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Dornblaser 02-13-2005 08:42 AM

Line & Rod Question
Peter S C and Juro,

I am directing this question to these gentlemen because of a reply that they had given Smolt about a rod and line combination. Specifically, I am interested in changing the line combination that I use with my Winston BIIx 11' 7 wt. Like most people who have this rod I have used both a steelhead taper and a WC line on this rod. The steelhead taper was SA's 7 wt and it was too whimpy for spey casts. The WC was the 6/7/8 floater and it was too heavy.

I have read in posts on this and the Speyclave that Winston recommends heads of about 300 grns. I did not receive confirmation of that when I called Winston. I understand that the Hardy Mach 1 8/9 and WC 5/6 F have been recommended for this rod. I know of guide in WI who also liked the Delta Short 6/7.

Now my question is this: is there a standard for determining head length and weight? This question is prompted by looking at the SA site and noting the Delta 6/7 has head weight of 450 but SA considers all but 12 feet of the line to be head? Short of trying all of the lines is there a good way to evaluate spey lines? My inclination is to try the Delta 6/7 based on the recommendation that I received; and, if that is too heavy then to order the Hardy from Mike at Red Shed.

I posted this question on this board rather than the Speyclave as this rod is being sold and marketed as a GL Steelhead rod. The rod is great for our smaller rivers in WI. I like the rod but want a better line fit.

Thanks in advance for your comments,
David Dornblaser

juro 02-13-2005 09:07 AM

Thanks for asking David,

I was admiring that rod at Somerset but did not get a chance to load it up with a line. It's no surprise to me that it did not load with the SA steelhead line, which is probably my favorite *single* hand greasliners line in an 8wt on the Sage 9'6" 8wt RPL (discontinued) but it does not strike me as being the right choice for spey casting due to the very long back taper. I suppose it could be adapted to spey casting if it was up-sized to a 9wt (?) and cast with a sufficient amount of the back taper inside the guides. My experience with long back-taper spey lines is that the taper must be stripped into the guides. It does provide a good keel for the loop in flight, although other lines with more abrupt tapers also fly well with spey casts so I am not certain how valuable a long back taper is in spey lines.

I use my own groupings to rate lines for rods until all lines come into the new standards - the 5/6 group; the 6/7 group, the 7/8 group, the 8/9 group, etc. There is some conistency around Rio, Airflo, and SA in numbering in three of the four mentioned above, thankfully. In other words, if you buy a Solstice 6/7 it works with all three 6/7 lines. Or the 7/8, yes once again.

Without having cast the rod, my guess would be that it falls into the same category as the CND tracker 12'2"... what I call the "5/6" group:

- 5/6 Windcutter, best choice for versatility / sinktips, etc.
- Hardy Mach I 8/9 (not the PLUS which is much heavier).

If that's light, then up to the next notch, which is the 6/7 spey notch (listed below by heaviness of 'feel'):

- 6/7/8 Windcutter
- 6/7 Midspey
- 6/7 Delta
- 6/7 SA short spey
- etc.

Beyond that we are out of the range of that rod I am sure.

I would proceed as follows:

Determine whether the rod is a 5/6 class or a 6/7 class rod. My W.A. guess would be the 5/6 group, having only wiggled it.

If yes... and you are interested in a versatile line, sinktips, etc - go with the Rio Windcutter 5/6. Otherwise if you want a floating salmon finesse line, go with the Hardy Mach I 8/9.

However if it's a 6/7 class rod:

Choose from

- 6/7/8 Windcutter (tips or not)
- 6/7 Midspey (tips or not)
- 6/7 Delta (tips or not)
- 6/7 SA short spey (cut your own)
- etc.

I can only tell you which if I tried it, and my opinion might differ from anothers as I like a crisp feel to cast for distance with the whole head out of the guides.

Please let us know what you find out.

removed_by_request 02-13-2005 09:25 AM

Why don't you ask Smolt, he owns the rod and loves it. Rumor has it a few Atlantics fell to that baby.

Shoot him a PM, pretty sure he will be glad to answer it.

Dornblaser 02-13-2005 10:22 AM


Thanks, I have been exchanging emails with SMOLT and he has similar line concerns.


juro 02-13-2005 12:11 PM

For first hand opinions (those who have the rod)...
East coast sponsor with that rod and spey knowledge close to where you live would be tightlinesflyfishing (ask for Drew) otherwise try the many awesome sponsors we have out west all of which are skilled and equipped to answer that question with the rods on their rack...

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peter-s-c 02-13-2005 02:33 PM

To make the Rio S/AS line into a decent spey caster, it needs to be reversed. The long, 24' rear taper then becomes a nice front spey taper, and the abrupt, bullet front end, now becomes a decently short rear taper.

I'd think the 7 wt. will be a bit light on the spey. Overhead cast what you consider to be the ideal amount of aerialized line, then mark it (or measure the length) and weigh that length. That's the best casting weight for that rod.

Then use that casting weight to find the right line on this table.

All of the S/AS lines mentioned on this table are measured reversed. The Airflo Deltas mentioned here are trout Deltas, not Spey Deltas unless noted otherwise. The trout Deltas would be equivalent to the new Forty+ lines if you preferred those. Also, these casting weight numbers are measured with the full head (excluding rear taper) outside of the guides. That requires casting about 60' of S/AS vs. about 35' of trout Delta. If you used the S/AS choked up to 35', you'll find it a lot lighter than the equivalent Delta.

You mentioned that 300 grains is right for the rod and let's assume that you could overhead 300 grains comfortably, then an S/AS 8 wt. reversed is right for the rod. As you can see, the WC 6/7/8 has a casting weight of 355 so it doesn't surprise me that you find it too heavy.

juro 02-13-2005 02:38 PM

Peter -

My S/AS appears to have a very long front taper before the finish taper. It would seem to me that the belly would be way out front if reversed... however I have not tried it.

Where does the belly fall when reversed (feet from running line, etc)? Pretty unique approach, wouldn't work with every line but this one sounds interesting.

peter-s-c 02-13-2005 03:33 PM

The S/AS has what Rio calls a "bullet" front taper, meaning that it doesn't taper down too much until the last 2.5'. It's 10' long, the belly is 33' and the rear taper is 24'. Flipped around that gives us 24' front, 33' belly and about 5' of usable back taper thanks to the gradual tapering -- 62' overall.

As a general rule for AFTMA rated lines, the shorter the front taper, the lighter the average belly grains per foot since the front taper plus the belly portion in the front 30' must add up to a fixed weight. This results in a 6 wt. trout Delta with a 19' front taper having a belly grains per foot that's a tad heavier than an S/AS 7 wt. belly grains per foot. That's an important consideration when the 7 wt. is used flipped around as it's actually a bit lighter than a 6 wt. trout Delta at the 35' mark.

I estimated that the 10' bullet taper on the S/AS makes it equivalent to a 7' or 8' standard front taper in terms of weight and I used that estimate when doing the head weight and casting weight calculations. When I worked on my two S/AS lines, I estimated a total head weight of 575 grains for my 10 wt. S/AS based on taper lengths and the AFTMA 280 grains rating for 10 wts. When I cut mine and actually weighed it, it came out at 570 so the taper based weight estimations for the other S/AS lines on this chart can be considered pretty accurate.

juro 02-13-2005 03:46 PM

The line David was talking about was the SA steelhead taper 7wt, which is the line I was referring to despite my acronym error. That confirms my suspicion, I would imagine the steelhead taper to be unworkable backwards.

However, thanks for the description of the Rio S/AS line.

peter-s-c 02-13-2005 04:45 PM

OK, I get it now. Rio lists their S/AS as their "steelhead" line on their website so I thought we were talking about the same thing.

Dornblaser 02-14-2005 10:30 AM

I do have the SA Steelhead taper and it is not reversible.

I appreciate all of the posts and emails that I received. Thanks. I am going to do it the old fashion way - cast multiple lines. WI is currently iced over so the test will have to wait a bit. I would take the rod to the Spey Clave in April but we will be just returning for a business/personal trip mid-clave. I really wanted to try some of the new CND and Loomis rods ...............

Dornblaser 03-01-2005 01:54 PM

I just wanted to say thanks for the replies. And, thanks to Mike at the Red Shed Fly Shop who sent out some demo fly lines to try. FWIW - I was really taken with the Hardy Mach I on this rod.

David Dornblaser

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