This west coaster has a question for you boys
Iíve been Spey casting for Steelhead in Washington State for awhile now and have pretty much given up on the single handed rods. I also fly fish in Puget Sound for Cutthroat, Salmon, Steelhead and anything else thatís out there in the salt. No Striper Bass though. Iíve spent hours searching through Stripers and Coastal Gamefish threads looking for answers and Iíve come up with a system for two handing the salt which Iíll get to in a minute. Briefly, Iím two handing shooting heads in either the Norwegian overhead style or the Swedish underhand style like Goran Anderson. And I also pervert these casts with a combo Skagit Spey cast. People out here think Iím crazy for trying this, but stop laughing when they see the distance Iím getting and the fish I bring to hand. Then suddenly, theyíre all asking me questions and Iím running a Spey/Surf Casting Clave.
The problem Iím having is that Cutthrout are a little small for a 7/8wt 12/13 foot two handed rod. Iíve noticed some of you seem to prefer 11 to 12 foot rods, but are having problems finding rods that really suit your surf casting. Are you having your rods custom built like the Bob Meiser rods? I see that some of you are trying the Daiwa two-handers. Where do you get those rods from and are they more suited to this? Iíve read your posts about dream rods for surf casting, but I canít tell if you have really resolved which rods work for you. Iím really looking hard at the Sage 5120-4 Ultra-Light Spey. I really need something in the 5 to 6 wt area.
Here is the system I use:
I use Loop rods because they seem the most versatile, for my purposes. My shooting head system in the salt and Spey casting for Steelhead, only require changing spools. Loop rods are different from other Spey rods. They were designed to toss the Loop shooting head or adapted line system and aimed at the underhanded crowd. But they will handle the traditional Spey cast and seem to be more forgiving. I have a 12-foot 8wt and the 14-foot 9wt. Rio line recommendations for these rods are different than most. For instance, in the 8wt range, they recommend the Rio 7/8/9 for beginners and 6/7/8 for advanced on the Loop. If it were a Sage 8wt, they recommend 8/9/10 for beginners and 7/8/9 for advanced. So they seem to prefer a lighter line on the Loop. Also, when throwing shooting heads, the general rule of thumb is 2 weights over the rod weight. But on my Loops, that is too much and I prefer one weight over. Loop has an adapted line kit that is tailor made for each rod, but these kits are around 280 dollars. I have tried this system at a clave/demo and they are sweet but I already have a lot of fly line already. So here is the solution I came up with.
For the 9wt, I have the Rio 8/9/10 windcutter with tips. I also use the Airflo 45 foot/10wt shooting heads and the Rio Big Boy 24 foot and Rio Aqualux 26 foot heads in the 300 to 400 grain range. On the Rio heads I may take the middle section of the Spey line and add it too the head which gives me a 40 foot head. The middle section can be either the floating or sink tip compensator. I also have the 30-foot middle section, which I can attach the 15-foot tips, floating though type 8 (this is essentially a 45 foot shooting head with interchangeable tips). I actually prefer this shooting head system on the rivers.
For the 8wt, I use the Airflo 7/8 Delta Spey (which does not have a middle section, but my Rio 7/8wt Mid Spey does) and the Rio Big Boy 24 foot and Rio Aqualux 26 foot heads in the 200 to 300 grain range. I also use the 35 foot/9wt heads on this rod and the Spey middle sections and tips keeping within the 30-foot range (this is essentially a 30 foot/9wt shooting head with interchangeable tips). For Cutts I usually stick with the 26 foot Aqualux head on floating or intermediate running line.
I also have a Flylogic 7wt/13 foot, which I havenít tried in the salt. Iím looking at 11 to 12 foot 5 and 6 weight rods as I think these would be more ideal for Cutthroat and Trout.
For running line, I use the Airflo Multi head or Rio Poly Flex Shooting line. Slick shooter or monofilament running lines suck. I like the Airflo better as it doesnít tangle as much and it has the connector loops already welded in. On the Rio running line I had to put on the braided loops. I use the 30 lb. running line on the 9 wt and the 20 lb on the 8 wt. Running line comes in different diameters and they add resistance to your cast. This can help turnover the fly.
For backing, I use the Power Pro Gel Spun 50 lb. Line. I use the double strand Bimini twist with a piece of hollow latex tubing where the loops connect. This keeps the Gel Spun from cutting through the fly line loop. I can get 2 to 3 hundred yards of backing on 9, 10 and 11 wt reels with the 50 lb. Some knots may reduce the breaking point of Gel spun by 20 to 50% so I still have at least 25 lb test for backing. All knots are sealed with Softex.
Casting is mostly the two handed overhead as demonstrated in International Spey Casting and I have some video of Goran Anderson casting overhead. Up close I kind of snap-T, roll cast or under hand it. The two handed overhead cast is deadly for distance and accuracy even in a 10 to 15 knot wind.
Now you may ask, why go through all this trouble? Spey casting spoils me rotten. More time in the water instead of the air. My upper body is not sore at all after hours on the water, in fact; my stripping arm gets tired more than anything. It is the most adaptable system for any situation on the salt or the river.
A little extra info about those Big Boy or Aqualux heads. If you take the middle section and tips off your Windcutter or Mid Spey and put on one of those 200, 300 or 400 grain heads, you have a bazooka that wont quit.
I would appreciate your thoughts,
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