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What is “Trout Spey” we hear you ask?

In a nutshell… Trout Spey rods are 10-11ft #3 -#5 weight double hander rods.

Besides the fact that we can already catch trout on a Spey rod, and we all know what a Switch rod is capable of, do we really need another style of double hander…? The answer for many UK fly anglers and ourselves here at Angling Active, is a resounding “Yes”, and we explain why.

It’s like life repeating itself – The long period from the early 2000’s where anglers argued that Switch rods have been around well before the angling industry made a song and dance about them, is back again to haunt the UK. This time though, with a shift similar to how Switch rods became popular, the Trout Spey style of rods will impress even those critical of the expansion. UK anglers are historically slow or even sceptical to pick up on new ideas in the fishing market, it might be a British thing, but we know for sure when anyone has a shot of a Trout Spey, they’ll be consumed by it, just want to use it, and they’ll start thinking of all the scenarios that will just make their fishing better.

History

The use of double handers has historically been used solely for those pursuing salmon and occasionally seatrout. For this reason Spey rods have heavier line weights and have enough backbone to fight these often big and unassuming fish. Recently though, tackle manufacturers have quickly picked up on the growing number of already established Switch rods being sold in #7 and #8 weights and there is often the request for a #6 weight Switch. This shift has opened the door to the development of even lower line weight double handers.

Introducing the double handed Spey rod for trout reaching as low as #3 in line weight! – the Trout Spey.

Here’s a video from the very cool guys at Redington using the REDINGTON HYDROGEN TROUT SPEY rods.

Why Trout Spey?

Besides the fact that fighting butts have been around forever and single handed Spey casting is no new thing, the Trout Spey style of rods is just so much fun. Here are just a few uses:

  • Imagine the unpressured, tight tree-lined overhung sections of river you couldn’t fish before because there was no room for a backcast or significant D-loop. No problem.
  • Also, if most salmon anglers could, they’d love to re-learn the beautiful art of Spey casting from scratch; This is as close as they’ll get and they can use their perfected muscle memory for trout and seatrout if the salmon are not biting or if they haven’t turned up yet.
  • Trout anglers are now lucky enough to learn the double hand Spey style of casting for the first time on the very same water they are used to fishing whether it be stillwater or a river.
  • Then there is the very exciting prospect to seatrout anglers now fishing with a light double hand rod that provides the fight of a lifetime without the backcast into the darkness behind them and reaching further for those splashes across the main stream.

The transition

Salmon fly anglers will find the transition to the shorter and lighter Trout Spey setup with lighter lines and reel etc. quite easy and very enjoyable. However, the salmon angler will have to consider that a trout is actively feeding and will require a different kind of fly choice theory and as importantly a different line presentation be it the retrieve or just how the line is swung.

The experienced single handed trout fisher will have to learn the art of double handed Spey casting (which will be an absolute pleasure), but they will be able to employ their existing experience in how trout think and where they tend to sit/feed.

Another type of angler that will benefit from the Trout Spey rod design, is the still water boat fishermen. A 10 or 11 foot rod provides greater distance, reach, dabbling, and line control in comparison to a shorter rod, and the fact that these come in #3, #4 and #5 weights means that these anglers are now presented with a greater range of rods to choose from – very attractive to the wild hill loch fly anglers.

Lastly, if you suffer from tennis elbow or if you are struggling casting your “10 for 7” all day, these Trout Spey rods make for easy roll casting using the leverage of another hand. The result is less work on your casting arm and greater distances.

How do you set up a Trout Spey outfit?

The rod and reel choice is a repeated exercise/formula for all fly outfits, just match the line rating that the rod dictates to the same size of reel. This will mean you have chosen a reel that is not too heavy and balances the rod nicely giving you capacity for enough backing and the line. The choice of brand/model is yours, though we’d suggest a reel with a good bit of space for backing. Fish taking a fly swung below you have the advantage of being able to peel more line faster using the current.

Trout Spey lines?

Choosing the correct line for a Trout Spey outfit is different to what most fly anglers would be used to. Based on salmon lines where the grain rating is recommended in either a scandi or skagit style, Trout Spey lines need a heavier and shorter head than most trout lines. Generally, for those anglers looking to achieve delicate presentation with light tips and small flies, the scandi style is best. Seatrout anglers will be in favour of this style too. In order to lob heavy flies and/or fast sink tips, choose a skagit line which is an even more condensed, thick head, with a thin shooting line and options for differing tips.

Trout Spey Line Chart

Trout Spey Line Weight Scandi (grains) Skagit (grains)
#3 200 – 225 250 – 275
#4 250 – 275 300 – 325
#5 300 – 325 350 – 375
#6 350 – 375 400 – 425

 

The above table is our guide to the recommended Trout Spey line weights. Notice that skagit line recommendations are consistently 50 grains heavier than scandi. This is a good rule of thumb, though very general, through heavier salmon dedicated weights too. We believe between Scandi and Skagit styles, that scandi lines will be the more popular on UK waters for Trout Spey users, but there will be some anglers looking for skagit lines too. Please see our line recommendations below:

 

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RIO SCANDI SHOOTING HEAD

The Rio Scandi Shooting Head has historically been a versatile line for all spey casting anglers which was originally known as the “AFS” before being updated. The range of line weights now available in the Rio Scandi is perfect for this expansion into light double handed rods, in particular the Trout Spey style. Using our Trout Spey Line Chart above, choose the corresponding weight by clicking the below shopping button. NB. There is no harm in rounding up a grain weight, many will be doing this being common place to salmon anglers. Additionally, this is a head only option which will require a running line. There are no integrated running line (aka ‘Outbound’) options available yet in these grain weights.

 

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RIO INTOUCH SINGLE HANDED SPEY

“…we have discovered that it works beautifully on a Trout Spey style setup if you go up 2-3 line sizes.”

The Rio InTouch Single Handed Spey line just keeps surprising us. This line was designed for one main purpose, but even to the surprise of the line designer Simon Gawsworth, it has become a universal line across many sophisticated casting styles. First of all it excelled at what it says it is, a very forgiving and excellent performing single hand line for performing single handed spey style casts. THEN, we realised it is just the most beautiful line to cast over-head on a single hand rod. It just stays airborne and lands as straight as any line we have ever fished with. Lastly, we have discovered that it works beautifully on a Trout Spey style setup if you go up 2-3 line sizes. Much like adding a trout line to a switch rod, double handed rods require allot more weight in the line to compensate for a water anchor when spey casting. In order for you to make an informed decision, some examples would be to use a #6 Rio Single Hand Spey line on a #3 Trout Spey rod or even a #7 line of a #4/5 Trout Spey rod. This is an all in one line, so no seperate running line needs to be purchased. Also the Single Hand Spey is beautiful for overhead casting, so this is the most versatile line for our waters.

 

The Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics (OPST) Pure Skagit lines are micro skagit lines designed for all rod types, but originally for single hand and double hand trout-spey rods. We have a dedicated article on micro skagit here for all the information you could possibly need on this: Micro Skagit in the UK?

 

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RIO SKAGIT TROUT MAX

For the 2016/17 market. The Rio Skagit Trout Max heads are short, powerful shooting heads designed for lightweight Trout Spey and Switch rods, as well as for single handed rods. It is recommended that you put a ‘light’ or if you already have the ‘Medium’ Mow tip on the front for effective presentation and line energy transfer. This line will also give you the option to use sinking Mow tips, getting your flies deeper than the other two line suggestions above. Use our line weight chart above, and note that no over rating of the grain weight is required with this line. Similar to the Rio Scandi line above though, you will require a running line as this is just the head.

 

Techniques of Trout Spey:

The main difference between swinging a fly for trout to salmon is the location of the fly. Generally, Salmon tend to sit in the tail of pools, underneath fast water, behind/in-front of boils etc. These lies are simply areas that a salmon will rest in or use to make their journey upstream more efficient. Trout on the other hand are not running upstream, they have a territory and they will station themselves in order to feed efficiently in a small area of the river. They’ll expel energy, but as little as possible in order to feed effectively. Trout are, again generally, found in feeding lanes, this is the foam line, or on the edge of an eddy or large bank structure, under branches or just amongst sunken structure where they can ambush their prey. Focus on these areas and you will be rewarded.

The action of the fly is also a key factor in swinging a fly for trout. You are not necessarily looking to provoke an aggressive take, yet this can be good for targeting a territorial fish. Mostly you will find yourself trying to mimic the prey of the trout in as natural a way as possible as to not raise suspicions on your offerings. The more realistic the better. This goes against most salmon tactics when you are trying to aggravate the fish into a killing mood. You will have to be very responsive to the surroundings of your fly, slow it down in cooler and deeper water, in shallow warm water speed it up, also speed up your retrieve during a follow like prey trying to escape, and if you get hit but it doesn’t stick, retrieve like your fly is wounded, even drop some line and let the fly drift for a foot and then recover.

Most sink rates of short sink tips like 5ft Airflo polyleaders will be effective on the Rio Scandi line mentioned above and some of the slower sink rates will be reasonably easy to cast on the Rio Single Hand Spey. The Skagit Trout Max however will cope with any sink tip up to 10ft, but an even better option would be to connect a Mow Tip as suggested above. Remember the longer your sink tip the shorter your leader/tippet should be. This will bring the fly down to the depth you are looking for.

Angling Active’s Summary

Trout Spey rods have opened up allot of fishing that was limited by the equipment we had available before now. We praise this shift toward lighter line weights for double handed rods because the materials being developed to build modern day rods have only become lighter and stronger too. Gone are the days of wielding heavy slow action rods to spooky, wily trout, a good decade ago, but even better we now have even more dedicated tools for challenging jobs that can perform and will only become more refined in time.

Here are all the things you should consider to get yourself into Trout Spey: