New SA spey lines [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: New SA spey lines

11-07-2001, 07:43 PM
Saw a thread about these on Dana's site. Sounds like they'll be out in time for spring steelhead. I tried to post a follow up question but couldn't (@#4!+* MSN!)

Does anyone know if these will have interchangeable tips or are they a full floater? Any other info would be nice too as I'll be in the market for another line and might try one of these.


11-11-2001, 08:20 PM

These lines will be long belly WT forward lines. They should be excellent lines for people who want to make long casts without shooting line, they were designed originally by one of the worlds best speycasters. I was surprised SA would market these lines but it looks like its going to happen. I personally won't be buying one unless they market them as spey driver lines and give Derek part of the profit, but thats besides the point and my opinion. They should be awsome lines and fill the niche for people wanting to make casts of 100ft plus without shooting line.

12-14-2001, 01:06 AM
These lines should be out in the early new year and have a workable belly of @105ft of which you can lift the whole thing and cast due to the design. I have seen someone cast over 140ft with a proto of this line and a std. 15ft factory rod. I have also heard many people state that they can cast further with less effort than any other line that they have tried. Just a further note, the person who came up with these tapers did this on his own, and has never even seen one of Dereks lines.

12-14-2001, 10:33 AM
I don't know the technical details of the lines however, they are take offs of the continuous taper Alexander grant lines the Lee used as the basis for his TT. I have heard that Way has been using SW floaters with the "new" taper. I can only guess that this also increases distance and potentially the "stealthness"(the line will "float" under the film rather than over the film) due to the increase in density for the given surface area Additionally, it may allow the rod to load better with a shorter line?

Read fine and far off and many of the "new" things are really not so novel. However, Way has taken the initiative to bring the old line concepts and worked with the weights and newer rod designs to make them work quite well together from the sound of it. I think this is great for those of us who enjoy the long belly lines. Finally long belly "spey lines" lines from production environment, something DB unfortunately did not do with the Spey Drive.

Can't wait to give one a try.

Now hopefully SA doesn't get screwy with the pricing and keeps it realistic.

12-14-2001, 04:57 PM
I too am a bit surprised that these lines got marketed, mostly though since these are lines that will be useful to only the very best casters out there. In spite of the post that denies any relationships with the Speydriver line it does have a 40' continuous front taper along with all that belly like the SD-type lines. This means that the caster's technique needs to be flawless. If your skills are up to it this SD-type line is an awesome casting tool indeed. I do know a number of decent casters who have used this SD-style line and have given up. My advice is try one before springing for the undoubtedly steep price. The new "stealth" technology finish on the line will certainly be worth investigating and may indeed be an improvement over the other line.

Tight lines - tyler.

12-14-2001, 07:25 PM
Actually, these lines have a continuous taper for the whole line just like any other spey line out there. And I really believe that these lines will be usefull to beginers who have a tendancy to have to much line stick on the D loop, The tip will help them cast despite this and in the long run make them better casters rather than spincasters ala windcutter. Grant was quoted in talking about throwing a glob of line attached to a thin running line as spinning, nothing more nothing less.

12-15-2001, 03:40 AM
With all of this hype, I guess I will have to try one too!!!


After reading your last post, I sort of chuckled about your quoting that shooting line is just spin fishing.

It reminded me of the lesson that I observed this past June fishing the Matapedia's public sector.

Up until this point I was getting a little overconfident in my abilities to cast, with a windcutter or midspey, achieving plenty of distance by shooting line. Enter a New Yorker named Jim Roucher and a couple of his friends that have been fishing this river for over 20 years, and spey casting for much of it. These men use long limber English rods, roughly 16' for 10 wt lines. Much too much stick for my pleasure, but they ALL throw unmodified DT lines.

After fishing along side these guys for five days, I came away thinking "Hmm, you have a new game to learn, chief!". When the wind was not blowing too much, it was a great pleasure to watch Jim EFFORTLESSLY double or single spey 80' of line without blowing a cast for hours on end, and not shoot more than a yard of line. On a wider stretch of river he even opened it up to 100+ feet of line beyond the rod tip with the same song and dance. No constant stripping required. Efficiency at its finest. Lesson learned.

So I came home and started playing around with a few lines and settled on the best of both worlds, the Cortland DT Spey 8/9 for my old 9140-4. It mends like a traditional DT but, because of its 39'taper scheme, will throw loops like a WF.


12-17-2001, 01:29 AM

All factory spey lines do indeed have "smooth" joints between the various tapers. However, all functional spey lines DO have separate tapers. The front taper is in fact the forward section of the line that transfers the energy down the line to turn over the fly, the "belly" of the line provides the weight needed to propel the whole arrangement forward. A well executed cast will transfer the energy from the rod through the heavy belly into the front taper down into the leader and finally turn over the fly. Different line have different formulas for their tapers, ie. the Accelerator has about an 18' taper after the power hinge, the Windcutter has a much shorter one, etc., etc.

The SA line you refer to is no different, in fact it is very similar to the original line of this genre, the first of which was brought to these parts by Derek Brown. The front taper is 40' long, this extremely long taper necessitates superior technique as any flaws will be magnified greatly over this distance. Combine this with long leaders, big flies and the ever-present wind of big rivers and you need to know what you are about.

I know Steve can cast prodigious distances, but from all accounts he is a superior caster who practices every single day. I don't think there are many flaws in his delivery. The fact that Wei's line allows him to do so is no surprise to me - it IS a superior line design. However, I also believe that it is a line that will only give these superior results to those casters who have the technical skills to take advantage of the line's characteristics.

12-17-2001, 09:37 AM
Tyler, Yes I know that all lines have seperate tapers. I have several spey driver lines and these all have various length front tapers and not just 40ft. Although 39ft is what is mentioned in Fine and Far Off for a front taper in a Grant line but it also mentions being able to adjust this length to situations(wind, big flies, etc...) I am not saying that just because Steve can cast so far with these lines that they will make everyone cast this far, but I do know that these lines cast short extremelly well and they have helped many casters cast further than they could with other lines.

12-18-2001, 05:53 PM
Tyler, I was just wondering.... if you were starting all over again to learn how to spey cast, which line would benefit you the most in the long run.

12-19-2001, 01:55 AM

An interesting question. I am definite that it would be a long belly line or at least a mid-spey. My rationale is that I think to learn to cast properly you need the longer belly. Without a doubt a beginner can cast a Windcutter with more immediate success. However, it promotes many bad habits or shortcuts. If a caster learns the proper techniques that a long belly demands they will be able to transfer the skills to any type of line. In my many discussions with Dana on the drives to the Thompson he relates that students of his who only cast windcutters normally have trouble with the longer bellies.

One other factor that I think is important for the learner is to be sure to line your rod so that it will sufficiently load your rod at the distances most commonly achieved by beginners. This is where my earlier comment that the SD type lines being a tough cast for beginners comes from - it is too long and fine for most casters. In fact I might even consider a double taper line as a good starting point, but certainly the mid-spey comes to mind as an ideal starting point.

Tight lines - tyler

12-19-2001, 09:50 AM
I hope that you get to try one of these lines soon, because that is where the real difference with this new line and the speydrivers difffer. These new lines cast short far easier than any other line that I have ever used before. As to your comment about having the line heavy enough to load the rod for a beginner, I wholheartedly aggree.


12-19-2001, 01:19 PM

You seen to have more detailed info or time casting Way's lines than many others. To what do you tribute the ability of these lines to load the rod at shorter distances? With the fine taper of these lines I can only think of increased density of the line?

12-19-2001, 05:07 PM
I really couldnt tell you(my best guess is taper). Way would be the best person to answer. I have only cast these lines a few times. But like I have said before, I was most impressed by how well they loaded in close, with the ability to go for distance, and still have control over your line and fly.

12-21-2001, 11:54 PM
hello all. this is a neat site!

with regard to the SA lines, i thought i'd see if i can (perhaps) clear up some potential confusion regarding aspects of the line design, it's orgins, and it's intended purpose and audience...

as andre and fisshman26 accurately point out, the concept of a long continuous forward taper line is not new. it seems like the first gentleman to get the continuous taper epiphany for spey casting was alexander grant, who had the luxury of having square pleated braided slik lines made to his specifications (according to Mr G. Donald Rudd, aka "jock scott"). the lack of stretch in these lines, coupled with their density, apparently allowed grant to cast phenomenal distances without shooting any line; this was done so that grant could fish a slow swing on his home rivers of the ness and spey.

i think many have experimented with splicing their own lines to to improve performance beyond what factory lines offer "out of the box". my friends who fish single handed rods have done this for years. i have been heavily influenced by what has been written about grant, as have others like the great spey caster, derek brown. when i was initially fiddling around with splicing lines, it was derek who turned me on to grant's work, and a good friend, charles st. pierre, helped me find a copy of "fine and far off", which i have since read many, many times.

much seems to have been made of what constitutes a "continuous taper"; the masterline banker, for instance, has been made for many years, and preceeded the wulff triangle taper series of lines manufactured by SA. even these "continuous taper" lines, if one takes a micrometer to them throughout their length, have flat sections; the rate of taper (ddiameter/dlength) varies with each formulation. technically, any of the current spey lines are "continuous tapers" over their entire length, at the same time that their tapers are not TRULY continuous.

from a design and performance standpoint, a true continuous taper of equal slope turns out to be extremely inefficient unless the length of the casts are quite short. throughout the process of piecing many bits of line together to try to develop a gross understanding of the physics affecting a spey cast adn line, i have come to a few realizations that have guided the design of the SA lines. the tapers are designed to maximize turnover and efficiency of energy transfer, all to decrease or eliminate the necessity to strip and shoot, thus improving efficiency and fly control through the swing. interestingly i have observed two distinct second order regression curves which have been consistently present in the best of the lines we have put together. the taper throughout the front becomes extremely critical (and varies according to line weight and overal belly length), as does the taper in the back of the line, towards the reel. many lines cast 75 feet from the reel well, a very few cast 100 feet well.

i have never had the pleasure of casting or examining one of derek's spey drivers, although i have heard much about them. derek had stopped selling them several years ago. i have cast one other of dereks lines, the formula of which he was quite open in discussing. he basically used several sections of level line, creating a stepped taper design, with a section of masterline baker at the front, a more or less continuous taper. i tried this design, but found it didn't have the "punch" i was looking for, and didn't cast a sink tip well enough for my use in winter fishing. derek certainly cast it well, and the difference was, i am sure, simply due to the fact that he is one of the world's best casters, and i am not.

my designs have followed more of a continuous taper concept throughout the whole of the line, although after countless hours of digital video analysis of line turnover, there is definitely some areas of the line which may be flat because the energy transfer and momentum of the wave is extremely efficient (little degredation due to drag). the trick in design has been the balance of where one needs taper, and where one can do without. this becomes critical as the cast line length exceeds 90 feet, and at 105-110 feet of line, the differences are dramatic.

the fundamental goal of the lines was to provide the advanced beginner and intermediate caster with more consistent distance for the same effort; i.e. a more efficient line design. i also wanted to provide the advanced to expert the ability to cast and control the fly in a variety of very technical situations where a shorter bellied line will simply not cut the mustard. the distance potential of the lines cannot be ignored; however, i think that in fishing (not casting), fly control is more important than distance anyday.

i have been fortunate in having steve choate volunteering to be a ready sounding board for the lines as they have progressed through the prototype stages. steve is a fantastic caster, and according to derek brown, "the finest spey caster he (derek) has ever seen." high praise indeed. bruce richards of SA has been amazing at bringing countless diagrams, mass profiles and spreadsheets to something upon which one can tie a fish.

we have been fortunate in having a number of fishermen cast the lines, of all skill levels. although i had anticipated that the lines would be most appreciated by intermediate and advanced casters, beginners seem to cast the line well (usually "upsizing", as with other lines), although the knowledge that they are casting a prototype may have positively biased their experience.

the lines are tentatively due for international release in late january or february, and will initially be avialiable in a floating configuration only. we are working on a number of intersting tip configurations, but the R&D process is extremely time consuming. these lines are not designed to replace any existing line, and certainly won't be for everybody. lines and rods are as varied as personalities of those that fish them... i do hope that they will, however, add to the enjoyment of the sport and perhpas open new opportunities to those that fish them.

a happy holiday season to all, and best wishes for a wonderful new year!

12-22-2001, 08:12 AM
I for one can attest to the performance of these lines for a beginning to intermediate caster. I've been using spliced versions of them for a couple of years. And I've cast and fished the prototypes since last spring. Even in the hands of a relatively inexperienced spey caster, my intitial impressions were "awesome". I have built and used a wide variety of spey lines (SA, TT, Windcutter, etc) and these are my favorite lines, by far. These lines perform both close and at distance for me, although they really begin to show their stuff above 60 ft., where they just seem "automatic". And they mend beautifully at any distance. For those that prefer the efficiency of fishing long belly lines, instead of the "strip and shoot" lines, I feel these will become the lines of choice.

12-26-2001, 12:23 PM

please provide some general info regarding tapers and grain weights for these lines. I am also interested in the method used to maintain "castability" at short line lengths? particularly in the windy conditions that we experience on the larger river during the summer.

What are being considered short casts? Cast of 75' with a WC are med to longish however, I consider them short to Med with a long belly dry line. Primarily , this is due to the running line tangled around my hands, and feet.

BTW, I would be more than happy to accept a prototype(s)

12-26-2001, 12:49 PM
One of the things (sorry) RIO brought to the table in line/rod choices was Simon's long list of line/rod combinations in RIO's home site. Will SA have such a list?

12-28-2001, 10:51 PM
hello andre and fred

thanks for the questions. perhaps to answer andre's query first:

i do not believe that there is any single line which will excel in all phases of what a spey fisherman might encounter while fishing; just like rods, there are always trade-offs in performance. for example, a rod which delivers high line speed with the ability to cast a laser-beam tight loop may not be great for change of direction casts and heavy sink tips. i designed the new SA lines around some basic assumptions, as follows:

advanced beginner and intermediate casters would like to cast further with the same effort

advanced and expert casters would like to maximize efficiency in their casting, and maximize line (and thus) fly control

there are "groups" of applications for different line weights: winter fishing for larger fish, in windier and gnarlier conditions is usually done with 9 and 10 weight rods, and summer/fall fishing for smaller fish is generally done with 7 or 8 weight rods. special applications include 6 weight and 11-12 weights. the 7 and 8 wieghts are "grouped", and the 9 and 10 wieghts "grouped". i think of them as brothers (7+8, 9+10) from different families. thus, the 7 and 8 (and 9 and 10) wieghts are closer in weight and length than the 8 and 9. (the progression of line weights and belly lengths is non-linear). as a 6 weight shooting head is considerably lighter than a 6 weight DT, these lines are considerably heavier than anything currently produced. there is no standard for spey lines as exists for single hand lines. (bruce richards, al buhr, and jim vincent, among others, have been working on a proposed standard (to help rods makers as well), but this is still in the developmental stage.) each of the lighter "brothers" is designed to maximize loop control and line control, whilst the heavier "brother" is designed to deliver a "chunkier" turnover (better performance in wind and with tips).

with a long bellied line, i have assumed certain working distances that the majority of casters will fish, based on my teaching and empiric observations on the rivers of the Pacific NW. these working distances increase as the line weights increase. the castability of the lines at shorter distances is critically dependent on taper and mass profile, as is the ultimate castability at the long end of the working range (see previous post). i unfortunately can't part with the formula as yet, but like any commercially available line, one would be able to generate a cut chart from the line, once available (one reason it makes little sense to patent a line formula).

one of the very improtant objectives was to make a line that cast well in the shorter range (e.g. 25-40 feet from the reel), as steelhead and salmon are frequently caught close to shore. i think the lines really come into their own in the mid to longer casting ranges (e.g. 30-70 feet for the 7 weight, 40-80 feet for the 8 weight, and 50-100 feet for the 9 weight and 50-110 feet for the 10 weight). i have incorporated feedback from many friends in the field, as well as vital input from the rod designers at sage and scott.

to answer fred's question, i am in the process of generating a suggested "compatibility chart" with the major spey rod manufacturers, and have the full blessing and support of sage and scott so far (this testing will obviously take a while), and hopefully, i will be able to add to the list as time progresses. we plan to make these suggestions available on the SA web site.

thanks for your interest, and i hope this post answers your questions adequately!

Martin Cohen
01-04-2002, 11:34 AM

Would you be able to say at this point if this new line replaces the Mastery Spey? I guess I would call myself an advanced beginner/intermediate and have recently been using the Mastery Spey line, mostly with tips. I had a hard time with the longer front taper (compared to WC) in casting heavier flies; dries and lighter wets turned over like a dream. Cut some of the tip off and have been using sink tips. Some people advise that I should have gone up 1 line size. I know there are a lot of variables invloved (rod, flies, tips, ability), but can it be said that until I can 'master' this line, with a 20' front taper, there would be no sense in moving to the new line, with a 40' front taper?


01-05-2002, 08:14 PM
hello marty

the new long belly line (tentative name: mastery spey XLT) will NOT replace the existing mastery spey, but is designed to complement it. i think that once we get the new line out, the line gurus at SA have been talking about modernizing and refining the existing mastery spey to take advantage of the advancements in rod technology that have accelerated over the past 9 years since the original mastery spey was released (c. 1993).

just as one man's poison is another man's fancy, there will never be ONE line which will suite each individual's finshing needs or wants. there are several casters in the northwest, for example, who are experts with the shorter belly, shooting head type lines, and catch many, many fish, as do the scandanavians, who use even more radical shooting heads for atlantic salmon with great success. in scotland and england, however, many experts favor the longer belly lines, as do a growing number of west coast and b.c. spey casters.

i would characterize the current mastery spey as an excellent mid-length line; the belly is 77 feet, and the forward taper is about 17 feet. if you are having some difficulty with tips, you might consider cutting the floating portion at about 17 feet, and putting your loop for tips there. using stiffer leader material, such as fluorocarbon, may also help you turn over those bushier flies.

just because you are having difficulty turning over a line with 17 feet of forward taper does not necessarily mean you cannot cast a longer taper line well. what is much more important than the presence of a given length of taper is the mass profile (dweight/dlength) of the line. mass profiles can be tweaked to optimize line "carry" (e.g. for shooting line), or for "turnover" (e.g. for long belly designs, casting without shooting line). at distances of 60-80 feet, you may actually find casting a long forward taper line easier; this is well within the belly length of the wulff triangle spey lines, for example (cut off about 5 feet of the tip though).

thanks for your very good question!

01-05-2002, 11:17 PM
If the low-stretch characteristics of silk helped Alexander Grant to cast so far, does this mean that the new SA lines will have a mono core?

ok ok - I can wait.

01-06-2002, 01:22 AM
Spey Bubba What do you think of Steves 8139-3 ??? Did you get to try the 9149-3 ? I hope I get the chance to meet you some day..

01-06-2002, 06:39 PM
hello gentlemen

just got off the water casting various weight SA long belly lines with a number of different rods (bruce and walker, hardy, scotts, sages, t&t). very happy with progress. cast with nathan keen, the owner of avid angler in seattle, and we had a great time.

the issue of low stretch with modern coated lines is an interesting topic. when i first met with bruce richards at SA, i discussed my ideas in recreating all the good aspects of a silk line in a modern formulation (low to no stretch, small diameter). unfortunately, with coated lines (PVC or polyurethane), it tuns out that if you have a no stretch core over a long line, the line tends to retain quite a bit of memory (due to microscopic asymmetry of the coating, not the core itself), so even though it is certainly possible to make a core out of, say gel spun poly, it will have too much coil memory to fish well.

similarly, one can have a mono core, which would have less propensity to coil, but the line, especially the tip, will not float well, due to the higher specific gravity of the mono core and relative paucity of air impregnated PVC providing bouyancy.

with SA, we started with a various dense PVC formulations, which definitely decreased wind resistance, but it ultimately became problemmatic in that the line was more than in the surface film, it was sometimes under it, making long casts more difficult for less skilled casters. as i had previously posted, the mass profile turns out to be the major determinant of how well a line will cast over long distance (talkign about carrying lines here, not shooters) than diameter alone, at least with the modern graphite rods currently on the market.

[regarding rob's question about cary burkheimer's 13'9" 8 weight, yes i have cast it, and it is, without question, the finest 8 weight spey rod i have EVER cast or fished. i did not get a chance to cast steve's 14'9" 9 weight because he blew it up already. (steve blows up a lot of rods, casting the distances he does). steve tells me it was similar to the 8 weight, and performed cometetively with the scott 1509, which is my all time favorite spey rod of any weight or length]

thanks for the questions, and i also hope to meet many of the board members in the future!

i will be at the san mateo (CA) show at the end of the month with scott fly rods and SA, and plan to make the spey clave on the sandy this year with the fine gentlemen from scott.

01-06-2002, 11:07 PM
Out of the bag,
I haven't even let Kerry know that i had blown up that rod...But it is awesome!...This is my first post, so i have to say thanks to all of the kind remarks in some previous posts about my casting...In my own opinion it is attributed to my friends Spey Bubba and Derek Browns' tape. That's what is so great about spey isn't the casting, although that's great fun, it isn't even hooking and landing steelies, though that's pretty's the wonderful generous guys that are invloved...Spey Bubba, Fisshman26...I may be able to cast further for now, but not for long and they're a class act that's hard to follow, Roballen, FE, the M&Y group of guys, Bruce Richards from SA, EVERYONE from Scott fly rods, Jerry Siem for Sage.etc,etc., ...I recently spent the weekend with a pretty lady on the Deschutes whom had never fly cast before using one of the proto SA lines on a sage the end of the day she was throwing a pretty respectable line of about 50 or 60 feet...and had a ball..we landed 6 fish that we'll both remember for some time..
Spey buuba has given me the opportunity to be his mentor and allowed me to cast his protos throughout their development..they are the epitomy of what we are looking for in the carry and cast category of he so eliquently explains....I hope i still have the oportunity to PLAY with the new line of Scott Spey rods, with the influence of Spey Bubba they promise to be the ultimate...Having said that i have to give a personol opinion with repsect to a post of Rob Allens..a kind gentleman indeed..I now proudly own 2 x8139's, and as Spey Bubba said they are the ultimate 8 weight...they posess a crispness that i haven't felt in any other rod and i have cast just about everything that's can cast with just the tip at 50 feet or wind up and throw 120', The 9149 has very similar characteristics, but throws a little more line...the great thing about these rods are their aesthetics and attention to detail and their ability to generate tremendous line speed...and if you have ever met Kerry B., he's just a wonderful man and great to be around....nice to be a member of such a great group of speynuts!


P.s. I write this looking at Fisshmans Flies...Oh, what a pretty fly he ties, and smoking a Spey Bubba Cuban!