The Trout Spey Advantage

By David Hulsey

Why use a two-handed trout spey rod when I can just use a single hand rod? I get this question in prep for all our intro trout spey classes. The answer is not that all areas on the stream are fishable with a single hand rod because of the length of cast and line manipulation needed. I can think of at least half of the waters on our large rivers here in the southeast that are inaccessible to the wading angler. Slick rocks and deep, fast water can ruin your day, or worse. If you are blessed with a drift boat or raft, you can usually reach most of these areas but if you are chest-deep in icy river water, it’s a no-go. Spey lines, especially Skagit lines and heads, are designed to deliver big streamers at amazing distances with very limited back-cast room. Swinging a big piece of meat through a deep hole and getting it annihilated by a two-foot brown or striper, is one of life’s true pleasures! In addition to lines designed to deliver a huge payload, Scandi spey lines can make swinging soft hackles or smaller flies a thing of beauty. They can cast a pair of flies like a laser beam to any riffle area unreachable by conventional fly lines. With the advent of smaller two and three weight trout spey rods, catching normal sized trout can be a blast too. Two-weight spey rods are pretty much equal in power to your four or five-weight outfit. Balanced with the five-weight reel that you already own makes a powerful trout getter. So, anything you chunk out there with your normal trout set up can be thrown with your two-weight trout spey.

Trout spey rods are usually under twelve feet long and any two-hander over that length is getting into the salmon and steelhead range. A well balanced two-hander is a joy to cast and fish with. Getting the right line and tips to use with your spey rod is critical to success. Recommendations from line companies are readily available and should be followed closely to get the best results.

For Scandi type lines or heads, a regular nine-foot leader, looped to the line, performs very well for spiders and soft hackles. Adding a couple of feet of tippet with a surgeon’s knot and a tag provides a system to put on a second fly. It seems to really increase the attraction to the trout by showing them a pair of flies. Integrated Skagit lines and heads require some sort of tip to get the best performance in reaching the proper depth to present the fly. Tips that float to sink rates, up to seven inches per second and more, are available, and the shorter the better. I find with our rivers here in the southeast that 1.5 to 3 inches per second sink rates are the most useful and useable to our trout spey rods. Short tips are turned over easier and are more fun to cast.

Most of the holes, or buckets, on our southern rivers can be reached effectively with these sink rates and short, five to six-foot tips and then, adding a five foot piece of tippet. Effective trout spey flies can range from wooly buggers to intruders to soft hackles and any other swing type fly tied. I love small steelhead and salmon type flies, at times, to show the trout something they haven’t seen before and they are very appreciative for them! If you are interested in trying the new trout spey game, book one of our 3 Hour Introductory Trout Spey Classes on the Toccoa River in Blue Ridge Georgia. We supply a variety of gear for you to try, so you can experience why trout spey is the way!

Give David Hulsey a call at (770) 639-4001 to book a class or a guided trout trip. Visit his website at