If you only had $250 for a Spey rod, would you.....

Matt Burke

Active Member
Would you buy a Reddington Red Fly or a St. Croix Imperial? After meeting a lot of you guys at the Clave today, I may be asking the wrong folks. Some of you were wearing more money in accessories, than I have spent on all my fly rods and reels combined.

But my wife and I are just nurses trying to raise seven kids. One of those kids is in her first year of college. Passing pills just doesn’t pay what you think. Now that you know my financial outlook, you may be able to appreciate my position. I may never see a $800 Scott Spey Rod. I’ll be spending more than $350 just for the line and the reel.

Back to my question. I am partial to the St. Croix Imperial as I have a one handed 7wt. Maybe you have a better $250 solution. Thanks for your help.

Matt, Here are the options that I chose from before I purchased my rod. First one is how I got my rod- keep your eyes open and watch for used gear. If you don't have to have the latest, greatest thing available, look for a rod that is a couple of years old. I was able to get one of those $700 rods for $250 this way. Second option is to build/have built a custom rod. There are blanks and componants available that will fit in your price range, and as you grow in your abilities, you can upgrade the blank and re-use your componants(minus the cork), slowly building a $700 rod while you develop your techniques and learn what characteristics(sp) you want the rod to have. I have not cast anything other than my T&T yet, and dont think that I'm competent enough to make a call on which rod is the best, but after yesterday, I think I will need to make some room in my closet for a new toy or two! :THUMBSUP
MTLHead is right on used gear, look on Ebay. Believe it or not, I've found 95% of ALL my fly gear on Ebay,etc. Look for "Buy It Now" options so that you will get it first if you don't want to wait 7 days to fight an auction. I've always saved even up to 60% off buying near mint/mint used and new gear on Ebay.
St. Croix Rods IMO are the BEST for the money if you are buying new from stores. For reels, IMO Teton's LA Tioga reels are the BEST Steelhead/Salmon reels for the money. Check them out at:
Steelhead guru DDickson uses them personally. At 130-140.00 NEW, you cannot beat the features and unconditional warranty!
Heres an AWESOME deal for a #8 Tioga on Ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1869649481
GOOD LUCK and Happy Smart Spending!

"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men"
Matthew 4:19

I think I would cast every rod in that price range that I could get my hands on, there a quit a few good ones out thier. Please under stand that my personal arsenal of rods I brought to the clave I have purchased over the last 10 years, they are god awful expensive and I have had to do without alot of other things to afford them. That said, I think the st croix rods cast just fine if they are lined with the right line as to the heritage rods from the U.K that are in the same price range. You can get lucky on ebay as well and may be able to find a decent reel as well. Start with a decent rod such as the st croix, then find yourself a reel big enough to hold a spey line, you might try looking for one of the older hardy marquis salmon # 2 they are not disc but you don't one anyway they are overkill as far as I am concerned. Your first spey line should be one on the longer side such as the midspey length or longer. learn to cast this and then if you want to cast a windcutter you will have no problem, start with the windcutter and you will develop bad habits you will have to break later on when you want to cast a longer line. I hope this has been helpful.



Active Member
Hey brian, welcome to the forum. thank for all the help you gave to myself and everyone else at the spey clave. watching you throw all that line was sure impressive! :THUMBSUP YT
Brian is correct.
Just keep you eye out for the rod you want.
Keep asking questions that is the only way you will ever learn.
The number of rod that I have had pass though my hands from disgruntled would be Speycasters would fill most any fly shop and them some.
The are a lot of used good quality rods out there.
Don’t be fooled into buying something that you do not want.
Most the Speycasters that are anygood worked very hard to get to where they are.
I hope this helps
If you have any question either post them or e-mail me



Idiot Savant
build a rod yourself...

...or work with a custom rod builder. If you like the SC Imperial rod action, their 13' 7/8 weight blank only costs $126. Handle, and guides might run another 70-80 bucks.

If you'd like to build one, e-mail me.


Matt Burke

Active Member
build a rod yourself...

I've gotten lots of offers from guys who want to build one for me. But doing it myself is something I am now seriously considering. Besides being a licensed nurse, I do have skills in carpentry, auto mechanics, award winning watercolorist and I was a Pershing missle crewman for Uncle Sam. But my real love is nursing America's grandparents. At work I've been known to change someones brakes in between suppositories (just kidding). I can do pretty much anything I set my mind to.

I've been on ebay bidding on a Sage 9150-4, but his reserve price is double my $250 price range. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1869358023 Sounds like a sweet deal too, 15 foot, 9 wt. Just what I was looking for. I'm heading to Salmon bay, Ted's and John's sporting goods in Everett today. I'll just be pricing and drooling. Thanks to everyone so far for your help.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
build a rod yourself...

What do I know---I'm just an old man

Well if you want to start out spending less. Go to Jerry's Surplus in Everett. He's got a 11/12 13' spey rod for $149.95. It's light but it's about as thick as a broom handle. Don't know the name,
but it's not a brand name, but it's a starter rod. I think it says Custom Rods or something like that on it.