As we move through July, it’s time to get ready to chase after elusive steelhead. Spending the day bombing casts and swinging flies is super relaxing and fun. Nothing compares to getting a grab on a tightline; that’s why we love spey fishing so much.
Spey rods are typically 12’6” or longer and the 7wt and 8wt spey rods are optimal for steelheading. These rods are designed for using advanced roll casting, known as spey casting. With the proper setup and technique, it’s effortless to cast far distances and cover water efficiently. Switch rods are a recent innovation to spey rods that has gained much popularity in recent years. They are shorter rods that can work for spey casting and overhead casting. Switch rods are trendy for throwing indicator rigs while nymphing for steelhead or larger trout. The length of a switch rod makes it much easier to mend your line and turn over a significant indicator with heavily beaded nymphs. We have an excellent selection of spey and switch rods for beginners and experts here at the shop. Check out some of our favorites.
The Claymore is an excellent choice for those looking to get started in the spey world. It’s got a forgiving action while still maintaining power and accuracy. We have both spey and switch versions of the rod that are perfect for going after some summer steelhead.
The two-hand version of the Winston Air is phenomenal. This rod is perfect for someone who wants to invest in spey for an unbeatable casting experience. The Air loads incredibly well. It has a forgiving action that makes it easy for a beginner to cast while still having the feel and power that any seasoned spey caster will love.
The Sage X Spey is the Lamborghini of two-handed rods. Its fast action allows an experienced caster to perform amazing feats. Powerful and quick casts are effortless with the X. When casting, one flick will launch a shooting head further than you thought possible. We have both the Sage X Spey and Switch variations available in the shop.
Fly lines are different in the spey world. Instead of one fly line, there are a few other lines needed for good spey fishing. The first is a running line that connects to your backing. This line is not designed to be cast; the shooting head propels its job. Shooting heads are pretty self-explanatory. They are the vital part of the spey puzzle that allows the angler to load their rod and shoot flies long distances. There are two major variations of spey lines, skagit, and scandi. Skagit lines are thick and short, making them ideal for casting heavy sink tips with little backcasting room. Scandi lines are longer and skinnier. This makes them ideal for smaller traditional flies. In the Pacific Northwest, skagit lines perform well. Here at the shop, we like Rio Elite Skagit Max Power and Rio Elite Skagit Max Launch.
This shooting head is very short and super thick. It requires very little backcasting room. Throwing super heavy flies and sink tips becomes much easier with Rio Elite Skagit Max Power.
This shooting head is a bit longer and slimmer than the Power shooting head. This results in the ability to make very far casts. The Rio Elite Skagit Max Launch is ideal for covering lots of water with large flies and fairly heavy sink tips.
The next ingredient for a successful spey setup is a sink tip. Sink tips attach to the end of a shooting head and allow an angler to get their flies deeper in the water column, which results in a greater chance of getting a grab. For skagit, a ten-foot sink tip is perfect. Rio offers many variations of their MOW and iMOW sink tips for any given situation.
The MOW sink tips have different combinations of floating and sinking sections. There is a full sink option which is excellent when fishing deep rivers with no obstacles. The floating and sinking tips help an angler get their fly down to the fish even when large boulders or logs between them and their fly.
The iMOW tips are relatively similar to the MOW tips, with one difference. Instead of a floating section, they have an intermediate section of line. This still allows an angler to fish over underwater obstacles, making it easier to get a deeper presentation.
Being organized is essential for having a good experience while spey fishing. Keeping all your shooting heads, sink tips, and flies in an organized fashion can be impossible without a bit of help. The Scientific Anglers Head Wallet is perfect for collecting fly lines, shooting head and sink tips. There’s almost nothing worse than getting sink tips confused and not knowing which tip is which. Many steelhead flies have trailer hooks. This makes them difficult to store in a typical fly box. The Plan D Articulated fly boxes have a small wire hook that holds the eye of the shank on your fly, and the foam slots keep trailer hooks secure. These boxes are a game-changer for storing trailer hook flies.
Now that you’ve got your gear, it’s time to hit the water.