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Big Sky Anglers 2022 Trout Spey Rod Review

by | Aug 30, 2022

During the summer of 2020, when we realized that our annual Trout Spey Days event was not going to happen as a result of the COVID pandemic, a few of us Spey nerds here at Big Sky Anglers decided to pull together a sizeable pile of rods, lines, and other gear, make an effort to dial in as many kits as we could, and share the results with you all. It turned out to be one of our most successful projects ever, with many of you reaching out saying that the results of our effort greatly helped in selecting the right rod and line combo for you. Regrettably, we weren’t able to fool around with as many rods as we would have liked to in 2020. Additionally, since our original review there have been some significant changes in available Spey lines and several new rod models have hit the market. So, after a break in 2021, we’ve come together again to update our original review to reflect current Spey lines as well as to add 16 more rods to the overall list! Additions include the SAGE G5 Trout Spey rods as well as Orvis Mission and Clearwater 2-handers and the Claymore series from Redington. We also were able to include some of the lighter 1 and 2wt options as well as a couple more 5wt models for those who are becoming small water or big fly specialists.

We were only able to make this happen thanks to the awesome support of our vendors and sales reps. Huge thanks to all who have helped along the way!

While this is a review of sorts, it is important to note that there are no ratings or rankings here. There is no best or worst. In fact, we didn’t demo a single rod that we didn’t feel was going to be right for someone depending on their casting and fishing situations. So, what we have here are descriptions of the rods (and matching lines) that we really liked, and why. Call them Big Sky Anglers Shop Picks, if you will. And remember, if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 406-646-7801, or email us at info@bigskyanglers.com – We’ll get you in touch with Justin, Matt, Chris, Marco or one of the other folks here that knows and loves the Spey game!

So, without further ado, here is the Big Sky Anglers 2022 Updated Shop Picks & Trout Spey Rod Review. And, if any of these rods get you fired up, consider signing up for our annual Trout Spey Days event on September 9 and 10, 2022 where you’ll be able to demo all of these great tools in person.


CF Burkheimer — 4114-4, & 5125-4
Winston Boron III TH Microspey — 11ft 4wt
Sage Trout Spey HD — 1109-4, 2109-4, 3110-4, & 4113-4
Orvis Mission 2-Handed — 11’4” 3wt, 11’4” 4wt, & 12’0” 5wt
G. Loomis IMX-PRO Shortspey — 31111-4, 41111-4, & 51111-4
Sage G5 Trout Spey — 3110-4, & 4113-4
Echo Trout Spey — TS 4110
Redington Claymore Trout Spey — 2110-4, 3113-4, 4116-4, & 5123-4
Orvis Clearwater 2-Handed — 11’ 4” 3wt, & 11’ 4” 4wt
Echo TR2 — 4113
Redington Dually — 3106-4

CF Burkheimer 4114-4

11’4”, 3/4/5wt, $1175+

CF Burkheimer say:

Grain Window = 230-350gr, 330 Skagit, 300 Scandi

Big Sky Anglers says:

This is a quintessential Burkie 2 hander in a pint sized package.  Forgiving action, loads of feel, and a wide grain window make this rod incredibly likeable as well as fishable.

We found lines that made this rod fish and feel like all the weights listed in its stated range – 3/4/5 – which was extremely impressive. The rod’s versatility and grain window allows you to fish small soft hackles or medium sized streamers at short, medium, and longer distances with ease and grace. The loading and unloading of the rod is easy to feel when casting this gem.   In addition, Kerry’s impeccable craftsmanship and endless customizations options make this a work of art as well as an angling tool.  Justin even caught a nice little brown while testing this one out on the Madison.  Believe in the omens!

Note: this rod was A+ with essentially the same lines as the SAGE Trout Spey HD 3wt.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Trout Spey Shooting Head #3, 265gr, 22ft

  • This was an OK line pairing with mono leader but a bit sloppy on turnover
  • Adding SA Sonar leaders cleaned up the loops a lot and resulted in a presentation with a lot of punch to turn over small streamers.  Basically an effortless A+ setup

RIO Scandi Short 270gr, 29ft 

  •  Simply beautiful casting setup with 16ft mono leader.  This line turned the Burkie into a super lively, stop high and let it fly, crisp Scandi setup
  • This line gives the rod the feel of a true Spey rod, and will be enough to please advanced casters.  A little tricky if you get sloppy with the rod tip, but super fun.
  • Way better than the 240grain Scandi Short

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 325gr (18’)

  • 325 grains was able to over 10ft of T8, with a Sculpzilla no problem, and even chunked out a Mini Dungeon, though it was key to keep the anchor moving so the fly didn’t sink much/at all.

CF Burkheimer 5125-4

12’5”, 4/5/6wt, $1175+

CF Burkheimer say:

Grain Window = 300-420gr, 375 Skagit, 350 Scandi

Big Sky Anglers says:

The 5125 is a big boy Spey rod with Trout Spey feel.  Kerry enlisted the help of our own Matt Klara and others to dial in a unique, versatile, super-fun, forgiving rod that will change your opinion about what 4 and 5wt 2-handers for trout can and should do.  For those who want a rod that can do “a bit more”  (like casting that extra 25ft while wading deep, or presenting a heavier tip or larger fly, while still being super fun with an 16-18 inch trout on the end of the line) this is the rod for you. For mid-sized to huge rivers, and fish in the 14-inch to 5-pound class, this is simply an amazing rod. 

If you are interested in this rod, be sure to ask us about the custom “MK Classic” models that we have built for Big Sky Anglers based on Matt’s personal preferences in blank color, guides, and grip shape.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Scandi Short, 360 grains, 31ft – Matt’s Pick for Floating Line and Small Wets

  • If you come from a Spey background of dry lining for summer steelhead and want to get into swinging wets for trout on big water, this could be your line.  This line enables dreamy, Scandi-style casting with a crisp high rod stop.  In addition to our local trout scene, this line would be glorious for the folks who swing out on the coast for half pounder steelhead.
  • To get the most performance out of this line, we like a 15 or 16 foot mono or flouro leader.  Build your own with 40, 30, 20, and 10lb mono, or go for the easy button option by adding 4 feet of your preferred tippet material onto a 12ft, 12 or 16lb RIO Steelhead/Salmon Mono leader.
  • This is my current favorite line for fishing soft hackles with this rod.
  • NOTE: For a slightly lighter, “tippier” casting feel, drop down to the same line in 330 grains.

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head, 305gr, 23ft

  • This is a sneaky option that we felt cast like a dream and could be a sort of “One line quiver” for this rod.  The 305 grain weight seems light at first, but the secret here was to add SA Sonar Leaders (10ft and 55gr) to create essentially a 33ft Scandi head of 360 grains (see RIO Scandi Short 360 grain, 31 feet) with a sort of interchangeable tip. 
  • Varying the Sonar Leader density and tippet length allowed us to fish from near surface (using the Intermediate sink rate leader) to the depths (using the Type 3 and Type 6 sinking sonar leaders).
  • This line system is for folks who like Scandi-liscious crisp casting that will handle soft hackles and even smaller streamers like a Thin Mint or even a Sculpzilla!  If you like a light feel and don’t want to mess with multiple lines or big heavy flies, this is a great option.

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head, 350gr, 23ft – Matt’s Pick for Streamer Fishing

  • The RIO Trout Spey Shooting Head is truly a versatile line.  Up-lining with the Trout Spey Shooting Head from 305 to 350 grains allowed us to throw sink tips and larger streamers a-la Skagit lines, but the length and taper of this line made for really clean loop formation and turnover for casters who prefer to cast with a bit more velocity and performance than typically associated with classic Skagit casting.
  • This line handed a 12ft T8 tip and a medium sized weighted streamer with ease, and is my preferred line system for streamer fishing with this rod. 

RIO Elite Skagit Max Power, 375 grains, 19ft

  • This line is able to throw T8 and T10 tips of 10 or 12 feet with relative ease.
  • If your game is medium-to-big flies, hucking weight, and worrying less about style points than getting your fly into the zone, this is a great line option.  No messing around here.  This will get it done on big water and cold conditions or when you just need/want to throw the junk.
  • NOTE: For a slightly lighter feel, the Elite Skagit Max Power in 350 grains is also a great pairing.

Ballistic Vector 4/5

This is an integrated Spey line that has a 41 ft long head weighing in at 350 grains.  It harkens back to more traditional Spey line offerings of the past and turns the 5125 into a rod with a true long liner feel.  If you like “fine and far off” soft hackle methods, or just want a line for this rod that you can use to truly improve your Spey casting line control, anchor placement, and power application, this might be one to get.


Winston Boron III TH Microspey 11ft 4wt

11’0”, 4wt, $1099

Winston says:

240-330 grains

Big Sky Anglers says:

This is Joe’s personal favorite Trout Spey rod.  Smooth, easy, and fun, this rod falls on the light side for a 4wt when compared to other offerings across the board.  Awesome Winston build quality, Made in Montana.  Exactly what you’d expect from a Winston.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Scandi Short 270gr, 29ft 

  • Beautiful casting setup with 16ft mono leader.  Super lively, stop high and let it fly, crisp Scandi setup.  Soft hackle city. 

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #2, 230gr, 23ft

  • This line, combined with 55 grain 10ft SA Sonar leaders makes for a super crisp, multi-tip Scandi style line that was super fun to cast with all the soft hackles and light streamers. 

Rio Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 300gr, 18ft

  • This was our top Skagit choice for this rod.  While this head will turn over a 10ft T8 tip and a lightly weighted streamer, you might be happier and more pleased with the feel of the line paired with 10ft SA Sonar sinking leaders.

Sage Trout Spey HD 1109-4

Sage says:

(Grains: 150 – 200gr) – Soft hackles, small streamers, unweighted – Pushing the limits of lightweight Spey rods, this rod is perfect for casting softhackles and small lightly weighted streamers.

Big Sky Anglers says:

Baby Spey!!  We fortunately tested this one before the wind came up, but this could absolutely be a super fun rod for the angler who mainly fishes smaller water and small to medium sized trout with light soft hackles.  A little fussy with stroke and power application, but that is to be expected with light, short rods in our experience.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #1, 190gr, 23ft

  • This line was an excellent match to the rod, which is not surprising given the Farbank connection between brands.
  • A long, mono leader in the 12-16’ range gave this a crisp feel.
  • Adding a 55 grain SA sonar leader to this line gave the rod a more Skagity feel, and would allow an angler to cast small, unweighted streamers.

Sage Trout Spey HD 2109-4

10’9”, 2wt, $1050

Sage says:

(Grains: 200 – 250gr) – Soft hackles, small to medium streamers 1 – 2” – The perfect tool that can cover nearly any application with reasonable fly size. The 2wt is perfect for the angler that is content casting soft hackles and moderately weighted flies or is looking for a rod that is more appropriately sized to the target fish.

Big Sky Anglers says:

This would be a fun small to medium sized water rod if your applications are primarily swinging small soft hackles. We found it to be a little fussy with stroke and power application, but that is to be expected with light, short rods in our experience.  Sage’s assertion that this will handle 2” streamers is not altogether inaccurate, but if that is something you like to fish with ease, especially if there is much breeze at all, a 3+ wt is a better choice for you.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #1, 190gr, 23ft

  • This line was by far our favorite line for this rod when paired with 55 grain SA sonar leaders.  This combination created a very crisp and clean casting setup with a Scandi feel, that also allowed for intermediate and faster sinking terminal options.

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power, 225gr, 16ft

  • This would be our top choice for a Skagit line on this rod.
  • It was able to throw a 5×5 T8 MOW tip with a micro streamer, but was much more suited to poly-leader type applications.

Sage Trout Spey HD 3110-4

11’0”, 3wt, $1050

Sage says:

(Grains: 250 – 300gr) – Soft hackles, moderately weighted steamers 1 – 2” – The most versatile of the TROUT SPEY HD series. The 3110-4 will accommodate a large variety of fly lines as well as a variety of flies. If you’re new to the Trout Spey category this is the rod of choice.

Big Sky Anglers says:

Overall, we were super impressed with the Trout Spey HD lineup from Sage.  In our opinion, they are among the nicest casting Spey rods that Sage has ever produced, in any line weights.  Their cosmetics are classy, and they have a progressive flex pattern and plenty of feel.  The 3110 is a really nice 3wt option with plenty of power and versatility.  This is Chris Daniel’s go to rod for the Madison in the Park.  We found that our favorite lines on this rod were the same as those for the Burkheimer 4114-4 (rated as a 3/4/5).  

Line Recommendations:

RIO Scandi Short 270gr, 29ft

  • Five Stars.  Simply beautiful casting setup with 16ft mono leader.  Matt had a huge smile on his face and kept shaking his head when we asked if we could cast it yet. Sweeeeet setup for soft hackles.
  • This line gives the rod the feel of a longer Spey rod/line combo, and will be sure to please advanced casters

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 275gr (17’), 300gr (18’), or 325gr (18’)

  • All 3 of these grain options are very good Skagit type options for this rod depending on your casting preferences.  Both 300 and 325 grains can turn over 10ft of T8, but 275 grains does better with sinking coated leaders like SA Sonar 10ft Leaders.
  • As a side note, if you are a fan of shorter Skagit heads like the old RIO Skagit Trout Spey or the OPST Commando, you’ll probably want to look into dropping down to 275 grains as the concentrated mass will load the rod a bit more easily.

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #3, 265gr, 23ft

  • Mellow casting and presentations with 16ft mono leaders and larger Bead Head Soft hackles.
  • Adding SA Sonar leaders cleaned up the loops a lot and resulted in a presentation with a lot of punch to turn over small streamers.

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #2, 230gr, 23ft

  • This line, combined with 55 grain 10ft SA Sonar leaders makes for a super crisp, multi-tip Scandi style line that was super fun to cast with all the soft hackles and light streamers. 

Sage Trout Spey HD 4113-4

11’3”, 4wt, $1050

Sage says:

(Grains: 300 – 350gr) – Large streamers up to 3 inches – The 4113-4 model is built for large and carnivorous trout and the larger flies used to get their attention. Power to cast larger streamers and leeches.

Big Sky Anglers says:

Overall, we were super impressed with the Trout Spey HD lineup from Sage.  In our opinion, they are among the nicest casting Spey rods that Sage has ever produced, in any line weights.  Their cosmetics are classy, and they have a progressive flex pattern and plenty of feel.  The 4113 was one of our favorite premium rods that we demoed. It’s lightweight, but extremely powerful, and calling it a “4 and a Half weight” would not be out of the question when compared to other brands.  It casts a variety of heads, tips, fly sizes, and distances with ease. If you are looking for one of the top 4 wt trout Spey rods on the market this is definitely one to take for a spin. 

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 23ft

  • Again, we found SAGE’s suggested line to be a good option for this rod.  This line handled both 16ft mono leaders and a suite of SA Sonar leaders with ease, with the edge going to the Sonar leaders for cleaner loops.  The mono leader option was very good still and allowed us to turn over a couple of bead head soft hackles easily, at range.
  • Adding the SA Sonar leader to the 305 grain Trout Spey Shooting Head essentially creates a multi-tip Scandi option that allows the angler to cover a lot of angling situations with one line (shy of strowing medium/heavy streamers).  This was a line combo that we really loved on the 5125 Burkie as well.
  • 16ft mono leader = 12 ft RIO Steelhead leader with 4ft of 2x tippet

Rio Elite Skagit Max Power 350gr, 19ft

  • We prefer the 18-20’ Skagit lines on trout Spey rods 11 to 12ft long, so this was our top Skagit choice for this rod.  Spreading out the grains a bit more smoothed out turnover while still giving plenty of punch to get a 10-12ft T8 tip and a weighted streamer out there. 
  • Things started getting a bit weird when we tried turning over some wind and water resistant Mini Dungeons, but we still sent ‘em out across Barns #1.  If this is the type of fly to plan to fish most, however, you might look to another option – probably something longer to improve pulling the fly out and around, rather than heavier.

RIO Scandi Short 330gr, 29ft 

  • Great choice for the devoted floating line soft hackle addict who fishes big water!

Orvis Mission 2-Handed 11’4” 3wt

11’4”, 3wt, $798

Orvis says:

180 to 280gr. 260 Skagit. 210 Scandi – Two-handed anglers, the Mission Fly Rod collection is the one you’ve been waiting for. We’ve borrowed engineering techniques from our Helios 3 collection to create this line of rods to suit a range of casting styles.

Big Sky Anglers says:

The Mission series is Orvis’ top end, US made Spey rod lineup.  Light in hand, with a rather stiff lower half and crisp tip action, these will be a sure favorite for those who prefer a Scandinavian style action vs a more traditional, deeper flexing action. Our line preferences were all heavier than the reccommended weights from Orvis.  If you like casting tight loops off the tip and giving your Skagit casts a bit more OOMPH, definitely give these rods a go.  The 3wt Mission is super light, crisp, and would make a really awesome soft hackle and light streamer rod for our area rivers.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head, 230grain, 23ft

  • This line, paired with an SA 10ft 55gr Sonar leader and a long (8ft) tippet was our absolute favorite on this rod.  So good, so light, crisp and clean.
  • A sharp, high rod stopping position will send it to the moon.

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power, 275gr, 17ft

  • This rod was able to handle this line and 10ft T8 MOW tips with ease, given that the caster used a very short, compact casting stroke with a sharp, high rod stop. 

Orvis Mission 2-Handed 11’4” 4wt

Orvis says:

260 to 330 gr. 310 Skagit. 260 Scandi – Two-handed anglers, the Mission Fly Rod collection is the one you’ve been waiting for. We’ve borrowed engineering techniques from our Helios 3 collection to create this line of rods to suit a range of casting styles.

Big Sky Anglers says:

The Mission series is Orvis’ top end, US made Spey rod lineup.  Light in hand, with a rather stiff lower half and crisp tip action, these will be a sure favorite for those who prefer a Scandinavian style action vs a more traditional, deeper flexing action. Our line preferences were all heavier than the reccommended weights from Orvis. If you like casting tight loops off the tip and giving your Skagit casts a bit more OOMPH, definitely give these rods a go.  The 4wt Mission is cut from the same mold as the 3wt and is super light and crisp.  The advantage of the additional grain capacity would be in throwing slightly bigger flies while retaining the same tip casting style.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head, 305gr, 23ft

  • This line was fantastic on this rod when paired with 55 grain, 10ft SA Sonar Leaders and a long tippet.  Really well balanced, crisp, and nice.  These was the line that sold us on this rod as a Scandi machine!
  • Stop high & let it fly!

RIO Elite Skagit Max Power, 350gr, 19ft

  • After trying both heavier and lighter Skagit heads on this rod, we arrived at this line as our preferred choice.  Heavier lines did not serve to load the rod more deeply, only make it sluggish.  Even with a 10ft T8 sink tip, this rod likes to be cast off the tip, loading the top half of the rod.

Orvis Mission 2-Handed 12’0” 5wt

12’0”, 5wt, $798

Orvis says:

300 to 380 gr. 360 Skagit. 300 Scandi.– Two-handed anglers, the Mission Fly Rod collection is the one you’ve been waiting for. We’ve borrowed engineering techniques from our Helios 3 collection to create this line of rods to suit a range of casting styles.

Big Sky Anglers says:

The Mission series is Orvis’ top end, US made Spey rod lineup.  Light in hand, with a rather stiff lower half and crisp tip action, these will be a sure favorite for those who prefer a Scandinavian style action vs a more traditional, deeper flexing action. Our line preferences were all heavier than the reccommended weights from Orvis. If you like casting tight loops off the tip and giving your Skagit casts a bit more OOMPH, definitely give these rods a go.  The 5wt Mission really shined as one of the best Scandi casting rods of all the bunch.  We’d recommend this especially to folks who fish dry lines and small wets for half pounder steelhead on the coast or smaller, 1-salt summer fish.  The advantage of the additional grain capacity in the Skagit range would be for throwing big flies while retaining the same tip casting style.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head, 350gr, 23ft

  • This line was fantastic on this rod when paired with 55 grain, 10ft SA Sonar Leaders and a long tippet.  Really well balanced, crisp, and nice.  These was the line that sold us on this rod as a Scandi machine!

RIO Elite Skagit Max Power, 375gr, 19ft

  • After trying both heavier and lighter Skagit heads on this rod, we arrived at this line as our preferred choice.  Heavier lines did not serve to load the rod more deeply, only make it sluggish.  Even with a 10ft T8 sink tip, this rod likes to be cast off the tip, loading the top half of the rod.

G. Loomis IMX-PRO Shortspey 31111-4

11’11”, 3wt, $625

Loomis says:

270 Skagit Scout, 270 Rage, Scandi, or switch float

Big Sky Anglers says:

In the mid-price point category, this is a really nice all around 3wt, especially for those who prefer a longer rod.  It is still probably not enough rod if you are going to spend much time with bigger streamers and want to throw some bigger tips.  It’s longer length made it feel more like a big kid Spey rod, and really helped us cover bigger water and some of the wider drifts on our local rivers. 

Line Recommendations:

RIO EliteTrout Spey Shooting Head #3, 265gr, 23ft

  • Anchors were a bit unstable and turnover was sloppy with this pairing when we used a 16ft mono leader and soft hackles.
  • Thing changed and became exceptionally good when we added the 55grain SA Sonar leader to this setup.  Anchoring and turnover cleaned up nicely.  Easy.

RIO Scandi Short 240gr, 29ft 

  •  Simply beautiful casting setup with 16ft mono leader.  Super lively, stop high and let it fly, crisp Scandi setup
  • This line gives the rod the feel of a bigger Spey rod, and will be enough to please advanced casters. 

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 275gr (17’)

  • A good Skagit type option for this rod but some anglers may find it to be a bit on the short side.  275 grains is best suited for casting and fishing sinking coated leaders like SA Sonar 10ft Leaders rather than level “T tips”.

G. Loomis IMX-PRO Shortspey 41111-4

11’11”, 4wt, $625

Loomis says:

330 Skagit Scout, 300 Rage, Scandi, or switch float

Big Sky Anglers says:

In the mid-price point category, this is the one stick that rules them all.  Incredibly versatile, this rod can handle Scandi lines, Skagit lines, Spey casts, Overhead casts, Softhackles, Big Junk, and all in between. It’s longer length made it feel more like a big kid Spey rod, and really helped us cover bigger water and some of the wider drifts on our local rivers.  This is a real fishing tool that Justin absolutely loves.  The Loomis 4111 has a wide grain window and even flex pattern, making line pairings relatively easy.  Even at 11ft 11in, the rod feels pretty light in hand.  To best take advantage of this rod’s versatility, we recommend pairing two different lines with it – a Scandi Short for smaller lighter flies and a Skagit Max Short for working streamers. Don’t think twice about adding this model to your arsenal. 

Line Recommendations:

RIO Scandi Short 270gr, 29ft 

  • A+.  Simply beautiful casting setup with 16ft mono leader.  Again, we had to wrestle this setup out of Matt’s hands to have a try.
  • This line gives the rod a super crisp feel of a true Scandi style rod.  Slightly lighter than the Loomis recommendation, this line may be a better choice for more experienced Spey Casters.

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 23ft

  • This line handled a suite of SA Sonar leaders with ease, with excellent turnover and clean loops with mid-sized/light streamers.  A nice choice if you are looking for a 1 line quiver and don’t plan to throw bigger streamers.
  • The 16ft mono leader option was OK, but a bit sloppy, still allowing us to turn over a couple of beadhead soft hackles easily.

RIO Elite Skagit Max Power 350gr, 19ft

  • We prefer the 18-20’ Skagit lines on trout Spey rods 11 to 12 ft long, so this was our top Skagit choice for this rod.  Spreading out the grains a bit more smoothed out turnover while still giving plenty of punch to get a 10-12ft T8 tip and a weighted streamer out there. 
  • Things started getting a bit weird when we tried turning over some wind and water resistant Mini Dungeons, but we still sent ‘em out across Barns #1.  The length of the rod really helped to pull the tip and fly out on the hang and sweep with enough power to keep the anchor from sticking too hard.  That said, See below if you want more HUCK for the buck.

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head, 350gr, 23ft

  • The RIO Trout Spey Shooting Head is truly a versatile line.  Up-lining with the Trout Spey Shooting Head from 305 to 350 grains allowed us to throw sink tips and larger streamers a-la Skagit lines, but the length and taper of this line made for really clean loop formation and turnover for casters who prefer to cast with a bit more velocity and performance than typically associated with classic Skagit casting.
  • This line handed a 12ft T8 tip and a medium sized weighted streamer with ease, and is Matt’s preferred line system for streamer fishing with this rod. 

RIO Elite Skagit Max Power 375gr, 19ft

  • When Justin and Matt first cast this rod they had a quick chat and agreed that it likely would be able to handle a really wide grain window.  So, just to see we loaded up with a 375gr Skagit and 12ft of T10 tip and a Mini Dungeon streamer.  YES.  Pure Skagit huck fest.  Not necessarily a super smooth butter casting setup, but we were very pleased that it was easily able to deliver the extra heavy goods. 

G. Loomis IMX-PRO Shortspey 51111-4

11’11”, 5wt, $625

Loomis says:

360 Skagit Scout, 330 Rage, 360 Scandi

Big Sky Anglers says:

Bumping up to the 5wt in this rod lineup really took this rod into another category as far as ideal fishing situations and conditions.  It felt to us a lot heavier than the 4wt, and maybe not as well suited to trouting unless it was for dedicated big streamer and sinking tip work.  The handles felt a bit too short as well, given the heavier lines and tips we wanted to throw with it.  This rod will be right at home on mid to large sized rivers with big fish!

Line Recommendations:

RIO Scandi Body 400gr

  • This line was really sweet and easy on this rod, and well suited to the 11’11” length.  The 375 grain Scandi body could also be a winner here to cast with a bit more zip.  Despite the “Scandi Body” name, this fishes much more like a hybrid Skagit setup.
  • With SA Sonar leaders and weighted streamers it was no problem and could easily through T8 tips or more.

RIO Elite Skagit Max Power 400gr, 20ft

  • RIO labels this line a 6wt, but it cast like a dream on this setup, bombing big streamers and T8 tips with ease.  10ft of T10 tips are within the realm of possibility for this setup.

Sage G5 Trout Spey 3110-4

11’0”, 3wt, $650

Sage says:

(Grains: 250 – 300gr) – Soft hackles, moderately weighted steamers 1 – 2 – The most versatile of the TROUT SPEY G5 series. The 3110-4 will accommodate a large variety of fly lines as well as a variety of flies. If you’re new to the Trout Spey category this is the rod of choice.

Big Sky Anglers says:

When we got our hands on the first G5 Trout Speys we were immediately stoked due to the classic deeper flexing actions combined with fast recovery harkening back to the G5 technology flagship series, the Z Axis.  These are a fantastic compliment to the Trout Spey HD lineup for those looking to really feel a deeper load.  We liked lines that fell right in the middle of Sage’s published grain window, and we think you probably will to.  For the price, these rods are hard to top, and the 3wt is sure to become a well loved rod for soft hackles and small buggers.  Like with most 3wts, though, deep wading, wind, and big streamers are this rod’s kryptonite.

Line Recommendations:

RIO EliteTrout Spey Shooting Head #2, 230gr, 23ft

  • Anchors were a bit unstable and turnover was sloppy with this pairing when we used a 16ft mono leader and soft hackles.
  • Paired with a kit of the 55grain, 10ft SA Sonar leaders, this could be a 1 line quiver for an angler looking to throw anything from small softhackles up to small beadhead buggers.

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 275gr, 17ft

This line was a match made in Skagit heaven for this rod, perfect for chucking sinking coated leaders like SA Sonar 10ft Leaders and small to mid-sized streamers.


Sage G5 Trout Spey 4113-4

11’3”, 4wt, $650

Sage says:

(Grains: 300 – 350gr) – Large streamers up to 3 inches – The 4113-4 model is built for large and carnivorous trout and the larger flies used to get their attention. Power to cast larger streamers and leeches.

Big Sky Anglers says:

When we got our hands on the first G5 Trout Speys we were immediately stoked due to the classic deeper flexing actions combined with fast recovery harkening back to the G5 technology flagship series, the Z Axis.  These are a fantastic compliment to the Trout Spey HD lineup for those looking to really feel a deeper load.  We liked lines that fell right in the middle of Sage’s published grain window, and we think you probably will to.  For the price, these rods are hard to top, and the 4wt is sure to become a well loved rod for anglers who like to fish streamers most and soft hackles when the time is right.  If you fish a lot of water where deep wading is the norm, you might look to a longer 4 or 5 wt option, but otherwise this one is smooth, like a good northwest IPA.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 23ft

  • Again, we found SAGE’s suggested line to be a good option for this rod as a 1 line quiver.  This line handled both 16ft mono leaders and a suite of SA Sonar leaders with ease, with the edge going to the Sonar leaders for cleaner loops.  The mono leader option was very good still and allowed us to turn over a couple of bead head soft hackles easily, at range.
  • Adding the SA Sonar leader to the 305 grain Trout Spey Shooting Head essentially creates a multi-tip Scandi option that allows the angler to cover a lot of angling situations with one line (shy of strowing medium/heavy streamers). 

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #3, 265gr, 23ft

  • Dropping down one size in the Trout Spey Shooting Head and keeping with the 55gr 10ft Sonar leader really brought out a more crisp, Scandi style nature in this rod. 
  • This would make a great line for throwing soft hackles and micro streamers as part of a 2 line quiver for this rod.

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power, 325gr, 18ft

  • Right in the center of Sage’s published grain window, this line really seemed to do it for a Skagit option.
  • This is 25 grains lighter than we like for a Skagit line on the Trout Spey HD.
  • A great compliment to this line for streamer fishing is a couple of strategically selected T8 MOW tips.  5×5 and 10ft full sinking are our two favorites.

Echo Trout Spey TS 4110

11’0”, 4wt, $499

Echo says:

300 Scandi, 300-330 Skagit

Big Sky Anglers says:

The Echo TS 4110 is certainly our favorite member of the Echo TS lineup.  This 4wt is a beautiful rod and has some similarities with much higher priced rods in terms of ease of casting, weight (it’s super light in hand), and overall angling versatility. This rod can easily challenge rods twice its price for a space in your fishing gear room.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 325gr (18’)

  • All day long.  Great with Poly leaders or up to 10ft T8

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 23ft

  • Exceptionally good when paired with the 55grain SA Sonar leaders.  Anchoring and turnover were smooth and easy.
  • Note that anchors were semi-easily blown and turnover was sloppy with this pairing when we used a 16ft mono leader and soft hackles instead of the SA Sonar Leaders.

RIO Scandi Short 300gr, 29ft 

  • Super nice on this rod as a pure floating line option to pair with the 325 Elite Skagit Mini Max Power

Redington Claymore Trout Spey 2110-4

11’0”, 2wt, $449.99

Redington says:

The 2110 CLAYMORE Trout Spey brings the joy of two-hand casting to your local trout waters. Perfect for swinging classic wet flies and soft hackles on smaller streams. Recommended Skagit Grains: 200-225 Scandi Grains: 180-210

Big Sky Anglers says:

The 2wt Claymore performed just as we expected based on Redington’s claims that it is a great small water soft hackle stick.  What really surprised us was how well it handled a 225gr Skagit head even with a 5×5 T8 MOW tip!  Obviously, the 2wt platform has some inherent limitations, but if you spend a lot of time on small water and wind is not a regular thing, this could be a real winner for you.  If there is a downside to this setup, it is that the bigger cork handle with additional rubber grip pads seemed to really take away from some of the feel that this little rod could probably have.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #1, 190gr, 23ft

  • Paired with a set of 55grain, 10ft SA Sonar leaders, this is the 1 line quiver for this rod.  Very crisp, clean, and well suited to a high rod stop.
  • Soft hackles from the surface down to the depths, and maybe even some little buggers are right in this line’s wheelhouse.
  • As a side note, we put the 2wt (230gr) version of this same line on the rod and with the Sonar leaders it felt very sluggish.  Proof that the smaller the Spey rod the smaller the grain window sweet spot.  It cast much better with the 230grain head with a long mono leader.

OPST Commando Head, 225gr, 13.5ft

  • We tested this rod with a RIO Intouch Skagit Trout Spey line that was 13.5ft and it really shined.  It even turned over some 5×5 T8 MOW tips w relative ease.  With that line now discontinued, we recommend pairing this rod with the closest counterpart of that line from OPST, the 225grain Commando Head, also 13.5ft.
  • Alternatively, you could go with a slightly longer Skagit head like the RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power in 225grain at 16ft.  Expect the turnover to be a bit less powerful, probably making this more suited to sinking poly leader type tips.  Certainly, the casting will feel a little bit less Skagity and more crisp.

Redington Claymore Trout Spey 3113-4

11’3”, 3wt, $449.99

Redington says:

The 3113 CLAYMORE is the go-to Trout Spey rod in the CLAYMORE family. Powerful enough to fish a variety of Trout Spey flies, but with enough feel for smaller trout. Recommended Skagit Grains: 250-300 Scandi Grains: 210-240

Big Sky Anglers says:

This was a really nice, really forgiving rod that is going to absolutley flex in to the cork with a 15” rainbow trout on the end of the line.  Super fun!  

See the line reccomendations below, but for us, going with a 1 line quiver and Sonar leaders seems to make the most sense for this rod.  If you are an angler that plans to spend a fair bit of time streamer hucking for mid-larger sized trout, and only doing a bit of soft hackling, you might be better off with a 4wt.

If there is a downside to this setup, it is that the bigger cork handle with additional rubber grip pads seemed to really take away from some of the feel that this little rod could probably have.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #2, 230gr, 23ft

  • Like with the Claymore 2wt, we found the Trout Spey Shooting head downsized by 1 to be the ticket here.
  • Paired with a set of 55grain, 10ft SA Sonar leaders, this is the 1 line quiver for this rod.  Very crisp, clean, and well suited to a high rod stop.
  • Soft hackles and small/light streamers from the surface down to the depths, are right in this rod/line’s wheelhouse.

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 275gr, 17ft

  • This line was a match made in Skagit heaven for this rod, perfect for chucking sinking coated leaders like SA Sonar 10ft Leaders and small to mid-sized streamers.
  • If you fish small to mid-sized water… for small to mid-sized trout… that love to eat small to mid-sized streamers… this would be a very tough rod/line combo to beat.

Redington Claymore Trout Spey 4116-4

11’6”, 4wt, $449.99

Redington says:

The 4116 CLAYMORE Trout Spey is built for the two-handed caster wanting to throw heavier flies and light sink tips to larger trout. The extra power and length are ideal for larger western rivers where the wind is just part of a day of fishing. Recommended Skagit Grains: 300-350 Scandi Grains: 240-270

Big Sky Anglers says:

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to demo this one, probably because someone borrowed it from Kurt Kruger, our Redington Rep, and liked it so much they decided to keep it.  Jokes aside, we really wished we had been able to play with this rod.  We love 4wt Speys for our area because they pair well with bigger rivers, good sized trout, and the ever present risk of wind.  We think the 11’6” length is really nice all around, giving the angler a bit more control on big water when wading deep compared to 11 and 11’3” rods.  We will try and get a hold of one of these at Spey Days and update this post accordingly.


Redington Claymore Spey 5123-4

12’3”, 5wt, $449.99

Redington says:

The 5123 CLAYMORE Spey rod was designed to be a crossover between large trout and an ultra-light steelhead rod. This rod will handle larger trout flies in the wind and is also perfect for skating dries for smaller steelhead. Recommended Skagit Grains: 350-400 Scandi Grains: 270-330

Big Sky Anglers says:

This rod definitely comes in as advertised.  We would take this to big water like the Mo, Yellowstone, some of our favorite haunts in Argentina, or out to the coast for Half Pound steelies with 100% confidence.  The extra length and power will let you really command the river and fish where you simply can’t with single hand rods or even smaller 2-handers.  At this price point, we haven’t found a better 12+’ 5wt that is still fun to fish for trout.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #5, 350gr, 23ft

  • This extremely versatile line is a great match for this rod, especially if you are looking for a 1 line quiver.
  • Pair with 55grain, 10ft SA Sonar leaders for a very smooth, well balanced feel that is a hybrid Scandi/Skagit vibe.
  • From our experience with the Burkie 5125, we know this line with also turn over T tips up to 12ft of T8 with ease.  Think of this as a long Skagit head with T tips.

RIO Scandi Short, 330gr, 31ft

  • As a dedicated dry line for this rod, the Scandi Short is tough to beat with a long mono leader of 12-16ft.
  • Half pounder steelhead on traditional wets? Yes.
  • Big lake runners on small flies?  Yes.
  • Dialing in your casting in preparation for a jump up to bigger rods and longer lines?  Yes.

RIO Elite Skagit Max Power, 375gr, 19ft

  • This is our choice for a dedicated Skagit line for this rod.  You can throw some pretty big, bulky flies and nasty sink tips with a 375 grain body.  12ft of T8 or T10 and some rabbit is in play with this setup.

Orvis Clearwater 2-Handed 11’ 4” 3wt

11’4”, 3wt, $398

Orvis says:

180 to 280gr. 260 Skagit. 210 Scandi – With a variety of rod sizes to choose from, these rods are excellent for fishing larger rivers. Designed in Manchester, Vermont, our Clearwater two-handed rods provide high-end performance at excellent prices. Our lighter line of two-handed rods are perfect for swinging soft hackles on large trout rivers.

Big Sky Anglers says:

The Clearwater series is Orvis’ mid priced Spey offering.  Like the Mission series, they are light in hand (but not quite as light at the Mission), with a rather stiff lower half and crisp tip action.  They were much crisper and more powerful on the water than we expected after our initial “wiggle test” in the shop.  These will be a sure favorite for those who prefer a Scandinavian style action vs a more traditional, deeper flexing action. Our line preferences were all heavier than the recommended weights from Orvis. If you like casting tight loops off the tip and giving your Skagit casts a bit more OOMPH, definitely give these rods a go.  The 3wt Clearwater is light, crisp, and would make a really awesome soft hackle and light streamer rod for our area rivers.  Among all the Orvis rods, though, this was the one we strugggled hardest to match with a Skagit line that we really liked.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head, 265 gr, 23ft

  • Paired with a set of SA 10ft 55grain Sonar Leaders, this line seemed like the only line you’d need for this rod to have a great time casting and fishing anything from tiny soft hackles to small, light streamers.

Orvis Clearwater 2-Handed 11’ 4” 4wt

11’4”, 4wt, $398

Orvis says:

260 to 330 gr. 310 Skagit. 260 Scandi – With a variety of rod sizes to choose from, these rods are excellent for fishing larger rivers. Designed in Manchester, Vermont, our Clearwater two-handed rods provide high-end performance at excellent prices. Our lighter line of two-handed rods are perfect for swinging soft hackles on large trout rivers.

Big Sky Anglers says:

The Clearwater series is Orvis’ mid priced Spey offering.  Like the Mission series, they are light in hand (but not quite as light at the Mission), with a rather stiff lower half and crisp tip action.  They were much crisper and more powerful on the water than we expected after our initial “wiggle test” in the shop.  These will be a sure favorite for those who prefer a Scandinavian style action vs a more traditional, deeper flexing action.  Our line preferences were all heavier than the recommended weights from Orvis.  If you like casting tight loops off the tip and giving your Skagit casts a bit more OOMPH, definitely give these rods a go.  The 4wt Clearwater is cut from the same mold as the 3wt and is both light and crisp.  The advantage of the additional grain capacity would be in throwing slightly bigger flies while retaining the same tip casting style.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head, 305gr, 23ft

  • This line was fantastic on this rod when paired with 55 grain, 10ft SA Sonar Leaders and a long tippet.  Really well balanced, crisp, and nice. 

RIO Elite Skagit Max Power, 350gr, 19ft

  • After trying both heavier and lighter Skagit heads on this rod, we arrived at this line as our preferred choice.  Heavier lines did not serve to load the rod more deeply, only make it sluggish.  Even with a 10ft T8 sink tip, this rod likes to be cast off the tip, loading the top half of the rod.

Echo TR2 4113

11’3”, 4wt, $379

Echo says:

360 Scandi, 360-390 Skagit

Big Sky Anglers says:

This rod has been a Trout Spey staple for us over the years.  Very versatile, easy to cast, and priced very reasonably.  The Echo TR 4113 is probably the best entry level 4wt Trout Spey rod we know of that can do many things well. It handles a variety of sink tips, distances, and small to medium size flies with ease. This would be a great all around rod for fishing most water on rivers the size of the Madison and Henry’s Fork.  It can comfortably handle large trout, too, if you are into that sort of thing.  😊 

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 325gr (18’)

  • A very good Skagit type option for this rod.  325 grains is able to over 10ft of T8 or SA Sonar Leaders, with a Sculpzilla type streamer no problem.

RIO EliteTrout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 23ft

  • Exceptionally good when paired with the 55grain SA Sonar leaders.  Anchoring and turnover were smooth and easy.
  • Note that anchors were semi-easily blown and turnover was sloppy with this pairing when we used a 16ft mono leader and soft hackles instead of the SA Sonar Leaders.

RIO Scandi Short 300gr, 29ft 

  • Super nice on this rod as a pure floating line option to pair with the 325 Skagit Max Short

Redington Dually 3106-4

10’6”, 3wt, $299.99

Redington says:

Recommended Skagit Grains: 250-275 Scandi Grains: 225-250

Big Sky Anglers says:

Here we have one of the real surprises of our 2020 demo effort.  While not as light in hand, or with the high end cosmetics of the higher end offerings, this little rod won us over as an incredible price point rod that covers a wide range of fishing options and has a surprisingly sophisticated feel.  It is far lighter and crisper than the 4wt Dually.  Enough so that they could easily be mistaken for being from different rod lineups or manufacturers. 

This rod is a superb value, and is a great rod for those just getting started in trout Spey or for someone looking for a second rod for the quiver for smaller water and fly applications.  The Dually 3106 handles light leaders/tips and small soft hackles/streamers well, and will allow you to cover small water very comfortably. 

This rod could even be considered a “quiver of 1”, when paired with a RIO Trout Spey Shooting Head in 265 grain, and a set of 10ft SA Sonar leaders.

Line Recommendations:

RIO Elite Trout Spey Shooting Head #3, 265gr, 23ft

  • Wow! Surprisingly crisp and fun throwing soft hackles on a 16ft mono leader.
  • Turn this into a 1 line kit with SA Sonar leaders.  This turned over a Sculpzilla weighted bunny streamer on the Type 6 Sonar leader no problem, and would be able to get deep with soft hackles, seams of soft hackles, or buggers.

RIO Elite Skagit Mini Max Power 275 Grain, 17ft

  • Excellent Skagit option with SA Sonar leaders.  A bit light for blasting out heavier T-tips.

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