reel for spey rod

So I'm buying my first spey rod....9/10 wt.....14 ft...St. Croix Imperial. I'd like to hear what kind of reels you guys use on your spey rods. I've asked around quite a bit and I'm thinking that a Ross Canyon Big Game #6 will the way to go (I'm also planning on getting a spare spool and using it on my 12 wt single handed rod. Will that be a big enough reel to hold a 9/10 spey line (probably a rio wind cutter versa-tip) and enough backing (30 lb) or should I jump up to the Canyon BG #7? Also what do you spey fishers out there think of the rod? Is there anything better for a begining spey caster thats in the same price range? Am I on the right track here? Geez, I thought picking out a single handed rod/reel/line was tough....I've been talking to folks and trying rod/lines for a month now and am still having a hard time making my mind up. Thanks for your help.

Look at Redington. You can get the large size, 13/14 which will hold a spey line and enough #30 backing for steelhead. You can look at ebay for a new or used reel for less than $100. Can't really go wrong for a starter reel.
I've been starting the whole spey thing too. I've been going to Aaron's sessions in Carnation on Saturdays. A lot of folks told me they wished they spent more time testing out rods before selecting one. I also found that people definitely prefer different rods. So when you ask if it is a good rod, that is a very personal question. Aaron's sessions give you a great opportunities to try a whole bunch of rods. I can't tell you how much help I have been given to learn about spey casting at these sessions.

Joe Smolt

Richard E

Active Member
The Big Game reels have drag issues?!?!?!? Yeah, like the only issue is the drags are great! A couple of years ago a guy caught over 100 sailfish in one year on a Big Game 7, with no problems. Ought to be good enough for spey use.

A good reel for the money, and price wise and weight-wise would match up well with the Imperial, is the standard spool Teton Tioga 12. All machined, urable, effective drag, very reasonably priced, spools inexpensive. :thumb:


Active Member

Since you are in Moscow contact Mike Cummins at the RedShed Flyshop in Peck. He is a spey shop and is more than capable of answering any questions. But the biggest advantage is that he has several rods/lines/reels all ready to test drive to better help fill your needs. Do a google search for him.

The reel that I matched with my 14-foot St. Croix was a Cortland Magnum 200, which Cortland has dropped, though they still offer the smaller 140. It's a good, solid reel for not much over $100.
You didn't mention your preferred price range. There are many fine spey -size reels for several hundred $. A good inexpensive large-capacity reel is the Okuma Sierra 10/11, and a new Pflueger model.
When in doubt, get the bigger alternative. Spey lines, especially the long-belly versions, suck up huge amounts of reel capacity, especially over 150-200 yards of 30# dacron or 35# gellspun.
I have a Redington 13/14 that has a Rio Mid Spey on it for my Scott 15' 9wt, and it works great. It has plenty of room for backing. I think I paid around 50 bucks on Ebay for it. But my ebay days are numbered, since the fiance said if I want my Dodge diesel, ebay has got to go!!



Steve Buckner

Mother Nature's Son
I recently cast the St. Croix Imperial 7/8 and the 9/10. I thought both rods were pretty nice, especially for that price range. One suggestion as you consider purchasing a spey rod (or any rod) is to ask yourself if this would be a rod you would use as a backup, should you decide to upgrade your equipment down the road. I'd say that the St. Croix rod fits. They have a lifetime warranty and they're made in U.S.A..

I would suggest going lighter than the 9/10, I'd suggest taking a look at the 7/8. Most steelhead that you'll encounter are 6-8 lbs., once in awhile you get something more significant, but nothing that a 7/8 rod won't handle. That said, rod weight is somewhat dependent upon the river you're fishing, heavier rods will throw heavier lines a little further (more mass in the line = more inertia to cut through wind). I fish big water though, and love my sage 7141, a 7 weight, 14 foot rod.

For the reel, you need to put the reel and line on the rod and see how well they balance. It doesn't matter how much or how little you spend, if the reel doesn't balance the rod, it won't be as pleasureable to cast. The rod should balance near the upper end of the cork when the reel and rod are attached.

Lines- so many people are throwing the windcutter, I'm not a big fan of that line. I don't care for the short head and I'm not big on stripping a ton of line in of line in before the next cast. I've been happy with the Rio-Midspey, a better compromise in my opinion, at least give it some consideration.


Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!!!
I note that the St. Croix 9/10 rod is listed as weighing 10.40 oz. so you need a reel that when mounted on the reel with the backing and all of the line except the head that must be outside the rod to cast that weighs approx. 11 oz. This will put the balance point of the rod right around the area where you will have your upper hand when fishing out the cast. The balance is to prevent the rod from feeling "tip heavy" which is extremely tiring and hard on the forearm muscles. The weight of 200 yds of #30 micron backing is about 1 oz. so you need a reel of about 10 oz. to balance the St. Croix 9/10 rod. This is a good rule of thumb, but actually mounting the suitable reels with the line and backing you are going to use on the rod and holding it in hand is the only absolute way of being sure.

I'm using a Loomis Synchrotech 11-12-13. The reel is ridiculously expensive if purchased new but deeply discounted on e-bay - when you can find one. Great reel. Light weight, bullet proof drag system and flawless cosmetics. It seems impervious to saltwater and balances my 14' 9 weight with enough backing for anything you would want to hook on a 12 wt.


Well-Known Member

Unless this is going to be a rod just for the Clearwater, I would recommend looking at model in the 7 and 8 weight range as being more than suitable for the task of Spey fishing for steelhead, and far more comfortable to carry and cast all day long.


Salmo g.