spey for steelhead

Hi I am an avid fly-fisherman and I love to fly-fish for steelhead. I maily fish the Deshcutes and am currently working on getting to know the Skagit. I have casted a spey rod a few times on the Deschutes but the rod I was using felt like a canon. Which I guess is good for casting but when you fianlly hook that elusive steelhead I dont know how much fun it would be to haul it in with that enormous rod. The rod I used was a seven weight but still seemed huge for a steelhead that averages 3-5 pounds on the Deschutes. Does anyone have this concern or have insight into it. I ask because I have not hooked one on a spey rod and dont feel like spending the money to find out if it isnt what i am looking for. The advantages are huge I am sure, but I wonder if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Red Shed

"junkyard spey"
There are any number of smaller spey rods that will serve you well if you are interested in lighter two handers. I call them "trout speys". They range in price from $250.00 to over $800.00. To mention a few, Snowbee Tamar and Torridge, Sage 5120 & 6126, CND Spey Tracker 12'2", TFO 12'6"-6wt, T&T 10'-6wt & 11'-7wt, Scott LS2 5wt. There are also small Loomis' and several small models from Meiser and Gary Anderson.

For my money the advantages of two handers do outweigh the disadvantages. Stop by your local shop and ask to take some test drives on your water.

Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
Ligther rods can be fun, but the big D's fish really average like 5-8lbs, on up. Larger fish also use the lower system. A 7wt might be an ideal rod. Check this out:

Going to light for fighting fish and casting flies is wayyyy worse than going to heavy.


Red Shed

"junkyard spey"
Nice fish Andy!

I personally agree with you about tackle size. For me it is much better for the fish to be over gunned. As I said I call them "trout speys" and I do use a Snowbee Tamar in summer to fish for trout. However Nathe ask a question about lighter tackle and I answered it. I do not push my personal beliefs on others when it comes to tackle selection.
Don't get me worng guys, I use a Sage XP #8 to tackle steelhead and an abel reel, so they arent going anywhere. But it jsut seems like a spey could really overpower them and take the fun out of it. But thanks for the line recommendations and I will look into some of those smaller two handers you suggested. I am so jealous of that picture.

Good to see you here on WFF. Enjoyed meeting face to face last fall. We'll be heading to Lowell about the same time this year and look forward to seeing you again and maybe wetting a line on the Clearwater.

Ron Eagle Elk


Degenerate Caster
If you let most or all your fish go it is not all about the fight but also the responsibility to control and release the fish in good health. This year I hooked two steelhead on the yak on a five weight I could have landed those fish if I played them gentle but instead I put the works to them and bent the hooks and felt good doing it.By the way a 20 inch dolly or three pound steelhead will bend my 15 foot nine weight just fine and with good conscious


Slow and Low

I fish the Deschutes 30-40 days a year with a 7136 type 6 tip, bunny leaches. I will tell you a 7 weight is light for any fish approaching 8 pounds. My buddy fishes a thomas and thomas 7 weight spey. Big redsides will take big line as well. That being said get an 8 weight, you can still get spooled on it and it is a lot easier to cast tips with.

My .02.
if your fishing the skagit you won't regret having a bigger rod this years flows are going to be high me thinks were getting the rain and the snow to last awhile right now and I'm sure your looking for a larger fish than 5 pounds {not dissing the D here } I've caught a few sauk -skagit fish they will make you work good luck drop me a line if you meet on the river sometime :thumb:


Active Member
IMO ,Go heavier than the 7 ,, I fished a 7 predominantly for 25 years. No sweat- a little light at times, last year I got on the fish I had been looking for, for that 25 years on the Sauk,,,,,, I am fishing 9's now. That's all I am sayin.


Active Member
low water summer flows, i use my 7wt. medium sized rivers, no larger than lets say the hoh, 8wt. if i were to fish BIG rivers i would want a 9 or 10wt just to be able to cover a bit more water. if i had to choose a single rod wt, it would be the 8wt for the PNW.

i have also moved myself to the shorter 'skagit' rods for winter fishing since this is almost always a T14 situation. i find these short rods cast just as far as the longer rods, handle the tips and big flies without drama, are easier on my aging back but do require me to strip in line.


Active Member

You bring up the very crux of why I gave up on fishing the 'toy' rods (<9 wt two handers) when fish 12# up to whatever are a realistic possibility. Especially leaning towards the 'whatever'. Over the years I finally conceded 'just in case' is better than 'Oh Crap, wish I would have been fishing my XX wt instead...man I hated blowing that opportunity'. Although the one that gets away is something that always draws me back...the one that violently gets away, while using the heavier wt rods, leaves an indelible gash in the psyche. Mumbling, whining, and shaking come to mind!!! Damn, like I really needed that bittersweet moment to pop back into my conscience and haunt me until October...thanks a lot. ;) ;) ;)