Big Sky Anglers 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Big Sky Anglers 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Hello there and Happy Holidays from all of us here in Big Sky Anglers. We walked around the shop and picked out some of the best gifts we could find hoping to help you take away the guess work for that angler in your life. If you don’t see something here, please give us a shout and we will do our best to find what you’re looking for.

Art


Cody Richardson License Plate Trout

We love these pieces! They celebrate one of the great rites of passage among trout anglers – road tripping across Montana or the entire western United States and fishing every chance we get! Every license plate art piece is handmade and is unique. Yours will look very similar to those in the images but will not be exactly the same as the photo example. If you’d like to give us a call we can share more detail about each piece. Options include a trout featuring either Vintage Montana Tags or Plates from States across the Mountain West.

All trout are 35″ x 21″

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Toti Palmer Handmade/Hand Painted Leather Fly Wallet

Made by our good friend and artist Toti Palmer in San Martin De Los Andes, Patagonia, Argentina. Toti makes these beautiful wallets from a single piece of leather and hand paints each brown trout making it a one of a kind piece. Each wallet has been treated with a leather finish that protects it from fading or damage. Don’t miss a chance to own this truly unique item. Quantities are limited.

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Stickable Art from Mimi Matsuda, Nate Karnes, Casey Underwood, and Drew Wilson

Stickers, not just for kids these days! Perfect little gifts for darn near everyone in your family. Check out all of our stickers online for a wide variety of options.

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Abby Pafrath Art 4 All Hats

Wearable art from phenomenally talented artist Abby Pafrath out of Jackson, Wyoming. Her designs include Unisex as well as Women’s and Kids hats!

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BSA Custom Rod, Reel, & Line Packages


Over the past year we have been working hard here at the shop to pull together a few of our very favorite Rod, Reel, and Line combinations that we believe match not only our personal fishing styles and aesthetic preferences, but also those of many of our customers as well. From small streams to big rivers, ponds and lakes, single hand, Spey, and more, we love sharing our favorite gear with folks. For this holiday season we’ve put together two very special kits featuring incredible rods made right here in the west (Montana and Colorado) and custom colored and engraved Nautilus X-series reels that will make any trout angler blush. We also are doing a special discount on our own Ultimate Rocky Mountain Starter Kit, as well as the regular amazing prices on the Echo Gecko Kit for the kiddos and Echo Base Kits for those looking to just get going in the sport at a great price.

Winston Pure / Custom Nautilus X-Series with Big Sky Anglers Logo

When the Winston Pure series came out we couldn’t wait to fish it here in Yellowstone Country. From the 8ft 4wt to the 9ft 5wt, this rod is sweet perfection complete with the Winston feel. We have fished it on the big rivers in Montana and Idaho as well as the small streams throughout YNP, Idaho and Montana; the Pure Series has quickly become one of those green sticks we will reference for years to come. The Pure series is very accurate at distances out to 45 feet and beyond, mends with ease and plays those larger trout all the way to the net. We paired the Pure with a Nautilus X series reel in the size to balance the selected rod, with custom colors and BSA engraving.

As our Holiday Special, we are throwing in an SA Amplitude Smooth Trout fly line, 20lb Rio Dacron backing, BSA Trucker Hat, BSA pin and a BSA sticker for free.

If you have questions about which rod is best for you, give the shop a call and ask for Joe, Jonathan or Justin.

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Scott Centric / Custom Nautilus X-Series with Big Sky Anglers Logo

At long last, Scott has released the much anticipated followup to their incredible Radian series.  The Centric! Scott put the feel in fast action rods. Now they have taken it to the next level. The Centric is a snappy rod; it recovers well and is very accurate with small dries at a distance. This will be a fantastic tool for chasing Hebgen gulpers, jamming dry droppers to the banks on the Madison or picking up long line on the Ranch to relocate your fly in a better lane. This is a faster action rod with plenty of soul.

We’ve paired the 5 and 6wt Centrics with custom colored and engraved Nautilus X-series reels, in matching sizes.

As a Holiday Special, we are throwing in an SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity fly line, 20lb Rio Dacron backing, BSA Trucker Hat, BSA pin and a BSA sticker for free.

If you have questions about which rod is best for you, give the shop a call and ask for Joe, Jonathan or Justin.

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Big Sky Anglers Ultimate Rocky Mountain Starter Kit

The Ultimate Rocky Mountain Starter Kit is the culmination of many years of us here at Big Sky Anglers helping people get out on the water and making sure they have everything they need to fish all the main water types and techniques typically used in our region.  One of the main things that sets this outfit apart from other combos is that it includes two extra spools and variety of fly lines, not just a simple floating line. Having three different fly lines (floating, sink tip, and full sinking) is a game changer when it comes to catching fish in all water types/depths with a fun variety of techniques. In the kit, we have also included many other essentials items like a leader and tippet, dry fly floatant, forceps, nippers, some of our favorite flies including dries, nymphs, and streamers. We even throw in a great all around pocket guide to fly fishing written by MT legend Gary Lafontaine. For those looking for a trout specific outfit we recommend the 9ft 5wt and for those who looking for a kit that can handle both trout and bass we recommend the 9ft 6wt. If you plan to mainly fish for bass or panfish, please contact us at the shop and we can customize the fly selection and tippet/leader to match the fishing you will be doing. Everything will be set up at the shop prior to shipping making it easy for you to get out on the water!

The total value of this kit is $461 but we are offering it as a Holiday Special for only $399!

Included in the Kit:

Echo Base Rod (9ft 5 or 6 wt 4 pc rod with rod sock, tube, and lifetime warrantly) $90; Lamson Liquid 3 Pack (Reeland 2 extra Spools) $180; Weight Forward Floating Fly Line (to match rod) $30, Scientific Anglers Wet Cel sink tip line $35, Scientific Anglers Wet Cel full sinking line $35; 300 yards 20lb Rio Dacron backing (100 yards per spool) $15; 12 assorted flies $30: 1 Fly floatant $6; 1 spool 4x Rio tippet $5; 1 leader $5; 1 Airlock strike Indicator $3; 1 Nipper $7; 1 Forcep $7; Gary Lafontaine Beginner Fly Fishing Book  $13

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Echo Gecko Kit

The absolute best rod on the market for your little ones is the Echo Gecko. The kit comes with a case, rod, reel and fly line. Don’t be alarmed when you feel the urge to take this out of your child’s hand because you like it too!

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Orvis Clearwater 9ft 5wt Kit

The Clearwater 5-Weight 9′ Fly Rod is a standard for western rivers and bigger eastern water. Not only does it have the length to reach out and control drifts and the power to reach far banks, but the line weight to handle big trout and light bass. Firing a big streamer up and across a big river and reaching out to mend the line and control the drift is right in this rod’s wheelhouse. Throwing big attractors with droppers, or big hoppers in the early fall is the perfect task for this rod. If big water and big flies are called for, then the Clearwater 905-4 is the weapon of choice at a price that will keep a lot of travel money in your pocket.

Rod outfit includes:

  • Clearwater 905-4 fly rod
  • Clearwater II reel
  • Clearwater 5-Weight fly line
  • 100 yds. 20-lb. Dacron® backing
  • Rod tube

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Simms Goods


Long known as the makers of the best waders around, Simms also produces some of the best, and handiest other products that we carry at Big Sky Anglers. Among our favorites are the Dry Creek Simple Pack (Justin’s personal go-to pack for all day trips, both fishing and otherwise), their folding Wading Staff (always handy on the rugged Madison, or out in steelhead country), and the Everyday Beanie (which keeps the noggin warm and doubles as a backup reel bag in a pinch).


Big Sky Anglers Apparel and Logo Gear


Beanies from Simms, Orvis, and Ouray

Want to keep your noggin warmer this winter? Well here ya go! Our very own black BSA stocking hat, the Orvis camo beanie and the Simms CBP Merino Beanie in hunter orange. Both the BSA Stocking hat and Simms orange beanie stretch over ball caps with ease.

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BSA Classic Stack Logo Hoody

This is the perfect layer to knock down the chill during those “cold” Texas winters. We absolutely love hooded sweatshirts here in Yellowstone Country and find them to be the perfect layer anytime of the year.

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Fishing Hats

Everyone loves a good fishing hat, some even believe that their hat has special powers bringing them luck on the river. Good fish karma starts with you, but a sexy hat never hurts either! Joe made the Dope Rope hat famous in the shop this summer, but when friend of BSA and musician Sam Hunt wore it while recording it took things to all together new level. We have a host of fishy hats online, check them out.

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Bud Lilly’s & Big Sky Anglers LS T-shirt and Sticker

This T-shirt pays homage to not only the roots of the modern Big Sky Anglers fly shop, but also the roots of modern fly fishing and outfitting in the west.  Bud Lilly laid the groundwork far essentially everything we do today, from promoting fly fishing as a means to enjoy nature, to providing the best gear available, and maintaining a strong conservation ethic.  Every time we pull one of these shirts on we remember all that Bud did for our sport. The classic Bud Lilly’s trout logo stands proud on the back of this shirt, with a small BSA logo on the front chest. For the holidays, we are throwing in one of our classic Bud Lilly stickers with ever shirt.

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Hydro Flasks

For cold or warm beverages, Hydro Flask can’t be beat. Most of our guide staff uses these on our guide trip each day to help reduce the waste of plastic bottles. Pitch in and do the same!

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Zippo Lighters

We find that having a lighter is an essential piece of gear while fishing, both on foot and in the drift boat, and Zippo lighters are as classy as they come.

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Sili Pints Drinkwear

Beers, cocktails and wine all taste better from Sili Pint, at least we think so. What we really like about them is their unbreakableness. Have one too many and drop your drink? No problem, at least you didn’t break the glass!

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Big Sky Anglers Sticker Packs

These are, by far, our most popular BSA stickers in the shop. These are perfect for your rod tube, hyrdo flask, cooler or the side of your rig. For the holiday season we have introduced a brand new, never before seen sticker – the BSA Beard sticker.

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Big Sky Anglers & Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop Pins

This gift is a perfect stocking stuffer for the angler in your life. Justin found a few more old school Bud Lilly’s pin and we paired those with our BSA pin and packaged everything up in a BSA fly puck and a BSA Sticker.

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Fly Selections


Who doesn’t love flies? Without flies, we are just plain old fishing. We help a ton of anglers throughout the season here on the corner of Madison and Canyon and with out a doubt, one of the questions we field is “can you help us with a selection of flies for the area?”. So after talking with the staff we pulled together these selections to help make the decision a little easier on you this Holiday Season.

Guides Choice Fly Selection

This little gift is perfect stocking stuffer for the anglers in your life. Come Christmas morning they will appreciate you even more!

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BSA Loaded Fly Selections

The sheer number of fly patterns that are available these days can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. For the angler coming to our area, the variety of water types, hatches, and fishing situations can make fly selection intimidating. We love all the flies, of course, but we also understand that it is really nice to get what you need in a simple, condensed, effective package. That’s where our custom BSA Fly Selections are perfect. Grab and go, and cover most of the situations you are likely to encounter!

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2020 BSA Streamer Box – Our guides and shop staff love to fish streamers on their days off and so we asked them to walk through the fly bins and pull some of their favorites. This selection of 21 streamers comes with a free waterproof slit foam fly box, a BSA sticker and a BSA pin.

Flies include 3 each of: #4 Black BFE, #6 Olive/White Double Bunny, #4 BLK/Olive Dirty Dumpster, #6 Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow Sculpin, #6 Thin Mint, #6 Crystal Bugger, #6 Jr’s Golden Shiner

2020 BSA Nymph Box – We love a great bead headed nymph around here at BSA and while we prefer to fish dry flies, there are just times when nymphing is a better tactic. This selection will get it done time and time again no matter if you’re fishing here in Yellowstone Country or anywhere in Rocky Mountains. This selection of 30 nymphs comes with a free waterproof triangle slit foam fly box, a BSA sticker, and a BSA pin.

Flies include 3 each of: #8 Black Rubber Legs, #12 Tan/Brown Rubber Legs, #14 Tungsten Micro Stone, #12 BH King Prince, #16 B’ Mean Machine Orange, #16 Tungsten Spanish Bullet Quill, #14 Tungsten Pheasant Tail, #16 Tungsten Holo-Point Red Jig, #14 Jake’s Tungsten Double Money Brown, #14 Tungsten Hare and Copper

2020 BSA Dry fly Box – Fishing with a dry fly is how most, if not all of us at BSA prefer to fish when it is a potentially successful option. From the big Western streams like the Henry’s Fork, Madison or the Yellowstone, to the little streams throughout Yellowstone Country that will remain unnamed here the flies in this selection will take care of you. This selection of 33 dries comes with a free waterproof 5 row slit foam fly box, a BSA sticker, and a BSA pin.

Flies include 3 each of: #6 Water Walker Salmonfly, #10 Henry’s Fork Golden Stone, #12 Missing Link Green Drake, #14 Jojo’s Rusty Spinner, #14 Mo River Halo Caddis, #16 Missing Link Caddis, #16 Parawulff Adams, #12 Arrick’s Ant BLK/CIN, #14 BSA Pink Lightning Legs, #14 Royal Wulff Cripple, #14 Jojos Chubbinator

2020 Big Bug Box – We start fishing big giant dry flies around these parts starting in early May and fish them with success all the way through the end of July. The shear amount of big stone flies in our local water is mind blowing and this box represents not only those, but also the bigger hoppers. We will often drop a nymph off these big bugs and so this box pairs nicely with the 2020 BSA Nymph Box. This selection of 30 big bugs comes with a free waterproof 5 row slit foam fly box, a BSA sticker, and a BSA pin.

Flies include 3 each of: #6 Water Walker Salmonfly, #8 Water Walker Salmonfly, #4 Henry’s Fork Salmonfly, #8 Henry’s Fork Salmonfly, #6 Royal Stone Walker, #6 Henry’s Fork Golden Stone, #10Henry’s Fork Golden Stone, #6 Water Walker Golden, #8 Water Walker Golden, #10 Chubby Black and Tan

Big Sky Anglers – 2020 Trout Spey Rod Review

Big Sky Anglers – 2020 Trout Spey Rod Review

For the past 3 years, we’ve been fortunate to host the West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days event, where folks who are interested in Spey casting and fishing for trout have come together to share experiences, learn new things, and check out all the awesome gear available these days.  For us, Spey Days has also been an incredible way to keep in touch and in the loop (no pun intended) with ongoing improvements and advances in Spey gear.  When it became clear that the ongoing Coronavirus situation was going to shut down Trout Spey Days in 2020, we knew we had to do something that might at least help fill that void. 

After some brainstorming, we decided it might be cool to try and get a hold of at least some of the awesome gear that folks normally have access to at the Spey Days event and then dig in with our core group of Spey nerds to really try a bunch of different things, cast and fish the rods and lines, and really dial in some kits that represent not only a variety of price points, but also a variety of fishing applications. 

In late August, we were able to make this happen thanks to the awesome support of our vendors and sales reps.  Thank you all!!! We brought in trout Spey rods from Sage, C.F. Burkheimer, Winston, G. Loomis, Echo, and Redington, along with all the modern Spey lines from RIO and Scientific Anglers.  We broke out the camp chairs, notebooks, line scales, and digital calipers, and headed out to the river for more than a full day of work.  From there, the crew further dialed in their favorite setups fishing on our local waters, and experimented with pushing the limits of what each rod could do.  Adding all this new experience onto what we’ve learned on and off the water over the years, we have compiled what you have come to find here – a summary of our personal favorite trout Spey kits for Fall 2020.

While this is definitely a gear 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 BSA Shop Picks, if you will.  Most importantly, once you have read through to find out what we think, we encourage you all to come by the shop, pick up one of our Demo kits, and take it out for a flick and a fish on the waters near town.  Maybe even call ahead and make sure that no one has already checked out the kit you’re interested in.  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, or one of the other folks here that knows and loves the Spey game!

So, without further ado, here is the Big Sky Anglers 2020 Shop Picks Trout Spey Rod Review…


CONTENTS

CF Burkheimer 4114-4 – $1150

CF Burkheimer 5125-4 – $1150

Winston Boron III TH Microspey 11ft 4wt – $1099

SAGE Trout Spey HD 3110-4 – $900

SAGE Trout Spey HD 4113-4 – $900

G. Loomis IMX-PRO Shortspey 41111-4 – $605

ECHO Trout Spey TS 4110 – $499

ECHO TR2 4113 – $379

Redington Dually 3106-4 – $249.99


CF Burkheimer 4114-4

11’4”, 3/4/5wt, $1150

CF Burkheimer says:

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 leater 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.

RIO Skagit Max Short 325gr (20’) or Skagit Trout Spey 325gr (16ft)

  • Both very good Skagit type options for this rod.  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, $1150

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. 

Stay tuned to our Blog and Social Media for the full story and more details about this special rod.

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.
  • NOTE: For a slightly lighter, “tippier” casting feel, drop down to the same line in 330 grains.

RIO Trout Spey Shooting Head, 305gr, 22ft

  • 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 glance, but the secret here was to add SA Sonar Leaders (10ft and 55gr) to create essentially a 32ft 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 Trout Spey Shooting Head, 350gr, 22ft – 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

RIO Skagit Max Short, 375 grains, 20ft

  • A more traditional streamer hucking choice, 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 Skagit Max Short in 350 grains is also a great pairing.

RIO Scandi Body 400gr, 23ft

  • Justin wanted to try this after using the same line with Jon Hazlett on the Sage X 12ft 5wt.  It cast fine on this rod as well, but resulted in a completely different feel vs the much stiffer SAGE X.
  • On the 5125 Burkie, this line gave the rod a very deep load, and a heavy (not necessarily in a bad way), Skagity feel to the cast using SA Sonar leaders or T-tips and streamers.  The result was definitive, Slow-mo, easy button bomb lobbing. A nice option for all you Perry Poke fans who also like a longer Skagit head.  If you are super mellow, and want to worry more about the soaring eagles and majestic mountains than your casting, this is the setup for you.
  • This line choice definitely takes away a lot of the lively feel of the rod, but definitely gets it done, and highlights the insanely wide grain window that Kerry builds into all his rods.

Winston Boron III TH Microspey 11ft 4wt

11ft, 4wt, $1099

Winston says:

240-330grains

BSA 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.

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 Skagit Max Short 300gr, 20ft

  • We prefer the 20’ Skagit lines on rods 11ft and longer, so 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.

Skagit Trout Spey 325gr (16ft)

  • Short and powerful, this line is a good match to this rod for those who really like to slow down and stay compact in their casting.  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 3110-4D

11ft, 3wt, $900

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.

BSA says:

Overall, we were super impressed with the Trout Spey HD lineup from Sage.  In our opinion, they are 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

  • 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 Skagit Max Short 325gr (20’) or Skagit Trout Spey 325gr (16ft)

  • Both very good Skagit type options for this rod.  325 grains can turn over 10ft of T8, but not as cleanly and easily as it does sinking coated leaders like SA Sonar 10ft Leaders

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

  • 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.

SAGE Trout Spey HD 4113-4

11ft 3 in, 4wt, $900

Sage says:

(Grains: 300 – 350gr) – Large streamers to 3″ – 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.

BSA says:

Overall, we were super impressed with the Trout Spey HD lineup from Sage.  In our opinion, they are 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 Trout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 22ft

  • 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 Skagit Max Short 350gr, 20ft

  • We prefer the 20’ Skagit lines on rods 11ft and longer, 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 Skagit Trout Spey 350gr, 17ft

  • This was a great match for folks who really like a shorter Skagit head for angling.  It turned over 10’ of T8 easily along with a weighted Sculpzilla bunny fly

RIO Scandi Short 330gr, 29ft 

  • Great choice for the devoted floating line soft hackle addict!

G. Loomis IMX-PRO Shortspey 41111-4

11ft 11in, 4wt, $605

Loomis says:

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

BSA 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 Trout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 22ft

  • 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 Skagit Max Short 350gr, 20ft

  • We prefer the 20’ Skagit lines on rods 11ft and longer, 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 Skagit Max Short 375gr, 20ft

  • 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 it up with a 375gr Skagit and 12ft of T10 tip and a Mini Dungeon streamer.  YES.  Pure Skagit Huckfest.  Not necessarily a super smooth butter casting setup, but we were very pleased that it was easily able to deliver the extra heavy goods. 

ECHO Trout Spey TS 4110

11ft, 4wt, $499

Echo says:

300 Scandi, 300-330 Skagit

BSA 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 Skagit Max Short 325gr (20’)

  • All day long.  A perfect match for this rod. Great with Poly leaders or up to 10ft T8

RIO Skagit Trout Spey 325gr (16ft)

  • A great short Skagit head option, though we greatly preferred the 20ft Max Short.  Great with Poly leaders or up to 10ft T8

RIO Trout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 22ft

  • 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

ECHO TR2 4113

11ft 3in, 4wt, $379

Echo says:

360 Scandi, 360-390 Skagit

BSA 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 Skagit Max Short 325gr (20’) or Skagit Trout Spey 325gr (16ft)

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

RIO Trout Spey Shooting Head #4, 305gr, 22ft

  • 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

10ft 6in, 3wt, $250

Redington says:

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

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

  • 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 Skagit Trout Spey 275 Grain

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

Fall 2020 Trout Spey Update

Fall 2020 Trout Spey Update

As we get later into the month of August here in the mountains, the days start getting shorter, the nights cooler, and the riverside vegetation begins to take on the colors of Autumn.  Likewise, the first lake run fish begin stirring, the browns begin to take on a bit more attitude, and cooling water temperatures cause the trout to act with more interest to a swung streamer.  If you channel your inner Druid, you will notice that all of this seems to happen quite specifically, one lunar cycle prior to the Autumnal Equinox.  Whether you choose to roll your eyes or mark it on your calendar, it’s the true beginning of our Fall Swing Season, which for many of us means breaking out the trout Spey gear.

We look forward to it every year.  The pace of fishing, the casting, the cool flies, and especially the great folks that come to town this time every year.  For the past three years, we’ve also had the pleasure to host our West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days event in the middle of September, bringing in awesome, knowledgeable folks and all the gear for everyone to enjoy. 

Unfortunately, this year, due to the ongoing concerns over COVID-19, we aren’t going to be able to have our usual Trout Spey Days gathering.  It’s just not the right time to gather in a big group, no matter how fun it might be.  That said, we are not giving up on the idea of helping folks learn and experience more about the fun game that is swinging flies on 2-handed rods for trout this fall, and we are looking forward to rebooting our event in 2021.

We’ve got a few things on deck for this fall that we hope you all will be encouraged to take part in.  Justin and Matt, our original two Spey nerds, will be around as usual.  And this year we’ve added Chris Daniel and Marco Ross, both super passionate 2-handed anglers, to our shop staff, so feel free to swing by (pun intended) and pick their brains.  Joe tries hard to not let on about his own interest in Spey, but he is sneaky like that, and no doubt knowledgeable enough to be plenty dangerous in the Barns Holes.

We’ve also worked hard this summer with our awesome vendors and reps to bring in a whole bunch of great Trout Spey demo gear for the fall.  Rods from SAGE, C.F. Burkheimer, Winston, Echo, Redington, and T&T, as well as all the matching Spey lines, sink tips, and leaders from RIO and Scientific Anglers.  We will have all of our favorite kit combos dialed in and here at the shop for folks to check out and even try out. 

And, with all this great gear on hand, we are planning to do a bunch of reviews and Spey related tips, and post those on our blog or other media channels so that folks who aren’t able to travel to us can still learn something.

We have the swing fly bins filled up and ready for Fall too.  Old reliable soft hackled patterns like the Partridge & Peacock and BH Softhackle PT are lined up along side some of our own favorite creation like Mile’s Chest Candy in both purple and orange variations.  And for streamers, you can find all your Sculpzillas, Thin Mints, Fortune Cookies, Boufaces, Grand Master B/Cs, buggers, crays, and probably a few more custom swingers that the guys will start spinning up when the night really start getting longer on us.

Lastly, if you are bummed that we won’t be having the usual Spey Days presentations, you might consider scheduling an instructional clinic or guided fishing day with one of our Spey-proficient guides.

Big Sky Anglers Featured Fly – Jojo’s Para Shuck Flav

Big Sky Anglers Featured Fly – Jojo’s Para Shuck Flav

Originator:  Joe Moore, BSA Co-owner

Hook: MFC 7000, Barbless MFC 7000KBL, or equivalent.  Size 14

Thread: Danville 6/0 Rusty Brown or your choice

Tail/Trailing Shuck: Sparkle Emerger Yarn – Brown

Abdomen: Superfine Dry Fly Dubbing, Olive

Thorax: Olive Goose Biot, tied flat side up

Wing post: Calf tail, white.  Try using a synthetic like tan or grey Widows Web as a “cheat” if you are tying these on your own!

Hackle: Grizzly, tied parachute style.  Whiting 100 packs are a great way to get the perfect feathers for parachutes.

Notes: My Para-shuck series of dries, tied by MFC, is a variation of the classic parachute style and has worked well for us all over Yellowstone Country. The Flav Para-shuck in particular works great on Hebgen Lake during the Callibaetis hatch, in the NE Corner of the Park for drake mackerel emergers, and on the Madison and Henry’s Fork for its original purpose as a Flav imitation.

Big Sky Anglers Featured Fly – Olive Jig Bugger

Big Sky Anglers Featured Fly – Olive Jig Bugger

Originator:  Fulling Mill

Hook: Tactical barbless 60 deg jig hook, #12

Thread: 8/0 Olive

Bead: 1/8” Brass or Tungsten (Black Nickel)

Tail: Olive Chickabou

Legs: Olive dyed partridge or hen soft hackle

Body: Olive hares ear or hares ear blend

Rib: Ultra Wire, Brassie, Chartreuse

Notes: It’s a beadhead soft-hackle micro woolly bugger on a super sharp, barbless jig hook.  About the only way you can’t fish this, is as a dry fly, other than that, you can’t go wrong.  Rigged as a dropper under a Chubby? Yes.  Rigged in a team of nymphs under an indicator, in either moving or still water?  Yes.  Euro nymphed.  Yes.  Swung like a soft hackle?  Yes.  Slow retrieved on an intermediate line just above the weeds on a lake during the damsel hatch.  Oh, yes.  Stripped on a small stream for trout?  Yeah, that too.  Another really fun and effective all around pattern to have in your box.  Once you start using it, you’ll find more and more times to fish it.