What makes a good spey rod?

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by BDD, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,239
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +223 / 2
    I joined the party late concerning the not-so-recent topics such as "Dream Setup", "One Spey Rod", and "Dec Hogan" and it appears the more popular rod makers are not at the top of the list when it comes to spey rods but rather rod companies such as CnD, Meiser, Burkheimer, and Snowbee appear to have a stronger spey reputation compared to primarily one handed rod makers (with maybe the exception of Sage). I am unfamilar with the intricasies of the spey world. What is it that makes a better spey rod? Do those rod builders above roll their own blanks to get better action/taper/feel/length that are not otherwise available? Better components? Better graphite? Different guide spacing? Tradition? Or does it simply come down to personal preference?

    Perhaps a better question is what makes a rod company specialize in spey rods and devote limited production to single handed rods? Is it because they are so specialized in spey rod production that they can avoid the rest of the rod market?

    I realize that answers to the above questions are primarily opinions but I would love to read the opinions of those who know more than I.
  2. Will Atlas Guest

    Posts: 0
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    an interesting question. I would say quite predictably, that it is largely opinion. Then I would also say, a good spey rod is much like a good one hander. An action you enjoy fishing, ease of casting the appropriate line, distance if that is what you want. It seems alot about how the rod feels/handles. I can tell you some are much easier/more responsive than others. Not trying to knock the WFF spey community, but maybe try posting this same question on spey pages. It is a very sophisticated and techincal spey community and you are sure to have a broad range of responses there.
    Hope that helps,
    Will
  3. speyghillie speyghillie

    Posts: 180
    River Spey Scotland
    Ratings: +20 / 0
    BBD,
    I think you pretty much answered your own question, its a bit like buying a car, some are made cheap and are meant to be sold in big numbers, but sometimes they get it right.
    Other companies take time to build a real quality rod, and the cost is much higher.
    On the Spey you will be lucky to see more than 5 makes of double -handed rods being used by the Ghillie/Guide, some of the companies here have been making them for 40 or 50 years, and they have been put to the test on the river daily , 95% of the Spey is fly only and a Ghillie might have 6 guests a day, thats alot of rods to see and try in just one season.:eek:
    And they still stick with the tried and tested, not easy for sales reps. :thumb:
    Gordon.
  4. bigtj Member

    Posts: 280
    Victoria, BC
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I think what makes a good spey rod is that is has an action that is pleasing for you to fish and cast. That's different for everyone and it therefore subjective. Having good quality materials and tapers don't hurt, either. And the price should probably be reachable for your budget. I don't know that I've ever cast a 2-hander that I thought was totally useless, and most I've cast I consider "OK" and many are "good", for me at least. Bottom line is most manufacturers are making good rods and those that don't ususally don't stay in business for long.

    A couple companies you missed that specialize in single handers also make or have made some good 2-handers are Scott, Loomis, St. Croix, and Winston. And I wouldn't be surprised that Orvis sells more than a few of them from time to time (the ones I have cast have been marginal at best). It just shows that Sage isn't the only company that is succesfull at making 2-handers even though they don't specialize in them.
  5. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,605
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,724 / 0
    I really don't know, but I think the companies making the better Spey rods have designers and a test team that actually cast and fish them so as to have a very active and critical feedback loop. Otherwise too much is left to coincidence. I read often enough that most makers that have several models have one or more dogs in their line up.
  6. speyghillie speyghillie

    Posts: 180
    River Spey Scotland
    Ratings: +20 / 0
    BBD,
    Most of the rods tested on the Spey are given to the Ghillie's for a season, they may have a couple of different rods at the same time, as alot of companies want the Ghillie's to say to there guests "this is the rod you should buy", or to give the company input as to how there rod is performing.
    I have seen a Ghillie say "this is a really good rod", and all the others who have tried the rod burst out laughing at him.
    63 Ghillie's that all speycast and could teach speycasting for a living, are not the easiest bunch to try and pull the wool over there eyes with marketing.
    One thing they will always give is a straight answer. :beer2:
    Gordon.
  7. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,138
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +128 / 0
    Several excellent 'insights' in the posts above. I'd only add one thing to the mix. Does the rod manufacturer 'specialize' in 2-handers, or is it just a small part of the product line?

    With the first, you'll find very, very few 'clinkers' in their total line up; with the second ... it's just a secondary (very small part) of their total sales. So 'who cares?':hmmm:
  8. Rich McCauley Meiser & Mohlin

    Posts: 105
    Tacoma, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    All of the posts thus far have provided you with excellent information. Casting style, type of lines and waters to be fished are very important. The "major" manufactures certainty produce a number of fine casting rods but with substantial variance as to the quality of components as well as fit and finish. You can speak to the sales rep, shop guys, or your buddies as to which rods may suit you best. They will all have some knowledge of product line (s). If you talk to guys like Poppy at Red Shed he will have a very through knowledge of the rods he stocks, as will others who specialize in Spey. Just my opinion here folks, not meant to dis any reps or any shops.

    As to the truly custom designer/builders, there is a bit of a misconception here. Kerry (C. F. Burkheimer) has a long history with single handed rods. He apprenticed with Russ Peak ... The best custom fiberglass rod designer/builder on the West Coast when glass was in. His current product line includes a full gamete of singles from 3wts or so on up to really big sticks.

    Bob Meizer has a line of "switch rods' that are either really short spey rods or long singles, dependant upon your desired use. He also does design consulting work for Beulah rods.


    With that out of the way, the point I make is this. When you order a rod from Bob or Kerry, you are talking to the guy who designed the blank. Kerry rolls his own in house, and Bob has his custom done on proprietary tapers by CTS in New Zealand. You are not speaking to someone who has some familiarity with part of the product line, you are talking to the guy who knows everything about every rod he builds/sells !! They are both great guys, who will gather a lot of info from you prior to suggesting a particular rod. It is not unheard of for them to suggest a competitors’ product, if they feel it would suit you best. They both offer the highest quality components available including cork. The fit and finish is impeccable


    The downside ... these are custom built .... some of Kerry's rods are available through fly shops. I think Bob does or is about to offer a “basic rod” in addition to the myriad of options available on his custom rods. The basic rods may have a considerably shorter ETA. If you want to fish one, you may have to wait, and we are not talking a few days, unless you find a standard configuration Burkie at a shop, or a Meizer Basic, Both of which are still the same fit, finish, and quality of the more customized rods.

    Again, I am not saying Spey rods from the majors are not excellent rods, but rather pointing out what I think separates the production from custom Spey rod.

    Just my 3 cents worth and flame me if you choose.

    Rich
  9. mike kinney Member

    Posts: 60
    oso wash.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    While I have lurked around this site for a while now .I have resisted posting because I am totally internet retarded.But I am interested in this subject.How many of this same type of post have you seen?One thing that seems to be missing in reponses,is what kind of service you recieve if you buy a certain rod.That means a lot to me .Another is how versital is it?Does it cover a wide range of lines?,How about the grain window?Rods with full flex actions and fast recovery seem to be the best to accomidate these specifics.Other actions accomidate other styles better.Such as shorter tip action rods for scando,or longer rods for longbelly lines.When it comes to companys the smaller ones do seem to care more about what specific casters want because they are competeting against the big names.Hence they may take up to three or four years to make a certain action right.The downfall of the small company seems to be repairs because of money involved they may not have parts readily available and will either have to make or order new parts.But if you want a specific size or shape of handle you better go small.also building your own will take longer to get repairs done.But from working in fly shops and and as a guide for 30 yrs +my biggest gripe comes from relying to much on people trying rods because some beginners don't know enough about casting to know the difference and what may work for a bad casting stroke may be terrible for a good stroke.So do you sell him what he wants or what would like in the long run.In my personal experience if you can get good solid advice intime you will learn to adjust.
    Just my two cents .MB Kinney
  10. Rich McCauley Meiser & Mohlin

    Posts: 105
    Tacoma, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Mr. Kinney and others, THANK YOU Very much for not Flogging me as I certainly deserve it. I would like to be able to delete my entire idiotic responce.

    There are many shops out there who do not specialize in Spey that do a very good job of advising their customers, as well as reps who know their products.

    Mikes responce is what I was attempting to say but failed miserably.

    I am not going to dig myself any deeper into this hole. To those of you who I know I will appologise personally. To other, please feel free to flog me publicly and privately.

    Please excuse me while I crawl back into my cave untill such time as I can have my medications sucessfully readjusted.
  11. Hal Eckert Member

    Posts: 615
    West GLs
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    OK call me parsiminious (sp)

    For me one under $ 400 is the starting point.

    :beer2: :beer1:

    BG
  12. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,239
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +223 / 2
    Thanks to all for the responses. And Rich, perhaps it is my lack of understanding on the subject but I see no reason for your apology nor crawling under a rock as I feel your post was accurate and professional. I ask for opinions and that is what you gave. Thanks for your honesty.
  13. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,138
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +128 / 0
    Not to worry Rich. You've said/typed nothing that even made me raise an eye-brow.:beer2:
    Fred
  14. miyawaki Active Member

    Posts: 3,240
    Kent, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +907 / 1
    Mike,

    Welcome.

    This statement of your is one of the best little "nuggets" to show up here in a long time: ". . . and what (rod) may work for a bad casting stroke may be terrible for a good stroke. So do you sell him what he wants or what (he) would like in the long run."

    Leland.
  15. cnaka New member

    Posts: 56
    Seattle
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Interesting. Puts the seller in a very powerful and potentially precarious situation. I'll leave that question unanswered because I'm not in the business nor am I a qualified instructor. I have been a student, however, and I think the answer to that question largely lies in how open minded and willing to learn the buyer is.
  16. Big K1 Large Member

    Posts: 538
    Duvall, WA, U.S.A.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Hey Mikey,

    How long did it take you to type up your response?:p
    Glad to see you posting.

    Rich,

    No need for apologies!
  17. speyforsteel Degenerate Caster

    Posts: 316
    Eastern Washington
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Who is this Mike Kinney guy?Frikin website newbie's:p
    See yea Sunday Mikey,I'm back from God's country.


    As for the question,a good reel, good line,and good casting techncian operating the hellish concoction.
  18. Rich McCauley Meiser & Mohlin

    Posts: 105
    Tacoma, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Ok Guys Thanks for the positive comments, BUT…..

    After my first post I felt as though I had offended Mike Kinney. Of course he has far too much class to call me on it. He is Mr. MKS after all. That series from Meizer would not exist save for his expertise. He can pick up a rod, “whomp it around” for about 2 minutes and tell you how to line it and how it will perform. There are others out there known to me and not that also have a good deal to do with rod development for custom builders as well as more mass produced rods. It was to those and others within the Spey community to whom my apology was directed. I on the other hand could not design a functional rod if my life depended on it.

    Rich
  19. TallFlyGuy Adipossessed!

    Posts: 870
    Vancouver, WA.
    Ratings: +45 / 0
    I use to think the more expensive the rod the better. Just not true as many will agree.

    I like to look at the rods up close. See if the maker paid attention to detail. Pull out 5 or 6 different rods, look at the wraps, and the finish work. Little bubbles and mess-ups are pretty easy to find. If a rod was crafted well, then I can also imagine that the maker paid attention to the dynamics and details of the rod when he was planning it and designing it. Again, sometimes this doesn't even hold true.

    I guess classifying Spey rods is like steelhead. The only absolute, is there are no absolutes.
  20. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,138
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +128 / 0
    One of the best of the VERY best.

    http://www.mikekinney.com/