I get asked about Spey casting a lot these days and there is certainly and upweling of interest in this great part of the sport now here in New Zealand. The problem most anglers have is where to start. So here's a few pics and a few thoughts where to start with Spey rods.
If you didn't get a chance to see the articles I wrote on the topic for Fish and Game Magazine last year then you can check them out here;
Firstly where to start? I'm of the opinion that if you have the money and are really wantign to get into Spey casting then it's a good idea to bite the bullet and buy yourself a true Spey rod. For New Zealand a rod between 12'6 and 14' for a #7 or 8 line is perfect. These rod will handle big trout and salmon whilst still having enough feel to enjoyably fish for smaller trout around the country. The rod I fish is a 13'6 #7 Scott T2H, a slightly cheaper alternative to the Scott T3H.
Full Spey Line, Skagit or European? There are really three different types of Spey casting and Spey lines. Without going into it here (read the articles for a full break down) what I recommend is that if you really want to learn properly how to do all of the casts well then start with a full floating Spey line like the Airflo Delta Spey. Then when it comes to fishing I tend to use and recommend a Skagit set up. What you do is put a running line onto your reel and then loop onto this a Skagit head. The skagit head is floating and only 24 feet long. The idea is that that Skagit head sits back in a D-Loop and loads the long rod. Off the end of the Skagit head you then put either a custom cut tip (which can be shortened to suit the water you tend to fish) or a sinking Polyleader.
Here's a pic of me casting a 13'6 Scott T2H on the Tongariro with an Airflo Skagit line. Note the wedge shaped D-Loop loading the rod.
The foward cast shoots through, note the bright green skagit head is easily carrying the heavy 200 grain custom tip with a clean and steady loop.
So what's a Switch Rod? A Switch rod is simply a rod that can be cast either single hand or two handed. Ie you can Switch from single to two hand. These rods are generally 10'6" to 11'6" and are a good introduction to two handers. In NZ if you're wanting a Switch rod for the Tongariro or for chasing sea runs or even Salmon in Canterbury then I think a #8 Switch rod is perfect.
To get people started with Spey I've designed a new Airflo Switch rod. These are 11'0" #8 4pc and retail at $299 for the rod or we've packaged them with an Explorer reel and a 40- floating fly line for $499. The idea is to fish sinking Polyleaders off the end of the 40-, the 14' extra super fast leaders are good for deep pools but you could drop back to a 5' or 10' leader in shallower water. These sets can also be teamed up with a 390grain Skagit head which would a slightly more expensive set but would handle heavier tips for really deep work.
Can I Nymph with a Spey Rod? Full length Spey rods are clumsy for nymphing so if you are wanting to do a bit of nymphing with the rod then you are best opting for a Switch rod. In saying that both Switch and full Spey rods are best fished with a sink tip and wet fly. I tend to swing big rabbit flies like our Bunny Leech or a Woolly Bugger type pattern.