Niagara and Skagit
Good morning gentlemen! (west coast-wise anyways)
I am one of those persons that gets really peeved at finding out that something does not live up to expectations because someone exaggerated or overhyped its capabilities. Therefore, when it comes to me putting forth a personal opinion about something such as casting, I tend to either understate things a bit, or I will use as examples the more "extreme" of conditions. So, to clarify things better, let me say that in stating the capabilities of Skagit casting, I use as an example for backcast room, the Doublespey with a superfast sinktip and fairly large/heavily weighted fly. The Doublespey requires the MOST backcast room, while the fast sinktip and weighted fly compounds this need. "One rod length plus three or four feet" is generally the MAXIMUM amount of room needed for Skagit casting, and this is for making longer casts. Lighter tips, lighter/smaller flies, will reduce the amount of rearward room needed. Also shorter casts require less room. Plus, the Perry poke uses less backcast room than the Doublespey. Using the same size rod, with similar lines and flies, I have yet to see another casting style match Skagit casting's capabilities in tight quarters. This is not to say that it can't happen, I just have not seen it so far.
"Slow rods" are not the best for Skagit casting. Rods with light tips, and medium butts work best (medium to medium-fast actions). The light tip is needed to "carry" the load around in the sweep to casting stroke phase. The medium butt drives the light tip over into the casting stroke with speed, but enough "feel" to allow the caster to perceive the feeling of load throughout the whole process. The casting stroke in Skagit casting is actually of medium length compared to Underhand (short) and Traditional Spey (long). In fact, it is actually very similar to a single-handed casting stroke.
I would argue that the Sage 7136 (green) is a medium actioned rod. Most people peg it as slow because they are more used to casting rods rated for heavier lines (8, 9, or 10), and therefore they way overpower the rod, which "collapses" the tip, thus driving the "load" way down into the butt of the rod, making it feel "soft" (and making it cast like doodoo). Correct Skagit casting loads the rod during the "sweep" of the cast, well before the casting stroke occurs, thus when it does come time to accomplish the casting stroke only a modicum of additional power is applied at that time. When done properly, the "feeling" is actually one of casting from off the tip of the rod, not the butt.
Peter, I would really pay special attention to Juro's advice labeled #1.