My first encounter with a Spey rod was on a Steelhead trip to the Skeena. Traditionally, Spey rods and lines are designed for swinging and skating flies for Salmon and Steelhead. I had known about Spey rods but never fully understood their use or exactly what a Spey cast was. I figured that all a bigger rod was going to do was make casting in difficult situations even more frustrating. I never paid them any more attention after that long ago incorrect assumption. What I learned on the Skeena opened up a whole new world for me. It not only changed my approach to Steelhead but as I investigated all things Spey, I discovered “Trout Spey.” Despite the lack of a verb tense, Trout Spey simply describes fishing for trout using scaled-down Spey rods and lines – AKA micro Spey. The fly fishing industry is exploding with micro Spey products and their applications are seemingly unlimited.
Nowadays I pretty much fish for everything with two handed rods. They are a bonafide game changer for trout. They accel in so many areas that I feel a little chagrined the concept escaped me for so many years. These micro Spey rods and lines are perfectly suited for just about any sized trout. They are shorter than traditional Spey rods. Usually, no longer than 11′-6″’ they come in weights from 2 to 5. Line manufacturers are making shorter and lighter Skagit and Scandi lines that pair seamlessly these mini Spey rods. It is absolutely amazing what you can do with these combos.
One huge advantage a Spey rod has over single hand rods and overhead casting is there is no backcast in a Spey cast. The rod is loaded by the line anchoring on the water and forming a D-loop. Similar to a roll cast only much more powerful. The elimination of a backcast opens up much more water to be fished and improves presentations in tricky spots and tight quarters. The variety of different Spey casts provides a lot of options for dealing with almost any type of casting situation on a river.
Different types of Spey casts and lines can be used to optimize the presentation needed to catch fish. For example, Skagit style casts using a Skagit line make turning over heavy sink tips and big streamers effortless. Scandinavian style lines and single Spey casts are perfect for presenting even the tiniest dry fly. Both methods can easily achieve long casting distances; perfect for covering a lot of water. Spey casts are quick. Long lengths of line can easily be picked up and with one quick movement be re-cast. There is no false casting to load the rod and build line length and as the saying goes “the more the fly is on the water the more chances to catch fish. Thinner diameter running lines are well suited to shooting line and the line speed generated in Spey casts can turn over bushy flies in windy conditions.
Another benefit of Spey systems is their versatility. It may seem confusing at first: Long belly lines, Scandi lines, Skagit lines, running lines, intermediate tips, T- tips, MOW tips: lots of terminology, parts and uses. But all these parts can be blended together to solve virtually any fishing equation. And the versatile part is that they can all be used with the same rod and reel. Interchangeable Skagit and Scandi lines attach to running lines via loop to loop connections. Floating or sinking applications are derived by attaching the appropriate sink tip or polyleader to the front of the line. One rod and reel with a wallet full of heads and tips will cover a wide variety of situations and species.
But don’t act just yet! There’s more! For those of you that don’t want to give up your single hand rod or don’t want to buy a two handed rod; there’s single hand Trout Spey. Some line manufacturers are making lines that are designed to be Spey cast on a single hand rod. This may be best of both worlds. Learning to micro Spey will unlock techniques and methods opening up a whole other dimension to fishing for trout or just about any species you would care to pursue. I’ve seen video of guys catching GT in the surf with Spey rods. The possibilities of what you can do with a micro Spey are endless.