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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at getting my first spey rod possibly by the end of the year and just looking for recommendations from the crowd here....I'm leaning towards a 7wt as I'll be fishing for steelies in southern Ontario. I know absolutely nothing about spey rods so I'll take all the help I can get! Trying to cap the budget at $400 for the rod. Been looking at the Echo TR and Pieroway Element, but hopefully someone here can steer me in the right direction. Haven't quite figured out if a Scandi or Skagit rod would best suit me as a beginner...or if there's even something inbetween?! lol Thanks in advance and keep up the great work with the forum!
 

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I would go with the Echo Tr and start with scandi. That is the rig I started with and I have no regrets. I tried the Skagit thing for a few days but it did not click with me. I regret not getting into mid and long bellies earlier, however you need to have rivers big enough to do that.
 

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I cast the TR rods: Awesome! But I like the moderate action of the Pieroway better.

Either way both Scandi and skagit heads are specialized tapers and do well enough to cover a wide range angling situations on their own. I recommend learning to spey cast with a mid belly speyline. A multi-tip will allow you to cover the water column year-round. I would leave big heavy flies and tips for high-water reduced vis and reduced casting situations and once you get comfy with the rod and the speycast.
 

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Anderson Custom (ACR) Nova 1307 is an excellent rod. Just slightly above your budget range, but, comes with a line sized to the rod.
 

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JD
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Scandi-Skagit-or

Why is it everyone wants to go buy a rod and then figure out what they want to do with it? Nine out of ten newbies I run into end up tring to throw big, weighted flies on outfits incapable of the task. First off, look up Peter SC. (board menber) He is in the Toronto area, has a ton of experience, plus a ton of rods you may be able to try. Word of caution here, Peter favors fast action rods, while I favor more moderate actions. So take it all with a grain of salt.

Let's assume that, like everyone else, you will sooner or later you will tie on a big ugly. That means Skagit & sustained anchor casts. Should you start out with a head system (recommended by yours truely) you have the option of changing over to a Scandi head without much fuss, or monetary outlay. While some raise objections to heads over full lines, there are numerous advantages to be had from a head system. The dreaded loop to loop connection: modern day factory loops have gotten much smaller & go through the guides easily. That connecting piont is both a visual and audio guide for how much line to leave outside the tip for optimum casting. Heads are cheaper than full lines, do not require a spare spools, can be changed out streamside, take up much less space (not to mention weight) in a jacket pocket, what more can I say?

So now you have a reel loaded with backing, running line, 540 gr (7 wt) Skagit head & a few tips. Oh yeah, and a dozen or so flies, including a couple of big uglies. Now we get to the rod. Since you have already mentioned Echo TR 1370 why not also consider Echo DH 1370? Both of these rods were designed by very competent casters, albiet with different casting styles & preferences. The Tim Rajeff is the faster of the two, while the Dec Hogan model is a more moderate, more forgiving action. The latter attribute being of great value in sustained anchor style casting, especially for a beginner!

The something else, in between, is referred to as a Skandit head. Steve Godshall (SBG on the board) makes them, Rio & Airflo have their own versions.
 

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the only rods i ever regretted buying, were brand new. buy used - check out the classifieds. save money. older rods, mostly had better cork quality, and the new rod smell is definately overrated ;)
 

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I only have 2 hands
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I was a fast action caster with a one handed rod.So when learning spey casting I assumed I would enjoy fast Scandi style gear........that was challenging.But I did learn. Now I have all forms of set ups and they all have their place. But I must say there isn't really a way to make learning two handed fishing "easy". It's challenging but so much fun it may change your life forever. I am exited for you,a stranger in cyber space,on your new adventure.That just shows how the art of Spey can bring people together so positively.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Trout-I did have a look at the Nova, and they are a consideration...

Mike-Ive spent some time cruising the classifieds and have thought about used as well. I definitely haven't ruled out that option as of yet.

JD-although new to the spey world, I have been tossing flies for about 20yrs now. All my time has been on small water with my 8' 4wt Legend Ultra that I built. At least from my stand point I find spey fishing an intimidating venture. Being new to it, I can't quite justify (yet) buying multiple rods to cover off all my fishing needs in the spey world. I know there's no "perfect, end all be all, do everything" rod out there. Having guys like yourself, who've been in the game for X number of years, can definitely shed some light and guidance to newbies and save us some serious grief and risk giving up the art of spey casting altogether. Having mentioned that a moderate action rod is more forgiving is definitely something that'll change my look on things. I did look at the DH2 and will add that to my list. I do appreciate the help as I rightfully know you guys have seen 1000+ people before me come on here and ask the exact same question lol
 

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I think the echo TR 1307 is a great choice. For Great Lakes steelheading, I don't think a skagit head is ideal as we typically don't throw as big of flies or as heavy of tips as they might out west. Everyone has their own preference of course. But as far as rods go that is an excellent choice assuming it fits your casting style.

I will say that I got a 570 grain skagit with my Echo TR 1307 and found that it was a bit more than necessary. That is the line that Echo recommends for it but I have a 510 on mine that I like a lot more. I imagine 540 could be the sweet spot though. Not sure if the same thing is true for scandi lines (the Echo recommendation being on the high side)
 

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To add my 2 cents ... I have found no one perfect rod for all casting. I will say this the echo DH2 7130 has a surprising amount of power all it needs is a relaxed cast and it will do an outstanding job. it will also do a scandi as well.
just need to find the right line weight for the rod and your casting stroke. it is about what works for you. I like the DH2 because it is a relaxing rod and just plain fun to fish. I also like the Anderson 1307 nova one is in the works. all things come in time one rod will eventually lead you to another it is a journey. and a fun one I must say. definatly get out and try a bunch as good a way to spend a day as I see it. then you can see what you like.
 

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Scandit sublima virtus
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well, 4wt...

You've read a lot of suggestions so far, many are widely differing views of what constitutes a "beginner's" outfit.

What you haven't had yet is a needs assessment, which will steer you in the direction of your first rod. Season, species, river size, depth and flows, amount of riverside brush, etc etc etc all influence what works best.

The fastest way to accomplish your needs assessment is to go fishing with some guys who know what you're (going to be doing) on the rivers (you're going to be fishing).
The rod and most desirable lining system will then become crystal clear.

Once you've had a chance to cast a few different loaners, you might find yourself preferring one sort of action over another, and the guys who you fish with can help in that. Internet advice about this process usually sucks.

That being said, a 13' 7wt skandit or shortbelly spey outfit might be the first, and last, setup you'll ever need.
 

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JD
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Fast vs slow action rods FWIW

Like most, I came into the world of spey after 20 some odd years in the SH world, most of which were spent with fast action rods. And I think a lot of that due to buying into marketing hype. :eek: The idea that it is impossible to throw a tight loop with a slow action rod is ludicrous. The boo crowd has been doing it for years. So much for that myth. :razz:

After years of trying to keep up with Fred, (who has more rods than anyone I know) :Eyecrazy: I finally settled on one rod and started disposing of the others. Rods having a wide grain window (read between the lines here) allow both T&G type casts with light weight heads as well as sustained anchor casts with short heavy heads & tips.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Oh believe me, I know Ive gotten myself in way over my head with this new hobby! I've just decided to put down the center pin for awhile try out something new for a change....

As much as I've spent the last month doing research on this, it's always nice to see what the guys on the water have to say. As a member on God knows how many other forums that I belong too, I've been lucky in some cases where someone has helped me out greatly. And in some cases, I have put in years of my own time trying things through trial and error. I'm really starting to see that a particular rod will have its favorite lines, heads etc and that window of tolerance is considerably small to make an effective cast.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the insight Harley. One thing I don't like to do is cheap out on gear but at the same time I do need set somewhat of a limit(I have a bad habit with shopping for toys lol)..I'm heading out to Vancouver island in August for pinks and cutts. I'm hoping to spend some time at the local shop where my inlaws are and be able to pick their brain and maybe test out a few of their rods.
 

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Thanks for the insight Harley. One thing I don't like to do is cheap out on gear but at the same time I do need set somewhat of a limit(I have a bad habit with shopping for toys lol)..I'm heading out to Vancouver island in August for pinks and cutts. I'm hoping to spend some time at the local shop where my inlaws are and be able to pick their brain and maybe test out a few of their rods.
IF GOING TO Vancouver Island check out Nile Creek fly shop. Courtney is a good guy has lots of knowledge puts on learning sessions regularly.
 

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I am not familiar with the rods being mentioned in the thread but agree with what JDJones posted -Having a running line that allows for different styles of heads to be swapped out is a good idea to start. Also IMO if you are going to be steeheading late fall/winter (best time IMO, with smaller crowds), I would think that a skagit system is a must. I am not so familiar with your area but around here cold temps and high water calls for bigger, heavier flies and some heavier tips. Just my $0.02.
 

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Scandit sublima virtus
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JD's posts deserve to be read twice!
And he's right, Peter should be able to give you a readout on how to fish Ontario rivers. And he's right about the fast-action thing too, fast action rods are great but they aren't a substitute for skill. You'll build that.

The Pieroway idea might be a good one, and the used rod idea is a great one. There's some super quality rods to be had for 400$ used, from a trustworthy person. Will be interesting to hear what you settle on.
 

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JD
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Grain Window

I'm really starting to see that a particular rod will have its favorite lines, heads etc and that window of tolerance is considerably small to make an effective cast.
Admittedly, the range in grain windows will vary from rods of different makers. But modern graphite composites allow considerably wider range than some have been led to believe. And the magic is in the match, so to speak. That is, the rod, the line, (system) the casting style, the caster, & let's throw in that Zen feel one develops when everything clicks.

I have found, through extensive trial & error, that my favorite (7wt) rod will cast heads ranging from a 400 gr Scandi, long tapered leader, & "normal" size fly, all the way up to a 570 gr Skagit, coupled to 210 gr MOW tips & half chickens. Although a 540 gr head flies further, while still turning over those heavy MOWS & big uglies.

Normal casts, for me, tend to start about 70 ft and extend out towards 100 ft, depending, which I consider more than sufficient to be effective. (although I could possibly get a little more by going to mono) And I am more than satisfied to be able to achieve all of this without the need of carting multiple rods to the river,,,and worrying about someone else going home with them while I'm 100 yards down river concentrating on fishing.
 

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All Tangled Up
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I'm really starting to see that a particular rod will have its favorite lines, heads etc and that window of tolerance is considerably small to make an effective cast.
That depends tremendously on the rod, the caster, and the definition of an "effective cast".

Even a cursory read of the board reveals that some folks are very particular about their line/rod matches. Everybody has different opinions and perceptions of casting, such matches can be very personal, you'll have to form your own preferences in time. However, purely from a physics/equipment perspective, most modern rods are capable of fishable casts over a reasonably wide grain window. With some experience, in a shooting head system you should be able to go up and down at least one "increment" from the midpoint of the rod grain window.

Where this gets tricky is that it can be hard for a new caster to know what it feels like when the cast comes together : solid anchor, D-loop fully formed and loading the rod, coming into the forward cast without slack or creep. So, get yourself a rod with an action that will really let you feel the rod load (the Nova, for example). Have someone who you are confident knows what they are doing pick a line for you, perhaps slightly to the heavy side of the grain window, again, it will help you feel the load a little more. Have faith that system will work. Eventually you'll get off a cast that "feels" right and then you are off to the races. Don't fall into the trap of second guessing yourself, that 20 gr here or there, or brand A of scandi head vs. brand B of scandi head or a custom line is somehow going to magically meld with your rod and make all things right with the cast.

Now if you are trying to reach out to 160ft, yes, every detail matters. But guys with those skills can spey cast a broomstick loaded with dental floss.
 
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