As two-handed casters, we search for that one rod that can do it all. A rod that can chuck heavy sink-tips and turn over big juicy flies in the early season, and still feel groovy and easy going with a floating line and a small fly. A rod that can handle a big hot chrome fish, but will still feel fun with a 7 pound summer Steelhead. A rod that won’t punish you when your casting sucks (everyone’s casting sucks from time to time), but throws into the horizon when you’re on. Does this rod exist? NO
Longer rods in the 14 foot + range make it easier to make longer casts with heavy tips – On the other hand, shorter rods are much better for fighting big fish and fighting a bright 20 pound salmon or Steelhead on a 15 foot rod is no fun for anyone.
If you had to choose just one “do everything” Spey rod, it would more than likely be a eight weight. With that said, there are a few things to consider when purchasing your next Spey rod.
To begin with, how big are the fish you intent to chase? A eight weight Spey rod will easily handle big chrome salmon in the 10 to 20 pound range. Matched with the proper line, a eight can handle anything from floating lines to heavy sink-tips. However, if you plan on fishing windy rivers with large fish, you can easily get under-gunned with a eight weight. On some rivers, hooking a 15 to 20 pound fish is an everyday reality. You’d be better off using nine to ten weight rod. Furthermore, if your faced with fishing conditions that require throwing really heavy sink-tips and big tube-flies, an nine to ten makes it easier. The length of a rod equates to casting distance. Simply put, the longer the rod, the longer the cast. The shorter the rod, the more finesse it tight casting conditions.
A good all around length is 12′6 to 13’6. This kind of rod will allow the caster to reach a lot of water without fatigue over a long day of fishing.
However, there are times where a longer or shorter rod comes in handy. For example, if you primarily fish large rivers that require really long casts, a fourteen rod can be the right tool.
Action can be best described by how deep the rod flexes during a cast. A slow action rod bends well into the butt section during the casting stroke. This allows the caster to really feel the rod load. A slower action stick is great for casting with limited back casting space because the rod loads with minimal D-loop or back cast speed. The disadvantage is you cant generate as fast of line speed as a quicker action rod. Furthermore, it is more difficult to lift heavy sink-tips and large flies out of the water. With that said, some hard core Spey casting gurus, loves full flexing rods. You just need to take your time with slower action two-handers.
A medium action rod will suite most average casters the best. The caster can still feel the rod load with a medium action, while faster line speeds can be obtained. Medium action rods will handle a wide range of casting strokes and line types.
Fast action rods are for the angler that demands high line speed from their weapon. While most folks will struggle with a fast rod, expert casters can command the water with one. That isn’t to say that all experts use fast rods. More times than not, most advanced casters still lean towards a medium to medium fast sticks.
Obviously, action preference is a personal choice. There is no right or wrong, only what fits your casting stroke and fishing demands the best.