One of the biggest challenges in the two handed game is finding a properly matched fly line for your fishing needs.
Guiding two-handed spey fishing and working in a fly shop part time, the biggest question that gets asked is the same one over and over again! What is the best line for my spey rod? Sometimes this can be tougher to answer than one might think. Let me first start by asking you a few questions to make this easier for both of us...
Where do you like to fish?
What time of the year?
Do you like a lighter load or a deeper, heavier load?
Do you like a more traditional longer length line or shorter shooting head line?
Do you want this line to be extremely versatile or excel in a specific area?
The reasons for these questions is that right now in the two-handed market there is a lot to choose from in rods, reels, and lines. While there are very few "bad" spey rods being built these days, there are spey rods that will feel/cast like shit when they improperly lined. The biggest key is finding the Spey line to fit your needs.
Let's now jump right into the various types of lines available to the consumer.
Old School, aka Long Bellies and Traditional Spey Lines:
These are the lines I learned to cast with almost 10 years ago. These are a more traditional spey line with head lengths in the 52-85' range. Great for casting flies longer distances on large rivers. They require a lot more back casting room and do well with flies in the #1/0-#10 range. Good luck with a big string leech or intruder though! These lines are popular on summer/fall steelhead rivers like the Deschutes, Clearwater, Thompson, and Klamath rivers. These lines have evolved a bit over the years and are now a little better to cast. Here are a few popular ones for anglers to consider in the 7-11 weight range.
- Rio Windcutter(old standby)
- Rio Powerspey
- Airflo Delta and Delta Long
- CND GPS
- Nextcast Winter Authority and Fall Favorite
These lines are shooting head style lines that have a lot of taper to them. They range in length from 28-44' and are designed to have good turnover with small to medium size flies. These lines gained popularity in Europe and in the last few years have made a big splash in North America on rivers like the Deschutes, Trinity, and Klamath. These lines are easier to cast than traditional spey lines but not quite as easy and forgiving as Skagit lines. Here are some popular Scandi heads in the 5-9 weight range...
- Airflo Compact Scandi
- Beulah Elixir
- Guideline Powertaper
- Rio AFS
- Vision Ace
Here's what I think can be some of the most versatile fishing lines on the market. A line for all season and all conditions. Skagit lines were designed to throw large flies on heavy sink tips in the Pacific Northwest. What many don't know is that if you take a lighter skagit head, add a 7.5-10' floating tip that is equal in grain weight to the skagit head you would use to throw sink tips and big flies, you get a great line for summer/fall dry line fishing. For example, if you throw a 450 grain skagit head for sink tip work, you would want the total length of your skagit head plus floating tip for summer/fall fishing to equal 450 grains. Skagit heads vary in length from 20-34' and can fit switch/spey rods from 5-12 weights. The following are some of most popular skagit lines on the market at the moment.
- Airflo Compact Skagit
- Beulah Tonic
- Rio Skagit Flight
- Rio Skagit Short
All of the aforementioned lines are great for the two handed rod. Some will excel in certain situations where other will struggle. The key is to find the right line for your casting style, where you like to fish, and the time of year you like to fish. Or, if you are looking for one line to do it all, then I would certainly recommend a Skagit line.