The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Correct Spey Fishing Rod and Reel

Spey fishing, a revered method born on Scotland’s River Spey, offers anglers the unique challenge of mastering two-handed casting techniques. This method is particularly effective in large rivers where traditional backcasts are hindered by limited space. The right Spey rod and reel are paramount for achieving the long, graceful casts that define this style of fishing. This comprehensive guide combines essential technical advice with personal experiences, visual aids, and comparative analysis to help you decide on your Spey fishing gear.

My Journey with Spey Gear

My foray into Spey fishing was transformative, with each piece of gear playing a crucial role in my experiences. A memorable outing on the Skeena River, targeting steelhead, underscored the importance of gear selection. I used a 13.5-foot rod paired with a 9-weight line and a reel equipped with a robust drag system. This setup was instrumental in managing the powerful runs typical of steelhead, illustrating how the right equipment can significantly enhance the fishing experience.

Understanding Spey Rods: Length, Line Weight, and Action

Rod Length: Spey rods, generally longer than their single-handed counterparts, range from 12 to over 15 feet. The length directly correlates with the size of the river and the fish targeted. For expansive rivers and larger fish, rods exceeding 14 feet are advisable for their superior casting distance and control.

Line Weight: The line weight should match the targeted fish species, with 6-8 weights suitable for medium-sized fish and 9-10 for larger specimens.

Rod Action: Fast-action rods flex mainly at the tip, offering power for longer casts and windy conditions. Medium-action rods balance power and flexibility, whereas slow-action rods, bending deeply into the butt, are more forgiving, suitable for beginners.

Choosing the Right Reel

Reel Size and Weight: The reel must balance with the Spey rod, adequately holding the Spey line and backing. It should neither overpower the rod nor be too light, ensuring a balanced feel for efficient casting.

Drag System: A smooth and reliable drag system is crucial for managing large fish, allowing for consistent pressure to tire the fish without risking line breakage.

Compatibility with Spey Lines: Ensure the reel can accommodate the thicker, longer Spey lines, whether traditional, Skagit, or Scandi heads, allowing for easy line changes as conditions dictate.

Visual Aids and Comparative Analysis

Visual Aids: To better grasp these concepts, imagine illustrations showing the differences in rod actions and diagrams that depict reel sizes concerning rod lengths. Such visuals can demystify technical aspects, aiding in the selection process.

Comparative Analysis: The market offers a range of choices from entry-level options like the Echo Spey series and Orvis Clearwater to high-end models from Sage and G.Loomis. While higher-priced gear often features advanced technology for enhanced performance, quality options are available across various price points, ensuring every angler can find gear that suits their needs and budget.

Further Learning Resources

To expand your knowledge on Spey casting and gear selection, explore resources such as Simon Gawesworth’s “Spey Casting,” online forums like Spey Pages, and instructional videos from experts on YouTube. These resources can provide deeper insights into techniques and gear, enriching your Spey fishing journey.


Selecting the right Spey rod and reel is a nuanced process that blends technical specifications with personal preference. By considering rod and reel attributes, engaging with personal anecdotes, utilizing visual aids, and exploring comparative analyses, anglers can make informed decisions tailored to their fishing conditions and target species. The journey through Spey fishing is a continuous learning path, where the right gear can significantly enhance your experience on the water, making every cast and catch unforgettable.

Bibliography and Further Reading

The following bibliography and list of resources for further reading are highly recommended to deepen your understanding of Spey fishing and assist in making the most informed decision on your Spey fishing gear. These resources offer a wealth of knowledge ranging from beginner tips to advanced techniques, gear reviews, and the rich history of Spey fishing.


  1. Gawesworth, Simon. “Spey Casting.” Stackpole Books, 2004. This comprehensive guide by a renowned expert covers everything from Spey casting to advanced techniques, making it an essential read for beginners and seasoned anglers.
  2. Hughes, Dec. “A Passion for Steelhead.” Wild River Press, 2006. Dec Hughes shares his extensive knowledge on targeting steelhead, including insights on gear, casting techniques, and fly patterns.
  3. Ford, John. “The Handbook of Fly Fishing.” Lyons Press, 1997. Ford’s work provides a broad overview of fly fishing, including a section dedicated to Spey fishing, offering valuable context for newcomers to the sport.


  1. Spey Pages ( An online forum dedicated to Spey fishing enthusiasts. It’s a treasure trove of information on gear, techniques, and discussions with a community of experienced anglers.
  2. Rio Products ( Offers detailed information on Spey lines and has an extensive library of instructional videos on Spey casting and line selection.


  1. Larimer, Tom. “Skagit Master Featuring Ed Ward.” This video, available on various platforms, offers in-depth insights into Skagit casting techniques, a subset of Spey casting, featuring one of the technique’s pioneers.
  2. Gawesworth, Simon. “Rio’s Modern Spey Casting.” A DVD series that serves as a visual complement to Gawesworth’s book, offering step-by-step instructions on various Spey casting techniques.

Online Articles and Guides

  1. “Choosing the Right Spey Rod” on Fly Fisherman Magazine. This article offers practical advice for selecting a Spey rod, considering factors like fishing conditions and target species.
  2. “Spey Casting 101” on MidCurrent. An introductory guide to Spey casting, this article breaks down the basics of the technique, ideal for those just getting started.

These resources offer a robust foundation for understanding Spey fishing, from the historical context and basic techniques to advanced strategies and gear selection. Whether you’re a novice seeking to learn the ropes or an experienced angler aiming to refine your skills and knowledge, these books, websites, videos, and articles will be invaluable guides on your journey into Spey fishing.