Is Spey the Way?

The most common type of fly rod you see on the water nowadays is a modern spey rod. If you were to drive up the Clearwater River when the steelhead are here, I would almost be willing to bet you would not see one angler fishing a single-handed rod. Most people wouldn’t bat an eye at this, but traditionally the rod that was used was a single-handed rod. So, why have people strayed away from them and towards two-handed rods?

Casting a Spey Rod is Efficient

Efficiency. That is the number one reason that comes to my mind. Once you have learned the basics of casting a spey rod, the cast becomes effortless. At the drop of a dime, you can cast anywhere from fifty feet to a hundred and forty feet (depending on your skill). The thought of that drives a lot of people towards a spey rod. There is also an added benefit of less fatigue -especially while fishing for steelhead, it matters.

Spey rod ferrules - to tape or not to tape? Here's what the experts have to say.

Also, casting with a two-handed rod can allow you to have more time on the water too. Step, strip, pick-up, cast, repeating that throughout the run is my mantra. It helps me stay grounded to focus on my energy levels. Most anglers need a lot of energy for the latter half of the day. Yet there is also another part of energy you need to focus on. You’re casting stroke energy. This is the amount of power you apply to the rod for performance. By utilizing the spey rod like a golf club, “letting the rod do the work,” I find that I have enough pep in my step to hit the last run hard. Sometimes, I get lucky enough to play a fish on those last light swings.

Putting in the hard work pays off when you are pursuing steelhead and being mindful while you’re knee deep in a run brings fish. We all become part of the river when we immerse our feet among the steelhead’s temporary residence. Tuning into Gaea’s best broadcast she offers to us, at a cheap rate. Finding that liveliness that is offered gives me precedence. Part of the game is believing in every concept you put into it. You have to believe a fish is lying in the run in order to fool it.

Which Spey Rod is the Best?

A common question that I am asked here in the shop, “which spey rod is the best.” I do not have the answer to that question. Out of the handful of rods that North 40 has to offer, I would say they all have their place and purpose. Pricing will vary with each rod, depending on the manufacturer. You don’t have to spend vast amounts of money to get your hands on a working rod that’ll help you catch fish.

Which spey rod is the best for you? You'll want to check these out.

Loop’s OPTI-NXT 14 foot 9-weight is the rod that I have casted the most out of the models we offer. The performance is great, and the rod feels very light in the hand. My first thought was, “no power.” Man, I was a fool. Frankly, I still am. You can give it some serious underhand allowing for a tight loop that presents the fly sufficiently. The rod is, overall, an ideal fit for the inland steelhead angler. It is not too big for the Grande Ronde and it is big enough to produce a long cast on the Clearwater. Even with the 9-weight model, you will still get to feel the power from the smaller fish. Landing small fish is my specialty, and I love it!

Want more spey tips? Watch Mia Sheppard's short game here.

Demo, demo, demo. My best advice is to try out different types of rods. Go to spey claves, talk to representatives, fly shop employees, and do research on the internet. Ask to be taken to the water with a rod/rods. Don’t get too gung-ho and buy a rod you know nothing about. Research is the reason why we’re all walking on this planet. So, why not put the research into a hobby that will change your life. For this guy, spey is definitely the way.


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My parents started taking me fishing at a very young age. It wasn't until my later teenage years that I fell in love with fly fishing. Shortly after I fell in love with Anadromous fish and Spey casting which brought myself to Lewiston, Idaho. After work, you can find me either fishing or skateboarding. I am a young-blood in the industry and love to meet liked minded anglers. Most of my days out angling consist of picking up trash and potentially fooling a fish or two. Rivers are Earth's veins, bountiful with life, conserving them is key.

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