New to Spey, Help!

Any and all tips would be greatly appreciated. I just picked up a St. Croix Imerial 7/8 wt 13 foot spey rod. I know it's not the absolute best by a long shot but figured it would be a great starter rod. My question is on how to outfit it. I have a 9/10 Redington Behemoth reel for it, not sure if thats too big? The line, running line, shooting heads etc....are super confusing to me. Not sure what I need for my Imperial and what would work best. I fish the Spokane River mainly but would love to venture out and do some Steelhead fishing as to why I bought this. Thanks for reading and thanks for your tips!!!

spfd jason

Active Member
That rod should work just fine to learn on. The 9/10 Behemoth will balance nicely. For the line setup starting closest to the reel: 1) 150 yards of 30 lbs. dacron backing 2) Airflo Super Dry or Ridge 30 lbs. running line 3) For winter steelhead, Airflo Skagit Compact at 540 or 570 grains 4) sink tip 10ft of T-8 5) tippet 3-5 ft of Maxima Ultra Green 12lbs test 6) Size 2 fly. As you learn this system, you can begin to change up the sink tips and lines.

Have fun!
Jason thank you much sir for that response. I had no clue how to set this up and I kept seeing so many running lines and shooting heads for sale in the Cassifieds but didn't have a clue as what to get for my setup. I get lost in all the grains and different types of shooting heads. So once you have a running line do you basically just keep that the same and change out your shooting heads for different kinds of fishing?
As long as it's another head system ( Skagit, Skandi) yea. The conventional spey lines may or may not come with an integrated running line. If you find yourself using different heads it might pay to make a big loop on your backing, big enough to get a coiled head stuffed through.
As Jason said, 150 yds. of backing, but that ideally is the minimum. Eventually you want your reel filled up, in radius just an eighth of an inch from the rim of the spool. That means a lot of work, temporarily attaching the head first to the empty spool, then winding the backing to fill it up. Then reversing the order. If you don't have a line winder, you probably want to skip it. : )
I won't make any line suggestions, other than find out what style of line other locals use. Local fly shop? Skagit head would be ideal for sunk line fishing, Skandi more surface to slightly subsurface. They'll both be the easiest to learn with.
Excellent tip Skinner. I definitely don't have a line winder so I'll probably keep it pretty basic for awhile until I can figure it out. I've thought about talking to some local fly shops but didn't want to get suckered into buying stuff at full cost when there are plenty of great deals in the classifieds. Probably still a good option though. Thanks again!
I'm assuming you missed that Clearwater Spey Clave. That would have been an excellent place to get your feet wet. Probably a lot of good casters and manufacturers. Fly shops are still invaluable today.
I highly recommend going on U tube and watching the Spey Setup video by Red’s Fly Shop. There are also a number of other videos that are helpful to newbies. Also, some of the line manufacturer’s web sites have line setup recommendations for specific rods.


Active Member
Good choice on a great reel at a great price!

Yes, the manufacturer's site would be a great help - go to Vimeo and look for Rio, Redington, and Sage for their informative videos on how to rig up a spey rod.
Airflo and Scientific Anglers offer cool videos on YouTube.

My first spey rod I learned on was an 8wt 13'6" Redington Dually rod which is my go to rod for big fish..

For saltwater surf & bay fishing, I use a the Airflo Intermediate shooting head with an iMOW tip and level tippet to get a set of 2 flies out.

For a winter steelhead fishing in deeper, faster waters, I found the Airflo triple density FIST (float, intermediate, and sink) would be a great pick for serious deep water, fast current angling.

For salmon and steelhead fishing, I use the 8wt rod, with the FIST line. Mated with a T14 Rio MOW sinking tip, level fluorocarbon tippet, and big flies - they really dig down deeper and stays in the water column during a swing.

As for casting, I found it invaluable to get professional instruction from a FFF THCI who can show you how to cast properly. That helps on the water so that you don't have to worry about casting and focus on fishing.
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Coo2 grest idea with youtube. That website has helped me more than once for sure. Thanks for the tips 4sallypat. I probably won't do much surf or bay fishing but I an definitely going to get my swing on here soon for some Steelhead. I was self taught with a single hand rod but not sure I'll be able to pull that off with the Spey set up. Thanks again guys for all your help and tips. Greatly appreciate!
Fishcat; All spey casts can be performed with a single handed rod. For instance your on a stream with your single handed rod. Instead of false casting around to your target line, you can double spey or double spey your loop out and before it touches down you can pull it back for a conventional back cast. Can't beat it for changing direction.
You can teach yourself, book or video, BUT it'll take a lot longer!

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