When Mike McCune and Whitney Gould were here in April on their annual Montana spey fishing tour, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days fishing with Mike and talking about the new “Trout Spey” gear he has been working on with Sage and Rio. Yes, little rods and little lines. But with lots of power. Watch first, then ask questions.

Having never fished with Mike or Whitney, I quickly learned that fishing for trout isn’t something they do to earn a few bucks teaching spey classes outside the PNW. They really enjoy it, and have been tinkering with ultra-lightweight spey rods for the last 5 years.

Mike had the final versions of some new 11′ 2 & 3 (200-250r) weight spey rods he has been working on with Sage for the last few years. For lines he was throwing final prototypes of the new RIO “Trout Skagit?” lines. Skagit heads 11 feet in length. Yes, 11 feet.

While I’ve been known to badmouth “ultra-light” spey rigs in the past (you don’t need them for the Missouri!), I must admit that Mike/Sage/Rio have nailed it with these. Distance is excellent. Wind performance nearly equal a 6 weight rod. The ability to throw larger flies – which Mike refers to as “payload” – is very, very good. Way past the size of flies that I personally use for trout fishing. And most Steelhead fishing.

Add to that extremely light in the hand and effortless to cast. In fact too much effort will be self-destructive.

The 11′ RIO Skagit head is shorter than you might think is possible. But with a “hands down” casual stroke it launches. You can use 10′ MOW tips on it, or cut your own a bit shorter. One huge advantage of these short tips is that you can strip line in a traditional streamer fishing style without running into junction knots and thick heads.

We will save the rest for the official release this summer.

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