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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
69 year old fly fisher here. I've been a fly fisherman all my life. Was tying my own flies in grade school. My brother and I grew up on the banks of the Eel River in the days when it was a great steelhead and salmon river. We were raised much like the brothers in the book/movie "A River Runs Through It". I've fished all these years with single handed rods and am only now starting to use a Spey rod. I feel like I'm starting all over again in regards to casting...but I'm committed. I have a Sage Z-Axis 13 1/2 ft 7 wt and a Beulah 11 ft 8 wt switch rod. Bought some lines and tips and am all set to go but need one more large reel. I have a nice 10 wt reel for one of the rods but need another for the other rod. I've got a ton of reels but only one that's bigger than an 8/9. Any suggestions on a moderately priced Spey reel. I live part of the time on the Smith river in Hiouchi CA where the winter fish are big. So a decent drag is needed. The rest of the time, I'm in Ashland Oregon fishing the Rogue primarily. If someone has a large Spey reel they want to trade for other fly fishing gear, let me know. I've been away from the forum for awhile due to some heart issues. It's good to be back.
 

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Congrats for coming back after heart issues. I've always thought spey casting is tougher to master for regular fly fishers, unless you've been roll casting all along, then it's easy. Once you get the feel for roll casting you'll take off and feel great about it. Sounds like you're setting up for steelhead. The reel really isn't very important though it's weight might be. Big reel good idea, heavy reel good idea, heavy is more important than big. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Congrats for coming back after heart issues. I've always thought spey casting is tougher to master for regular fly fishers, unless you've been roll casting all along, then it's easy. Once you get the feel for roll casting you'll take off and feel great about it. Sounds like you're setting up for steelhead. The reel really isn't very important though it's weight might be. Big reel good idea, heavy reel good idea, heavy is more important than big. Good luck!
Thanks. Yep...gearing up for steelhead. I've got a young friend who is a guide on the Rogue and he's convinced he can teach an old single handed caster like me to use a Spey rod. We'll see <lol>
 

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Welcome to the spey world - it's the type of fly angling I do almost exclusively due to shoulder / rotator cuff injuries - getting old myself I guess...

If you fish trout, then look at getting the new excitement lineup of trout spey rods or also called microspey - awesome in my opinion.

Take a look at this reel from Orvis - it's a new SL large arbor 9-11wt on the classified section:
http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/threads/orvis-sl-hydros-v-fly-reel-9-11-wt.124755/

I'd buy it but I am stuck with Ross and Redington reels w/ spare spools...
My Orvis are all single hander reels and never get to use them much.

Redington makes an awesome reel called the Behemoth 9/10 priced less than the Orvis which I love and use it for my 8 & 10wt spey rods.

Check out Speypages.com where I hang out for 2 hander folks...
 

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Great! So many options open up when using spey casting techniques. Not really all that difficult with the head/line choices we have available today. It's really helpful to take a lesson or two in order to shorten the learning curve and get started off right.

I fished the Smith and stayed at Hiouchi in the winter for many years while drifting from S Fork to Ruby and doing walk-ins from the Forks up to Patrick Creek...lovely emerald green river. My experience with the Smith was that it was really tough with a fly, the Chetco being more forgiving. Lots of fond memories of the Eel and Mattole too.

If you fish trout do consider trout speys in your arsenal, they can be a whole lot of fun. I swing trout speys for 7 months each year in SW MT. If ever in that part of the state give me a shout and we can share some water. Best of luck on your new adventure. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Great! So many options open up when using spey casting techniques. Not really all that difficult with the head/line choices we have available today. It's really helpful to take a lesson or two in order to shorten the learning curve and get started off right.

I fished the Smith and stayed at Hiouchi in the winter for many years while drifting from S Fork to Ruby and doing walk-ins from the Forks up to Patrick Creek...lovely emerald green river. My experience with the Smith was that it was really tough with a fly, the Chetco being more forgiving. Lots of fond memories of the Eel and Mattole too.

If you fish trout do consider trout speys in your arsenal, they can be a whole lot of fun. I swing trout speys for 7 months each year in SW MT. If ever in that part of the state give me a shout and we can share some water. Best of luck on your new adventure. :)
I live on the river at the Cable Hole just above Jedediah Smith State Park. I also live in Ashland Oregon. Recently went through your area this las summer on the way to a blue grass festival in Telluride CO. If you're ever fishing the Smith again, let me know. And you're right about the difficulty in fishing it with the fly. However, there are a couple of locals that have it dialed in pretty well. I've been successful drifting the river in my pontoon boat using a fast sinking sink tip and feeding flies through the slots as I drift. However, I don't like fishing that way. The other issue is that when the runs are large, there's a lot of boat traffic on the river. Because the cable hole is in my backyard, I can walk down to the river and swing A fly through the water just above that area and have done reasonably well at times.
 

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Can I ask why a decent drag is needed for steelhead? Here is my two cents and that is about what it's worth. One does not need much drag with a spey rod. The amount of resistance you get from the line running through 13' of eyes will be plenty. As a matter of fact, I do not use anything more than a simple click-and-pawl reel when using a spey rod.

Click-and-pawls wont freeze up on cold mornings. They wont be turned too tight when that hot fish decides to peel you into your backing. And guess what? If all you have is a couple pawls it wont be destroyed by some sand or grime.

My favorite click-and-pawl reels are as follows:

#1 Hardy pre-war perfect (pre-war meaning pre WWII) They are pricey, you are looking at $900 and up depending on condition

#2 Hardy Bougle $500 or so new.

#3 Orvis Battenkill V $125 dollars new. These are my client reels, and I use them a lot in my personal life. They work and there is nothing to go wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Can I ask why a decent drag is needed for steelhead? Here is my two cents and that is about what it's worth. One does not need much drag with a spey rod. The amount of resistance you get from the line running through 13' of eyes will be plenty. As a matter of fact, I do not use anything more than a simple click-and-pawl reel when using a spey rod.

Click-and-pawls wont freeze up on cold mornings. They wont be turned too tight when that hot fish decides to peel you into your backing. And guess what? If all you have is a couple pawls it wont be destroyed by some sand or grime.

My favorite click-and-pawl reels are as follows:

#1 Hardy pre-war perfect (pre-war meaning pre WWII) They are pricey, you are looking at $900 and up depending on condition

#2 Hardy Bougle $500 or so new.

#3 Orvis Battenkill V $125 dollars new. These are my client reels, and I use them a lot in my personal life. They work and there is nothing to go wrong.
Can I ask why a decent drag is needed for steelhead? Here is my two cents and that is about what it's worth. One does not need much drag with a spey rod. The amount of resistance you get from the line running through 13' of eyes will be plenty. As a matter of fact, I do not use anything more than a simple click-and-pawl reel when using a spey rod.

Click-and-pawls wont freeze up on cold mornings. They wont be turned too tight when that hot fish decides to peel you into your backing. And guess what? If all you have is a couple pawls it wont be destroyed by some sand or grime.

My favorite click-and-pawl reels are as follows:

#1 Hardy pre-war perfect (pre-war meaning pre WWII) They are pricey, you are looking at $900 and up depending on condition

#2 Hardy Bougle $500 or so new.

#3 Orvis Battenkill V $125 dollars new. These are my client reels, and I use them a lot in my personal life. They work and there is nothing to go wrong.
I grew up fishing for large steelhead and salmon on a fly rod. While I agree with you generally, here's the problem: I'm using this rod for large salmon as well as large Winter steelhead on the Smith River in California. I live on the lower sections of the Smith. I often hook fresh steelhead above 15 pounds and salmon over 50 pounds. The reel I get will be used on rods as light as seven weight and as heavy as 10 weight. The Smith is predominantly fished with traditional gear and there's not a lot of time or room to play a large salmon in crowded waters. A lot of pressure needs to be applied to bring them in rather quickly. With a click and pawl reel, you have to either drag the spool with your fingers or, if it's an exposed spool, palm the reel, as you know. That's the reason for the heavy drag. This is also going to be a reel that I use on my saltwater rod and a drag is necessary on large saltwater fish. Generally speaking, I agree with what you're saying. Most of my reels are click and pawl reels such as the Hardy St. John, St. George, Perfect, LRH and more. What most people don't realize as well is that a large fish does not run necessarily in a straight line across the river but goes right or left. When this happens, the fish is dragging a very thick fly line sideways through the water which creates a lot of resistance. So a click reel usually provides more resistance than most fisherman realize, especially with a very thick spey line being pulled sideways through the water. By way of saying, yes, in most situations fishing for steelhead does not require anything more than a click drag. That being said, I've hooked large 50+ pound salmon in the Smith River when I didn't have a lot of room to let them run. Playing a fish of that size that is fresh out of the ocean without a drag is dicey at best... unless you have the room to let them run and the time. For those who have fished the lower Smith River during the Winter when the big runs of salmon come in, they know how crowded it can get...and how big the salmon are. I fish a lot of rivers in my area and the Smith River has big strong fish compared to most. Conversely, I spend a lot of time on the Rogue River and the fish there are not only smaller but usually not nearly as hot. So, I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I also love the sound of a Hardy click. It brings back many memories. I never worried about a drag until I started fishing for the large salmon on the Smith River after moving to Hiouchi about 10 years ago. I prefer not to fish out of a boat which means I can't follow a hooked fish. I try to avoid tying up a stretch of water or a pool for any longer than is necessary. Anyway, those are my thoughts. I should mention that my primary single hand steelhead rods are six weight and eight weight rods with Hardy click and pawl reels on them. Bottom line is that I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I'm just adding that "it depends on circumstances".
 

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When bank bound after hooking a large hot steelhead and having to run hell-bent for leather keeping up with disappearing backing it's nice to have one hand free to grab onto boulders, branches and anything else while keeping balance. Even on long gravel bars (only a few on the Smith) a quality drag for constant pressure is beneficial IMO. These fish are a challenge on a fly, why not use a drag system to increase the odds of landing one. (Yup I know, click n pawls have been around forever and have landed fish of all shapes and sizes... my opinion only).

Then there are large kings who decide after being hooked that the ocean is really their preferred home a few short miles downstream. Rather than laying in deep pools some act like Clydesdales pulling a beer wagon back to the salt.

Being that steelhead and salmon are the targeted fish I would also use a drag system on the Smith. Something like a Saracione carbon fiber drag would be really really nice but there are many less expensive options available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
When bank bound after hooking a large hot steelhead and having to run hell-bent for leather keeping up with disappearing backing it's nice to have one hand free to grab onto boulders, branches and anything else while keeping balance. Even on long gravel bars (only a few on the Smith) a quality drag for constant pressure is beneficial IMO. These fish are a challenge on a fly, why not use a drag system to increase the odds of landing one. (Yup I know, click n pawls have been around forever and have landed fish of all shapes and sizes... my opinion only).

Then there are large kings who decide after being hooked that the ocean is really their preferred home a few short miles downstream. Rather than laying in deep pools some act like Clydesdales pulling a beer wagon back to the salt.

Being that steelhead and salmon are the targeted fish I would also use a drag system on the Smith. Something like a Saracione carbon fiber drag would be really really nice but there are many less expensive options available.
Sounds like you've walked in my shoes (I mean waders).
 

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You don't have to spend a lot to get a decent reel with an adequate drag for a 7 wt spey rod. The Pflueger 1498 will easily hold the line and sufficient backing for a 7 wt spey rod and it is not expensive at all. I fished for steelhead winter and summer runs with an old Martin 67A click pawl reel. This was when I was fishing single-hand rods for them. I used either a 6 wt shooting head for summer runs or a 9 wt shooting head for winter runs with mono running line and 150 yards of backing. This reel was not expensive at all, I paid $12.50 for it in 1976 and was using it for steelhead in 1991-1993. The only reason I quit using it was I left it on the roof of my car, drove off, and someone ran over it bending the crap out of it.

Yes, I use fairly expensive reels now that have good disc drags, but they aren't needed to land even large steelhead. And yes, I now use 2-handed rods for steelhead (have been since 1993) that are of the high-end variety and have more of them than most people have and each has a reel to go with it, but this is not needed to go catch steelhead.

All you really need is a reel large enough to hold the spey line of the size you are using, and at least 150 yds of backing. There are reels on the market that sell for under $100.00 that will do this, there are also reels that sell for well over $1,000.00 that will do so. So pick your price point, do a little google research, and buy the one that strikes your fancy.
 

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Have a look a Danielsson, great value, full cage so u dont have to worry about thin shooting lines, large arbors to put lots of backing for those 50+ fish, great drags. I started spey a 51.
 
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