Swing Season has arrived on the Missouri River, and at Headhunters that signals the start of our “second season”. Most of our new Trout Spey rods, lines and tackle arrive in the fall. Here is a rundown of our primary selection of spey gear for the 2018-19 season. Like last season, our main focus is on two-handed equipment for trout, but if you’re in need of Steelhead or Salmon gear, we have a very good selection of lines, a few rods and some excellent reels.
While there haven’t been any major changes in Trout Spey rods this year, there are additional competitors in the low to mid price point range. The most notable new rod in the lasts year is the G Loomis IMX-PRO. We consider “Trout Spey” rods to be 2,3 and 4 weight rods, or rods that throw lines 350 grains and less.
Sage ONE Trout Spey
Models: 10’9” 2 weight | 11’ 3 weight | 11’6” 4 weight
Arguably the best performing Trout Spey rod on the market, the Sage ONE is the rod of choice for those who are ready to invest deeply in their Trout Spey quiver. The ONE is light in the hand, but still has a true deep loading spey action with a strong tip. The 3 weight is the streamer stick, and the 2 weight is primarily used for soft hackle fishing. Both the 2 and 3 weight were designed from the ground up specifically for Trout fishing. The 4 weight has a faster “switch” action and excels with a Scandi line.
Models: 10’8” 2 weight (180gr) | 11’ 3 weight (240gr) | 4 weight (coming soon)
The Anderson Custom Rods (ACR) Nova series is by far the best value we have seen in a two-handed rod. It’s a lightweight and crisp rod that performs equal to rods in the $1000 price range. The build quality is beautiful, as you would expect from a boutique, custom rod builder (Anderson Custom Rods are built in Oregon). Gary Anderson has designed more “Trout” spey rods than anyone else, and his rods have a definite focused spey feel. At $450 the Nova series is a no-brainer. Look for other series and more offerings from ACR this winter.
G Loomis IMX PRO Shortspey
Models: 11’11” 3 weght | 11’11” 4 weight | 11’11” 5 weight
The Loomis Shortspey is one of the newest rods in the shop. At 11’11”, it is the longest rod we offer. That extra length gives you extra distance and mending capabilities, but does not suit all casting styles, especially when using shorter heads. Most folks, but not all, love it. These are powerful rods that generate impressive line speeds. The Shortspey is quickly becoming a shop favorite, and we love the 5 weight for big streamers and it would be an excellent dry line rod for the Grand Ronde or coastal summer runs and salmon.
Echo TR Trout Spey
Models: 11’ 3 weight | 11’3” 4 weight| 12’6” 6 weight
The TR has been our most popular Trout Spey model for the last few years. You’re getting a great rod for the money from a company that knows a lot about two-handers. We’ve sold a boatload of these and we use them ourselves. The TR series sits confidently in the middle in terms of action, and throws a wide grain window of both Skagit and Scandi heads. Our only complaint is that Echo does not build a 2 weight. We continue to carry the 12’6” 6 weight model for those looking for a nice budget Summer Steelhead rod.
Redington Hydrogen Trout Spey
Model: 11’ 2 weight | 11’3” 3 weight | 11’6” 4 weight
The Redington Hydrogen – and the comparably priced Echo TR – is one of our most popular Trout Spey models. The friendly price influences the popularity of both rods, but you are getting a legit Spey rod for your hard earned dollars. The Redington is a light rod, maybe lighter in the tip than some would like, but it definitely possesses a true “spey” action. The unusual reel seat (there is no spacer, you can see the blank) and the single foot guides may turn some off. But when you’re out on the water you shouldn’t be staring at you reel seat or guides. The Hydrogen performs great and we get excellent feedback from customers. Also, this rod is available in a 2 weight, allowing you to get into a dedicated soft hackle rod on the cheap.
Orvis Clearwater Spey
Models: 11’4” 3 weight
Price: TBD (Not available until March)
The new 3 weight Clearwater spey won’t be available until next spring, so it won’t be an option for this fall/winter. We have had plenty of time to play with one, however, and are really liking the feel, the lightweight and the new cosmetics. We feel like this rod will be a great small streamer/soft-hackle crossover rod. Perfect for the guy who just targeting trout, and doesn’t have the need or desire to throw larger flies and sink-tips. This rod will be an excellent daily driver for the guy who just wants one Trout spey rig for small and medium rivers.
TROUT SPEY LINES
Thankfully, this is where most of the action has taken place in the last year. OPST, Scientific Anglers, RIO and Wulff have all introduced new lines for Trout Spey applications. It’s very interesting watching pour customers response to the new variety in heads and integrated lines. Prior to the release of the Scientific Anglers integrated Spey Lite series, everyone was seeking the best shooting line. The battle raged between coated (better handling) and mono (better shooting) lines. The SA integrated series (both Scandi and Skagit heads come integrated or as heads) quickly made some anglers a believer in an integrated knottless line. This year, RIO and OPST have both introduced integrated lines as well, so your choices have increased dramatically in 12 months. It seems to us that integrated is taking over right now, but I suspect things will move back and forth along with the seasons.
Scientific Anglers Spey Lite
Price: Heads $49.95 | Integrated $89.95
Scientific Angler has the largest selection of dedicated Trout Spey lines. The Spey Lite Series is comprised of Scandi and Skagit series, built as both heads and as integrated lines. For this fall SA has added full intermediate Skagit heads and integrated models, and added 390 and 420 grain weights for those who want to use these fantastic lines on rods in the 6 and 7 weight categories. The Spey Lite Scandi integrated is one of our most popular lines, and the addition of a shooting head version will be very popular for autumn fishing on the Missouri.
Price: Heads $54.95 | Integrated $94.95
OPST was the first company to develope spey lines for shorter and light trout rods. The legendary Commando series remains one of our most popular Skagit heads for both single and two-handed rods. For 2018-19, OPST has introduced the new Commando Smooth, an integrated version of the commando head. The shooting line is hard, slick and skinny. It shoots great. If you’re an OPST fan but wanted simplicity of an integrated line, you’re in business. The Commando head is built up to 475gr, but the new smooth version is only available from 150-300 grains.
RIO InTouch Trout Spey
Price: Heads $49.99 | Integrated $99.99
For the fall of 2018, RIO has introduced their new InTouch Trout Spey series. Available in both Skagit and Scandi (though RIO does not refer to the Scandi style head as a “Scandi”, they simply call it “Trout Spey”), both versions are available as heads and as integrated lines. The new Skagit series is longer than the previous Trout Maxim heads, ranging from 14’-17’. The Trout Spey “Scandi” (I’m going to refer to it as a Scandi), has gotten the most mileage so far this season – its soft hackle time – and the feedback has been excellent.
Price: Integrated $89.95
Way back when nobody ever saw “Trout Spey” as an emerging market, Wulff and Gary Sandstron developed the Ambush line for executing spey casts with single-handed and switch rods. It’s still an excellent choices for that application. As an integrated do-everything line for small Spey rods it has developed a cult following. New for 2018-19, Wulff has introduced a “short” version with head lengths ranging from 14’-17’. While this will never be our biggest selling line, it consistently moves off the shelf’s for those looking for lines that perform well on both single and two-handed rods in unique situations. No floating line has a stronger front taper, making this line perfect for turning over heavily weighted flies. The addition of the Ambush Short will create even more fans of this great line.
Price: Head $59.99
The Airflo Scout has been a popular line in the shop since it appeared a couple of years ago. Unlike some of the newer “Trout Spey” lines we use and carry, the Scout is a classic and powerful Skagit head. It is built in both Trout and Steelhead sizes, and is favored by those who like a relaxed, sustained anchor casting stroke. If you like using the least amount of effort possible the Scout may be your line. The Scout will likely push the heaviest tips and biggest flies of any head in our trout spey selection.
The newest and most interesting shooting line is RIO’s new Connect Core Metered Shooting Line ($59.99). The same as the old connect core – a popular shooting line – but metered, meaning it changes color every 10 feet so you can tell exactly how far you boomed that last cast. My guess is that some of you will want to know how far you can cast, and some of you wont.
Scientific Anglers continues to sell Textrured Shooting Line ($59.95) and Floating Mono Shooting lines ($59.95). Both are popular in the shop, though the Trextured Shooting line probably gets more use.
OPST’s Lazar Line ($31.95) is still our mono of choice, but not everyone is sold on it. It comes in several colors and sizes from 25lb. To 50lb. While it’s not perfect (no mono is) if we have to choose one it will be Lazar Line.