European or Traditional ?

I've finally decided that its time for me to take up spey fishing. I started going to the websites, (sage, loomis ect.) catalogs, and talking to a few people. Im under the impression that a traditional rod would be a little easier to learn on because it sounds like its not as hard to load it. But than I wasnt sure if I should just bite the bullet if its harder learn on the european, because you can eventually cast that further.
My question boils down to, what would be the better rod to buy?
Thank you in advance,



Doesn't care how you fish Moderator
Depends on alot of things.
Personal preference is probably the most important. I am a traditional rod man my self. I have casted a few faster action rods. The faster the rod, the less goof up you can make on a cast. Because you are using more line speed to load a faster rod, then the cast is somewhat faster through the actions. A slower rod will allow time to load the rod. You are correct. It will also be a little easier when you are just learning casts. The rods are alot more forgiving. I wouldnt say that with a european rod that you can necessarily cast farther than a traditional rod.

The best thing to do with all rods is to cast a bunch of them and find the one you like. I live in Gig harbor as well and I have Burkheimer, Loomis, Sage, Cabelas, and St. Croix 2 handers. If you want to try some out, get in touch with me and I will be more than willing to let you try some out.


Active Member
I am not 100% sold on either as being better to learn on. It comes down to the individual. You will be far better served taking a trip to Carnation to Aaron's 'Saturday on the River'. You will have everything you need to play around with some instruction to boot.

Otherwise you will really be trying to shoot a moving target you can't see. Relying upon others opinions means squat when it comes to your $$$ and time invested in learning how to cast and fish a two hander. If you get 10 responses to your question the odds are you will 15 opinions on what works. How can you narrow that down with something meaningful? Even the so called 'x-perts' are all over the board on favored rod actions, rod lengths, line lengths, casting styles, casts themselves, etc.

If I had to do it all over again I would do whatever it took to get to at least one of the these weekly gatherings to get started in the right direction. Even if it meant having to travel to get there.

Thanks for the feed back.
The only problem is Im living in sitka for a while. (there's no fish right now so I figured I might as well take my free time and learn how to cast).

I second what inland wrote...

I am trying to budget building spey rod #2 and wanted to go premium, but was really up in the air for what rod I wanted...

Inland hooked me up by bringing a portion of his sizeable collection and got to try out the rods and determine which ones matched my own personal rythm and casting style. Another great thing Inland did was he brought several lines with him, so I could get the feel of what line felt good with the rod... a huge factor... Big props to Inland here...

getting into a spey rod is a spendy proposition, make sure you do as much personal research and product testing as you can before you lay down the Benjamins
I would wait for the next Spey Clave and try some rods out. There'll be a Spey Clave at Sandy River this spring if you try to google it. They usually let you try ot the rods on the river.


Active Member
Just a further 'echo' of the above from Inland, etc. Given the cost of even a 'low end' rod, line, etc., DO try before you buy. Even between what are considered 'comparable' rod actions you'll find night and day.

No disrespect ment, but some of the higher rated (and costly) 2-handers out there .... I'd never consider adding to my 'collection.' (Which includes two of William's custom made Burkies ... NO YOU can't have them back!ptyd )

And there are certain rod designers who just get it right the first time (well, probably after a few evolutions in design) such as Burkie, Meiser and Gary Anderson (works with both of the others). Their rods are designed to be fished with as the first priority; casting 140 feet is a secondary issue.
I have bought, fished and sold several spey rods. This is the high $$ equivalent of going to a spey clave or Aaron's saturday thing. You might want to save the $$ and just go that route.

Anyway ... I would say that you should start from your preference with single handed rods. If you like a fast action 1-hander, you'll probably like a fast action 2-hander.

Also ... do not underestimate the effect of the spey line. The same rod will feel totally different when set up with a skagit/shooting head versus a full long belly spey line. I don't think you can separate these two factors. So try all the combos: fast rod + shooting head, medium rod + shooting head, slow rod + shooting head, etc. etc.

Just make sure you are getting a fly in front of a fish. It can take a lot of trial and error, and it gets tempting to spend all your time dialing in on your spey gear. Remember - we're trying to catch a fish ...... right.
Another thing to think about is what you want to use the rod for--traditional casts, underhanded casts (like Scano and Skagit styles) and even overhead casting can all play a factor. Try a bunch of rods and rod/line combinations out. Get some instruction.

In my case--and I have less than 30 hrs on my rod--I wanted a good all-around two-handed rod suitable for the fishing I'm likely to do, and I wanted to spend money as efficiently as possible. I ended up with a 12' 6/7 wt rod, meduim fast action, with which I tried with a variety of lines before I started spending money. I found myself using shooting heads of various lengths, necessitating more of an underhanded style. I also overhead it off the beach. I was able to buy an extra spool for a reel I already have, load it with backing and running line, add a loop, and now I interchange the head with anything from a 44' 370gr floating head to a 35' interchangeable tip system head. So in other words, I'm never bored, because there is always a new belly/tip/leader combo to try!

This is what worked for me. And in keeping with this thread, I have a Snowbee Torridge, which some would call more of a European style rod. Yet a longer bellied line, like the Hardy MachI 8/9, is a dream on it, too. I intend
to try a Windcutter or Midspey as well.

So I guess the answer is try a bunch of rods, look at the fishing you want to do, look at your budget, and buy what you like best, without worrying about labels like "European" or "Traditional." Sage made that up, anyway.

Have Fun!


Bert Kinghorn

Formerly "nextcast"
I agree with all above, and I would also suggest that you not get too concerned about the general categories of "traditional" and "European" action. There are rods in both categories that I love AND some rods in each that don't care to ever pick up again.

Also, don't fall into the trap of thinking fast action rods cast farther. I believe the current world champ and new distance record holder used rods that most would consider "traditional" in action.

It really does get down to trying before you buy. If you cannot get to a spey clave or Aaron's (Speybum) Saturday flings, there are a several vendors who will send you a rod to try, the obvious understanding is that if you like it, you buy it from them. They will cheerfully spend time on the phone beforehand talking about which rods are the best fit for your fishing needs and casting preferences. [PM me and I'll send you email addresses if you don't know who these generous folks are.] Such opportunities did not exist a few years ago. If you did not have a friend with the rod that interested you, you bought it to try it. You will do yourself a big favor if you take advantage of these new opportunities.
Hi Opfisher,
Just wanted to add to what Tom has said, if you can get to a Speyclave like Aaron's then go, don't think traditional or european, see what suits you and what you like, i live on the banks of the Spey, so am i a traditionalist or european.
All i can tell you is i fish with lots of guy's on the rivers here in Scotland, we all fish different rods, we just like different actions on a rod, nothing to do with traditional or european, leave that to the marketing guy's, love to see them tell a river Spey ghillie about rods.
Meet up with some guy's , or go to a clave, find what you like and go fish, your taste in rods will change like the weather, but to start with, find one that suits you, and you are happy fishing with.
Leave the traditional/european thing to the marketing guy's, chances are they no nothing about Speycasting.
Cheers Gordon.
Thank you for all the feed back! You guys are great.
I think Im going to take the advice of the majority and wait till Im back in washington and try to get up to Aaron's.

Thank you!
One more rambling, all the reviews of the new Loomis two-handers saw that they're the best things since the invention of graphite. So check one of those out if you get a chance.