Choosing your first spey rod can be a daunting process! There are so many options out there, in different weights and lengths. That's why we have compiled all the lessons we've learned from helping customers get into spey fishing over the years. Below you'll find the criteria we really focus on when trying to figure out what the best spey rod is for someone just getting into the sport.
What and Where: By discussing what you're fishing for and where you'll be targeting them, we can usually make a great recommendation for your first spey rod. If you're a steelhead fisherman in the Pacific Northwest, our first recommendation for your first spey rod from us will likely be a 12'6" or 13' 7wt. This is the 9' 5wt of spey rods: it's a very versatile tool that can be fished both in the summertime and in the winter. But not everyone lives around here or targets rivers like ours. Luckily we have a wide array of rods available to us, in different lengths and weights. If you are fishing smaller river systems, with limited back casting room, the best rod for you may be in the 11'6"-12' range. If you live in BC and primarily fish the Skeena a 13'6" 7 or 8wt would be most appropriate. If you fish for Chinook primarily, going heavier than an 8wt would be recommended. So by determining what you'll be fishing for, and where you'll be targeting them, we can really get into the details with you and make proper recommendations to maximize your success and enjoyment on the water.
Rod Action: After we discuss the what and where, we'll then focus on an action that will be easy for you to learn on and get up to speed with. In general, we tend to recommend rods that are either medium fast or fast action for beginners. This is because super slow (full flexing) and super fast action (stiff) rods can make it difficult for you to learn all the casting techniques that your fishing will require. Medium fast and fast action rods are very versatile for the beginning angler to use year round, and they will perform well with the array of lines/tips/flies we like to outfit these rods with.
Price: After you've nailed down what you're looking to fish for and where, and you have an action that will be easy to learn on, we start looking at price as the final consideration. Most of us want to get a new rod with a certain budget in mind. Often times in the shop we can stay within certain budgets for anglers who are fishing in our area for steelhead. But sometimes an angler is targeting a particular kind of fish, or fishing in a small, wooded river, or using really big flies. In these cases it can be hard to find a budget friendly option that will be the best tool for the job. That's why we use price as the final consideration when helping customers choose their first spey rod.
A rundown on weights and their purposes:
5wt Spey - These are light summer steelhead rods that react best to being cast with Scandi style lines and lighter flies. In general these are ideal for targeting fish under eight pounds. They can be great for trout too, in places where you might use large streamers or target big fish like in Alaska.
6wt Spey - A great, all around light summer steelhead rod. This will fish Scandi style lines very well. It also has the power to fish light sink tips and moderate sized flies in the fall. Unless you are regularly getting fish over 10lbs or fishing larger rivers, a 6wt Spey is a great option.
7wt Spey - The most versatile, all around rod size without a doubt. 7wts are light enough to fish in the summer, but also have the power to turn over the larger sink tips and flies required in winter fishing. Unless circumstances dictate this is the first rod we would put in your hands.
8wt Spey- Primarily a winter steelhead rod in our area, but would also be good in British Columbia or Sea Run Browns. These are very powerful rods that can cast all the flies we might ever use in steelhead fishing. They also have the power to turn fish over 15+lbs. For big fish and big flies, this is your rod.
9wt and 10wt Speys - Rarely used in our area anymore. The first spey rods to hit the West Coast were in this category, but over the years we've gone lighter and lighter. These are primarily used these days on large rivers with a lot of casting room or when targeting King Salmon.
Specific 7wt Recommendations:
Economy: Redington Dually II 12'6" 7wt at $279.95, Echo SWING 13' 7wt at $275
Mid Price: Redington Chromer 12'6" 7wt at $399.95, Echo TR 13' 7wt at $379, Sage Pulse 13' 7wt at $650
Top Shelf: Sage X 13' 7wt at $1200, Winston AIR 13'3" 7wt at $1250