Spey casting is growing rapidly, from its Scottish origins now more widely recognized as a terrific evolution in the discipline of fly casting. If you are looking to advance your casting skills, to reach more water and trophy fish more efficiently, then spey casting is for you. To master spey skills, you’ll want to be equipped with one of the best spey rods for you, and know-how to use it.
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What Is Spey Casting?
A casting method used for longer casts and to cover big water efficiently, Spey fly fishing casting dates back to Scotland in the 1800s. Not surprisingly, the technique is named after the river Spey. Over time, the technique has spread, and the Spey rod was developed and refined so that anglers can larger rivers all over the world.
Spey casting is most commonly used for salmon and steelhead, but now more broadly for trout and other species. While you can certainly try out the Spey technique using a normal (shorter) fly rod, if you want to achieve results, you must use a rod designed for Spey casting. Believe it or not, early on anglers used 22 ft rods. Fast forward to the present, today most Spey rods range from 12 to 16 ft, and can easily throw a line over 60, typically up to 80 ft.
Why Spey Cast?
Spey casting is not only simply awesome to watch, but also here’s why it works so well, because it:
- Does not involve any overhead backcasting. By creating a D –loop over either shoulder, fly anglers can achieve longer distances without additional effort.
- Doesn’t require as much arm motion compared to single hand casts. This is achieved by allowing your body to create more energy, called body casting. It’s very analogous to swinging a baseball bat, golf club, or tennis racquet. If you play any of these sports, you know that consistency and power come from the body leading the stroke, not the arms.
- Enables you to change directions more conveniently. A 90-degree change is attained in 1/3 the time compared to that of traditional single-handed, overhead casting.
- Properly presents your flies achieved at longer distances in all conditions with the longer, two-handed, 10’6” to 16′ Spey Rods.
- Allows you to feel the tug of a fish while tight lining a long-lined swinging fly. This excitement is a fly fishing feeling that is unmatched.
- Is actually kind of an art form, and the added length of the Spey cast offers a relaxed and enjoyable fishing experience.
Overview Of Our Spey Rod Recommendations
This table summarizes the more detailed reviews below. We can’t emphasize enough, that the best choice for you is the rod that fits your fishing conditions, type of fish, skill level, and budget. So, choose the rod that will work best for you paying attention to the details. Here you’ll find all the information you should need to make a great decision.
About Spey Rods And How To Cast Them
Before World War II, rods were designed using wood. You can still find rods crafted out of bamboo. These Spey rods have a cult following and some avid anglers still prefer the finely crafted wood Spey cast rods. The new age rods are designed using graphite. This material is lightweight, costs half, and produces greater line speed.
Besides, there are three distinct varieties of rods, each with its set of ardent followers. These are Traditional Rods, Skagit Rods, and Scandi Rods. Every rod must have a matching line to perform its best. Spey rods can last you a lifetime, well, of course, if you take good care of it. With the advancement in technology, there are the finest rods available in the market.
Now that you are familiar with the intricacies of the Spey rod casting sport, let’s check out the top 5 Spey Rods for fly fishing.
Two primary types of spey casting:
- Splash and go
- Waterborne anchor
Splash and go casts contain a backstroke that is in the air. When the line falls to the water, the forward cast starts as soon as the tip of the line hits the water.
The waterborne anchor casts contain a back cast that stays on the water. Moreover, you do not need to achieve perfect timing to forward cast after.
What is a spey cast?
Spey casting is mostly used to catch large fish such as salmon, steelhead, and sea trout. Also used for big water trout spey casting. The basic technique of spey casting is as follows:
- With the fly line pointing downstream, the angler lifts the line of the water with the tip of the rod. The angler then throws the line backward just above the water and allows just the fly and leader to “anchor” the cast by touching the water one to two-rod lengths away.
- This back-cast is known as the “D-loop”, from the curving shape of the line between the anchor and the tip of the rod.
- While swinging the “D-loop”, it is important to make one continuous motion with the rod tip climbing at a 45-degree angle off the water. The cast is similar to a roll cast in one-handed fly fishing. Since the fly is used as an anchor, a Spey cast allows a better loading of the rod and achieves greater distance than a one-handed cast. The fly rods with tapered designed result in longer distances.
Bear in mind, when choosing a rod, you’ll also want to consider whether you will do single hand spey casting, or two handed spey casting.
Anchor – The section of fly line including the leader that lies on water surface at the conclusion of the back cast in preparation for the forward cast. This is also commonly referred to as “stick” or “grip.” Ideally, the less line lying on the water when starting the forward cast (small stick), the better because less effort will be needed to free the line from the surface.
Splash and Go Anchor – This is the type of anchor where a section of the fly line and leader make only brief contact with the water surface during the formation of the D- loop. This is used with the switch cast, single Spey, and snake roll casts.
Waterborne Anchor – With this anchor, a section of fly line and leader is placed on the water surface prior to the backcast. It is used for the double Spey, snap T, and Perry poke.
So basically, SPLASH AND GO ANCHOR as well as WATERBORNE are anchors that can be used in traditional, skagit or spey casting rods casting methods.
Traditional Spey casting uses touch-and-go anchors or waterborne anchors. Skagit casting uses only waterborne sustained anchors, meaning the sink tip and fly is allowed to sink beneath the surface of the water for a couple of seconds prior to the formation of the back cast D-loop and forward stroke.
Detailed Reviews of Best Spey Rods
Each of our reviews is designed to provide all the information you will need, so you can be confident in your choice. Many of these brands come with multiple line weight and length options, so be sure to look at the details when ordering and match it up with your needs. For example, trout spey rods work fine at lighter line weights than for big game trophy fish. However, if you want a crossover rod and are pursuing trophy trout, then your trout spey rod would work fine for salmon and steelhead.
Practical Price Point
If you are thinking about just getting into spey casting, there are many cheap brands that we can’t recommend, such as KCA, Saion, Channelmay, Maxcatch, Aventik, and others. Spey casting is a technique that doesn’t have to be super expensive, but does require a quality enough rod to get the result you are looking for, and for the rod to hold up under high loads.
Based on our reviews, if you want to dip your toe in the water without yet taking the plunge, there are several entry-level rods that will do the job at a lower price point. While they may not be as durable or high performance as the others we’ve reviewed below, if you are on a budget and aren’t yet ready to shell out more than necessary, then these will provide some good options.
By introducing a lighter rod, better tip stability, an updated handle with 5 handle options, and great pricing, the Redington Dually Fly Rod has a lot going for it. You can go fishing in your local streams or head out for wild steelhead, and this Redington Fly rod will cover all water bodies you need.
The real winning feature is the price, as this rod offers high-performance and features at a lower price than its competitors.
- Medium-fast action
- Matte Bronze finish
- Special Edition Purple colorway available in #7 sizes
- Durable Cordura rod tube with dividers
- Available in Trout Spey, Switch, and Spey configurations
- Lifetime warranty
- Anodized aluminum reel seat for improved durability
- Soft-touch EVA pinch grip sections for better line control
- Alignment dots for easy rod setup
- Aesthetics not terrific
An affordable series of Spey fly rods, Echo has created the swing series to fit a wide range of casting strokes. These swing Spey rods use the contemporary two-handed fly lines to cast farther in real fishing situations. A great choice for entry-level rods for anglers learning to Spey cast. If you’re looking to master the art of Steelhead fishing or Salmon fishing, try the new Swing Series.
- Four-piece travel design
- Grips: Features 2 grip styles
- The anodized aluminum reel seat
- Gloss blue steel blank
- Action: Med Fast
- Tube: Fabric-covered rod case & sock
- SIC stripping guides and hard chrome snake guides
- Warranty: Echo Lifetime Warranty
- Great for beginner-level
- Attractive appearance
- Not for expert anglers
Best Value Price Point
Based on our reviews, the manufacturers of these spey fishing rods have packed in more features and quality for the price than any other brands & models. They will do the job well for you, and last a long time if taken well care of. If not the pinnacle of quality, they carry a reasonable price for everything they bring to bear on your casting, and a spey fishing rod chosen from this category will work for experts and beginners alike.
The Echo Trout Spey is the go-to Spey rod for any beginner or less active angler who only uses the two-hand rod a few times a year. This rod features a medium-fast action, a four-piece design, and is constructed of lightweight graphite. Chrome snake guides and aluminum reel seats are enclosed in a sock and tube. This rod is simply good and reliable, and you can find them in most of the shops around.
- Lengths: 11
- Action: Med /Fast
- Four-piece travel design
- Tube: Yes
- Fabric-covered rod case & sock
- SIC stripping guides and hard chrome snake guides
- The anodized aluminum Reel seat
- Resistance to flexing under pressure
- Not for regular fishing expeditions
- Not preferred by experienced anglers
The Redington Chromer rod is one of the most dedicated rods designed specifically for steelhead fishing. Even in the worst of rain and storm weather, the Polymer Pinch Grip allows for a sturdy grip shooting line and the fast action blank will deliver tight loops no matter which style of spey fly line fits your casting style.
The Chromer offers both switch and Spey lengths, suitable for large expanses of water as well as the ones that have little to no casting room. While the Chromer is ideal for beginners, it is also suited for all levels of anglers. So the next time you head out in search of a spey rod for steelhead, consider the Redington Chromer.
- Action- medium-fast
- Polymer pinch grip
- Down locking reel seat
- Nice light rod
- Good grip
- Durable body
- Clean finish
- Not the best for overhand casting
Orvis Clearwater Two-Hander
The Clearwater series is a complete makeover of the existing series with a considerable upgrade in performance. In terms of value, the Orvis Clearwater is one of the best value Spey rods that you can find. The series includes rods designed for medium-action small stream rods, to medium-fast freshwater rods and fast-action big game rods, that are great for fishing larger rivers.
- Blanks are black chrome with white accents
- Quick rod identifier on the blank
- Gray rod tube
- 25-Year Guarantee
- Freshwater Components On Rods Up To 6 Weight
- Fighting Butt On Rods 6 Weight and Above
- Lighter line of rods
- Makes casting big flies easier
- Excellent pricing
- Made by quality manufacturer Orvis spey rods
- Comes with a high-visibility yellow fly line
When you purchase, just be sure to get the two-handed (TH) spey version, not the regular Clearwater rod!
The Echo TR two-hand Spey rod is a powerful specialist version in the Echo fly rod line, designed by expert Tim Rajeff. The Echo TR rods are improvised with a modest tip power and combined with a little extra butt power, throwing tighter loops farther than you ever dreamed possible.
Accompanied with a Skagit compact head, and they slow down to make fishing sink tips easy and convenient. These rods are available from a 12 foot 5 weight trout Spey to a 15 foot 10 weight big water rod.
- Four-piece travel design
- Black stripping and snake guide
- A Black anodized reel seat
- Glossy green
- Med Fast+
- Fabric-covered rod case & sock
- Echo Lifetime Warranty
- Features three grip styles with composite inserts and pressure points
- More power to rods to generate more line speeds and snug D loops
- A variation on Echo spey rods already quality gear
- Too big for conventional trout expeditions
High End Spey Rods
Based on our reviews, these sunglasses highest quality sunglasses, and bring industry-leading features, materials, design, construction quality, and performance. They can be expensive, but you can be fully confident they will perform under the conditions they are designed for, and last a long time if taken care of well. Most sunglasses at this level come with a case and care kit, and better warranty.
This Sage Trout rod is equipped with the KonneticHD Technology that is a norm with most of Sages’ new rods. Features like Fuji ceramic stripper guides, Hard chromed snake guides and flexible-tip, Vera wood insert with down-locking reel seat adds to the consistency, speed, and accuracy of this HD Spey rod.
Check out the finesse and perfection with the Super Plus full-wells cork handle that has aesthetically pleasing composite accent rings, a Cork composite fighting butt housed in a Green aluminum rod tube with Sage medallion.
The Sage Trout Spey HD series of rods are designed and constructed to support lightweight Spey techniques. Five rods from 10’3” to 11’3” offer exemplary performance with a variety of Spey lines that are currently offered in 175-350gr sizes. This rod is also the winner of the Best 2-Handed Rod at IFTD in 2019. Though priced on the higher end, the features and the upgrades justify the price. This is our pick for the best premium Spey rod.
- Tangle-free Fuji ceramic stripper guides
- Konnetic HD technology for optimized graphite-to-resin ratio
- Weights: 1-4
- Lengths: 10’9 -11’3
- Action: Fast
- Conifer blank color
- Dijon primary thread wraps with Tan trim wraps
- Cork composite fighting butt
- Tan rod bag with Brown logo and model tag
- Two-handed rod
- Hard chromed snake guides
- Vera wood insert with down-locking reel seat
- Designed to manage Skagit & Scandi heads with sinking tips and leaders
- Super Plus full-wells cork handle with decorative composite accent rings
- Tactical Green aluminum rod tube with Sage Medallion
- Reduces fatigue and improves performance
- Ease in casting streamers
- Sage spey rods are an outgrowth of Sage’s already high quality lines of fly rods
A premium category medium trout Spey rod, ideal for hackles, nymphs, and streamers up to 3″, the Orvis Mission Two-Handed Rod Series is an American-made seven-rod series. This Spey rod takes the two-handed casting from compact 11-foot rods to long and versatile 14- and 15-foot models.
Mission rods are incorporated with Helios™ 3 design advancement techniques, that dampens vibrations, making casts easier to handle while adding more accuracy. The H3 builds increased hoop strength that leads to more efficient energy transfer. With increased fluid power in a lesser effort, the rods dampen quicker with no wobble, shooting long casts with an on-spot presentation.
- 11’4″ 4-weight, 4-piece rod
- Composite cork on the grip in high wear areas
- Chrome snake and stripping guide with a SiC insert
- Blanks are matte olive with orange accents
- Quick rod identifier on the blank
- 25-Year Guarantee
- Accurate presentation
- Reduced vibrations
- Efficient energy transfer
- Increased hoop strength
- Reaches difficult areas of the water
The R.L. Winston Micro Spey 11’6” 5-weight rod is a lightweight rod with a great feel. What is impressive is Winston’s attention to detail and fine craftsmanship. The Micro Spey blanks have a beautiful emerald green with matching green wrap finish over TiCH finished stripper guides and chrome snake guides, a signature style with Winston rods.
Winston handwritten the serial number on each section, which acts as alignment dots for quick and easy assembly. The cork quality is top-notch, the anodized aluminum down-lock reel seat looks crisp, and the two lock rings work perfectly. The foregrip is good but the rear-grip is a bit on the small side. An aluminum rod tube and cloth bag are included.
- Micro Spey two-handed trout grip
- The durable anodized aluminum reel seat
- Graphite rod tube and cloth rod bag
- Emerald green with matching wrap finish
- Chrome snake guides for improved casting
- Great fit and finish
- Perfect foregrip
- Quick and easy assembly
- High-speed lines for longer casts
- Winston’s signature Boron 3 technology
- Lacks power when cast in stronger winds
While chasing a trout or a salmon down the stream, an RL Wilson Air TH could be your best bet. Featuring the Advanced Boron III technology, this lightweight powerful rod generates very high speeds. Added to it is the Supersilica resin system that adds years of durability to this Spey rod. Boron is stronger and stiffer than steel, and 25% stronger than graphite rods.
Designed with an ultra-superior premium finish, the shooting guides with chrome nano-lite stripping guides have been upgraded from the last season. The anodized aluminum reel seat sheds saltwater and prevents corrosion, adding longevity to the Spey rod. The Double down locking component anchors larger Spey reels for improved performance.
- Action-medium fast
- Satin-Finished Stripping Guide w/Silicon Nitride Ring
- Premium graphite rod tube
- Winston unconditional lifetime guarantee
- Hard chrome snake guides
- Length- 10’6-11’6
- Soft presentation
- Advanced Boron III technology
- Supersilica resin system
- Smooth two-handed performance
- Best fit and finish
- Accuracy at short and mid distances
- Hard-chrome snake guides improve castability and accuracy
- Satin-finish stripping guide for added durability and performance
- High-quality cork grip for sturdy hand placement
- Offers optimal casting efficiency and fish-fighting leverage
- Not a great distance rod
Choosing a fly rod depends upon where you’re fishing, what you’re fishing for, and what flies you’ll be tied to the end of the rod. Rods are evaluated based on length and weight, but the third component, the rod’s action is also vital. Action implies that a rod will be fast, medium, or slow.
Based on reviews from various sources, we have compiled this resource of the top 5 Spey rods. The best overall spey rod, in our opinion, is the Scott Sector series which gives anglers the option to select from their several varieties of Spey rods.
If you are comfortable with purchasing the top line quality spey rod, consider going for the RL Winston Air TH for a powerful med-fast performance in the waters.
With an increasing number of spey rods for sale, stay tuned for our future articles covering trout spey flies, more detail on spey fly fishing, micro spey rods, rio single hand spey, and fish spey.
By Mark Velicer
An avid fly fisher for over 40 years, Mark has lived and fly fished WA, MI, CA, PA and NY along with countless trips to other places. He can’t get enough of the water; white water kayaking, rafting, drift boating, and hiking to alpine lakes.