I just got my birthday spey rod for Christmas. A little too late for the steelhead season on the Klickitat, but I'll be able to use it other places this winter. It's a 8 wt. 13.5 ft. It was made for me by a friend in Toppenish. http://ykfp.org/images/signature.jpg Completion was delayed about 8 months because the builder's wife started fighting breast cancer, so he understandably had other priorities. She's doing better, but not out of the woods yet. The builder complained about the price of cork now. He said half the cost of materials was in the handle of this rod. http://ykfp.org/images/handle.jpg I took it out on the Yakima yesterday afternoon to try it out. It was almost 50 F and there were clouds of chironomids along the road, so I sort of wanted to grab my 5 wt. instead, but I stuck to task and tied on a trout leader and a #20 griffith's gnat. The combination of the gigantic rod and the tiny fly looked ridiculous, but, hey, no one was watching. I lined the rod with a WindCutter 6/7/8 with interchangeable tips. I was confused by the purpose of the "tip 2 weight compensator" until I got back home and read the back pages of the pamphlet again. The pamphlet says it's to compensate for stiffer rods. I used it with the floating tip to start out and, not knowing any better, thought it worked all right. Then I tried the heaviest sink tip, the type 8, with and without the tip 2. I thought it worked better without the tip 2, but I guess I should have tried it with the "sink tip compensator" instead to the tip 2. What does the "sink tip compensator" compensate for? Is in the same weight as the "tip 2", but sinks? I'm a beginner spey caster. I've only had a couple hours of coaching last summer. There I was with this big rod in two hands and the Rio spey casting pamphlet in my other hand, so it was quite a handful. It seems to me that Jim Vincent has a lot of needless complexity and hocus pocus in describing the sweep when he describes lifts and dips and arcs. It seems to me that you just need to sweep however you need to to get the fly up to just downstream of you, given the ever changing conditions of wind, current, tips and amount of line out. And it the fly sweeps too far so it lands upstream of you, just whip out a single spey. It seemed like a lot of work to me, not the relaxed motion easy on the body and shoulders as advertised, but I hope that it will become easier with practice. My top hand got tired. I think that I was gripping much harder than I needed. It seemed like a long tiring reach up to the top grip, but I found out that I didn't need to grip it so high, and I could hold the rod more along side while the fly drifted. But even at my worst, I could manage 65 ft. casts, and at the best, more than 100 ft. With the heavy sink tip on, I had some trouble getting the lift and sweep to clear the fly out of the water. I found that I could strip in 20 to 30 ft. until just the head was outside the tip, get a better sweep, then usually shoot it all back out. Then I took the wrong path back to the truck. I thought it was a shortcut, but I ended up all tangled up in the rose bushes with 13.5 feet of rod. Going handle first wasn't working, but once in the brush, there was no way to turn it around. The builder added these little ferrule limiting thread wraps. http://ykfp.org/images/ferule.jpg A nice touch with tiny white dots to help line up the rod sections, but they limit how hard the sections can be crammed together. The spey casters I know tell me that a lot of torque is generated in a spey cast, and they tape their ferules. I think that Jim Vincent also says to tape your ferules in his video. (Is that a basketball down the front of his waders in his video?) I taped all my ferrules and didn't lose anything. Maybe I'll get a chance to practice again over the holidays over on the Spokane. Lots to learn.