 from Sage is a nice rod for the Deschutes and Grande Ronde. I have used it on the Snake and Clearwater, but would be a little nervous with a big Clearwater fish on. I also, do not think it would work so well when you need to go to tips to get down in the cold.
Maybe it is my lack of casting ability, but the wind and distance on the the Deschutes, sometimes leaves me wanting something more.
It is a very pleasant rod to fish and is nice for fighting and landing fish.
I'm of the same persuasion as you when it comes to flyfishing for steelhead and/or atlantic salmon. I much prefer to fish the traditional methods using centuries old techniques, and when they succeed (and with time and practice they do) I am that much more fulfilled by it.
We all have our views on fishing, and viva la difference as they say, but personally I don't fish for the fish; I fish for pleasure. When I succeed in moving the fish to my fly (as opposed to moving the fly to the fish) I really enjoy it. I sort of become a link in the chain of tradition that started even before the fame of the River Spey. However infuenced by graphites and polymers and synthetics and alloys, the practice of swimming a fly is the same as it was then and hopefully will always be.
I know one can catch fish with small weighted flies, in fact it's much easier. The question is "can you catch a fish with tradition?".
I am similar to you. I have used all methods here in the mid west for steelhead. Sink tip, chuck N duck, indicator etc.. Primarily now sink tip with small amount of split shot at times, sparsely dressed flies small flies.
When they are in the deep pools I have low success compared to other methods above. Now I don't care so much about catching a number of fish, or any fish really.
Small flies size 8 and below are the norm due to the primarily clear river water in Michigan rivers. Natural nymph patterns and small egg flies. Wisconsin rivers are different more color in them so can use larger and brighter flies.
Note I have tried the traditional PNW steelhead patterns with very limited success. Go back through the same run with the Michigan standard nymph or egg patterns and you have strikes when the previous PNW pattern was a big zero.
Same thing with leader size 4-6 lb max for steelhead. God I wish I could use 12 or 15 pound leaders like I see used out west. A few of those big wild bucks may have been beached with that strong a setup.
When I lived back east I also tried all sorts of methods for the great lakes steelies except for traditional ones until one day I saw a guy throwing a 5 inch muddler with a sinking shooting head and nail a big buck on the swing, then the transformation came! The small flies do have there place (cold!) but for the most part I believe that fish taken by small flies are flossed and not taken by the fish going for the fly, not my kind of thing and thats one of the big reasons I was influenced to move out west where the traditional methods work better! If it was only about catching fish I would have been more than happy to stay where I was but like I said thats not what its about.
Imagine, for a moment, working a dry or damp fly across a broad, shallow, air-clear summer steelhead drift with a 15-foot rod properly matched with a DT7F line... We have to imagine it, because as far as I'm aware, no such spey rods have ever been marketed. Is there some design limitation that makes such rods impractical? Would it be a dry line dream rod or a floppy horror?
You are fishing a two hander on Putah? wow that must get some looks. I bet you can touch the other side of the creek in half the spots (during winter flows).
I learned how to flyfish on Putah, caught my first trout on a fly there a brown at that. Caught my fish steelhead on a caddis dry on the North side of the island above the highway 20 bridge on the Yuba. Caught three that evening never duplicated it but will die trying.
The Sage 6126 is a fantastic light spey rod. I first got the little 11'9" Scott for trout fishing with wet flies but soon realized it had a place for steelhead. Although the Scott was doing great with small flies, casts up to 65' and landing 6-10 pound steelhead I wanted a rod that could throw larger flies and 15' sink tips. I tried the Sage 6 wt. and was suprised at how well it handled all the above as well as longer casts.
For years we have fished for small summer run steelhead with our 8,9 and 10 wt. two-handed rods and complained that the fish didn't fight well. For those of us who love the two-hander, we now have an option. I highly recomend trying the small rods in certain situations.
I have used several of the two handed rods on some very small streams. A few were not much wider than the lenght of the rods. Currently I am using an orvis 12'6" 7#. The rod is light but is pretty stiff and I need to overline it with at least a DT 8 and a DT 9 (both 90 ft. single hand lines) works even better. This rod is great when the erie, PA streams are up and heavy with runoff but is a little to much when they are low and clear.
I also have used Cabela's 11'3" 6# which was pretty much Ideal for these streams execpt that the componets on the rod where junk and it was a little to wimpy for getting 8 pound plus steelies in and off the hook in any kind of a hurry. So I returned it.
I have just ordered Lamiglas's 12'6" 6/7# but haven't recieved it yet, I think I will like this one a lot.
I am not saying that all fish caught on small nymphs are flossed but have seen way to many guys sitting at on deep pool trying to induce a steely to take by casting over and over with extremelly long tippets and catch fish but with the fly on the wrong side of the mouth or even on the outside of the mouth. I clearlly remember being disgusted with guides who have there sports out and telling them when to LIFT the rod and there would be a fish on, surprise surprise!
Yeah, I get quite a few weird looks and sometimes laughs at Putah, until I bring in a big fish. There are areas one mile below the bridge and more that you can't make even a decent chuck and lob cast with a 9 or 10 foot pole, due to the 10 to 15 brush and poison oak growing right up to the water line!
I can wade out or stand on the shore and let out the first 40' of line plus leader, indicator and itsy bitsy fly and roll lob back upstream with the brush right back behind me, the 40' plus leader and the rod length. This will put my fly into pools that can't be reached by even good one hand casters. This brings up some really beautiful and surprised fish.
What I have learned on Putah and other Cali Rivers and Oregon rivers, is that after you hook, fight and release a "Native" in a hole, with your Spey rig, you can forget about that hole for at least an hour. Any other fish are out of there after their brother has been caught.
The other advantage of the Spey with its long drifts and wide drifts is the ability to really cover a lot of water very quickly! I can work an area 75' by 35" or 75' by 75" throughly with just a few casts. With that 13.5 rod I can drop my fly right down into a seam and guided it down stream. Assuming a 5' drop down from the tip, you are covering a seam for close to 30' from the front of the cast to when you lift it up.
Tomorrow I will be taking a black laundry marker pen and coloring all of the guides on my Spey rod black. The nickel/silver flashes like a Christmas tree. That probably is not a problem on long casts, but it has to spook fish. I routinely blacken every silver, nickel piece of metal that shows when I fish. It seems to make a difference!
Last June, I had a few guys laugh at me with my Spey on the American River at the end of the Shad Season, before I started fishing. Before I left and as I was leaving several wanted to know who made the rod and what its specs were. I drifted the Shad fly below an indicator with a straight 10' of 8 # Vanish fc using the right angle method. That put the fly right down on the bottom in a few feet. I was fishing a seam about 50' out which could not be reached by a one hander and get down quick enough. I used my Windcutter Floating Tip with 3' of 12# running to the indicator and then the 10' Vanish coming straight down. I never lost a fly and was able to connect on 30% of the strikes. No body else with a fly rod got a strike! A five # hen was about all that the rod and my old shoulder could handle. The large arbor Orvis Reel was worth its weight in gold in bringing in the shad.
I got the Scott 12'8" 7 wt as my second spey rod. It is a true joy to cast. I currently use a 7 wt midspey with it but am looking forward to the new SA lines based on Way's prototypes. I use this rod mostly on the Klamath for summer and fall fishing. I cut the midspey at 15' and installed my own loops and use my windcutter tips. It handles the tips very well. Wonderful rod you can easily cast all day
Back to your original question, Dana. I am using the Loomis 11'6" for my summer fishing. Last year I obtained a Loop shooting head, their running line and their leaders. I am trying to employ the underhand casting technique and it really works quite well. This is for situations that don't require a long cast. Quite often I don't even get into the shooting line. The head, cut back to approx. 9.5 meters (32 ft?), plus the leader are often all the distance that I need.
BTW, I am thankful for all your work in setting up this forum.
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